With rents topping $800 for a one bedroom apartment and more than $1,000 for a two bedroom, it behooves potential renters to research the property – and property management company – before plopping down a deposit along with the first and last month’s rent and signing a yearlong lease.
Why? In 2012, more than 6,400 complaints against apartment complexes and landlords were filed with Better Business Bureau for issues including incorrect billing, trouble getting security deposits back or getting repairs handled in a timely manner.
If you’re looking to rent, your BBB offers these tips:
Go to wynco.bbb.org to check out apartment complexes and property managers you are considering. BBB Business Reviews show a company’s rating and whether or not there’s a history of complaints.
Before signing the lease, make sure you read and understand the rental terms and your responsibilities as a tenant. When is rent due? Who pays for utilities? Are pets allowed? Keep a copy for your records.
Before moving in, look over the condition of the apartment in person and document all flaws and defects in both writing and with photos. Have all agreements, such as what improvements will be made and when, put into writing.
Find out how maintenance and repair concerns are handled and within what time frame. What is your responsibility when it comes to minor repairs or replacing light bulbs? Remember that you have certain rights when it comes to a livable space, such as heat, water, electricity and clean, safe surroundings. Visit the the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at hud.gov for information on landlord-tenant rights.
Be wary of rental ads on Craigslist and other online forums. Scam artists post phony ads using photos and addresses of legitimate properties and state they are unable to show the property because they are out of town. Never wire money for a property you have not seen.
Don’t skip renter’s insurance. The property owner carries insurance on the building, but it’s your responsibility to insure all personal furnishings and belongings against theft or disasters such as fire, flood or tornado.
Start With Trust. For more consumer tips and information, visit wynco.bbb.org.