Carolyn is the retired former owner of a property management company in Boston, Ma. She is the author of "Secrets to a Successful Eviction"
Pay Attention to What You are Leasing
After a long time looking, you finally found an apartment in your price range. You make an appointment to see the unit, and you like it. But, before you sign a lease or take the keys, you need to do your own due diligence.
This means doing research on the property and neighborhood before you make a decision.. It means speaking with the owner or property manager about policies or building conditions that may cause you to re-consider taking the apartment.
1. It Is Being Rented ‘As Is’
Although the apartment looks good, it wasn't fixed up. It looks exactly the way the last tenant must have left it. The landlord tells you it is being rented 'as is'.
If the owner isn’t interested in giving you an apartment that has been cleaned, painted and repaired, he is showing you the value he places on his property, and on you as a tenant. If you add apartment equipment that's really old. or doesn’t work at the time you were going through, you should ask questions.
You may have a potential owner not willing to invest his money or maintain the apartment after you move in. You will be in a pickle. You will have to clean it, fix it up, and paint it yourself. And all you will get for your first month rent and security deposit from the landlord, is a key.
2. You are Urged to Make Your Own Repairs
There are people who don’t mind making their own repairs. Handyman types like to have the chance to fix the apartment to their own liking. Still, you will pay for the repairs. Most people rent an apartment specifically because they don’t want the burden or expense of doing their own maintenance where they live. That is why they rent instead of own.
Tenant paid apartment maintenance work is done in addition to the rent. It’s also money the owner doesn’t have to pay on the unit. Try to get the landlord to at least pay for the paint and repair supplies.
3. The Building is in Disrepair
If the entry way and hallways are in disrepair, express your concern to the manager or rental agent about the condition of the building. Especially if it looks like it would barely meet the minimum building inspection codes. The owner or property manager may tell you there are plans to fix it up in the next thirty or sixty days.
Ask yourself these questions: Do you believe him? Are you willing to wait? What will or can you do if it doesn’t happen after you move in?
4. The Neighborhood is Run-Down
The rent is reasonable because of where the property is located. Many of the houses on the street are in poor condition. There are lots of automobiles and traffic on the street, especially at night. Visit the apartment building after hours to see what the nightlife is like at the building and on the street.
Some of the streetlights are out. You check with the local police and learn there is evidence of serious crimes. There is prostitution, and apartment break-ins, including some in the building where the apartment is located. Is the rent still reasonable to you after seeing the neighborhood?
5. Unacceptable Rental Policies
Ask to read the lease in advance of signing it ,for clauses you find repressive. Look for fees that are not included in the rent such as property maintenance fees for extra services, such as snow removal and lawn care. Also, see who is responsible for those maintenance items. Is it you, or the landlord?
Look for other policies in the lease. For example, visitors can’t stay more than five days at a time, excessive pet fees, painting colors must be pre-approved by the owner, etc.
6. No Quiet Enjoyment in the Building
Pay attention to a noisy building. Kids running around in the hallways day and night, constant loud music from the other apartments, tenants loudly arguing with each other all the time, police sirens up and down the street. All of these types of distractions will disturb your quiet use of the apartment.
Pay attention to these signs. In the final analysis, if you don’t feel comfortable with the apartment or the building, don’t take it. Don’t allow the owner or property manager to talk you into renting there. Wait until you find an apartment that is compatible with your desired use. It’s your life, money, and quiet enjoyment of your living quarters that are at stake.
7. The Rent is Too High
You love the apartment. It is a three-family house that has recently been renovated by the new owner.. It is in a good neighborhood, has a large back yard, and a place to park your car off the street. Problem is, the rent is too high.
You knew it when you saw the ad. But, you had seen so many apartments that were unacceptable, you decided to look at homes. The owner lives on the first floor, so your teenaged kids will be unlikely to have wild parties when you have to work late, The utilities are included, which is why the rent is so high.
Be realistic. Look at your income and present expenses. What will you have to change, if you want to move into this house? Lower your cable bill, stop buying name brand clothes for you and the kids, decrease your Christmas shopping list? Will you have to take local vacations, and pass up the planned trip to Disney World?
You need to know in advance what expenses you will have to cut if you want to rent above your pay grade. Seriously consider everything listed above before you move.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Carolyn Gibson
Carolyn Gibson (author) from Boston, Massachusetts on February 10, 2014:
Thank you. The more one knows, the better decisions one can make.
Writer Fox from the wadi near the little river on February 09, 2014:
Whether purchasing or renting, I think it is always wise to talk to people in the neighborhood. Often you can find valuable information this way and also see if you and your family are a right 'fit' in the neighborhood. Sometimes the neighbors are more important than the property! Enjoyed your article.