Avoid poorly-managed apartment buildings by following these tactics.
With enough money, an investor can purchase a property and attempt to become a landlord for additional income. However, lack of property management experience can negatively affect potential tenants. Even the most stunning properties with upscale amenities are susceptible to poor leadership, which is why potential applicants can’t rely on aesthetics alone.
To fully assess a potential rental, including its internal operations, consider the following tips.
Complete your due diligence
First begin your apartment search process based on your locale. If you live in a big city, online listings and agents might be the most helpful and legitimate route. Small town residents may find more luck via word-of-mouth marketing. Either way, narrow down your prospect pool by asking friends and family for trustworthy recommendations.
“When searching for an apartment I always start with referrals. In other words, I check with my friends, family and coworkers to see if they like where they live and if they would recommend their complex to others. Secondly, I ask those same people if they have heard of openings for apartments that would suit my needs. Lastly, I take my search online so that I can find as many available apartments as possible, and then narrow them down to my desired location and price range.” — Derek Sall of Life and My Finances
Enlist professional help
With today’s technology, many renters assume they can sign a lease effortlessly. On the contrary, leasing agents play a key role in successful negotiations, all while providing decision-altering disclosures. They are highly familiar with their specific market, including average rental prices and landlord reputations.
“The real estate agent we eventually chose took 10 minutes to ask about our lifestyle, our preferences and our hobbies. She was able to help us find an apartment in an area that fit our tastes and sensibilities because she knew what we were like. Someone who can match you with a living situation that fits your lifestyle is valuable.” — Miranda Marquit of Planting Money Seeds
Ask previous tenants
Some landlords, reputable or not, might boast about their buildings to sign quality applicants. To learn their true standards and practices, ask previous tenants.
“I think online research is key, but you also need to find someone who lives in the building — even if it’s just a friend of a friend of a friend. Find out what they like and dislike about the place, and see how that fits with your own needs and expectations.” — Taylor of Repaid.org
“I’m gearing up to look for an apartment in the next few months and I’ll definitely be researching management companies before signing a lease. With that said, it’s important to remember that a lot of the reviews online are those of people who have had exceedingly negative experiences — and are self-reporting their issues. I’ll be doing online research, but if I have a recommendation from a friend, it’ll be a lot more meaningful.” — Chris Sonzogni of GenFKD
Understand your lease
Plenty of properly managed apartment buildings enforce rules for all tenants. While they won’t hit you with any non-disclosed fees, they’ll likely keep their lease terms consistent, no matter your personal circumstances.
“[Management wasn’t] helpful with giving us our deposit back early because we moved out two weeks earlier than planned.” — Aaron Crowe of Add Vodka
Just as homeowners fall behind schedule with home improvements, so do landlords. Typically, if a lease includes promises for upgrades, a strict timeline is omitted.
“My landlord didn’t check materials and we ended up having to redo the kitchen twice. The refrigerator door couldn’t even open due to the wrong cabinets. The contractor had to change the floor, cabinets, countertops, lights [and] so many things. The landlord gave me a discount on my rent since we were basically living in a construction zone all summer. But in the end, the house was beautiful!” — Will Lipovsky of First Quarter Finance
It’s difficult to determine honesty until an issue arises. But, you can attempt to assess a landlord’s management style during the lease signing period. The initial email exchange and phone calls when inquiring about an apartment are strong indicators of their overall responsiveness. Do they forget to call you back? Do they have floor plans available? Are they willing to negotiate?
“Here in New York, I’ve had a few minor issues with my management company, likely stemming from the fact that they handle so many more units than my previous one. One of the things that I’ve found is that it’s almost always more effective to pick up the phone and follow up with an email than to simply wait for a response.” — Chris Sonzogni of GenFKD
“My tenants are able to call/text me at any time and let me know if anything comes up. I appreciate the open communication we have as I will sometimes check in to see if there are any issues that need to be looked after. As a result of this, my tenants tend to stay for long periods of time.” — Dan of Our Big Fat Wallet
Slumlords exist. Take the initiative and review all of your renting options to protect yourself and your wallet.