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Unfortunately, not all landlords are perfect. And, worst of all, most renters do not find this out until it is too late and the lease has been signed. Even if your landlord seems like a perfect guy, he may simply just be good at his job - to sell his apartment to you. He may promise roses and instead give you thorns as soon as you have put your ink on paper. To avoid disastrous encounters with landlords from hell, do your own research before you sign any agreement.

Is your Landlord Trustworthy?

Good landlords often list references for you to contact before you sign a lease. Poor landlords do not. As a renter you have the right to ask for references of past tenants. However, many renters are weary of doing this, especially if there is a lot of competition for the apartment. You don't want to put your potential landlord off by asking too much of him but you also don't want to make a mistake. After all, finding the best landlord is much harder than making a cozy sun room.

If you are not willing to ask for references from your landlord, you may be able to get the goods by doing your own investigating after you have viewed the apartment. You may not feel comfortable speaking to people in the building, especially when you haven't even moved in yet, but this is definitely one way to get the dirt on your landlord. If you are leaving the building and notice someone walking in, take the time to stop them and explain your situation. Let them know that you are considering moving in and ask them their opinion on the building, the area and the landlord. Be friendly and polite. As long as the tenant is not in a big hurry she will be happy to put in her two cents about it.

There are also websites where you can check to see if your landlord makes the 'naughty list.' Review sites, blogs and consumer reports often have warnings about bad buildings and landlords in your area. It is pretty rare that your landlord will actually make the list unless there has been a court case filed against him in the past or if his previous tenants have been blogging fanatics. However, it is worth a shot. Google his name, his business and any other information you can find on him to find out what the World Wide Web has to say.

Dirty Apartment, Dirty Landlord?

Another way to tell if your landlord is reliable or not is to check the state of the apartment. Do you notice obvious flaws and problems? Are there stains, squeaky doors, dirty carpets and other concerns with the apartment? Is the lawn mowed and the landscaping maintained? If not, then you could be looking at a lazy and unreliable landlord. It is the landlords' duty to make the property as sellable as possible and to boost the curb appeal. Not bothering to mow the lawn or vacuum the dirt off the floor suggests that your landlord can't even put in the effort to rent the place out. What will this mean down the road if you need a repair done or have a problem with another tenant?

Trust your gut when it comes to your potential landlord. If you get a bad vibe from him; if he shows up in a dirty t-shirt; if the apartment is a mess; if the lease or application form is handwritten; if he cannot give your references then warning bells should go off. Finding a reliable landlord takes a little bit of digging on your part but in the end the search is well worth the effort.

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