Beware of these 7 Red Flags for Renters
Most people will end up renting a place to live at some point in their lives. Whether it’s as a young person just starting out or after the kids have grown and it’s time to downsize the empty nest (or at some time in between). And there are many people who simply prefer the relative freedom of renting instead of owning a home.
While renting isn’t as big a financial commitment as home ownership, you want your rental experience to be safe and comfortable. To help make sure it is, here are several red flags for renters to be on the lookout for.
Lower-than-Average Rental Rates
You’re probably thinking, “Paying less rent is a good thing, right?” That’s generally the case, but you need to use caution if the rate is far below the area average. It could indicate an illegitimate rental, a poorly maintained property or a flat-out scam.
Demands for Money Up-front
If the property manager or landlord immediately demands a deposit before you’ve even seen the property, it’s a sign to move on. The only money that should change hands early in the process is an application fee (usually less than $100). Beyond that, there shouldn’t be any money exchanged until you sign the lease.
Blank Spaces or Vague Language on the Lease
Unless you’re a lawyer, reading legal documents probably isn’t your favorite thing. But when it comes to your lease, you need to read and understand all of it. Make sure it includes any discounts or extras you’ve discussed. If it doesn’t, or if there are any blank areas meant to be filled in later, don’t sign until the document is accurate and complete.
No Lease at All
Never agree to moving into a rental property without a lease. To do so could leave you vulnerable to rent increases or even eviction at a moment’s notice. A lease protects both parties in the agreement. If the landlord wants you to move in without one, find another place to live. No-lease arrangements are one of the biggest red flags for renters.
No Credit Check
Along the same lines, you want to be wary if a property manager doesn’t want to run a credit check. It might seem appealing, especially if your credit isn’t great at the moment. But if they’re not running a credit check on you, it means they’re not doing it on other tenants either.
Feeling Pressured or Rushed
The property manager’s job is to fill as many units as possible. But they shouldn’t have to resort to high-pressure tactics to do so. If you start feeling rushed or pressured at any point during the process, take a step back. It may just be the manager’s personality, or it could be they’re trying to unload a subpar rental on you. Either way, let them know you need some time to think and decide.
They Require a PO Box
There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to receive mail at your new address — unless something untoward is going on. If one of the move-in conditions is that you use a post office box to receive mail, do some research to verify you’re looking at a legitimate rental property.