Continuing on with the conclusion of the article from ApartmentTherapy.com that we started with last time. Here are some more tips on how to avoid bad landlords, something you won’t find at a Decker Property.
5. Read your lease very carefully. All that legalese may be boring, but it’s really important to know what you’re signing. If you’re month-to-month, ask your landlord how often he intends to raise your rent. If you have a longer lease, make sure you understand the penalty for breaking it, just in case.
6. Photograph every room the day you sign the contract, paying particular attention to existing problems, like scratched floors or a hole in the wall. Landlords have been known to accuse tenants of destroying things that were already in disrepair. If you leave your apartment in the same state you found it (or better), and have proof of it, your landlord will be hard-pressed to keep your deposit.
7. If you’re struggling to make rent, be straight with your landlord. Perhaps you can negotiate an extension or a payment plan. Hiding out in your apartment and avoiding phone calls will just make your landlord fume. If it’s a more long-term situation, be honest. Your landlord might give you a break on penalties, or at least promise to give you a solid referral.
8. Know your renters’ rights! They vary from state to state, but staying informed can save you a lot of heartache. For instance, in many places landlords can only raise your rent a certain percentage annually. No matter where you are, at least in the U.S., they can’t discriminate against minorities or parents with colicky babies. They also can’t evict you willy-nilly. Additionally, there are laws regarding how often rentals must be painted, how frequently carpet must be replaced, what must be done in case of pest infestation, and so on. If you’re booted out of your place for repairs or other reasons beyond your control, your landlord or building manager may have to compensate you for your lodging.
9. Sometimes renters get stuck in terrible situations. I had a friend whose upstairs neighbor became enraged over every little sound, even as she clacked around in stilettos and smoked (against the rules) inside. She called my friend’s landlord — the same oddball who owned my building — on a near-daily basis about my friend’s perceived misdoings. He was so sick of dealing with her that he tried to evict my friend on obviously questionable grounds. This went on for months, and stressed out my friend so much that she became depressed, especially when she lost her job on top of it all. I eventually found her a pro-bono lawyer who saved the day. If you find yourself in such a bind, search your area for renters’ rights organizations or lawyers that will work for a flat or low fee on your behalf.