Lease signing can hold you down and prevent you from finding a better place. Lease signing protects the landlord more than the renter signing the lease
Beware of signing that lease, even though you think you might have found the perfect place to rent. The yard is pretty, the house is clean. It might even be decorated to your taste. But is it the perfect house? Maybe not. Maybe it is a death trap lying in wait for you, your friends and your family.
To find out that the house is a dud after you have signed a lease, is a little too late to do much about it. There is renter’s rights, but wouldn’t you rather find the right place instead of finding possible legal battles with the landlord that you might lose?
Signing a lease could hold you to your word, and even could erase the landlord’s responsibility. State laws change from state to state, and from time to time. There is no proof positive way that a renter can be assured of winning. When the renter does win, leaving the house is the only way to get peace from the angry landlord.
There are ways to protect yourself from renting an unsafe place, and it doesn’t need to be a big hassle. A few minutes, some good questions and looking with a critical eye can decide if it is the right house for you.
1. Electric. Check the inside breaker box to see if it is in good condition, if it is relatively new, and that it is not burnt in any way. If the electric is on, watch it for any sparking or abnormal behavior. Look at all electrical outlets including any that are outside. If there appears to be any burnt or lose outlets, beware.
Checking the outside service box should be a priority. It should be 200 amp service. If it isn’t, and the owner refuses to upgrade, pass on the house. 100 amp service is too weak to service all the appliances, computers and other products, and as a result can cause damage or fire.
2. Water. If the home has a normal water tap, the things to look for is basic. Check around and under sinks for signs of a water leak. Signs include spotty flooring or cabinets, rusty or otherwise old looking valves, and lime or calcium deposits. Another place to look, even if the washer is furnished, is the laundry room. In the bathroom, pay attention to the toilet hoses and shut off valves, as faulty hoses can be very unaccommodating problem whenever the toilet is used.
If the water is furnished by use of a well, spring or cistern, ask for a water analysis. This might sound unnecessary, and aggravating to the landlord, but it is very important.
Water is used for drinking, cooking, cleaning, bathing and more. Water can hold microbial dangers that causes gastronomical problems, infections, and poisons. Micro-parasites can also enter your body and make your intestinal track or brain their new home to grow and thrive in.
Sulfur water is a sure sign that the home is one to pass on. Do not fall for the “It will get better. It just takes spells when it stinks.” Sulfur water is still sulfur water. Even if you don’t smell it, if the landlord says it is, it’s best to leave.
Sulfur water can ruin clothes, washers, faucets, hot water tanks and anything else that it comes in contact with. It is not good to drink, not good for swimming pools, and even worse to bathe in.
3. Is the drains clear and well connected? Is there a stench that comes from the sink drains? Does the toilet flush adequately? Is the floor showing signs of leakage from the bottom of the toilet? Does the tub drain well when the stopper is removed? If there is no running water at the moment, you can test this by plugging the drain and pouring in a drinking bottle of water, and removing the plug.
3. Land history and faults. Be sure to ask what the history is. Is it situated on land that infrequently floods? What about the septic, is it in proper working condition or does it back up or flood the lawn? Is there any trees that could fall on the house or cars? Is the house in a likely spot for a car to crash in on it?
4.Infestation of termites, mice, ants, rats, cockroaches. Pay close attention to these small things. They are health hazards and a nuisance to get rid of. Termites are considered to be dangerous since they can literally bring the house crashing down around you.
5. How close is the would be landlord? Many will argue this point, but having a landlord next door is a stressful situation. The moment you hand over the rent money, your life is not your own, but the paranoia is. A person that seems nice could turn into a trouble maker if given the right reason.
6. Another thing to consider is people in the neighborhood. How many sex offenders would you be living near? This information is public knowledge and can be found through the sheriff’s department or city police department.
It is law in most states that the landlord must dispense information of murders and other illegal events that happened in the house, but dont plan on the information to be told freely. Ask!
7. Driveways. So its not part of the house, but something you will need anyway unless you walk to everywhere. Is it and the road easily accessed? If the driveway leads to a busy street or highway, there might be a problem with safely leaving, especially when you’re in a hurry.
Depending on what part of the country it is, you will have weather conditions to plan for. Be sure to keep this in mind if say it is the summer, but when winter comes the little hill or rut will be a sheet of ice. Or vice-versa, the ground is cold and stiff and it turns to mud after spring arrives.
Get everything in writing. If possible, you should bring a micro-recorder and use it. If a landlord is dead set against its use, and since there is a possibility of dishonesty, it is time to walk away. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.