Signs you’re renting from a slum lord

I’m exaggerating. A little. But these are details that indicate a lack of care from the landlord. Be sure to look out for them before entering into your next rental agreement.

Things don’t work

This door leads to the patio. It is impossible to open it from inside the apartment because the wood was not properly treated to be exposed to rain. It has bloated stuck and grown mold. Before you rent, test everything: drawers, doors, switches, cabinets — everything.

Unfinished or strange structural features

What is that box? Why is there a gap between wall and ceiling? Why is there molding in parts and not others? What is the cut out square in the top left? I have no idea. But all of these indicate shoddy workmanship and shortcuts taken in construction. If this is how the property owner chooses to do construction, chances are they won’t be providing quality maintenance of your unit either.

Worn fixtures

How much does it really cost to replace light switch covers between tenants? Especially when they’re worn like this?

Unprofessional paint jobs

I’m not saying you need to pay to have a professional-looking paint job. You just have to know what you’re doing. In particular, moldings shouldn’t be painted the same color. Paint also shouldn’t be slathered on so thickly its drips harden into permanence.

Deteriorating flooring

Linoleum is the bane of my existence. Linoleum that is peeling is even worse. I hate to think of the horrors that live under there. Flooring that is damaged should be replaced before renting to a new tenant. Keeping it like this is a slumlord move.

Uneven floors or ceilings

The landlord/owner didn’t even want to splurge on an actual architect. How much do you think they’ll spend on your maintenance issues?

Leaking plumbing

The plumbing is fine, but it’s clear to me that this rotten portion between the sinks should not have been made of wood. Water pools there — obviously it will rot through and leak under the sink. The landlord’s solution? Paint over this part in beige! When we toured the apartment, the mold was completely painted over so we didn’t notice.

Duct tape fixes

This should be the biggest red flag. Who thinks duct tape is an appropriate fix? A slumlord.

Random holes and stains on walls

Units should at least be re-painted between tenants. Holes should be caulked. Random wires should be removed.

Individually, these issues may be small or even quirky, but taken together, they indicate a level of neglect that could mean you will have problems getting your landlord to adequately address any maintenance requests. Or worse — you could be moving in to a place with vermin problems. Aren’t you glad I didn’t post a picture of the mouse friend I’ve seen running around on the patio?

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