Personal Finances

8 Red Flags to Avoid When Renting an Apartment

Apartment hunting can be an incredibly stressful ordeal, made even more so by the existence of very shady apartments, apartment managers, and con artists. In this article, we’ll be exploring 8 of some of the most common and uncommon red flags to look out for when renting an apartment.

1. Watermarked Listing Photos

Watermarked photos are the first red flags we’ll be exploring here. If you come across a listing with a watermarked photo, take a step back and do some additional investigation. Con artists often grab photos from other apartment listing sites and post them on a new site, with or without the original text that comes with the listing.

A watermarked photo serves the purpose of identifying the original owner(s) of the picture. Therefore, receiving a watermarked photo of an apartment that you like could mean that whoever sent you the picture probably has no connection to the apartment and is trying to con you.

2. Very Short/Rushed Tour

Some apartment listings come with vague descriptions on their listings, others come with a rushed tour. Both cases should definitely raise a red flag for you. A rushed tour usually signifies hidden problems with the apartment. It means that there might be defects that the manager is trying to hide from you by doing a quick showing.

So, check every corner and every appliance, take your time to make sure there is nothing wrong with the apartment. Failure to do so can result in a lot of regret in the near future.

3. Very Low Rent

Another way that scammers go about their business is by appealing to people’s greed, or the part of us that wants to save money at all costs. They list out very beautiful apartments and offer deals that seem like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But, in reality, good things cost money, and the more beautiful the apartment, the more it will cost.

4. Asking for Money During the Showing

The application fee for renting an apartment is in the realm of normal things that a manager can ask for during a showing, however, the full payment is certainly not required of you during the showing, no matter how urgent the manager makes it seem. It could be another sign that you are about to be duped.

5. Rents that Do Not Match That of the Surrounding Houses’

When you are apartment hunting, do some research and find out the prices of the houses in that same neighborhood. Sometimes, managers can raise the rent of houses in order to extort money from you. Also, scammers can lure you into renting the house they’ve put up for rent by reducing the rent.

This is a red flag because houses that have similar descriptions in the same environment cannot be far apart in terms of rental fees.

6. Signature First, Business Later

You should always be careful of what you add your signature to, not just when renting an apartment. However, another common red flag is when a manager tries to make you sign documents before proceeding to show you around the apartment.

Scammers use this technique to trick clients into paying a finder’s fee for the apartment that they found for you, the one that they have falsely advertised. Once your signature is on the contract, you become beholden to them and you probably won’t even get the apartment afterward, since it may not have been up for rent in the first place.

7. Not Requesting For Background Information

One of the checkpoints in the routine of property managers requesting for tenant’s background information. This goes to show that they are only interested in reliable clients. However, if you come across a property manager who does not request that you fill in your background information, you should be wary because there are a few reasons why that could happen, and none of them is good.

It could be a scam or it could be the nonchalance of the manager and his/her willingness to take in anyone, as long as they have the money. You could end up losing your money to scammers or living in a building with very compromised security.

8. Poor Building Maintenance

It is not unusual for a building to have some broken things in need of repair, however, it is an entirely different case if that’s all there is to the building, broken things. If you notice more than a few appliances that have the “out of order” sign attached to them, poorly maintained utilities, weak doors, and broken things that have gone unrepaired for a significant period of time, keep your money. I repeat, keep your money and go look elsewhere.

Apartment hunting can be very rewarding, as long as you learn to recognize the occasional red flags.