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Commentary: Renter’s Red Flags – 7 Things to Check Out Before Signing a Lease

July 10, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 


Tenant Beware!

In a recent article posted by Laura Drucker in the Daily Muse, she proposes 7 tips that any renter needs to check out before signing a lease.

They are:

1) Noise

2) Weak water pressure

3) Bad laundry facilities

4) Odd smells

5) Faulty doors and windows

6) Bad-tasting water

7) Pet policy

While these are certainly good tips for apartment living, a lot of Phoenix real estate rental properties are owned by individual owners (condos, town homes, patio homes, single family homes), not centrally-managed investor groups.  In such situations, I’d add 2 important additional due diligence concerns to the list:

1) Mortgage status:  I’ve heard many sad stories from tenants who previously signed a lease and gave sizable security, cleaning, and pet deposits to the owners, only to later learn that the owner defaulted on their mortgage and let the property go into foreclosure.  The tenants are left holding the bag, as their deposits are forfeited.

Before you sign a lease, check public property records to see if a Notice of Default or Trustee’s Sale has been filed against the property.  Public records aren’t always current, so you may even want to ask the landlord to show a copy of their mortgage statement (with numbers blacked out) indicating that it’s current.

2) Community Rules: Many privately-owned properties are located in communities that are governed by Community Associations (or HOAs).  Before signing a lease, be sure to read the community covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CCRs) and bylaws.  If you have grand plans to enjoy an occasional BBQ on your condo patio, for example, you might be disenchanted to learn that community rules don’t allow BBQs on patios.  Other common policies relate to overnight parking, pet size/breed restrictions, and even car wash and garage sale activities.

Just be sure to read through the rules prior to signing a lease so you can identify any potential policies that could make living there unbearable.


What are some other considerations that a person should check out before signing a lease?  


Have you ever moved in to a property only to find there was a crazy rule that you didn’t previously know about?