6 Red Flags That First-Time Renters Can Miss

 Don’t Get Apartment Catfished!

For the most part, people usually learn from their mistakes.  It’s why we believe having a tenant advocate is a valuable resource in your search for a space.  Unethical brokers and landlord use easy to fall for industry traps that could snare first-time renters in. Working with a seasoned professional that has a fiduciary responsibility to you is one way in which you can avoid making emotional and financial mistakes on this real estate matchmaking adventure.

Real Estate Catfish Red Flags:

Some surefire clues are if the photos have another company’s watermark, when you call or email about a listing and it is no longer available – but it was posted the same day, they pass you off to someone else-  are they actually in NY or is this a call center somewhere? Are they asking for money before you see the space? Are they actually the landlord? Have you checked the public record? Name on the mail? Is this subletting situation legit? Or will you get kicked out once the landlord finds out? For all those first-time renters out there, make sure you take heed when entering into a contract and make sure to do a little digging around before you waste your time, money and energy. Moving is a lot of work and you do not want to be doing it more then once in a short amount of time. 

So flex your google muscle and do the research on the building, the landlord and your broker.

Here are some sites that can help:



Landlord Watchlist

Bad Brokers List

Tenant Blacklist

Even if you have a broker do not make these common mistakes:

Read the lease, rider and everything in between. Skimming is for when you have a lawyer. The details are important especially if a landlord is not using a standard lease and has their own.  A standard lease is form lease like a T-186 which was written by a lawyer in New York for a specific type of building; 1-4 Family. There are also standard riders that need to be included and maybe the landlord has added their own. 

Inspect the home thoroughly- ask for a move in check-list and check-out list with photos to make sure that something  pre-existing isn’t added to your list of repairs when you exit. Make sure to ask if items will be repaired before you move in, will the space be painted? 

You know honesty is the best policy!  Do not tell a broker or landlord something they want to hear. Your broker is trying to match you with not only the right space but with the right landlord relationship. So be clear about what your expectations are and about yourself and what your life is like. Last thing you want to do is move into a very quiet building and be the loud person cause you didn’t communicate clearly or you move into a landlord occupied building and you really would prefer extreme privacy. Those things do not usually go hand in hand. 

Get Renters Insurance! It does protect you and you need it for those crazy weird New York things that can happen like your neighbors bathtub overflowing and causing a huge leak that lands on your record collection. It can cost as little as $100 a year and some landlords require it because their policy does not cover your things. Your things are only covered by you. So look into companies like AllState and Lemonade that offer renters insurance for these unplanned events..

Putting anything financial in writing and maybe some other things too!

Life is busy and crazy and you forget things and so does everyone else. If you agree to an action or payment or your landlord has- like fixing something or letting you get a dog. Follow up with and email- Thanks Bob! Excited to get a dog and have your approval. We will let you know when the new family member arrives! Thanks Bob for giving us that rent credit for the broken doorbell. Our new rent will be $2000 which is $100 less this month as agreed. 

Having a written record will keep everyone’s memory clear.

Exit Strategy- It is time to break up and become a home owner!

After all it is New York and you will most likely not stay in your rental for more than a year or 2. Remember your rent is money you could be spending to build your equity and have real roots in NYC. If you plan on living in New York for at least 5 year you should be thinking about buying and not paying someone else’s mortgage. So what does breaking up look like with a landlord? You will possibly be blamed  for the things that are wrong – so, did you document those faults when you first moved in? The landlord might attempt to keep part or all of your security deposit. After your move the landlord will need to re-rent the apartment so make sure to give at least 30 days notice, give them access on your terms to show the space and have a clear understanding of expectations that you have written out so no one forgets! 

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