Key Things Millennials Should Look and Lookout for in a Landlord

by DeVante BattsMay 29, 2015

I recently had a bad experience with my landlord, and I’d like to share a bit of what I learned throughout the process. As a millennial looking for a place to live, we often consider renting – since we may not be ready to be tied down to a mortgage. Heck, we’re still getting our lives together trying to figure out what we want to do with our lives. Some of us are still trying to get our degree! Of course, the usual factors we pay attention to in determining where to live are cost, location, utilities, and living space. But another important factor to consider in our final decision is the owner of the property we may potentially lease – the landlord. They come in all different shapes and sizes. Here are some things you should look for and look out for in a landlord before leasing with them.
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Ask questions about the previous tenant(s) of the property.

You can learn a lot about a landlord by asking them questions about the previous tenants that occupied the property before you did. Are they bad-mouthing the previous tenants? Did the landlord mention the tenants breaking their lease? Look out for any red flags in his or her explanation.

Make sure your landlord has some technological literacy.

Having to pay your landlord with a check or money order is inconvenient when you have the internet. Ask if your landlord accepts payments electronically, and be sure to consider any additional service fees.

Since millennials are the leaders of the age of information and technology, we often prefer texting. See if your landlord is willing to communicate through text as well as through a phone call.

Take note of his or her behavior.

As the landlord is showing you around the premises, watch for changes in their behavior on certain topics or certain areas of the property. Ask questions if you feel like there’s something wrong or something you feel uncomfortable with.

If you have roommates, make sure they’re comfortable as well.

If you have roommates, they may have different preferences than you when it comes to living space. Make sure they’re just as comfortable with the premises as you are.

Check his professionalism.

Since this is a business relationship, you always want to keep things professional. Take note of how promptly your landlord gets back to you, the method of handling things as far as lease negotiation and any fixes that need to be done to the property, and even as far as the way he/she dresses. These things can tell a lot about how your landlord handles business.

Check reviews.

This may be difficult if the landlord owns only a single unit property. However if you’re dealing with a medium to large sized company, check review sites like Yelp for reviews about his or her property management company. Your best source of information is other tenants who have come before you.

These are just a few tips to decide if your potential landlord is right for you. Have any other questions or advice? Leave a comment below or contact us on Facebook, Twitter, or any of our other social media platforms.

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DeVante Batts
2 Comments
  • Paul HauK, Computer Scientist, COMP TIA IT Technician
    June 2, 2015 at 10:49 am

    I counted how many millennials that have led me in the information technologies and the result is zero. I was led by veterans, and now, I am a leading veteran. You will finish your paper chase someday and then try to market it and may very well find that you are only viewed as trainable as to the way your prospective employer actually does it.

    One should approach renting an apartment as one should approach buying a house. Sort of “spring training” for buying some day.

    !) Texting maybe ok for you, but not me. It is time inefficient. And it lacks the timber and tremor of the voice, the disposition, and body language. One cannot sense these by texting and one is foolish to think that they can. Case in point: arrogance is not textable. For the rest of this litany let me redefine the Landlord/Tenant relationship as Customer/Customer Service providers. There is only one Lord, so they are not.

    a) Rule #One of Professional Customer Service is “The Customer is always right”.

    b) Rule # Two: If the customer is wrong, immediately refer to Rule # One.

    c) Until you are “accepted” (it should be the other way around) try to keep assertions to a bare minimum and try to keep it to pleasant questioning of the details important to you. Assert yourself when questioned about your qualifications as an applicant/renter, only.

    Prioritize! You should have already called ahead to get the costs and location. If the totality of all costs including transportation to business’ and your job or school then don’t waste your time there. The costs maybe: What is the rent for what you have available? ( do not go by the info you got from their site as it maybe just a “teaser” only to find that what is available is $300 more because it has been “renovated”. If you find yourself in this situation you should ask for a list of all renovations to the apartment that you may be renting. It may very well be only a repainting of the apartment, which is normal course of business of professional complexes.

    You maybe in a rush to see the apartment. I recommend that is the last step, and here is why:

    SAFTY, SAFTY, SAFTY! Are you or are you not going to be safe? If not, even so much as one dollar is too much to pay!

    1) Do they have security staff? Can you have a “meet and greet” with them sometime before signing of the lease? Additionally, can you meet with ALL staff that the complex employs to service you? After all, You are essentially their boss as your rent is where they get their income. Inquire of the presence of security cams, and can you see what they see, and maybe can you have a wireless live feed to the ones particular to your building to your self provided in home monitor? Can you install your own cams such as a peephole cam in the door to your apartment?

    2) Has any one died/been accosted/raped/murdered there? What is the average response time of emergency services to that location? Has there ever been a fire there? If so, get ALL the details.

    Business:

    1)Take with you a flashlight and at least an audio recording device and presume you are rightful in employing g it. Keep it clandestine as much as you can to avoid the hassle of an objection by them to being recorded. ( Classic give away as to their professionalism) If They object walk away. Their is no expectation of privacy in public dealings, unless it is Legal or Medical If they remain stalwart in that they do not want to be recorded, then ask if all verbal representations can be provided in writing, else you shall have to write word for word any and all verbal representations, and you are a slow writer. As verbal’s are also part of the leasing contract but, unenforceable if only verbal Do not find this out the hard way. Do not get them to sign this document of verbals until you are ready to sign the lease agreement GET THEM TO SIGN BEFORE YOU SIGN! I underline AGREEMENT! The implication is that both Landlord and Tenant are in agreement, and that is a 2 way street. If the Slum lord wishes to make it one way, their way or the highway, then take the highway, if at all possible. But remember, that if you sign a one way lease it is still enforceable, and you shall suffer to be at their mercy.

    2) Ask to be able to read the lease agreement before viewing the apartment, and most definitely before paying so much as a penny such as an application fee and/or an administrative fee. unless those fees are refundable if a lease is not perfected.. Alternatively ask them to fax it to your legal service and the give them your fax number.

    3) Ask to peruse the maintenance logs to get an idea of the state of repairs and what they did about them, and how long did it take to resolve.

    Viewing and Inspection.

    1) As you travel around the complex to see where the laundry, the mail boxes, and the trash dumpsters are in relation to the prospective apartment. Be wary of mattresses and sofas sitting beside of the dumpsters as this is almost always a sign that there is a bed bug infestation, and they are difficult to be rid of, and they migrate to other apartments through wall gaps and under the entry door to the apartment if there is a hallway, and even possibly when there is not.

    2) On your way to getting into the apartment to see if it suits you, scan for the cams (if any), and who is occupying the handicapped parking spaces. If you find cars with no handicap placard or license plate, this is a sure sign that they may not be policing the parking lots, even though you’re required to register your vehicle with them. Also look for fire alarm pulls and extinguishers and fire doors on interior hallways’. Ask to see the date that the fire extinguisher nearest to your prospective apartment needs to be renewed. Ask about secondary means of egress in case your primary escape is afire or blocked. Do this for each and every apartment that you are shown. And take note that interior hallways are equipped with emergency lighting in case of a power outage. This maybe a good time to ask if there is a standby generator to power the basic needs of the complex in the event of an outage.

    At this time I shall say if the utilities are shut off inquire as to if they can be turned on for testing everything out for obvious reasons. They may say that if you encounter any problems after you have signed the lease and gotten the utilities in your name, they will fix it. Don’t count on it, as because if you are unhappy with the loudness of the furnace, they are not going to replace it just because you object to the sounds it makes. If they are disinclined to make ready for a full test out before signing of the lease, then ask them if you can get the utilities turned on in your name for a full test out prior to signing the lease. This will say volumes about what your experience will be like while you occupy the apartment, that you signed for, and shall be held accountable for, for the duration of the lease. After all, would you buy a car if it had no fuel for you to do a test drive?

    3) Now you are in the apartment, and I suggest that before you assess the décor and layout, immediately use your flashlight to see every corner of all cabinets, closets, and utility enclosures and the bottom of the furnace shell for what the cleanup crew missed of mouse and roach droppings. DO NOT RELY ON THEIR WORD THAT THEY HAVE ADEQUITE PEST CONTROL! MY standard is not “adequite’, it is “perfection”! (Special note for those not up to snuff as to the Hunta Virus problem in the southwest states. Un-removed mouse feces have to be considered infected, and one does not have to touch, only to inhale the particulates that migrate into the atmosphere as the feces decays, then it is inhaled, and then you become infected.)

    4) Smoke detectors: are they powered by battery or by house wiring? TEST them, on your way out of the apartment in case it does not reset and stop screeching as it will hamper one’s ability to leisurely inspect the apartment. Are they interlinked throughout the building?

    5) If the apartment is heated by anything else than by electricity or solar, ask to see the furnace and inquire as to it’s age and has it ever malfunctioned. Conventional wisdom is that furnaces be retired and replaced every 15 years on average to avoid deaths by it causing a fire, or worse yet, the silent death by carbon monoxide poisoning. Do not simply rely on the gas company’s inspection of the furnace that they have to do before turning on the gas. Ask to see the heat exchanger to see how corroded it is. Take pictures of it. Ask about the provision of a carbon monoxide detector that typically plugs into a wall outlet halfway up the wall somewhere near an air duct discharge vent.

    6) Now TEST everything. And I mean EVERTHING! Start with the bathrooms.

    a) The shower: How long does it take for the hot water to get hot? Is It scalding hot? Are you happy that it gets hot enough? Are the controls correct, hot to the left and cold to the right Does the diverter to the shower head dribble water when the shower head is active? Does the diverter automatically drop and drain upon shutting off the water? It should. Is there a stopper for the drain for a bath? Are there hand holds so you can avoid a slip and fall when washing the bottom of your foot? After the spout has drained of all water that was diverted to the showerhead does it still drip? Similar testing of the sink is in order.

    b) The toilet should be a water conservation one if you have to pay for water. Does it flush well? Does it take a long time to refill? Once it has filled is the toilet dead quiet?

    c) Is there a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter Outlet (GFCI)? TEST IT! Lastly, does the privacy lock on the door function?

    7) Kitchen:
    a) Basically the same as the bathroom except that it has a refrigerator, a range, a range hood and fan and lighting grease trapping filter, and maybe a dishwasher, a garbage disposal, a microwave. It must have a dedicated 20 amp fused or breakered GFCI dedicated electrical outlet. And in a perfect world the microwave 1100 watts or more should be on it’s own dedicated 20 amp circuit breaker or fuse. And most definitely not on the same circuit with the toaster, or coffee maker, or the toaster oven, or any other high amperage drawing appliance.

    (1): Refrigerator; Check to see that it is appropriately hinged, either left or right hand opening. I was in an apartment that the door was not, and could not get them to change the hand opening orientation to save my life.

    (2) Range; if gas, are the pilot light lit sufficiently to start the burners that you try? Are the flames of the burners blue and topped with a little bit of yellow flames? The oven? The Hood, light and Fan? If electric, do all elements get red when turned on full in real time?

    (3) Garbage disposal; does it vibrate excessively when turned on whether with water or not?

    (4) Dishwasher: try it, but do not presume that you will be there for a full cycle. Same for clothes washer and dryer if so furnished.

    Again, in a perfect world, as taught in Architectural design, all rooms should be serviced with 2 differently circuit breakers or fused circuits so as to not leave one in the dark, and at least one outlet in the Living Room be controlled by a wall switch at the entry point to the room. Outlets every 6 feet. My preference is that all top outlet of a duplex outlets in the Living room be switch controlled. Now it has gotten to the point that a dedicated unswitched outlet to the entertainment center is appropriate.

    I delved into the safety issue because I experienced a fire in a walk in closet that consumed much of my clothing and other property stored in there. 3 weeks earlier the hallway Fire Extinguisher had disappeared, and although I had informed the miss-manager it had not been replaced by the time of the fire. Evacuation was my only option for me and my dog. No injuries, not degradation to the structure, only he loss of $10,000 of my personal belongings and monies. My renter’s insurance a first denied my claim because they accused me of being fraudulent. They did eventually came around to giving the limit of my purchased protection for belongings, which was only half of what I had lost. I had no Idea as to the true value of all my LPs, of which the applied depreciation to items that are appreciating in value. Do not be stingy with limits on replacement of your personal property. And be sure to get a “Replacement Cost” policy, not one that will depreciate the value of your property.

    Everywhere I have been I have always had the right by law to rescind any contract within 72 hours. One should verify that with the laws of the state that you are in. As an added matter, see if you can get the manager to include this verbiage on the lease, and maybe even coupled with the words “business hours”, which traditionally are Monday thru Friday. One might have to include Saturday and Sunday if the apartment complex’s business office is open foe each for a full day (8 hours, at least)

    One last thing before being committed to a lease is to do a return inspection at night to see how the place is lit. View all building exterior lighting and especially the mail box areas. After all, you do not want to have to struggle to get your key into the mailbox in darkness, or even go there whilst denizens of the dark are hiding in the darkness, especially if there is shrubbery for them to hide behind.

    • k.tria
      September 11, 2015 at 4:13 pm

      well written, excellent advice! Even thought I am not a millennial, i appreciated the well written information.

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