If you have been renting apartments or homes over the years chance are you ran into a crappy landlord. These are the kinds of people who won’t make the small repairs and won’t return your phone calls. They may even keep your entire security deposit. You curse the day you signed your lease and wish you never toured the property.
If you just had the foresight to ask a few questions and take a few simple steps you could have avoided the current situation you have found yourself in.
Check Yelp or Facebook
If your moving into a larger apartment complex, then chances are they have a Facebook page; and you also might be able to find them on Yelp as well. Start scanning the comments for the reviews. You should know that you are likely to find more bad than good. This is just a product of the review system. Customers generally expect a great experience. If you give them one that doesn’t meet their expectations, they are far more likely to go out of their way to leave a poor review.
Now what you are looking for are the same repeating poor views from different consumers. Maybe the walls of the apartment homes are thin and it’s easy to hear neighbors and barking dogs. Other negatives we often hear in the industry are car break-ins and slow maintenance crews. If you are potentially renting a home or duplex, it’s going to be hard to find online reviews.
Inspect the Rental During Your Tour
Don’t just look at the paint job and the appliances. Give a look at the door knobs, faucets, drains, locks, and lights. Make sure that everything is in proper working order. If something is broken, what does that say about the management or owner? Many communities will give you a sheet before you move-in that allows you to make a note of anything in non-working order.
Also keep your eyes open outside the apartment home. Are there enough parking spaces for you and your guests. What does the pool look like? Check out the fitness center. Not all resident gyms are the same. Some just have a treadmill and one weight machine and call it a state of the art facility. How often is the trash picked up? Many individuals who tour skip the community portion.
Stay after and Speak with Current Residents
After your tour, stay after and hang around. The leasing agents are not going to care if you look around on your own. This is the opportunity where you can speak with current residents. Be honest, strike up a conversation and see where it takes you. Most people love to talk, and will surely give you an opinion of their experience. Big cities like Houston have apartment locators who can give you honest opinions.
Go to the County Courthouse
Although this is an extra time consuming step, it can go a long way for those renting a private home, townhouse, or other single family dwelling. Here you can find out if the homeowner isn’t paying their mortgage. It’s uncommon, but the owner could be collecting your rent checks but not paying the mortgage. Checking with the local courthouse can inform you if there is a foreclosure in process.