Searching for a new home to rent can be stressful for any tenant, even if you are prepared or meticulous when it comes planning. There’s a whole host of things to check before signing a lease but what are some of the upfront warning signs to pay attention to when you’ve first set foot through the door of a potential rental?
As is the case with most things in life, there are some people who put more effort and energy into it than others and potential landlords are no exception! Let’s face it; no one wants to end up renting a home from someone who isn’t really interested in doing their part to maintain or upkeep their property. But as someone on the hunt for a new home to rent, what are some of these initial (or glaring!) red flags to be on the lookout for when viewing potential properties and can you know beforehand if a landlord tends to err on the side of slack or inattentive?
- The landlord themselves
There is one way to tell whether a landlord is serious or not about their property before ever setting foot on it. If it’s difficult to get hold of the landlord or they mess you around when it comes time to answer questions or view the property, best believe that their attitude towards attending to or maintaining their rental could be of the same ilk. Bear in mind that the way they treat a prospective income stream could be indicative of how they treat their investment.
- Signs of water damage
A sure-fire way to tell whether a landlord is on the ball when it comes to maintaining their property is to look for signs of water damage. Leaks often start out small, and if not nipped in the bud early, can escalate into a real and costly nightmare! When viewing a rental property, keep an eye out for any discolourations, paint bubbles or even mould on the ceilings or walls as well as in the cabinets and cupboards as this will not only indicate that there is an unattended leak hiding somewhere (that you will want to avoid dealing with) but that your landlord hasn’t paid any attention to it as yet and could be nonchalant when it comes to fixing or attending to potential damage.
- Broken or non-functioning appliances
Another clue as to whether a rental home is well-looked after by an attentive landlord is the state of the supplied appliances that come with the rental. If these are broken, well-worn or completely non-functional, chances are the landlord hasn’t made the time to attend to or replace them. Be sure to test each appliance when viewing the apartment or at the very least, during the walkthrough before signing the lease. While it might be a case of a lack of available funds on the part of the landlord – which could be understandable in some instances – it could indicate that they aren’t really invested in the upkeep of their property and will continue to behave as such.
- Messy, unkempt outdoor areas
When entering the property, take note of your surroundings and assess how well-kept things like the verge, grass, shrubberies and rubbish areas are. While the landlord might not be directly responsible for these if you’re viewing a complex or body corporate-run property, it could indicate their level of involvement in and commitment to the general appearance of their investment. An active landlord is an invested landlord. That said, if they are responsible for maintaining the property’s outer appearance and areas, a messy and poorly kept garden, walkway or verge is a major red flag when it comes to their attentiveness and should be viewed with a degree of caution.
- Traces of pests
Another classic sign of poor maintenance or a lack of interest on the part of the landlord is evidence of pests in the rental. If you manage to spot any signs of cockroaches, wood borer, ants or even rodents, best believe there are plenty more that you haven’t spotted so be on the lookout for any dead carcasses, droppings or chew-marks that indicate that you might not be the only one living in that space should you choose to move in!
- Existing tenants
Sometimes it can be worth getting the scoop straight from the horse’s mouth so if you are able to, make a point of connecting with the existing or previous tenants and hearing what they have to say about the landlord and their experience of the general upkeep of the property. It goes without saying that they will have first-hand knowledge of how well the rental home has been maintained, in what fashion as well as what could be expected should you be the next to move in.
When it comes to finding a well-maintained place to rent, upfront vigilance can go a long way to preventing any unpleasant surprises or curved balls after the lease has been signed and you’re officially locked in. Often the writing will be on the proverbial wall as to what kind of landlord you’re in for if you just take the time to notice the aforementioned clues around you. An inattentive landlord will always inadvertently make themselves known through the state of their rental, so pay close attention to what the signs are telling you – you’ll definitely be thankful when you realise you’ve spotted a slacker and dodged a bullet in the long run!