(UNDATED) – If you or someone you know is looking for a new place to rent, it’s critical for renters to make educated decisions before choosing an apartment or other rental property.
According to Zillow, Indiana’s median rent in March was $839 for a two-bedroom property.
In 2018, Better Business Bureau Serving Central Indiana processed 231 complaints against apartment complexes. Most of the issues were related to incorrect billing, trouble retrieving security deposits or not having repairs performed in a timely manner. However, in some cases, consumers paid a deposit and were left without a place to move.
In one instance, an apartment complex not only refused to refund the deposit but also did not allow the consumer to move into another unit. The consumer told BBB, “The apartment complex has pushed back my move-in-date multiple times over a 60 day period from the date of application.” The moving delay was due to severe damages in the apartment unit.
BBB offers the following tips for those who are looking for rental properties.
Do your homework. To help focus your search, have an idea of the amount of rent you can afford, the desired location, and the number of bedrooms before you look and amenities you can’t live without. Go to bbb.org to check out apartment complexes and property managers you are considering. Drive around the property in the day time and at night and observe the activity.
Get everything in writing. Before signing the lease, make sure you read and understand the rental terms and your responsibilities as a tenant. Do not sign any contract containing blank spaces. Keep a copy for your records.
Ask Questions. When is rent due? Who pays for utilities? Are pets allowed? How accessible is the landlord? Do they have an emergency or after-hours number?
Do a walk-through. Before moving in, look over the condition of the apartment in person and document all flaws and defects in both writing and with photos. Keep a copy for yourself.
Who is responsible for upkeep? Find out how maintenance and repair concerns are handled and within what time frame.
Know your rights. Remember that you have certain rights when it comes to a livable space, such as heat, water, electricity and clean, safe surroundings. Visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at hud.gov for information on landlord-tenant rights.
BBB also warns potential renters of the following:
- Never wire money or use a prepaid debit card. If you are asked to pay a security deposit or first month’s rent by prepaid debit card or wire transfer, it is very likely a scam. Remember, once the money has been sent, there is usually no way to get it back.
- Never send money overseas. Keep in mind, scammers often claim to be out of the country and instruct targets to send money overseas.
- Search for duplicate listings. If you find the same ad listed in other cities – that’s a huge red flag – steer clear.
- If the “deal” sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for low rent and great amenities that are not being offered by similar properties.
About BBB Serving Central Indiana: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands, and charities they can trust. In 2018, people turned to BBB more than 173 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.4 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada, and Mexico, including BBB serving Central Indiana, which was founded in 1916 and serves 46 counties.