Once I had a landlord who was convinced that the solution to every mishap was to “tap on it”. Water leaking from the apartment above? Tap on the giant bubble forming on your ceiling! Key stuck in the lock for the thousandth time? You can definitely just tap on it.

If you rent, you’ve probably experienced every type of landlord; from the honest and understanding types that make you cookies for your birthday, to the type that you have no way to contact once the lease is signed and you just discovered a massive mold problem.

Usually price, aesthetic appeal, and location will take precedence when you’re looking for a place; but I’ve learned the hard way that you can avoid future headaches if you pay attention to the actual person who’s renting you a place.

Know the types of landlords

The term ‘Landlords’ is kind of broad, but it can mean anyone who owns a property and rents it out (a DIY landlord), someone who manages the property owned by a large company (corporate landlord), or a person who may own several properties in the same area (local landlords).

Now that you know, decide what sounds most appealing to you. If you’re a tenant who wants to keep to themselves and can handle minor fixes around your place, a corporate landlord might be perfect.

If you anticipate having a lot of communication with your landlord, like negotiating rent or DIY home improvement projects, a local landlord might give you more flexibility.

Read reviews for any potential places

Yelp, Google Reviews, and specialty landlord review sites like ratemylandlord.com will all have a wealth of information if you’re looking to rent in a well-known apartment complex.

For rental homes and smaller properties, you might be out of luck. This is when the next step become super important.

Have a list of questions

Don’t be afraid to think of a walk-through like a job interview. You’re potentially going to be making this place your home for awhile, and there will most likely be a lease involved.

In a lot of big cities, if you don’t take it immediately someone else will and that pressure can lead to impulsive decisions. When you grill your landlord beforehand, you can avoid making a snap decision based on love at first sight.

Beautiful views and crown molding molding can only go so far if you also have a cockroach problem and paper-thin walls. Ask about the plumbing, the neighbors, utility costs, lease contract questions…anything and everything you can think of. If the person renting to you seems annoyed, that’s probably a good sign they’re going to be a bad landlord.

Amanda Mears
Amanda has worked as a journalist, an SEO copywriter, and a social media specialist. Her aim as a Four Walls contributor is to provide something worth reading and create a community for people who lease and love it. She’s also a real person, not just a mysterious internet writer, who loves silversmithing, podcast-binging, and trying to figure out how to fix her rented apartment’s bad linoleum floor (see, just like you!)