I rented over 6 apartments in the last 7 years (I know, exhausting), and I had to suffer from each (sometimes several) of the red flags below. Take it from my personal experience : avoid these at all costs !
1. Ghost/Intrusive landlord
I had to deal with both kinds. One landlord though it was okay to use his key to come inside my home anytime he wanted (once I was in the shower !). Having a stranger walking in at any hour of the day (sometimes when I was out) got me to sleep with a knife under my pillow. Insane, I know, but I was a single lady in a city where I knew nobody.
Years later, I had the busy landlord. Business man by day, he was always travelling, always on the go. It took him days to reply to text messages but always collected my money on time… Visiting the flat was a challenge, he didn’t have the key, I had to come back etc etc. Avoid this kind of landlords, they will be there only to take your money, never to care for their share of the flat.
2. Too cheap to be true
In Paris, it’s a nightmare to find the right apartment. It took me 10 months to find the right one. But once, I had the opportunity to rent a gorgeous place. Brand new, easy to rent (which triggered me), and very affordable. Too affordable actually. The very same day, my profile was accepted and I just had to sign the contract. It was too easy, too cheap. I didn’t make a lot of money, just the bare minimum, my profile wasn’t the best, so how come I was accepted ? Turned out, after researching the neighbourhood, it was a high crime area. A woman alone had high chances of being attacked (or worst). Nobody wanted to live there.
3. All about cash money
If they prefer cash, run away. Always pay through your bank, checks are even better. Prove your payments by any means and avoid phone calls. Send emails and store each of them as proof. Cash payments are world wide shady.
4. The place is run down
If before moving in the landlord plans on doing or finishing some work in the flat, know that the chances of that happening are slim to none. Also, do you want to live under constructions ? Which can take forever once they started. Also, if the place looks in bad condition in general, it means the landlord doesn’t care about his property, don’t expect him to care about you.
5. Tour is rushed/at odd hours
Do not visit an apartment at night. Go during the day to see the details and hear the traffic. Is it crazy busy or a calm space ? Are the wall yellow because of the lamp or are they just dirty ? If your landlord doesn’t have time to show you the place properly, he will not have time to help you out in case of trouble.
6. No mail box available
Another experience that got me into trouble with administration. My landlord refused to give me the mailbox keys because he was using it. I had to have my mail delivered at work. He was shady, I knew I had to leave ASAP. Most of the red flags are coming from the same person, he was a nightmare !
7. Previous water damage
If you notice some stains, ask about them. If the landlord says it’s old and fixed,don’t believe him. Happened to me, 2 months after I moved in, I had to deal with water damage and angry neighbours that didn’t want to understand I couldn’t do anything, it was my landlord’s responsibility. Problem was : he was nowhere to be found. I moved out a few weeks later. Water damages, even when said to be old and fixed, are a dark cloud over your head. Chances are, it will come and bite you later.
8. Incomplete or no contract at all
If you landlord seems easy going and doesn’t want to bother you with details, don’t let him. You have to take time with the contract. Before getting the keys, write down every single stain you see around the house. I mean EVERY stain. Because when you leave, he will make you pay for them and say “you can’t prove they were there before you”. If he’s in a rush and gets angry, forget about the place at all.
9. Upfront payments
I don’t know about other countries, but here in France, upfront payments are limited by the law. If your landlord wants more than legally, especially in big cities like Paris where the competition is though, don’t listen to them. Trust me,you don’t need to fight for this place if the landlord is shady, you’ll regret it later.
10. Bad neighbourhood
As I said before, the neighbourhood can make or break your life. A nice apartment in a difficult environment will not be healthy for you. Some neighbourhoods just have a bad reputation but are actually nice. However, most of the time, the reputation doesn’t start from nowhere. Do your research and stay safe.