Even the best-behaved tenants can end up dealing with a crappy landlord. However, many bad landlords show their colors early in the application process and you can avoid them if you know what to look for.  Before signing a lease, make sure that you won’t be renting from one of these types of bad landlords to avoid:

The Greedy Landlord

Some renters naively assume they’ll receive their deposits back in-full if they leave their apartment or rental home in decent shape. Unfortunately, many landlords are interested in keeping tenants’ security deposits – no matter how great their rental looks when they leave.

To avoid having a security deposit withheld, document everything upon the initial walkthrough. Any minor flaws- including nicks and scratches on walls and doors- should be written down and recognized by both the tenant and the landlord. Written proof and time-stamped photographs help tenants attest to damages existing before their leases, legally protecting them from financing repairs. Make sure documents are dated and signed by both parties. If a landlord refuses to sign walkthrough documents, it’s a major red flag for tenants who should consider searching for new apartments rather than risk being taken advantage of.

The Lazy Landlord

couch manPart of the appeal of renting is not being responsible for structural repairs and other building upkeep. Unresponsive landlords, on the other hand, make leasing more stressful. Not only are maintenance issues left unaddressed, they can’t be fixed by tenants themselves. Furthermore, renters who call repairmen on their own might end up footing the bill.

If a request isn’t addressed right away, continue to attempt to reach property management. Make sure to document each correspondence, including the date of contact, problem at hand, and response (or lack thereof) by the landlord. If property management does not respond within 30 days, forward the documented message(s) by mail and request a return receipt to record a postmarked attempted request. If no response, send another letter and wait 15 days. Finally, send one last attempt and wait seven days. If there is still no response, the tenant can take the landlord to court.

As a preventative measure, befriend the maintenance crew. It’s easier to ask repairmen for favors directly than trying to submit minor requests through your landlord. This way, inconsequential problems such as clogged toilets and burned bulbs can be fixed without filing unnecessary paperwork.

The Invasive Landlord

Although renting out someone else’s space, tenants still have a right to privacy. The property manager may feel they have the right to drop by whenever they please, often to “check something out” or make friendly conversation. While it’s great for landlords to genuinely like their tenants, there should still be a degree of professionalism involved. Asking them to back off can make the situation even more awkward and ruin positive renting experiences.

Watch out for landlords who are a bit too friendly early in the process. Observe how they behave during the application process and their relationships with other residents. Typically, obtrusive landlords are more common in single family homes or small apartment communities. Inquire if property management lives on-site, as that is sometimes the reason landlords unintentionally cross boundaries.

Have you ever dealt with a landlord that falls into one of these categories?  If so, how did you handle it?