Deciding on the right rental agreement can be a confusing, stressful process. While there are an overwhelming amount of aspects to consider, there are a few warning signs that stand out of an unreliable agreement. Remember these 5 red flags to help properly narrow your search and secure your dream property:

1. The property manager fails to properly check background

It’s generally a bad sign if a landlord or property manager opts out of performing the usual credit and background checks or decides to not ask for references from potential tenants. If it seems like they could care less about who is signing the lease, chances are they could care less about the property itself. This puts the condition of the living space, the competency of your landlord, and the neighbors you will be sharing a building with in question and should be carefully considered.

2. No visitation of property before signing

If you can’t view the property on site before committing to a lease, odds are there are hidden issues that aren’t being fully disclosed. It’s fully acceptable to want to visit the place you’ll be living in and can make or break your decision. Make sure to also watch out for any mold clause or waiver hidden in the lease. In most cases, mold should not be a renter’s responsibility and should be a concerning factor when determining the safety of a property.

3. Abnormally low rent

While low rent is the dream, be sure to fully check out a property and its surroundings to uncover any underlying issues before fully committing. A good deal is easy to quickly jump into, but that is the last mistake you want to make when signing a lease. If at any point you’re asked to wire money or pay cash, this is also a red flag. It’s completely unnecessary and leaves no documented payment record, which is ideal for scammers.

Another thing to look out for is a large late rent fee or anything over 10% of rent. This may not be a problem for all renters, but is definitely something to consider as it can greatly increase monthly costs if there is a chance you won’t make rent on time.

4. Poor communication from property manager

If your landlord or property manager is hard to reach from the beginning, chances are they will be slow to respond in regards to maintenance and upkeep once you are living in their property. Having a good relationship with your property manager is crucial when determining whether or not to sign. Maintaining consistent and reliable lines of communication is one of the most important aspects of ensuring the right fit.

5. Vague language regarding damages and repairs

It’s important that the lease states exactly who is responsible for potential damages or repairs during the renters lease term. You don’t want loose language to allow the placement of unwarranted responsibility on you for costs including anything from pest control to natural wear on the property.

It’s also a red flag if a property manager fails to give you a damage checklist when you first move in. Without proper documentation of any pre existing issues, landlords are given the opportunity to force blame and payment upon renters.

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