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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. If your landlord is a contractor or “does home improvement work” — is he/she licensed?  No license probably means no permits, no inspections.
  5. 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.
  6. Ask for references from former and current tenants — see what others have to say about your potential landlord.
  7. The most important — trust your gut instincts.  If something doesn’t feel right, or look right — don’t sign on the dotted line!