How to Protect Yourself Against a Bad Landlord

Every renter’s worst dream: you sign the lease, disaster strikes, and your landlord is nowhere to be found. If you rent enough apartments or houses (especially the “more affordable” ones), you’re bound to deal with your share of bad landlords at one point or another. Hopefully, they won’t get the best of you!

If you’re dealing with landlord issues, then you have to know about these tips and resources for resolving issues…

Before You Sign

We strongly recommend that you research the landlord and talk to current tenants before signing a lease. It’s okay to ask others how prompt and thorough the landlord is. After all, contracts are binding. Make sure you’re signing on with someone who has a strong reputation!

Also, ask as many questions, and pose possible scenarios to your landlord. If the roof leaks because of a storm, what happens? What’s covered? What’s not? What’s your responsibility? While you should be asking questions, don’t let the answers to these questions be satisfactory on their own. You should be able to verify those answers in the printed contract. After all, it’s what’s stated in the contract that actually counts!

After You Sign

If you do run into an issue, let your landlord know immediately. Submit the request in written form so that it can’t be disputed. Also, keep a copy for your records.

Get to know your rights. MSN has this helpful list of 15 common renters’ rights. Of course, your contract may have negated some of these rights.

Many laws protect the landlord – not the tenant. So, the burden of proof is often up to you if you have a case big enough to take to court. Keep careful records, and document all developments in written word and with photographs. Let your landlord know that you are keeping such records, as it may spur them to action.

You should look up your renter’s rights as they apply in your state. Residents of Texas, for example, can find their rights explained here.

Know When to Leave

Ending a lease early is never desirable. It’s also expensive. Plus, it doesn’t look good on your record. However, sometimes the smartest thing to do is to cut your losses and get out of a bad situation.

Be sure to file a report with your bad landlord, and warn others against signing a lease with the landlord.

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