It’s common knowledge that your landlord will screen you before they approve your application to rent from them. They’ll be checking references, work history, financial information, and even if you have a criminal background. But, what about your landlord? How comfortable are you with giving a complete stranger your personal information? It would make sense if you were to screen your landlord, right? But, how?
1. Check public records
When you check public records, you can find out a bunch of information about your new landlord, be they an individual or a property management company. When you research your landlord, you’ll want to look for red flags like bankruptcy, liens on any assets, criminal records, and even any lawsuits. You can also check tax records because they can reveal a lot of information about the property. If you’re dealing with a property management company, you’ll want to look for any recent foreclosures on any of their properties.
2.Consider complaints from tenants
Whether they are past tenants or current, you may want to look through the reviews before you go in to look at a property. These reviews will give you a look into how the landlord is and whether or not they address complaints. Keep note of the same type of complaint (less than capable maintenance men, rude office staff, unexplained charges) and see how long those complaints go back. If these complaints go back for several months or even years, you might want to rethink that particular landlord.
3. Talk to neighbors
If you’re renting a house, you can ask your potential neighbors for how the landlord behaves. They’ll probably know your landlord and have had firsthand experience with them. If you are going to be living in a complex, you can ask other tenants a few questions about how frequently the rent goes up, how the landlord handles repairs, or how responsive they are when there is a tenant request.
4. Look at the appearance of the property
You can get a lot of clues about how the landlord conducts business by the physical appearance of the property. Is the exterior of the building in good condition or is the paint chipping away? Are the hedges trimmed or are they growing wildly? Be sure to look at the garbage and recycling areas as well. If these important areas are unkempt, it could be a breeding ground for rats and other nasty vermin or bugs, which is never a welcome house guest.
5. Look at the condition of the building
While you are looking at the aesthetic of the property, you’ll also want to think about the condition of the building. Some problems can be seen without an expert, but other things like an electrical problem, mold, or even a rodent infestation are difficult to see. These things could be a serious threat to your health and safety. To really know what you’re getting into, check to see if there’s any violations pending against the property. You can do that by calling the right city department to ask, but there are some cities where there are online databases that you can look through.