The basic rule to follow when you are looking for an apartment is: Be careful. Rental agents and property managers work for landlords, and most landlords are renting property to make money. As in any business, some landlords are responsible; some are not.
When you first meet a landlord, a rental agent, or a property manager, she may seem very helpful. But remember—she wants to rent out an apartment as quickly as possible. When you are checking out an apartment:
- Don't let a landlord or her agent rush you.
- Carefully inspect the apartment.
- Read any agreement before you sign it.
- Get all promises in writing.
Find Out About the Landlord
It is a good idea to learn about the landlord's or property manager's reputation. The more you know about how a person operates her business, the better off you will be. Try to talk to current tenants. Ask them how well the landlord takes care of the place or if they have had trouble getting repairs made. Also ask current tenants if they have heard anything about the building being foreclosed upon. For more information see Chapter 18: Tenants & Foreclosure.
Get Contact Information
If you decide to rent a place, be sure to get a landlord's or property manager's contact information. Get a day-time office phone number and an emergency phone number that you can use after business hours. If there is ever an emergency or serious problem with the apartment, you will need to know how to contact the person responsible for the premises at any hour.
Also, ask your landlord for an email address so you can notify her of any problems in writing.