When you’re looking for a new apartment, some of the first things you compare are the cost of rent, the amount of parking spaces available and the general area or neighborhood. Is the complex well-lit? How far away is it from the grocery store? Where can overnight guests park?
After you have learned your answers and landed on a complex or building you like, like every other responsible adult, you begin to compare renters insurance premiums online, making sure you get the best deal on the market.
But in your quest to stay within your budget, get insurance coverage and get a sweet parking spot, you didn’t notice that the landlord was a little shifty. If you’re new to renting, catching bad landlord red flags isn’t easy to do. For the new or experienced renter, here are five red flags to watch out for before signing on the dotted line.
Red Flag 1:During your meeting to discuss the lease, the landlord gives very generalized answers to questions about maintenance, plumbing or infestations. If the landlord does not answer your questions about how management works to rectify a bed bug problem or clogged pipes, this means that they do not readily take care of the facility or the needs of the tenant. The landlord of the complex is required to adhere to certain laws (governed by the state) about maintaining a safe, comfortable and clean environment for tenants. If the landlord won’t answer your questions, look elsewhere.
Red Flag 2:When asked for contact information, the landlord does not willingly hand it over. The landlord must be on-call 24/7 to their tenants. If a tenant should experience a burst pipe or some other emergency, they need to be able to get ahold of the landlord to resolve the issue. If the landlord doesn’t offer contact information or weekend maintenance emergency services, get out of there.
Red Flag 3:The lease as written reads very generalized. If when reading the lease, it seems the phrasing of a clause or two can be manipulated to mean something else, do not sign. Discuss the leasing terms with the landlord and have your agreements written word for word into the lease. By changing language and spinning phrases, the more backhanded landlords will try to raise the rent or fault you for damages to the space that were there before you arrived.
Red Flag 4:The security deposit is unusually high. To put a hold on an apartment, most apartment complexes charge the prospective tenant a certain amount of money through a security deposit. The security deposit is like a form of insurance: if the tenant should cause damage to the space, money from the security deposit will be used to fix said damages. However, according to Trulia, landlords are limited in the amount they are allowed to charge for a security deposit depending on state law. Check your state’s renting laws to make sure your landlord is not price gouging you. If they are, it’s not a landlord you want to have.
Red Flag 5:The cost of rent for such a seemingly wonderful unit is too good to be true. If you’re thinking that you’re getting an apartment for a steal, the truth of the matter is the landlord is most likely really stealing from you. In “return” for cheap rent, the landlord may not cover repair costs or will upsell you on parking fees. Make sure that you are paying for what you’re getting.
Renting an apartment is a big responsibility, but if you do your research, you’ll score big. For a fair and affordable renters insurance package, check out CoverHound’s offerings today.