Looking for a new apartment can be an exciting and stressful process. You are thrilled to be moving into a fresh space, but the details of apartment hunting can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, this is why many tenants sign leases on apartments that might not be right for them. Even if a property seems just fine at first, there might be some red flags that you are missing.

By taking the time to be critical of each apartment, you can spot potential issues from the start. Then you’ll know that you are choosing an apartment with a quality landlord and lease that fits your needs. The following are some common warning signs to look for during your search.

Lack of upkeep

Landlords should want the apartment to look its best during a showing. If you enter the space and see faulty windows, loose floorboards, peeling paint, and water stains on the ceiling, it’s a sign that the landlord doesn’t keep up the property. While this might not seem like a big deal at first, it could mean that the landlord would not fulfil your maintenance requests efficiently.

You want to live in an apartment that is clean and safe, so be on the lookout. And don’t hesitate to point out an issue if you spot it during the showing. If the landlord is dismissive of your question, it might be best to look at other properties.

Absent landlord

The landlord’s behavior during the showing and other meetings is a preview of how they interact with their tenants. Quality landlords and property managers are attentive, easy to reach, and available to answer questions. If the landlord is late or not communicating effectively, it could be a red flag. You should also be wary if the landlord fails to answer your calls or takes weeks to set up a showing. You need a responsive landlord for a quality living experience.

Super low price

When something seems too good to be true, it often is. If an apartment is priced far below market value, it could indicate an issue with the property. It may mean that the landlord has had difficulty filling it for any of numerous reasons. Unusually low prices can also be a sign of a scam. For example, if an apartment is listed as a cheap studio apartment, it may end up being just a room that someone is renting out in their house. This is why it’s important to always do research before scheduling a viewing and to avoid seeing apartments by yourself.

Loose application process

If you decide that you are interested in an apartment and want to move forward with the application process, don’t let your guard down just yet. Be wary of landlords who cut corners with rental applications and leases. Trustworthy landlords will have you fill out thorough application forms or use a free rental application online. They should secure proof of income, information about your past landlord, and other personal information. It could be a red flag if the landlord asks for little information or rushes the application process. You should be extra wary of landlords who don’t require a lease at all, because you need this legal protection.

Dismissive lease language

When you make it to the last step of the rental application process, always read the lease. Watch out for any language like, “The tenant is responsible for all maintenance and repairs.” Some landlords will sneak language into the lease that puts most of the responsibility on the tenant. You should not enter a lease agreement with a lease like this, because landlords should generally be responsible for upkeep and maintenance to make the property liveable. That is why you pay rent. Either ask the landlord to change the terms, or look for other apartments.

Entering the apartment-hunting process as an informed tenant will help you separate quality apartments from scams. Even if you are in a hurry, you want to make sure that you are in a living situation that makes you comfortable and safe. By casting a critical eye on each property, you can avoid legal and logistical issues down the line.