Featured News 2014 Five Tips for Tenants

Five Tips for Tenants

As if looking for a place to live was not already a strenuous enough task, searching for the right landlord can quickly increase the level of difficulty. But just as landlords have guidelines by which to screen potential tenants, you should be vetting your potential landlords, before you give them your social security number and a hefty deposit. Here are some tips to help you on your way.

  1. Investigate foreclosures. If you end up renting a place that is foreclosed on, you could put your deposit and even your home at risk. Before you sign that lease, make sure that the landlord actually owns the property. You can do this by asking for tax records. If a property management group is involved, you can look into their history of foreclosures. If you discover that the business is insolvent, or that the rental is in foreclosure, you should probably walk away.
  2. Run a background check. A fraud or armed robbery charge is not something that you want to learn about after you have signed the rental agreement. There are many ways to investigate criminal records online, as these are made public.
  3. Research complaints. This could mean going out to your local Chamber of Commerce to look for complaints or local business that file complaints. You can also check with Better Business Bureau or with review sites such as Yelp. If similar complaints keep cropping up, keep a tally. Are there a good number of tenants who complain that the terms of their lease were violated, or that their deposit was never returned?
  4. Interview tenants. Ask tenants about the landlord you're researching. Does rent go up frequently, how well are repairs addressed, does the landlord invade tenants' privacy, etc.? You could even request a reference list of prior tenants from the potential landlord. If they balk at this request, this could be a bad sign.
  5. Look for damage. See the public property records for any flood or fire damage, for instance. You could even look online to see if there were any recent disasters in the area. Keep a sharp eye out for damage and infestation symptoms. And finally, if instinct tells you that the rent seems too low for what you're getting, you should follow up that hunch by looking for what the catch is.

Once you have found a good property and landlord, you'll have to next consider the terms of the lease or rental agreement. Do they violate any of your legal rights? Have the terms of your current lease been violated? When it comes to reviewing a lease, or asserting your rights under the lease terms, don't hesitate to contact a real estate attorney today. Learn what your rights are and how you can protect them when you consult a local legal expert.

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