When searching for a new apartment to rent, it’s crucial to exercise due diligence and meticulous scrutiny to ensure a comfortable and trouble-free living experience. Before committing time, money and effort into your new home, it’s vital to steer clear of any apartments that display some significant red flags.
Dampness or Mold
Consider conducting the sniff test in various areas throughout the apartment. Musty odors or an overpowering scent of Febreze could indicate hidden mold or mildew — or someone attempting to mask an issue.
“This is [a] major issue that can cause health problems for those living in the apartment,” said Alex Locklear, realtor and founder of NC Cash Homebuyers. “The best way to determine if there is mold or dampness in the apartment is to inspect it yourself. If you notice a musty smell, spongy walls, visible mildew or water stains, then do not rent it — no matter how nice it looks.”
Sporadic Water Pressure
“Water pressure is very important,” Locklear said. “If you experience sporadic water pressure, do not rent the apartment. It could be a sign of severe plumbing issues and will cost you time and money to fix it. Try to inspect the water pressure in multiple areas of the apartment before signing a lease.”
Similarly, if you encounter leaky plumbing throughout the apartment, it could be another warning sign of an unsuitable place to live. Be sure to inspect under the sinks before signing the lease.
Your apartment should ideally provide a peaceful haven for rest, work and daily living. Loud noises from neighbors, nearby busy roads or noisy train tracks may disrupt this peace. If you’re sensitive to loud sounds, it’s wise to reconsider. Additionally, take a look at the common areas of the apartment complex for further insights.
“If you notice pet waste scattered around the common areas or sidewalks, take it as a sign,” said Erin Hybart, the lead listing agent at Clients First Realty, LLC. “It’s likely an indicator of inconsiderate neighbors who don’t clean up after their pets. And if they’re that careless in shared spaces, imagine what else they might be neglecting!”
Old or faulty appliances can pose safety hazards and may indicate inadequate maintenance by the management.
“Faulty appliances can be a constant headache,” Hybart said. “Imagine your fridge breaking down when you least expect it. Your landlord likely is not paying for your spoiled food.”
Committing to an apartment managed by unresponsive landlords, maintenance teams or management can lead to frustration, unresolved issues and an overall unsatisfactory renting experience.
“If it’s hard to get in touch with management or maintenance, that’s a bad sign,” Hybart said. “You want someone who’s responsive to your needs.”
Apartments without essential amenities like parking, laundry or storage options may not be worth the compromise. Limited parking can be a daily inconvenience, especially in crowded neighborhoods.
“Limited parking can be a daily hassle, especially in a busy neighborhood,” Hybart said. “You don’t want to circle the block for an hour every day.”
A poorly-maintained building is a significant red flag. Look for issues such as leaky faucets, malfunctioning appliances and peeling paint to assess whether the apartment is adequately maintained.
“Slow or non-existent maintenance can be a massive pain,” said Adrian Pedraza, real estate agent and owner of The California Home Buyer. “My company once flipped a property where the previous tenants had endless complaints about leaks that were never fixed. That’s why it’s essential to check reviews or chat with current tenants if possible.”
Beware of hidden fees that may not be mentioned in the lease agreement, such as parking fees or utility costs.
“Always watch out for the add-ons,” Pedraza said. “Parking fees, maintenance charges and even some sneaky utility bills can catch you off guard. A buddy of mine thought he’d struck gold with a cheap apartment, but later on, he was drowning in hidden costs.”
Ask your landlord about these expenses before committing to an apartment that could lead to unexpected financial burdens.
Sometimes, photos can be deceiving, and what you see on the apartment’s website looks very different in reality. Avoid falling victim to false advertising.
“Ah, the power of photography,” Pedraza said. “Some landlords have a talent for making spaces look bigger or brighter than they are. Always trust your own eyes and visit in person.”
Evidence of Pests
“Evidence of pests like mice or roaches is a big no-no,” Hybart said.
If you spot any signs of rodents, cockroaches or bed bugs, it’s best to steer clear. These pests not only pose health risks but are also difficult to eradicate and can infest clothing, bedding and infrastructure, leading to major issues down the line.
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