Four red flags to watch out for in rental ads

April 04, 2017
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Anyone with even the slightest idea of what this adulting thing is about will know that finding a new apartment or share house can be an absolute nightmare. Combine this with the fact that rental ads are usually strewn with misleading industry-lingo and red flags galore. Luckily, we’ve taken some of the guesswork out and have the inside scoop on what you should be looking out for in rental ads to save yourself a lot of heartache further down the track. Just think of us like your wiser, rental-savvy older sibling. You’re welcome, guys.

If the rent is way cheaper than similar places in the surrounding area

You might think that you’ve uncovered a steal of a place when the perfect rental property pops up in your online searches for half the price of the median other properties in your dream area. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but this is probably going to be the biggest red flag you’ll come across in your rental adventure.

Too cheap rent usually equals a dodgy property, a location that is less than desirable or you’re actually just going to end up sharing a room with three other people. You know the expression, if something is too good to be true it probably isn’t? Unfortunately, it really applies in this case.

Roommates that have radically different lifestyles to you

When looking for a share house, usually the rental ad will include a brief description about the type of people you’ll be sharing with. This information typically includes whether they are a student or not, their working hours and the times they are usually at home and whether they want to keep the house as a safe haven or enjoy a good party or two.

Finding housemates that have a similar lifestyle to you through these descriptions will make your life so much easier in the long run. Do you work nights and sleep during the middle of the day? You probably don’t want to be sharing with a morning person who works from home. Do you like nothing better after a long week than retreating to your room with Netflix and takeaway? You might want to skip the party household.

Triple check the property location

Location is everything when it comes to real estate so sneaky landlords will often describe a property as being located in East, West, North or South of a nice, well-known neighbourhood you’d be chuffed to live in. In reality, the property is residing in its less nice neighbour which is usually a place you really don’t want to live.

Always, always, always triple check the location of your potential dream home and make sure you head there without the real estate agent at different times of the day, using different routes to get there, to make sure nothing unsavoury happens anywhere near it (preferably with a friend).

Not being permitted to see the property before signing anything

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but if you’re moving states or even countries, you really shouldn’t be signing up for any properties before you can actually physically see them. Real estate agents or private homeowners who pressure you into signing a lease before you’re allowed to check what the rental properly looks like are probably trying to hide something – and not in the fun surprise party kind of way. If you are moving a long way from you current location, crash on a friend’s couch or make sure you’ve got enough room in your budget to sign up for an Airbnb in your new city so you can house hunt in person.

Shannon Coward

Shannon Coward is a fourth year Bachelor of Journalism and Bachelor of Arts student at the University of Queensland. She enjoys period dramas, doughnuts and a good nap.

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