Are you eyeing a particular property to rent but having second thoughts if you should get it? Before you say ‘this is it!’ and sign the lease contract, here are a few red flags that you need to watch out for:
- The landlord is reluctant to let you visit the property
- The landlord lives out of state or overseas
- The terms of the lease contract are unclear
- A thorough list of damaged items is not provided
- The property is for foreclosure
1. You’re not allowed to visit the property before signing the contract
The cardinal rule of renting is that renters should visit the site before entering into a rental agreement.
As a renter, you must be able to check out the following:
- The location of the property is the same as the address stated on the contract
- The space for lease is not currently tenanted
- There are no electrical or plumbing issues (if there are, they should be clearly stated in the inspection report)
- The property does not have a pest or mold problem
If your landlord is reluctant to show you around the premises from the get-go, it’s a warning sign that the rental property might have problems the landlord doesn’t want you to know about.
2. The landlord lives overseas
At first glance, a landlord living out of state doesn’t look like it presents much of a problem. That is until maintenance issues, and other issues start piling up, and the landlord is nowhere to be seen — or he’s living in a different time zone.
When the landlord is out of reach when emergencies like this happen, it can potentially prolong a rental home’s issues and cause you more problems than you bargained for.
3. The terms of the lease contract are unclear or incomplete
When renting, you’ll want to ensure that the lease contract also protects your interests as a tenant.
Having an airtight contract will save you the trouble of dealing with premature eviction, unreasonable fees, and substandard living conditions. It can also help eliminate possible sources of dispute in the future.
Here’s an essential checklist of what should be included in the lease contract:
- The landlord is the legal entity leasing the property. While this clause may sound like a no-brainer, it can happen that the person leasing is not the duly recognised landlord of the property. As a renter, it’s crucial that you do your due diligence and double-check the authorisation of the person renting out the property.
- The tenancy period. The duration of your lease should be indicated in the contract; this includes the grace period for moving in and out of the property.
- Maintenance repairs. The contract should include who will cover the cost of structural repairs.
- Lease renewal terms. The landlord should include in the contract when the lease can be renewed, your eligibility for lease renewal, and an increase in rental fees he plans to implement.
If you notice that the terms are unclear (or gaps in the contract), let your landlord know immediately before signing. If the landlord is reluctant to make the necessary amendments to the agreement, take it as a green light to look at other properties instead.
4. A checklist of damaged items isn’t provided
While a problem-free rental home sounds like a dream, it’s fair to say that most properties can have an issue here and there. There’s the occasional leaking pipe, a malfunctioning socket, or even (shudder!) the random bed bug.
Before you sign the lease contract, these and other damages should be cited thoroughly in the inspection checklist. It’s helpful to take photos for documentation purposes as well — this will erase any ambiguity about the property’s condition before your move-in.
If the landlord is unwilling to provide you with a thorough checklist of existing damages, it’s a sign that you may be entering into a sketchy and potentially troublesome transaction. Forget about the property and move on to the following listing — your future self will thank you.
5. The property is for foreclosure
As a renter, you’d want the duration of your stay in your rental home to be as stress-free as possible. Before saying yes to the rental agreement, it would be helpful to do a background check of the property and confirm that it is available for leasing and not up for foreclosure.
Rental property for foreclosure will only give you unnecessary trouble — aside from dealing with occasional visits from bank representatives, and you’ll also live with the constant worry that you may be evicted prematurely.
H2: How to ensure that you’ll rent a suitable property
Renting a property can go both ways — it can turn out to be an excellent experience for you or be the complete opposite. The latter is especially true if you’re renting for the first time.
One way to ensure that you’ll be leasing the right rental property is to get a trustworthy property management agent. With a reputable property manager, you are assured that the homes you’ll be scouting have been screened and vouched for. You’ll also feel secure knowing that you’re represented by someone knowledgeable and experienced in the industry — it will save you plenty of time, resources, and trouble in the long term.