1. Honestly even the postings tend to be littered with red flags. All caps, weird and overly specific rules, hostile tone– “ONLY apply if you are CLEAN and RESPONSIBLE! SKETCHY APPLICANTS WILL BE DENIED! Washing machine is for CLOTHES ONLY!! Pets OK but NO REPTILES!!!”
Tells you that the landlord is a total piece of work, that some weird shit went down in the apartment before, or, more likely, both.
2. If the ad has a bunch of pictures of the neighborhood and no pictures of inside the apartment.
3. Always flush the toilets and listen from other rooms to see how loud it is. I have a rent control apartment thank god, but the pipes are unbearably loud especially at night when my roommate is using the sink or shower. It’s driving me mad.
4. Oddly specific things that are listed as “not the responsibility of the owner/management”, like repairing fridge water dispensers.
5. The first questions I always ask is “Do you have a lot of long term tenants?” – the answer to this will tell you a lot about how loud the building is going to be and who you’ll be living around, eg. if it’s mostly students, expect that it’ll be a party all the time, and the answer will also tell you a lot about the management company’s attitude, if they’re proud of the fact that they retain folks for a long time, it’s a really good sign.
6. Bugs. If that apartment has bugs like cockroaches or some other shit then get the fuck outta there.
7. The following are signs that the owners/landlord/management/residents don’t care about anything:
Dirty garbage area
Poorly parked cars
Cars parked in no parking areas
These are indicators that are obvious before even stepping into a unit.
8. If the rest of the house looks a little worn but the shower is immaculate there’s a very good chance the landlord has painted over the mouldy shower tiles/grout. Learned this from a bond cleaner.
9. Always look at the ceiling!!! I rented a condo where my upstairs neighbors were so noisy it was absolute hell. They were very large people with three kids. I couldn’t handle the herd of elephants from dawn to dusk so I moved out as soon as my 6 month lease was up. When I was moving out I noticed marks in the ceiling like someone had been pounding on the ceiling with the end of a broomstick. I had never noticed them before.
10. What does the lawn and landscaping look like? If it isn’t taken care of, it raises questions as to what else isn’t.
11. Carpet. Anywhere. For any reason. May as well kiss your security deposit goodbye then and there. It’ll never end up looking clean enough in the end, no matter how careful you are with it.
12. If you see a bunch of window units along with regular air conditioners, that means they’re too goddamn lazy to fix the AC. Maybe it’s not a huge deal in the north, but in Texas the air conditioner is your most valuable possession.
13. If there’s a shared entrance and no safe space for a package to be dropped, having deliveries becomes actual hell.
14. Handshake offers that are not on your lease. Promises for a set rent that won’t increase, “extra” privileges, priority on the maintenance list, generally anything that seems like a perk and isn’t on your lease agreement. This happens a lot to people who haven’t rented before. Anything that is not on your lease agreement is not a guarantee at all. On the other hand they’ll also flaunt things that are on the agreement by making them seem like luxuries. When you’re faced with a promise ask where it is on the lease if you don’t see it. Property managers and people in the lease office are there to fill units not be your buddy. No matter how nice they are.
15. Shared electrical and/or hot water. That’s some cheap shit yo.
16. Ask about their occupancy. If under 90%, this is a bad sign. If it’s a brand new community, ignore this advice. Side note: you want to live at a brand new community if you can.
17. Ask about other apartments in the area. If they give you good options to check out, they’re good management and confident in their product. If they shit on their competition, this is a bad sign.
18. If the community is running very generous specials (2 months free, $1000 gift card, etd.), this is a bad sign.
19. If the place is not freshly painted look for signs of bed bug infestation. You will see little patches about the size of a quarter that look like a bunch of little black dots. Like someone shook a paint brush there. These nests are often on a wall, in corners and around electrical outlets. If you see just one bug, particularly if the place is furnished , ask to see pest control records. A person may be able to deal with a few roaches or whatever, but bed bugs will ruin your life.
20. You don’t have a thermostat to control your own heating and cooling. Or there is one but it’s just for show.
21. Check closets, under the sink, and other out-of-the-way places for roach and mouse traps. I’ve been to some places that had been cleaned up pretty nicely, had a fresh coat of paint, etc., but when I find those traps I always cut and run.
22. Fences around them, but no security/gate.
23. Lots of unattended small children.
24. Drive through the complex on a Saturday night and ask yourself if it sounds like a damn party. Then ask yourself if that’s the type of place you want to live.
(If you want to live in a damn party then great.)
25. If all the cars in the parking lot are very old, beaten up, and run down, chances are you’re going to have ghetto/trashy neighbors. You may think, “Well, I don’t plan to interact with my neighbors much…”. Rest assured, they will interact with you.
26. Ask a pizza delivery place if they deliver there. If they don’t, and it’s not because of distance, that’s a red flag.
27. Damaged doors with new locks/deadbolts.
28. If the apartment has a garbage room on each floor with a chute, go and look at it. If it reeks, if it has garbage juice on the floor, and if people leave their trash all over the place, leave immediately as that apartment will definitely have a roach problem.
You can find a building where people aren’t all lazy disgusting pigs.
29. If your would-be future landlord lists off all the ‘great things’ they’re going to do “soon.” Then months pass and they’re “still getting around to it.”
30. Crackheads. If you’re in an apartment building and you see crack heads or people who look like they’re doing/selling meth get the fuck outta there.