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Top 10 Signs You Have a Bad Landlord and How to Deal with Them

For every great landlord, there are infinitely more horrible ones. Thus, tenants must be vigilant when selecting their next rental home. While location, size, price, and amenities are significant aspects to searching for the right place, tenants are not just renting a home; they are entering a long-term relationship with the landlord. So, it is vital to choose wisely! Even the most gorgeous or budget-friendly apartment can become a nightmare if landlord-tenant communication or respect is lacking. Sadly, the warning signs are not immediately apparent on occasion and only show themselves after moving in. When this occurs, it can be difficult to know how to improve the situation. Therefore, check out these top 10 signs that you have a bad landlord and learn how to improve the landlord-tenant relationship below.

Top 10 Signs of a Bad Landlord

Whether you are on the hunt for a rental home or already in a lease contract, there are some telltale warning signs of a bad landlord. Along with causing added frustration, a bad landlord can ignore maintenance needs, fuel disputes by not keeping accurate records, or in extreme cases, harass the tenant. With that in mind, check out these top 10 signs of a bad landlord below.

  1. Missing in Action
  2. Dishonest Advertising
  3. No Attention Given to Common Areas
  4. Rental Unit is in Disrepair
  5. It’s Too Good to Be True
  6. Poor Tenant and Online Reviews
  7. Shady or Nonexistent Contracts
  8. Cash is King
  9. Legal Violations
  10. That Nagging Feeling

Missing in Action

If landlords have a vacant unit, they are not generating revenue. Therefore, most good landlords will be eager to communicate with interested prospects. That said, a bad landlord dodges calls, avoids questions, and shows little interest in helping applicants through the process. If the very first interaction starts this way, it is a bad sign.

On the other hand, some landlords make an effort to get tenants into the home but then ghost them once the lease is signed. Thus, getting a hold of them for maintenance needs, questions, or concerns becomes a real challenge.

Dishonest Advertising

Dishonest Advertising

As a tenant, it is essential to see the actual unit you rent before signing the lease. Unfortunately, dishonest individuals may post the best, very old, or even fake photos to entice renters, but the unit is quite different in reality. So, if you arrive for a tour and discover the unit looks nothing like the photos, this is a telltale sign of a dishonest or bad landlord.

No Attention Given to Common Areas

First impressions of the property matter, and if it looks disheveled, that is a bad sign. In multifamily properties, landlords are responsible for the upkeep of common areas. A bad landlord will put in as little effort as possible to get by, and many things like cleanliness or simple repairs will fall by the wayside. These issues could include cracks in the walls, worn paint, missing floor tiles, trash piling up, or evidence of pests.

The same is true for single-family properties; if the curb appeal looks like the home could be abandoned or is overgrown – run!

Rental Unit is in Disrepair

Maintenance issues are the number one source of tension between landlords and tenants. So, it is vital to ask questions about the maintenance process – how can tenants make a request, who is responsible for what repairs, are their in-house maintenance technicians, or how much notice is given before entry is made to complete repairs?

Wear and tear are expected when touring a unit, especially in a rental that sees high turnover. However, if you note larger repairs or overall poor condition, it could signal that the landlord put minimal effort into upkeep.

It's Too Good to Be TrueIt’s Too Good to Be True

Everyone loves a bargain, but the old adage “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” rings true when it comes to rental property. While technology has provided increasing convenience for renters, it also makes it easier for a bad landlord to profit from rental scams. That said, if a great apartment in a hot rental market is priced suspiciously low – renter beware!

Poor Tenant and Online Reviews

Online reviews and forums are a great way for prospective tenants to see the kind of reputation a landlord has. While prospects should view disgruntled tenant reviews as only one side of the story, a pattern of bad reviews is a red flag. This, coupled with other warning signs such as poor property care or unresponsiveness, is reason enough to continue your search and stay away.

Shady or Nonexistent Contracts

The rental agreement is the most important document for a landlord-tenant relationship. As a legally binding contract, this outlines expectations and financial obligations while protecting the rights of both parties. That said, credible landlords put a lot of emphasis on the lease and ensuring tenants understand all terms while answering all questions. However, a bad landlord purposefully leaves terms vague or unclear in an attempt to shirk responsibility. Although, this will likely lead to confusion and disputes later on. Therefore, tenants should move on if the landlord refuses to review the lease, cannot produce a lease, or insists on signing it before seeing the unit.

Cash is KingCash is King

A landlord’s goal is to collect rent, and reputable ones will accept various forms of payment such as checks, money orders, or online payment via debit or credit cards. That said, reputable landlords shy away from accepting cash, which is viewed as a less secure form of payment by many. So, this is a red flag if tenants come across a landlord who pushes for or exclusively accepts cash. The landlord may be trying to avoid taxes or evidence of operating a business or that it may be a rental scam, all of which could be detrimental for the tenant.

Legal Violations

A bad landlord has little regard for Fair Housing Laws, adhering to building codes, or respecting a tenant’s rights to privacy in the rental home guaranteed under the lease. Instead, they make take part in discriminatory or harassing behavior that violates the rights of a tenant. Therefore, creating a frustrating and potentially dangerous situation if the property is not kept up to code.

Another common issue tenants with a bad landlord face are their disregard for providing proper notice of entry and assuming that they can stop by the property whenever they want. Not only is this illegal, but it also fosters distrust and tension between tenants and landlords.

That Nagging Feeling

People underestimate sheer gut instinct. While it may be easy to ignore some warning signs to get a great deal, it is critical to recognize a bad landlord when you see it. Small issues early on can quickly escalate after the lease is signed, so trust your instincts.

How to Improve the Relationship with a Bad Landlord

It is not always easy to find common ground with your landlord as a renter, and you cannot control individual personalities. However, despite having a bad landlord, it is essential not to exacerbate the situation further through your own actions. Instead, do everything in your power to be a model tenant and take necessary action if the landlord violates the law by reporting them to the proper authorities. Let’s review a few suggestions for dealing with a bad landlord below –

How to Improve the Relationship with a Bad Landlord

Focus on Communication

Good communication is the basis of any successful landlord-tenant relationship. However, great communication is easier said than done if the landlord is absent, difficult, or just a jerk. That said, as a tenant, all written or verbal communication to your landlord must remain professional and void of any personal attacks. Also, make sure you understand all of the rules and lease terms and comply with them fully. This will help lessen the event of a dispute with the landlord. Finally, if tenants are unsure of any processes or have a question, be sure to address the landlord politely and patiently.

Make Complete and On-time Payments

Even nice landlords will become frustrated over delays in rent payments. So, making timely payments can go a long way in fostering a productive and friendly landlord-tenant relationship. In addition, this will help tenants avoid costly late fees or unnecessary tension with the property owner. That said, if circumstances prevent timely rent payment, reach out to the landlord and let them know right away. While they still may get upset, clear communication is always better than ignoring the issue.

Maintain Cleanliness

Landlords have a responsibility to maintain safe and habitable property. This includes making necessary repairs and ensuring all safety concerns receive timely attention. However, tenants also have a responsibility to maintain the home’s cleanliness and report any maintenance concerns. That said, if you have a bad landlord, be sure to document every maintenance request reported. It is a good idea to also take photos or a video to more thoroughly document the issue. Landlords can hold tenants liable for damage caused as a result of failure to report, so keeping your own records can avoid disputes over the security deposit later on.

Where Can I Find Experienced and Reputable Landlords?

Entering into a lease is not something to take lightly. After all, this is a legally binding contract with a great penalty to the tenant if they break any of the terms. So, to not find yourself dealing with a bad landlord, it is vital to choose wisely from the start.

At Bay Property Management Group, our dedicated team of property managers and staff strives to enhance all tenants’ rental home experience. Offering various listings throughout Northern Virginia, Bay Property Management Group wants to help you find your next rental home! Using the latest technology and our commitment to top-notch customer service, BMG provides tenants the convenience of an Online Tenant Portal to easily view documents, send maintenance requests, update insurance, or make online rent payments. Check out our latest rental listings online, or give us a call today.