Apartment shopping can be an overwhelming task. When you go in search of the perfect apartment home, you typically have a few ideas in mind; affordability, great amenities, walk-in closets, and open-concept floorplans. You may not be considering what you’re actually agreeing to. Going into a lease agreement with your Landlord is a big decision. It’s important to keep an eye on issues that may be red flags early on. To get you started, we’ve listed 6 things to avoid when apartment shopping below.
1. Zero Photos
The days of apartment renting magazines are long gone and searching has centered around mobile apps and online websites. Maybe you’re searching for a one bedroom loft in Waukesha and you have several options to scroll through. Steer clear of listings with zero photos. Apartment ads with one or two photos of only the outside of the building can be scary too. Remember, those with nothing to hide, hide nothing.
2. No Reviews or Bad Reviews
We look up reviews for places to eat or a hotel we stay in for three nights. Why wouldn’t we hold the same standard for our new home? 1 star reviews happen, even to the best apartment communities. However, zero reviews or only poor reviews can be a good indication of a bad landlord. Residents who are taken care of tend to support where they live. If the leasing agent or manager seems nice during your showing, but you see no evidence of that online, you might need to worry about what actually being a resident could look like. Go out of your way to mention these concerns and see how problems are addressed or unfortunately, not addressed at all.
3. No Approval Standards
Here you are, the tour is over and you’re ready to apply! This is where you discuss the awkward questions about things you normally don’t want to share with others. What do you need to get approved for an apartment? Standard rental criteria usually includes 3 major things; credit score, income, and a background check. Rental verification’s are often of importance to most Landlords, as well. Having the security of knowing your neighbors had to go through the same approval process you did should give you confidence, not cause for concern.
4. Signing Before Seeing
The model unit is always clean, well-maintained. and beautifully decorated. In a perfect world the apartment in your lease agreement could be just as beautiful. Unfortunately, there is no way to know without seeing the exact apartment or a similar layout. Oftentimes renters trust that what they’re seeing is what they’re getting. What they are getting is carpet that doesn’t match, older-style appliances, the list could go on and on. It can’t hurt to send an email to the leasing agent verifying there are no major differences between the two either.
5. No Move-in Inspection
It’s move in day and you’re excited to start organizing your brand new apartment home! If you have a moving company, you watch and ensure they’re extra careful not to ding walls or damage your belongings. Unfortunately, a few days after settling in, you realize they took a chunk out of bedroom door casing. What now?
No move-in inspection form or grace period after your move in day, is a good indication that you may be unfairly charged for damage after you move out. Make sure that the complex has a move-in or check-in form and you have the opportunity to inspect your apartment for damage. Have the manager document those items and provide you a copy for your records.
6. No After Hours Phone Number
Your front-loading washer has a hole in the seal and water is gushing out everywhere. It’s midnight and the dishwasher is flooding your kitchen floor. “Who ya gonna call?” Ghost Busters? It seems likely their phone number would be easier to find in that moment. Most apartment communities have an after hours phone number if something major goes wrong. What are those hours? What is that contact phone number? Avoid finding out the hard way.