Rental Red Flags: What to Look at When You Tour a Potential New Home

Rental Red Flags: What to Look at When You Tour a Potential New Home

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Jennifer Hunter
Jan 23, 2018

Picture this: you're facing yet another problem in your brand new apartment but — lucky duck — you have roughly 11 months left on your lease. Don't you wish you could go back in time and save yourself tons of time, money and headaches by identifying these potential problems before you sign? We're here to help you do just that.

Look inside and on top of cabinets and closets

So many people are too intimidated (or simply forget) to open kitchen cabinets during their initial tour. You should be looking for evidence of infestations like — get ready — droppings, bug bodies or gnawing. If you see that stuff, politely and quickly back away.

Be suspicious of sloppy or unfinished work

A unit that's being renovated or touched up between tenants is one thing, but take note of how the apartment itself is taken care of. Are there warped walls or sloppily applied caulk in the the bath? Is the pole in the closet less than level? Individually, little things like these aren't deal breakers, but they do serve to give you a picture of how the apartment is maintained overall. If you get the sense that upkeep isn't important, you can't expect the service to suddenly improve once you live there.

Approach the neighbors (or the internet)

Don't be scared to knock on a neighbor's door as you're checking out a new place. Hopefully they'll be happy to give you the scoop on the positives and negatives of the building and the neighborhood. Make sure to ask about important things like how management deals with problems, the vibe or tone of the building's tenants, and the things that they unexpectedly discovered when they moved in.

If you can't make contact with an actual person, turn to the internet. Try sites like one of these to see what current and past residents are saying about the building: "Yelp" for Landlords: Search These Sites Before You Move In

Look at the lease

Of course, you're reading the lease before you sign (right?!), but try giving it a second look while at the same time minding the things that have been problems for you in past apartments. If you're super sensitive to neighbor noise, check if the lease contains any noise regulations, and if not, ask about it. Do you get annoyed by pets in the building? Check if they're allowed in the building's standard lease. Know your triggers and try to keep yourself out of a situation that's just asking for trouble.

Okay, your turn. What do you wish you had investigated before moving in?

Re-edited from a post originally published 3.22.2015 - TW

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