If you’re in the process of house hunting, you could have one, or a few, potential new homes in your eyes. But before you start stealing boxes from the supermarket to pack, go back to your property. There are a few things you should take another look at before you move in.
There are a number of red flags you can look out for to make sure you’re not signing yourself into a bad situation. Before the landlord hands you a pen, take the lease and tell them you will be back to sign as soon as you can. You need to look over it, or better yet have a lawyer look over it before you sign anything.
Property rental is notorious for landlords and tenants taking advantage of each other. Make sure both of you are happy with the agreement before you sign. This may take some negotiation, or, unfortunately, outright walking away from the property.
Red flags in the lease can include being asked for cash, rather than transferring money. Paying in cash removes a paper trail, which means you will have no leg to stand on if your landlord were to accuse you of not paying. Another is if your landlord doesn’t want you to speak to anyone else, like management, because they might not exist. And there is absolutely no reason for you to pay any more than a security deposit, in case of damages, and the first and last month’s rent. That is standard and there is no reason otherwise.
Since speaking with a landlord is essentially an interview for a reliable tenant, it’s only fair you interview for a reliable landlord. Check their name online or with the Better Business Bureau to make sure they are not being investigated or have a long list of formal complaints from former tenants.
Use your tour around the property for its intended use: looking for damages. More than wondering if your bed would go best in the corner or against the window, or judging wallpaper choices, you should be looking out for damages in the property and how bad they are.
Look for water stains on the ceiling, under the sinks, and test all of the faucets and showers for running, hot, water. It might also be best to check any basements, garages, or crawl spaces for a sump pump. All of these could indicate future problems with drainage and potential flooding.
Are all the appliances working? Do the outlets have power? Test everything. Take a phone charger and casually stick it in any socket you find. Turn on the stove, check the fridge and run the dishwasher.
Check your windows too. Make sure they all open properly should the air conditioning give out, which is another thing to make sure works. Or, even more importantly, make sure you can get out should there be a fire.
Other things to look for include dodgy foundations and pest droppings.
Your landlord can assure you they will be fixed “soon”, but if it’s not done by the time, they’re showing the apartment to potential tenants and there is no plan in place with a date, you can bet they expect you to move in with the damages forgotten. You can outline in your contract that, at the very least, you expect a discount in rent every month until it is fixed, as incentive.
Depending on your situation, what your potential property is surrounded by will vary. Schools are obviously a big incentive for partners looking to settle down, but less so for a single college student.
There are some things that universal, however, like looking at if the property is close to work or has good public transport access so that it is easy to get to work. Make sure to explore the neighborhood and see that everything is fit for you.
Listen to the streets. Is there a low noise level, or do you prefer the noises of the night? Visit at different times to see if the noise is still around.
Think about what you buy on a regular basis and how that is affected by your neighborhood. Will you have to drive for a weekly shop? Or do you need a 7-Eleven nearby for an emergency midnight snacking excursion?
Do you feel safe walking around? Take a look online for the crime stats in your area for an idea of your comfort levels. Added to that, look up how far away you are from a hospital or police station, should the worst happen.
Is there a lot of trees? It’s nothing to scoff at, since living amongst trees greatly contributes to overall happiness. They clean the air and aid mental health. They improve mood and self-esteem as well as lowering blood pressure, leaving you feeling healthier in many ways.