So I’ve mentioned in a few posts about me looking for a new place to move into. I have no experience in deciding if a home is in good shape or not. After getting approved for the duplex I thought everything was going to be smooth sailing from here on out. I guess I was naïve to think that if someone was going to rent out a property they would make sure everything was in working order before they allowed someone to live in it. Luckily for me, my girlfriend’s parents happened to come up and visit us the weekend before we signed the lease.
Her father deals in real estate so he has all the experience I’m lacking. When we walked into the duplex he immediately started combing through everything. As he went through the places we made a list of over 15 problems that needed to be fixed before we could move it. Some were minor, like one of the electrical outlets was missing a cover. Then we found some major issues, like where the plumbing in the bathroom leaks into the wall. I would like to give the owners of this property the benefit of doubt that maybe they didn’t notice the leaks (but I’m sure they had). The things that really blew my mind were the tricks the landlords had used to hide major issues. For instance, instead of replacing the bathtub they decided to paint it. Well it looks ok at first, but after a while the paint peels away (sneaky, sneaky). Also, they painted the ceiling to make it look nicer; however, to cut costs they didn’t use primer and the whole ceiling was starting to peel off. After seeing what type of people we were dealing with, I knew we couldn’t move in.
I wrote this blog post because I want to pass on the lessons I’ve learned to others so you don’t make the same mistake I almost made. Here are the main things:
1) Take Your Time And Look Through EVERYTHING– When we first found this place the only thing we looked at was the floor plan. It’s so important to look at all the little things to make sure everything works. Check things like the toilet, the shower, the fridge, the stove, the furnace/water heater, the air vents/filter, and especially look for water damage.
2) Don’t Be Shy, Talk To The Neighbors– We talked to the guy living next door to the duplex, and he filled us in on some very important information. He told us the roofers that built the roofs in this neighborhood were cut rate and did a terrible job. We also found out that the area was really windy and the siding of the houses tends to fly off. We wouldn’t have known about any of this if we hadn’t been open to chatting with the neighbors.
3) Never Trust the Landlord– It’s sad. The older I get the more I realize you can’t trust anyone (except a select few) when it comes to money. Never assume the landlord will have made sure everything is in working order before you move in.
4) Ask For Repairs Before You Sign The Lease– There are two main reasons it’s important to catch all these issues before you sign the lease. A) Their might be too many problems and you don’t even want to move in anymore (like in my case). B) You have way more leverage to get them to fix things before you’re already locked in to the lease. If you tell them you won’t move in until everything is fixed you will have a better chance at getting them to do it quickly.
5) Do All This Before You Fill Out The Application– We didn’t do a good job at checking the duplex before we filled out the application. If we had, we wouldn’t have wanted it and saved ourselves the non-refundable application fee.
Does anyone else have more advice for people that are looking to rent?