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Renting : Things to Look Out For

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The world of renting can be something of a battlefield. Painful as it may be to admit, there are people out there who are looking to take advantage of others. Perhaps you have heard horror stories of people being stuck in places they can barely stand to live. Or, maybe you've been one of these people. Whatever the case, you should be on your toes while you hunt for a place to live. It's a jungle out there.

Online Scams

If you are asked, in reply to a query about a place for rent, to provide very personal information (Social Security Number, credit report application, bank information), be very wary. A landlord does not need to know about these things right off the bat, or maybe at all. If you have not seen the apartment or house, let alone spoken to anyone over the phone, do not provide any personal information. There have been numerous reports of scams like this online, preying especially on people who are apartment hunting.

TIP: Negative though it may sound, if it seems "too good to be true," then it probably is.

When You Look At the Place

A cursory glance is not going to tell you whether or not everything is up to snuff. Look closely at these things:
  • Pipes: Are they leaking?
  • Toilets: Do they flush?
  • Water: Is there hot and cold?
  • Parking: Is there any?
Don't be afraid to test things out when you are looking around. If you're going to be living here, you want everything to work properly.

Other Red Flags

If you feel uneasy about your landlord or the accommodations you are seeing, there is probably good reason. To a certain degree, you should trust your gut. Here are a few specific things that should make you stop and think:
  • When you are touring the building with your landlord, is he or she chased down by other tenants regarding problems in their apartments?
  • Did you walk through the actual place you'll be living, or just one of the apartments in the building?
  • Is there a phone number, on the lease or elsewhere, whereby you can contact a maintenance person?
There's nothing wrong with keeping your eyes open and your feelers out; this is a hefty investment you are about to make, and one you have to live with (literally) for a while. If possible, bring someone with you when you are looking at places, so you have a second opinion and one that's less emotionally involved. Happy hunting!

Adam Mandelbaum  Posted by Adam Mandelbaum on May 14, 2010

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