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Avoid Renting An Apartment That You'll Hate

Updated on August 2, 2016
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© 2013 Express10

Many people will rent an apartment at some point in their lives. For this reason it is wise to do extremely thorough checking prior to signing any lease. There are many horror stories of people inadvertently renting apartments that caused them to lose sleep, become stressed out, lose money, or fear for their safety. Don't let your apartment search end with a rental that becomes a costly reminder that you are paying to live in an unsavory situation.

Even if you feel that you have little choice in places to live, it is possible that there may be other options available to you such as renting a single family home or paying more to find a better choice of neighbors, landlord, or simply to put some space between you and others. Currently there are still areas with single family homes that you can rent at or near the same price range as an apartment with even with more space, privacy, peace, and quiet. Be sure to take a look at all the options for yourself and you may be pleasantly surprised. Those that go into a lease agreement without doing enough checking on a variety of things are likely to be disappointed and suffer renter's remorse. To see how you can find a good apartment, please learn from my experience.

I once had the misfortune of renting an apartment that turned out to be a horrible choice. After driving through the small community of about 60 apartments at different times of the day and night, I didn't see any sign of problems but it was a completely different experience immediately after I'd moved in. I began to wish that I'd knocked on at least 2 or 3 neighbors doors to see what types of neighbors I'd be living with before I signed the lease.

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Movie poster for Bad Neighbours
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There was a young lady downstairs who allowed her teen son and his visitors to play music very loud. It was so loud, I couldn't study for my college courses and every time I walked across my floors while their music was turned on, my whole body vibrated. There was no happy medium, the music was loud or not on at all. When I knocked on their door, no one answered. If they didn't hear me, that only illustrates the irritating nature of the problem. I also began smelling marijuana in my apartment and had no clue what was going on. As a single young woman who never drinks, never smokes, and has never done drugs, one evening I opened my door to leave for class and was shocked to have some guy almost fall in on me because he was leaning on my door while standing in a group of about 5 young men right outside my apartment smoking marijuana.

I felt unsafe coming and going at night and having to walk through a group of young men alone. Of course I didn't have a good gut feeling about any of them and couldn't understand why other neighbors never complained about the noise or the weed smoking loiterers. When I called the cops on the weed smokers, they always seemed to leave just before the cops reached the building so they may have had a look-out or excellent timing. After calling police on both the noisemakers and the weed smokers numerous times, I was finally told by the officers that the boyfriend of the lady downstairs was no stranger to them (or jail) as were 4 of the 5 young men who preferred to smoke marijuana outside my door. I was really afraid after learning this.

I am not a criminal and don't want to live that close to any, period. I worked everyday and went to school at night while living there, yet these people had plenty of time to loiter, do drugs, and disturb the peace at all hours. I had to come and go at night and during the day and I felt it was unsafe and just a matter of time before something worse than what was already ongoing could occur. What law abiding and quiet loving person would want to pay to live like this? With the saying in my head "the devil finds work for idle hands to do" I knew that I needed to get out of my lease somehow but also knew it was going to be very hard.

The entire two months all this nonsense was going on, I was in constant contact with the rental agent alternately begging to get out of my lease and begging them to do something about the problems. I was told by the lady who rented the apartment to me that I "should go and make friends with them." I was shocked. I was certain she would not say that if it was her daughter living in that type of environment and figured she said it because she just didn't care simply because it was not her or anyone she cared about living like that. Other times she would say she spoke to the offenders, yet nothing ever changed. She then got angry at me for calling to complain about ongoing drug use and loud music, yet she would never make a personal trip to see for herself probably because she was too afraid.

Unlike her, I had no luxury of staying away from bad neighbors and wanted out of my lease. After two months of no cooperation and a worsening lack of sleep, I had to pull out the big guns. Colleagues recommended calling the Narcotics Division to deal with the weed smokers because landlords in that city can have their property seized if they do nothing when drug use has been reported to them.

I called the Narcotics Division on a Monday morning and lo and behold early Tuesday morning, the rental agent called and nicely offered to let me out of my lease after a couple of months of being rude or indifferent. I'm sure that they figured it was me who called or maybe Narcotics gave them my name. Nevertheless, I'd suffered enough and gladly took the opportunity to leave. I could not get my stuff out fast enough and actually had moved some of my stuff to storage if it turned out that I would have to literally break my lease and give them the keys back without an agreement to do so. Yes, it really was that bad. I didn't grow up aspiring to these types of behaviors and refuse to act as if I feel safe and am okay with that absolute nonsense.

I understand many landlords will not let you out of your lease and won't give your deposit back. This is why it is crucial to perform a thorough apartment search. Despite the odds, I was able to get my deposit back & I burned rubber in the parking lot with the U-haul getting out of there. Perhaps telling criminals how to behave was more difficult for the rental agent than letting one law abiding citizen out of her lease. Whatever the case, I learned my lesson the hard way and these issues only highlighted to me that I didn't want or need to live so closely to others. While this is not the case for everyone, conducting a thorough apartment search from the start can prevent you from suffering later.

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Resources and tips for apartment hunting

Start your apartment search online to help avoid bad neighbors and a bad situation overall. When considering apartment communities, be sure to read reviews on independent sites and understand that company youtube videos and other company owned content will only paint the rosiest of pictures leaving out any negative or questionable activities. This is good for them but not so good for renters that want a safe and quiet place to live.

Some of the reviewers on independent sites may want to spread the truth simply because it fell on deaf ears or was ignored when they approached/notified the landlord or staff. If you find negative or crude retaliatory type posts from the staff towards reviewers, it is recommended that you take this as a sign that the staff is not professional to say the least and they may well treat you in the same manner should you have a problem while renting from them. Run the other way!

Make use of websites such as SpotCrime.com. This website allows you to find out information about crimes in the areas you may be interested in living in. You can even set up email alerts that can provide you updates. If you get a lot of updates from sites such as SpotCrime and you don't like crime, take your apartment search to another area. Even if you aren't looking for a new place, just using this site for your current home/apt. can be an eye opener!

College students seeking peace and quiet in their apartments should avoid areas that are known for having college students. These areas often have parties, noise complaints, fighting, etc. College students seeking roommates should be careful not to associate with anyone who is likely to or already has broken apartment community rules or any laws. If your roommate does they could be tossed out of many schools and be denied government financial aid with some offenses. Without financial aid, many college students could not attend college or pay their monthly expenses.

In many apartment communities, college students are treated as second class citizens. For instance, some apartment communities will remove college students in less than 72 hours after receiving complaints from other (non-student) residents. As a student I can tell you this treatment is a good thing because some students can be very obnoxious, spiteful, and threatening when asked or told to comply with rules. This behavior only worsens when drugs or alcohol are involved. In many cases with private landlords, eviction of just one student roommate puts a financial strain on any remaining student roommates so it's best to carefully consider the maturity and consideration level of your roommates before committing.

Take the initiative and thoroughly question the apartment manager or a member of their staff about issues that are important to you while you will be renting there and don't sign any lease until you have all your questions answered. Knock on what will be your neighbor's doors above you, next door, and below to get that all-important gut feeling about them. You may even find out if they have children who may be stomping on your ceiling or banging against your walls before you sign a lease. Ask neighbors about crime, loitering, loud neighbors, etc.

You will be sharing walls, ceilings, and floors with these people and are better off knowing what is happening there before getting locked into a lease. If roadblocks are preventing you from doing so, you may want to look elsewhere. If you have a disdain for nosy neighbors that never mind their business or go into their apartments, it is possible that if you make a point of visiting the community at different times of the day and night, that you will be able to see if this will be a problem.

Beware of any loitering. Groups of loiterers usually cause problems whether or not they live at the property and many properties have this problem but refuse to discuss it. I have actually witnessed a security guard at one apartment complex talking to some guy while a group of loiterers sat under a carport making a lot of noise after 11 p.m. Also, people are much more bold when in a group and particularly if they are male, there will likely be problems between the loiterers and passers-by.

Check out crime statistics online and off. College students seeking an apartment on or off campus should do this as well. Crime occurs everywhere. Making nice with police officers at the station serving the apartment community could also help to save you serious grief. If you can appeal to the officer(s) on a human level off the record and ask if they'd feel safe having their wife, daughter, or mother in that apartment community, you may get a truthful answer even if they don't say a word. Be advised that some police officers will avoid making comments out of fear of being reprimanded but some might gesture to let you know what they think one way or another. Be sure to thank them for their time.

Bad landlords will avoid certain questions and avoid tackling problems before you move in. Look for signs of these problems before signing the lease and determine if you still want to live there. Look at how current tenants are treated if they are in the office at the same time as you. Do they address their residents by their first names? This is not professional and if so, set them straight and tell them if you don't like to be addressed in this manner or it will grate your nerves every time it is done.

Look around for maintenance issues. Are there any signs of mold? Are the appliances so old they'll need to be replaced soon? If they have a gym, is all the equipment in good working order or is a fair amount of it broken and just for show? Is the entire property well maintained or just the areas that prospective renters will likely see? You are potentially signing on to be a neighbor of the good, bad, and ugly. It is in your best interest to find out who you'll be dealing with before you sign the lease.

© 2012 Express10

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    • Anita Hasch profile image

      Anita Hasch 7 days ago from Port Elizabeth

      Some good advice.

    • Express10 profile image
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      H C Palting 2 years ago from East Coast

      I'm sad to hear that you are experiencing bad neighbors. Too many people are very inconsiderate especially when you've made the effort to make things look nice.

    • Kelsey Farrell profile image

      Kelsey Elise Farrell 2 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I totally agree! I currently live in student housing apartments and while they're definitely nicer than your average apartment buildings, I feel like I'm surrounded on either side by children. We have our apartment front set up to look nice with a set of old rocking chairs out front that our neighbors seem to think is appropriate to sit in, and abuse by leaving cigarette butts scattered everywhere. Not only do I find it strange that strangers would sit in our chairs, but to leave trash around my front door? So frustrating.

    • Express10 profile image
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      H C Palting 3 years ago from East Coast

      I hope that the moisture that led to the black mold had nothing to do with your lights flickering on and off. It's not uncommon for moisture to damage our homes in various ways. Fresh paint covers so many problems and even when asked, many landlords will not truthfully answer if there are or ever have been problems with moisture, mold, electricity, etc. I hope that you were are or will be able to leave and find something that you truly enjoy.

    • DChance2 profile image

      DChance 3 years ago

      I had a very bad experience with black mold. It started to grow even when I cleaned. The walls were painted poorly. But, I didn't notice because the location was good. It had 3 bedroom and 2 baths. This should have been a dream. The lights kept flickering, too.

      The neighbor that was supposed to help me out decided that I was not good enough to talk to after she found out that my husband's car didn't work like she wanted it to.

    • Express10 profile image
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      H C Palting 4 years ago from East Coast

      There are still many companies and landlords that don't offer this option. I've learned the hard way that some things might not be found out about your neighbors online, you'd have to meet or at least see them for yourself to decide if you'd want to be anywhere near them.

    • profile image

      Shelterguru 4 years ago

      Personally, I wouldn't go live somewhere unless I was able to take a virtual walk through and be able to see the apartment from my laptop. When you're given the option to do this, like when I went to livinginchico.com. It's a lot better than moving to another city, and into an apartment where you're not sure about the environment.

    • Express10 profile image
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      H C Palting 4 years ago from East Coast

      I couldn't agree with you any more. Sharing walls whether in an apt, condo, or townhouse is not very private or secure as some people make it out to be.

    • Efficient Admin profile image

      Efficient Admin 4 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      Great hub with some very real-life useful information. "Go make friends with them" doesn't like an intelligent property manager. Good for you for calling the Narcotics division. I'm glad you were able to get out of that pit. I am living in a condo now but want to go back into a single house one day. I don't like all the noise of the neighbors through the walls and I can't stand their nosy selves outside my front door. I would rather mow grass.

    • Express10 profile image
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      H C Palting 5 years ago from East Coast

      Thanks Tammy, it does take some getting used to. I hope to buy a home when I get done with school so that I can have more privacy and quiet.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Good work Express. I am living in an apartment for the first time ever and it has been a difficult transition. I have always lived in the country in a single house. I was laughing at tv one night and a passerby outside started laughing loud to mock me. Takes a lot of getting used to. Great information and well done!

    • Express10 profile image
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      H C Palting 5 years ago from East Coast

      Thanks, I really enjoyed "then his tears came."

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      Express.. this was very useful a great hub my friend :)