I’m a real estate agent: Don’t rent an apartment if it has any of these 10 problems
When searching for a new apartment to rent, it is essential to do your due diligence and careful scrutiny to ensure a comfortable and hassle-free living experience. Before putting time, money and effort into your new home, it’s important to stay away from any apartments that display some important red flags.
Tenants should be vigilant in avoiding these 10 problems to save themselves from serious headaches in the future.
Moisture or mold
Consider doing a sniff test in different areas throughout the apartment. Musty odors or a strong Febreze odor could indicate hidden mold or mildew — or someone trying to hide a problem.
“This is a major issue that can cause health issues 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 an apartment is to inspect it yourself. If you notice a musty smell, spongy walls, visible mold, or water stains, do not rent it – no matter how nice it looks.”
Intermittent water pressure
“Water pressure is very important,” Leclerc said. “If you experience intermittent water pressure, do not rent the apartment. This may be a sign of serious plumbing problems and will cost you time and money to fix. Try to check the water pressure in multiple areas of the apartment before signing the lease.”
Likewise, if you experience plumbing leaks throughout the apartment, this could be another warning sign of an unsuitable place to live. Be sure to inspect the sinks before signing the lease.
Your apartment should ideally provide a peaceful haven for rest, work and everyday life. Loud noise from neighbors, busy roads nearby, or noisy train tracks may disrupt this peace. If you are sensitive to loud noises, it would be wise to reconsider. Additionally, take a look at the apartment complex’s common areas for more ideas.
“If you notice pet waste scattered around common areas or sidewalks, take it as a sign,” said Erin Hebart, lead listing agent with Clients First Realty, LLC. “This is likely an indication of inconsiderate neighbors who don’t clean up after their pets. And if they’re that negligent in shared spaces, imagine what else they might be neglecting!”
Outdated or defective equipment can pose safety risks and may indicate inadequate maintenance by management.
“Defective devices can cause persistent headaches,” Hebart said. “Imagine your refrigerator breaking down when you least expect it. Your landlord probably isn’t paying for your spoiled food.
Committing to an apartment managed by unresponsive landlords, maintenance or management teams can lead to frustration, unresolved issues, and an overall unsatisfactory rental experience.
“If it’s difficult to contact management or maintenance, that’s a bad sign,” Hebart said. “You want someone who is responsive to your needs.”
Apartments that don’t have basic 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 an everyday problem, especially in crowded neighborhoods,” Hebart said. “You don’t want to be running around the block for an hour every day.”
A poorly maintained building is a significant red flag. Look for issues such as leaky faucets, broken appliances, and peeling paint to assess whether the apartment is adequately maintained.
“Slow or non-existent maintenance can be a huge 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. This is why it is essential to check reviews or chat with current tenants if possible.
Beware of hidden fees that may not be mentioned in the lease, such as parking fees or utility costs.
“Always watch out for extras,” Pedraza said. “Parking fees, maintenance fees and even some sneaky utility bills can surprise you. A friend of mine thought he struck gold with a cheap apartment, but was later drowning in hidden costs.
Ask your landlord about these expenses before committing to an apartment that could result in unexpected financial burdens.
Pictures too good to be true
Sometimes, pictures can be deceiving, and what you see on the apartment website looks completely different in reality. Avoid falling victim to false advertising.
“Ah, the power of photography,” Pedraza said. “Some landlords have a knack for making spaces appear larger or brighter than they really are. Always trust your eyes and visit in person.
Evidence of pests
“Evidence of pests like mice or cockroaches is a big no-no,” Hebart said.
If you notice any signs of rodents, cockroaches, or bedbugs, it’s best to stay away. Not only do these pests pose health risks, they are also difficult to eradicate and can infect clothing, bedding and infrastructure, leading to major problems down the road.
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