Searching for a new apartment is generally exciting (especially if it’s your first time moving into an apartment), however, it’s important to set aside your excitement until you have carefully reviewed and analyzed your list of apartments. This is often termed “critical thinking”. Making this effort will enhance the likelihood that the apartment you choose will provide the happiness and comfort you seek.
The ability to spot a bad apartment complex is crucial to navigating the process and finding a good apartment complex. In this article, we list some of the most common red flags when searching for an apartment.
Issues with Apartment Prep
Check out online reviews of residents’ experiences in the communities you review. Ask your friends what they know about the community. If you visit the community, introduce yourself to one of the residents you might see, and ask them about their experiences. Does the apartment take pride in preparing its apartments for occupancy? Many apartment complexes will take shortcuts in apartment preparation, and this leads to disappointment or worse.
Trash Piled Outside
Apartment complexes should have reasonable facilities on-site for residents to dispose of their trash, as well as regular trash collection service scheduled. Seeing trash bags piled up around bins or outside resident units may be a red flag. Overflowing trash bins, and trash lying about, may indicate poor management especially if it’s observed on multiple visits. Sometimes management is good, but a few rogue residents choose to ignore rules and improperly dispose of their household trash. The way management handles grounds maintenance is definitely indicative of their management style.
No Landscaping or Poor Landscaping
Overgrown weeds or unmowed lawns can indicate a lack of care. Be wary of buildings with limited or poor landscaping on the property, and ensure the landlord can provide a reasonable explanation if things aren’t in good condition.
Ongoing or Excessive Maintenance Issues
It’s difficult to gather information about maintenance issues directly from the landlord, but if you have friends or acquaintances who’ve lived in the building or you take the time to research online reviews, you should be able to find out whether the building has ongoing issues. There are almost always going to be one-off issues, but regular and ongoing issues with pest control, temperature control, cleanliness, or appliances might be a red flag. One negative review does not mean the management is poor, but a series of negative reviews might be suggestive of underlying or chronic problems. As we suggested above, if you visit a site, try to ask a current resident about their experiences during your tour.
You Can Hear the Neighbors
Home should be a place where you can find peace and quiet. If you tour an apartment and hear the neighbors’ voices, music, or other sounds coming through the walls or ceiling, it’s very likely those noises will continue after you’ve moved in.
If you arrive to tour a potential apartment and struggle to find a parking spot, it could be a sign that you will experience the same issue when you move in. Ask the landlord about the number of parking spots and any applicable extra costs. It’s also a good idea to drive by at night to ensure the parking lot is well-lit (safety measure).
No Answers to Important Questions
When showing the property, the landlord should be able to answer important questions such as:
- How is your property different?
- What recent improvements have you made?
- How are maintenance requests handled?
- What safety measures are in place?
If they’re unable to provide an answer to these or other questions you have about the property, it’s likely time to look for an apartment elsewhere.
If you tour the apartment community, and the model is not well-kept, or the common hallways are dirty, that is a major red flag. If this is how they prepare the model apartment you see, how will your apartment look?