I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve received over the past few years saying “I wish I had read your blog before moving into my apartment, now I’m stuck with a slumlord.”
Here are some tips and resources for researching your potential new landlord — while I can’t guarantee you’ll get a great landlord, this may help weed out the extreme slumlords.
- Look into your potential landlord’s legal history. Does he/she have multiple foreclosures, rent escrow cases, lead paint lawsuits, etc? That’s probably not a good sign.
- Is the property a registered rental? You can search multi-family properties online (even if it’s just two apartments in a rowhouse). For single-family homes, call Baltimore Housing at 410-396-3575.
- Was that rehab inspected by a building inspector? Was the work done with permits? If you search an address, and no permits were found (or no recent ones) — you may want to think twice about the home.
- If your landlord is a contractor or “does home improvement work” — is he/she licensed? No license probably means no permits, no inspections.
- Are the property taxes and water bills current? You don’t want to move into a new rental home, only to have that home go on the city’s tax sale list a few months later.
- Ask for references from former and current tenants — see what others have to say about your potential landlord.
- The most important — trust your gut instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, or look right — don’t sign on the dotted line!