It happens to all of us - we think we've found the perfect place to live, everything just feels right, so you go in for the deal and move in. But as the days go by, the most unpredictable of things turn your dream home into a nightmare from renter's hell. If you want to be prepared, here are some red flags you should be aware of when house hunting.
1. If the landlord insists on cash-only payments, be wary.
Every other mode of payment leaves a paper trail which can be tracked. If he insists on cash, it may open the door to certain legal issues in the future.
2. If there's a random coat of paint on a particular part of the house, the landlord may be trying to hide something.
A random paint splotch might be indicative of a history of termites, cockroaches and other bugs which have been hurriedly covered up. Make sure your place is pest-proof before moving in.
3. If there are several vacant houses in neighbourhood, find out why.
If you feel like the houses in the neighbourhood are great, but they're still lying empty, speak to some neighbours and find out if there is a safety and security issue. Get a lay of the land before you decide to stay there.
4. If the landlord has a large number of properties around town, that can cause problems.
It's normal for a landlord to have multiple properties, but if they run 30-plus places all over town, that could mean they won't have time to make repairs and other fixes to your place. Basically, they might not be able to give priority to your rental.
5. Find out what all the overhead charges such as maintenance are beforehand.
There's nothing worse than surprise additions to the rent after everything has been decided and you've already moved in. Make sure you find out what the extra charges are for maintenance, water and the like beforehand.
6. Make sure the rent increase percentage is included in the agreement.
This one is obvious, but it still warrants a mention. Make sure the rent increase percentage is mentioned in your rent agreement, and also make sure it's not a ridiculously high amount.
7. If the landlord demands 24-hour access to your place and is overbearing - stay away.
This could be indicative of a highly intrusive landlord who is extremely overbearing. We've all met landlords who don't allow girls/boys to enter, and impose other ludicrous rules.
8. If the landlord requires no deposit and no background checks, that can indicate some problems as well.
On the other end of the spectrum are landlords who don't care at all, and require no deposit, background ID check, etc. This could indicate that they rent out to anyone including dangerous criminals. Try to avoid this.
9. If the pictures online seem amazing but the price is dirt cheap - there may be a catch.
While browsing through houses online, you may stumble upon some places that look amazing from the inside and offer all that you need at ridiculously low prices. Unfortunately, many of these places also happen to be in terrible locations that are incredibly hard to reach. They may also have several other problems, so be wary.
Hopefully, this advice holds you in good stead!