Here, we talk a lot about the things you need to do to make yourself an attractive tenant to landlords, but even in a competitive rental market, you should hold landlords to a level of scrutiny as well. While it’s easy for landlords to get a background check for renters, it’s not as easy to run a rental history check on landlords. But there are a few things you can do to help you determine if you are renting from a trustworthy landlord.
It pays to do a little sleuthing before you decide to sign a lease. Here are a few signs that a potential landlord may not be trustworthy or worse, a “slumlord” with a history of renting substandard properties:
* Negative news stories. Since many poor landlord practices go unreported to the authorities, much less in the media, it’s a clear red flag if the name of a landlord or rental company shows up in the news for the wrong reasons. A simple Google search will help you, but keep in mind that rental companies might change names after a negative event.
* Multiple signs of disrepair. Landlords might tell you they were unaware of these issues or that they’ll be fixing them. That may be the case, but you’ll want to make sure they get fixed before you sign a lease. Good landlords want to make the repairs before showing a unit to make the best impression.
* Inaccessibility. If your potential landlord is hard to get a hold of before you even sign a lease, it’s not likely to get any better once you move in. It’s never a bad idea to ask other tenants within the building if the landlord is generally responsive either.
* Legal record. For an added bit of security, you can also conduct a search for potential landlord’s name or company in the county court. You can also check property records to make sure the property is not at risk of foreclosure. If your city has a rental licensing program, you can also check with the city housing office to see if your potential landlord’s license is in good standing or if there are any complaints that have been filed against the landlord.