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How to check out a landlord
Old 04-07-2015, 04:15 PM   #1
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How to check out a landlord

There are a lot of talks about how to get a *good* tenant, but is there a way to screen for a *good* landlord? I am in the process of finding an apartment in Buffalo, NY and I haven't excluded renting a place (ie. a basement with a separate entrance, etc) from a private owner, but I have some reservations since it's not like the landlord will disclose results of a background check on him and his family members.

How do I know there are no hidden cameras imbedded somewhere? How do I know the landlord isn't another Jeffrey Dahmer? (I am sure most of them are very nice folks, probably 99% or more of them.....) I know a lot of college kids rent a room with strangers or with some family ll the time, but I guess I am a bit less carefree even if it's a totally separate apartment I will be looking at.

Any tips?
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Old 04-07-2015, 04:23 PM   #2
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Old 04-07-2015, 04:43 PM   #3
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Well, there are online criminal background checks you can run, but they cost a few dollars. You might see if your state's attorney general or local DA has any complaints about them. You can check the zoning office too.
As far as your second question, I turned down an applicant last year that didn't have regular income because he didn't show me enough assets to convince me he would be liquid at the time of lease renewal. He offered to pay cash for the full year's lease, but I like tenants who stick around longer. For a landlord willing to allow a shorter term lease, maybe they won't care.
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Old 04-07-2015, 06:14 PM   #4
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Well, there are online criminal background checks you can run, but they cost a few dollars. You might see if your state's attorney general or local DA has any complaints about them. You can check the zoning office too.
As far as your second question, I turned down an applicant last year that didn't have regular income because he didn't show me enough assets to convince me he would be liquid at the time of lease renewal. He offered to pay cash for the full year's lease, but I like tenants who stick around longer. For a landlord willing to allow a shorter term lease, maybe they won't care.
Thank you for your response. I think it's probably a good idea to run a criminal background check, although I don't know how accurate an online check is supposed to be. Sf ro income proof, I guess it's case by case on the landlord. I will print out a bunch of statements and see how much I have to show...
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Old 04-07-2015, 06:54 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by tmm99 View Post
There are a lot of talks about how to get a *good* tenant, but is there a way to screen for a *good* landlord?
How do I know there are no hidden cameras imbedded somewhere?
Just pray every night that your landlord does have hidden cams. When was the last time you had a shot at 100s of thousands or even millions of dollars for a few pictures?

Ha
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Old 04-07-2015, 07:23 PM   #6
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I've wondered the same thing. Mostly I've used google search to make sure that the landlord/contact person is the actual owner of the property and then search for any complaints that may have come up.

However it can be difficult or impossible to find anything on mom&pop landlords. Most review sites I think only turn up complaints for the larger apartment complexes where they have separate management and many more renters.

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How do I know there are no hidden cameras imbedded somewhere? How do I know the landlord isn't another Jeffrey Dahmer? (I am sure most of them are very nice folks, probably 99% or more of them.....)
My main concern is making sure that the landlord is going to be fair about returning the security deposit. Seems unlikely for a serial killer to target their own tenant (too close to home).

Generally I get the most comfort from how professionally the landlord handles communication and how strictly they screen tenants.

Edit -- forgot to add the biggest thing. Talk to the landlord's prior tenants. Easy enough to do if they have a multi-unit complex or the existing tenants are still there.
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Old 04-07-2015, 09:38 PM   #7
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When one of the kids rented an apartment, like photoguy I made sure the person the check was written out to was the actual owner through searching online property records. If I remember right seemed to be a wealthy doctor with trust funds and many rental properties. I guess he could be a serial killer, too, but I didn't think to check for that. I just Googled the property manager, owner and property address and didn't come up with anything weird.

Smaller buildings with low turnover and long term tenants probably aren't going to have much on Yelp or any other review sites.
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Old 04-08-2015, 07:12 AM   #8
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Basement apartment in Buffalo I can just imagine digging your way out or swimming out when the snow melts.
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Old 04-08-2015, 07:47 AM   #9
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More and more cities are requiring rental licenses for properties. The licensing agency keeps records of code compliance and any citations against the landlord.
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Old 04-08-2015, 11:38 AM   #10
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TMM99, unless you are absolutely immune to winter blues and depression from low light, and you have experienced these conditions enough to be sure of your immunity, consider paying a little more to get up where you will get what little light there is in a climate like Buffalo's. South side windows are nice too.It was hard for me for a while after I moved north from California, and luckily I never tried a basement apartment.

Living in the basement my niece became so depressed that she was put on anti-depressants. Then she moved out of the basement to a 2nd floor apartment with big windows and she recovered and got back off the pills almost overnight. And this is in a climate not nearly as cloudy as Buffalo's.


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Old 04-08-2015, 12:05 PM   #11
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TMM99, unless you are absolutely immune to winter blues and depression from low light, and you have experienced these conditions enough to be sure of your immunity, consider paying a little more to get up where you will get what little light there is in a climate like Buffalo's. South side windows are nice too.It was hard for me for a while after I moved north from California, and luckily I never tried a basement apartment.

Living in the basement my niece became so depressed that she was put on anti-depressants. Then she moved out of the basement to a 2nd floor apartment with big windows and she recovered and got back off the pills almost overnight. And this is in a climate not nearly as cloudy as Buffalo's.


Ha
Hi Ha! I am very sorry to hear that your niece had what sounds like SAD. I've heard about this being more prevalent in states like Oregon. The thing is, I will most likely stay in this apartment less than a few days a month. The rest of the time, I will be visiting Canada, so I think a basement apartment would be OK.
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Old 04-08-2015, 12:06 PM   #12
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Basement apartment in Buffalo I can just imagine digging your way out or swimming out when the snow melts.
Hopefully, I won't have to stay in Buffalo too long.
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Old 04-08-2015, 12:09 PM   #13
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More and more cities are requiring rental licenses for properties. The licensing agency keeps records of code compliance and any citations against the landlord.
Thank you for your post. I wonder how I can go about finding citations against the landlord...
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Old 04-08-2015, 12:11 PM   #14
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When one of the kids rented an apartment, like photoguy I made sure the person the check was written out to was the actual owner through searching online property records. \
Do you use USA search or something to find this information?
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Old 04-08-2015, 12:11 PM   #15
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Just pray every night that your landlord does have hidden cams. When was the last time you had a shot at 100s of thousands or even millions of dollars for a few pictures?

Ha
LOL, I think I have been watching way too may crime documentaries!!
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Old 04-08-2015, 12:17 PM   #16
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Just pray every night that your landlord does have hidden cams. When was the last time you had a shot at 100s of thousands or even millions of dollars for a few pictures?

Ha
+1

funny ,,but true
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Old 04-08-2015, 01:33 PM   #17
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Not sure about Buffalo - but here in SoCal you can look up ownership, liens, and forclosure notices. I would do a public records search to verify that you are dealing with the owner and that the property is not in foreclosure.

I'd also google the name to see if anything pops.

Also - if you're worried they're lawsuit happy - again, you can look up civil cases here - if you see the name come up a lot - you should consider that.

But I don't think most smalltime landlords are on angies list or yelp.
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Old 04-08-2015, 02:19 PM   #18
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In my experience the real concern with a landlord is whether they will actually fix stuff when it needs to be fixed. When the sewer is backing up into the kitchen, you don't want to be dealing with someone who puts you off for a couple weeks.

Personally, I would avoid renting from a do-it-yourselfer. I much preferred the larger, professionally run apartment complexes.
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Old 04-08-2015, 02:53 PM   #19
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Personally, I would flat out ask the landlord/manager "How many people have been murdered in this apartment?" And as far as the cameras, you can take care of that yourself. The most important question, will the landlord be fair about returning the security deposit, I can't help you with. If there's any information on Yelp that might be the best place to look.
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Old 04-08-2015, 04:08 PM   #20
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Personally, I would flat out ask the landlord/manager "How many people have been murdered in this apartment?" .
But then, maybe I should (It is Buffalo, NY! Not East Oakland but you never know.)

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The most important question, will the landlord be fair about returning the security deposit, I can't help you with.
I do see some Yelp reviews on bigger complexes with this particular issue, so I get it. I just need to keep that in mind..
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