10 Things Smart Renters Watch for When Apartment HuntingDecember 14th, 2005 by aptsherpa
With all the apartments out there, finding one that’s ideal for you can be a daunting task. When you go apartment hunting, you usually have a few things in mind: abundant parking spaces, cheap apartment, big bedrooms, resort style pool; but what you might not notice is the sleazy man sitting on his balcony by the pool with binoculars. Being gawked at by Mr. Peepy might take the enjoyment out of your afternoon swim. It’s good to keep a look out for things that might suggest the apartment is not all it’s cracked up to be. Because once you move in, you’ll realize there is more to it than a lavish bedroom and sparkling jacuzzi. We’ve got a few warning signs to help keep you out of bad news apartments.
1. There is no phone number for the maintenance person.
Your toilet overflows in the middle of the night? Hope you’re handy with a wrench! Most apartments have someone that tenants can call – even after hours – if something major goes wrong. If there is no such number, it’s likely that most of the apartment maintenance will be done by you, so get your toolbox ready. Sometimes small things such as this are overlooked when apartment searching, but they quickly become big problems when you’re actually a tenant. Inquire about how many maintenance people work on the property, how to get in touch with them, and when they are available.
2. While you are touring the property, an angry tenant chases down the landlord with a problem.
While this might just be the sign of an obsessive compulsive tenant, most likely it’s an indication of a bad landlord. You want the landlord to be attentive and responsive to your needs while you live there, so make sure that the people currently living there seem to be taken care of. If the landlord ducks behind bushes as people go in and out of their apartments, you might need to worry about the rapport between tenants and management. Make sure you ask how tenants’ problems are addressed, and what the typical problems consist of. If at least one tenant’s roof caves in once a week, it might be time to hop in your car and speed to the next apartment on your list.
3. You see a burglary bulletin board in the office and it’s covered.
You knew you heard breaking glass while you were touring the property! Some of the worst apartment areas are ones with high crime rates. You want to feel safe in your apartment, and not have to worry about leaving poor little Fluffy – and your brand new flat screen TV – all alone when you go home for Thanksgiving. Cars with taped up windows and wires hanging from where the stereo should be are also bad signs of the worst apartment areas. You want to make sure and check out the area you are living in, not only the apartment complex itself.
4. Your landlord won’t show you an actual unit until you’ve signed the contract.
Dirty tile? Dingy carpet? Old tenants? Who knows what they could be hiding from you. You wouldn’t buy a car you had never laid eyes on, so should you really agree to live in an apartment you’ve never seen? Make sure you see the apartment you would be living in before you sign anything. Even if you can’t see the exact unit you will be living in, ask to see one with the same floor plan to make sure it’s what you expected. Otherwise, you might end up living in a room the size of a closet. You don’t mind not having a refrigerator, do you?
5. The sparkling pool is filled with snotty nosed screaming children.
At last, your tour has come to the make it or break it point: the aquatic accommodations. This is where you plan on bronzing every day after school, scoping out potential hotties, and cooking out with friends on the weekends. Aww cute! Little kids splashing about. Twenty little kids, no adults, and they’re all screaming at the top of their lungs, blowing their nose in the water, and who knows what else. This isn’t the tropical paradise you had envisioned. This scene also suggests that the entire complex may be noisy and overrun with unsupervised children, which can intrude on a cram session, or even worse… a party. Make sure that the surroundings are conducive to the type of lifestyle you lead.
6. There is no parking. And it’s Monday morning.
Either the complex serves as a neighborhood parking lot, or there isn’t sufficient parking for the residents. Both of these would be a problem. Finding parking on campus is treacherous enough, you shouldn’t have to cruise your own parking lot for hours waiting for someone to leave. A good apartment complex should have at least enough spaces for its residents if not designated guest spaces as well. Make sure you ask the landlord about parking rules and availability. Unless you and your friends have sworn off automotive transportation, this could be a big issue.
7. The landlord mentions something about sex offenders living in the complex.
Unless you’re interested in pursuing a career in parole investigation, this would probably be seen as bad news. Since the people living in your complex will be your neighbors, it’s important to get a feel for the type of people living there. Creepy men lingering poolside, young hooligans congregating in the parking lot, and scantily clad women hanging around questionably can be indications that the clientele might not be top of the line. While this might seem interesting to sociology majors, most people would find these sketchy residents to be a drawback. Ask the landlord to describe the assortment of residents, and then decide if these are the kind of people you want to be surrounded by. Would you really want to ask big Rusty with the skull and crossbones tattoo to feed Fluffy during spring break?
8. Next to the Management designated parking space is one that reads “Orkin Man.”
Great! Your apartment stays on top of pest control. But a permanent parking space for the bug guy could indicate a persistent pest control problem. Unless you like roaches running across your feet as you get a glass of water at 2 am , or enjoy fumigating your apartment on a weekly basis, this could pose a problem. Pest problems are not only created by dirty residents, but can crop up due to shoddy construction. Make sure that the complex doesn’t have a history of pest problems, and, if and when the bugs do start crawling, they have a reliable solution.
9. On your tour, you pass by residents holding signs that read “Don’t move here!”
One of the best sources you have on your apartment search is current residents. They have dealt with problems of the complex, and have already gotten an insider’s view into the management’s responsiveness. Talk to people you see on the tour, and ask them how they like it. If they cringe, looking at the landlord, and answer you sarcastically with “Gee, I just love it here” it might be a sign of a bad landlord. Current residents have no incentive to talk up the place, and they’ll generally give you an honest assessment of their experience.
10. The apartment isn’t on ApartmentRatings.com
If you don’t see it here, forget about it!