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Red Flags to Watch Out for When Searching for an Apartment

Finding the right apartment can be a real challenge. This is especially true if you’re looking for affordable housing or looking to rent in a tough market with scarce inventory. Once you’ve found your dream, all-inclusive apartment for rent in Richmond, VA, don’t celebrate just yet. You need to carefully evaluate the property, research about its owner, and understand the fine print before locking yourself in a lease. Keep yourself safe by spotting these red flags:

1. The landlord or property manager is unresponsive.

One of the biggest red flags when shopping for a rental property is an uncommunicative property manager. It isn’t a good sign if you’re playing phone tag with the landlord just to set up a showing. If it’s how they conduct business before you even sign the lease, think about how they’ll address issues in the future. Continue your search and find a place with more responsive management.

2. The late rent fee is unreasonably high.

Sure, you want to be a good tenant, but issues might arise, or your busy schedule might make you forget to pay the rent on time. When the rent is a few days late, landlords usually impose a late payment fee. However, they can not charge whatever they want because the amount is subject to legal limits.

Late rent fees vary by state but generally range from 5-10% of the rent amount. Landlords should also provide at least a 5-day grace period before applying a late fee. If the landlord has an unreasonable late fee policy, it would be wise to keep looking for a lease with much better terms.

3. The asking price is unbelievably low.

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While good things happen to good people, renting an insanely cheap apartment in a prime neighborhood isn’t one of them. If the price is significantly lower than the market value, there might be some unsavory possibilities. There’s a big chance that a super-cheap apartment won’t be so awesome when you move in.

You might realize that the conditions are unsafe and inconvenient. Or worse, there are issues in property ownership. Ask the landlord why he’s willing to hand you the keys for outrageously cheap rent and gauge his answer carefully. Don’t hesitate to forego a seemingly good apartment if something feels off.

4. The property show is rushed.

There might be a reason why a property manager or a landlord tries to rush the tour. They might be covering up issues such as a rumbling subway every 15 minutes or other persistent noises around the property. You can’t decide if an apartment is livable or comfortable unless you get a clear picture of the place. Take your time when checking the property and visit the neighborhood during different hours of the day. Visit the actual property you’d be living in and do not agree to tour a model or similar unit.

While you’re incredibly excited to find a new place to live in, make sure not to turn a blind eye on these red flags. Walk away when you see signs that things might be heading south.

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