Finding an apartment or a house that you can afford to rent can take a lot of stress off of you. If the actual apartment or house that you move into looks as beautiful as the model that the landlord or leasing agent showed you,count yourself as fortunate.
The fact is, unless you’re renting a place that has been fully upgraded or newly built, the actual space that you live in probably won’t look half as attractive as the model you were shown, the seemingly perfect unit that you based your decision on where to rent on. That happens with many rental units.
Protect yourself from renting from a rogue landlord
Instead of getting a unit that mirrors the model, you could step into areal estate nightmare. Notice two or more of the below signs where you rent, and it might be time to move.
Structural damages like cracked ceilings, water stains on the walls and discolored carpeting are signs that you’ll likely notice immediately if you move into a rental unit that has been properly maintained. Report these conditions immediately, as they could indicate that there is further damage to the property. Even if you don’t move out, you don’t want the landlord to hold you responsible for the damages. Other signs that you could be dealing with a rogue landlord include:
- Poor to no heat in the apartment or house that you’re renting – And it’s not just that there is no heat or poor heating. When you alert the landlord, she does nothing to repair or replace the heating system.
- Inadequate air conditioning – If you’re paying for central air conditioning or a window air conditioner that the landlord owns, those systems should function properly. A good landlord will make sure that all systems are operating adequately before you move in.
- Unsafe drinking and bathing water – Brown water could indicate that the water is contaminated with a chemical or rust. A rogue landlord may keep telling you that the water will eventually clear on its own.He may also indicate that you have to just deal with the unclean water.
- Mold – Mold can cause you and your family to become ill. Spot mold at your rental unit and you’ll know that the landlord has not been ensuring that the unit is cleaned between leases or as one tenant moves out and another tenant moves in.
- Pests – Cock roaches should not be your co-tenants. Neither should ants, rats, mice or termites.
- Lack of exterior building lights – Poor exterior lighting can attract people who choose to commit crimes. A rogue landlord won’t care enough about your safety to install good lighting, security cameras or an alarm system.
- No interior safety lights in stairwells – If you rent an apartment that has an exterior stairway, this area should be lit when it gets dark.
- Rising rents that are too high to be competitive with area markets – A rogue landlord might raise your rent with short notice. They also might raise rents until the rent is no longer competitive with the market or the type of apartment or house you’re renting.
One of the best ways to protect yourself from a rogue landlord is to thoroughly review a lease agreement. There are several details to include in a rental lease. To protect yourself, in general, you’ll want to make sure that the lease agreement is in writing, and that the agreement indicates who is responsible for repairs. Also, make sure that the written lease agreement states when rents could increase and how much notice must be given before the landlord raises the rent. And ensure that the written agreement states how much the security deposit is, under what conditions the deposit can be withheld and how many days after you move out the security deposit will be refunded to you.