About a year ago, I heard a story about a sleazy landlord who had been arrested for lurking in an air vent of the apartment that he rented to a young couple – holding a camera. Now, I know that is an extreme example of a bad landlord but it got me thinking.
Almost every renter has had a bad landlord at some point before. One of the most frequent complaints that I hear is of landlords giving back little or none of a security deposit even though the unit was in pristine condition.
I’ve also heard many complaints of landlords trying to make easy money in other ways, like y raising the prices and fees associated with their apartment rentals. I’ve heard of landlords who just don’t take care of their rental properties. I’ve heard of landlords who won’t fix appliances, paint the walls, change light bulbs, or perform other minor repairs for years on end. This especially seems to be the case in college areas where landlords rent to college students.
Obviously, not all landlords are bad. In fact, some are great. And there are probably way more bad tenants than bad landlords anyway. But there are bad ones out there, and they’re worth avoiding. The main way that you can do this is by screening your landlord.
Landlord screening is much like tenant screening, the process that landlords use to weed out bad tenants. It is basically an extensive background check.
Screening a landlord starts with the obvious: meeting them in person. Get a feel for the type of person they are. Your instincts can tell you a lot, as can observation of their appearance (neatness and cleanliness of their clothing), their manners, and their knowledge of their units. Generally, the more professional a landlord is the better.
The Internet also makes doing a quick background check – on anybody, not just landlords – easy. Just Google their name or the name of their property management company and see what comes up. Many people even check out their prospective landlord’s criminal history online (it is free to do in many states).
Finally, the absolute best way to steer clear of a bad landlord is to ask them for references before signing your lease. Every landlord should be willing to provide you with a list of their previous tenants – if they can’t, don’t rent from them.
While these tips won’t protect you in every single situation, they are a great start to landlord screening. By following them when you are looking for a new apartment and adding landlord screening to your apartment hunting checklist, you should steer clear of bad landlords with ease.
This guest post was submitted by RocketLease.com. Rocket Lease makes it easy for landlords to use online applications to screen prospective tenants. It automatically runs credit reports, background checks, and eviction histories, saving property managers time and money.