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5 Rental Deal Breakers

Staff Writer · Dec 3, 2010

As you’re searching for a new apartment, you’ll begin to discover what particular characteristics are deal breakers for you. Knowing what you absolutely don’t want in an apartment will keep you focused (and more satisfied in the long run). Now matter what your taste or budget, here are some things that are generally rental deal breakers.

1. Questionable Management

Doing a little research before you sign a lease on the apartment complex and management is a necessary step to ensure you know what you’re getting into. Even if you get positive vibes from the landlord and have a good first impression of the apartment, still take the time to ask around and to do some online research. Apartmentratings.com and sites like Yelp are great places to find honest and unbiased reviews from current and previous tenants.

If you know somebody who has lived in the building or who has experience with the landlord, talk to them about it. Above anything else, a potentially shady, negligent or unprofessional landlord or management company is a rental deal breaker. Especially if you get a bad feeling upon first meeting, walk away.

2. Small Kitchen

Unless you pick up take out all of the time, having an adequately-sized kitchen is important. If you really like to cook, an apartment with small appliances and little to no counter space will not cut it.

3. Run Down Interior

Not all apartments are going to be completely modernized, but an apartment that’s in a serious state of disrepair is a deal breaker. If all of the appliances are old, the carpet is stained and worse for wear and the walls appear to have not been painted in years, keep looking. If the apartment aesthetics are that bad, you have to wonder what more serious things are wrong with it. Also, the appearance of the apartment tells you a bit about the management and how much they care about the place. Chances are you’ll be dealing with an inattentive or negligent landlord if the place is run down.

4. Bad Neighbors

Unfortunately, you probably won’t know just how bad your neighbors are until you move in and hear music blaring from upstairs in the late hours of the night. However, look for indications as you’re viewing apartments. If you notice lots of college-age kids around, chances are things won’t be quiet all of the time. If you see trash in the hallways or generally unkempt common spaces you’ll probably be dealing with disrespectful neighbors. Obviously, if there is all kinds of ruckus while you’re viewing the apartment, it’s a deal breaker.

5. Pet Smells or Funny Smells

If you view an apartment that smells like cat urine, it’s probably a deal-breaker. If the apartment itself just smells funny—and not in a way you could get used to—leave it. Those kinds of smells are hard to cover and don’t easily dissipate.

Deal breakers will vary from person to person, but generally these five things are common among all apartment seekers. You can learn to live with a small closet or without a dishwasher. A horrible landlord and the smell of cat urine, however, are more painful to adapt to.

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Rachael Weiner: I’m a communications professional for a non-profit, which financially necessitates my status as an apartment dweller. Constantly “on-the-go,” I’ve resided in five different apartments across the United States over the past five years. Roommate issues, budgeting, organizing and handling problem neighbors are my specialty.

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