Landlords are like credit cards.

They give you a great opportunity if they accept your application. However, if you get a bad one, or if you can’t pay up on time, you’re going to end up in court.

To avoid future disputes, it’s important to find a good landlord. This requires doing more than finding the right apartment. It requires doing a background check on your landlord and talking to him and her in depth.

Here’s your guide to how to find a good landlord:

 

What Makes the Best Landlord?

Landlords are people, and thus they all have idiosyncracies and faults. However, some faults are far worse than others for renters. Your landlord should have the following characteristics:

  • Available - You need to be able to get a hold of your landlord at the worst times. Ideally, he/she (or a building manager) should live on site. You should at least have his cell phone number (not just an office number).
  • Intelligent - If your landlord is an idiot, don’t go with him. If he can’t write properly, or if he rambles incoherently, or if he just seems done, do yourself a favor and look elsewhere.
  • Willing to compromise - Disputes happen. So does late rent. Your landlord shouldn’t have his finger on the lawsuit trigger.
  • Handy - Your landlord should know the ins and outs of your apartment and the larger building and be ready to fix issues (like downed electricity, a broken lock, etc).
  • Trustworthy - This man has the key to your home. ‘Nuffsaid.

 

How to Find a Good Landlord

Knowing what a good landlord is is quite easy. Finding one is a different story. Often you only have minimal contact with him/her before signing the lease. Here’s how to increase your chances of finding a good one:

  1. Get the information - Get your landlord’s full name and/or the name of the business he operates (i.e. Jim Jones of Jones Realty). Also get his contact information.
  2. Check court records - Go to your local court’s website, and see if you can run a search using the name(s) you have. If your landlord has evicted someone in the recent past or been sued, it will show up. You can also do this at the court itself.
  3. Read online reviews - Google the names and the location to see if you can pull up any comments or reviews by past tenants (renters). Make sure you can at least find the landlord online — if no information shows up, it might be a scam.
  4. Talk to your landlord - Talking to him/her on the phone is great, but make sure to meet him/her in person as well. Ask practical questions, like “what if I forget to pay rent for a couple of days?” Or “what if I need to move?” Or “what if the sink gets clogged?” You should be able to get a good feel for him by the end.

 

Only after doing all of this should you start thinking about signing the lease.

 

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Ways to Get Out of a Lease

Finding a Good Roommate

 

Leases vs Subleases

 

How to Find an Apartment

 

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