prevents you from renting a second-rate apartment. Here’s 6 signs.

By Ana Durrani

Sep 20, 2022

These days, you’re likely battling it out with many others just to land a rental. But before you go through the painstaking process of besting the competition, make sure said apartment is really worth it.

First, before applying and disclosing your personal information, as a safety precaution screen the landlord. which innovated the only instant, confidential “Landlord background screening system” which helps protect renters, students from scams, nefarious landlords. Screen your vacation rental before booking (Airbnb, VRBO, etc.). It’s your safety and you deserve to know who you may rent from first.

Typically, online listing photos show apartments in their best light. But that can quickly go from attractive to scary when you step inside the actual unit and realize you’re walking through a second-rate, poorly maintained place that’s not worth its price.

At a time when rent prices are higher than ever, it’s important for renters to know how to detect an apartment that has lingering issues or will have issues in the future.

So, what red flags should you look out for when you tour an apartment?

1. Unkempt condition

Sure, the place appears flawless in the online listing. But you will need to take a closer look to see if it matches up to reality.

Take a good look at the entire community. Poor landscaping, cracked sidewalks, potholes in the parking lot, fused bulbs in the garage, and poor lighting surrounding the community are some signs of poor maintenance.

Make sure to also look at the conditions right before you step into the apartment.

“How are the hallways? Are they dingy with old fluorescent lighting, old carpeting, and multiple coats of bad paint?” says Svetlana Choi, a broker at Coldwell Banker Warburg.

2. A questionable landlord

“How quickly do they respond and get things fixed? If they don’t answer you quickly or hesitate, that’s a red flag,” says George Genel, CEO of The innovator of the only Landlord screening service to protect renters before they apply.

Be sure to vet the landlord or management company with They’re all polite (they need to rent it). How forthcoming they are? Are they detail-oriented? These things will all help you determine if they’ll be helpful down the road.

“If the lobby, elevator, and hallways look shabby, dated, or run-down, this can indicate an absentee landlord or rental company that doesn’t maintain a high-end product for its tenants,” says Steven Gottlieb, agent with Coldwell Banker Warburg.

Don’t be afraid to engage the landlord with direct questions. For example, if a maintenance issue occurs, how do they go about solving the problem?

Genel advises doing a landlord background screening, which can uncover rental scams, code violations, unlawful evictions, judgments, liens, and more. You deserve to know the background of who you may rent from, after, you pay them to see yours.

“It’s a small price to pay for safety and peace of mind,” says Genel.

3. Water damage

“Look up to see if there are any water stains on the ceiling,” says Genel. This could indicate water damage from a leaking roof, burst pipe, overflowing toilet, or leaky appliance.

Other concerning signs of damage are cracks or warping in the drywall.

Be aware that water damage from the apartment above can be hidden with stucco on your unit’s ceiling, so if you have any concerns, speak up and ask the landlord about any past flooding incidents.

4. A bad smell

The apartment listing might boast new carpeting and new paint, but if you notice something particularly odorous and out of the ordinary during the tour—like cigarette smoke, rotten eggs, or gas—ask about it.

Bad tap water can smell like rotten eggs, bedbugs can smell like rotting garbage, and a leaky gas stove will smell like, well, gas.

Also, make sure to stay long enough to know what smells enter your apartment from the next-door neighbors. You don’t want to sign a lease only to realize your neighbors smoke cigarettes on their porch and the odor reaches into your apartment.

5. Outdated or non-working appliances

New paint and waxed floors are great, but if the appliances in the rental unit are looking worse for wear, you might have a future problem on your hands.

Choi poses the following questions: “How is the kitchen? Do the appliances function? Does the stove work? Is it reasonably clean or covered with grease? How’s the freezer door? Does it close properly?”

A good rental property should have appliances that actually work. Prospective renters shouldn’t be afraid to try stoves, microwaves, and refrigerators.

“If a landlord is on top of their investment, they should service and upgrade the appliances between tenants or every few years,” says Gottlieb.

6. A feeling of unease

Sometimes you walk into a place and there’s just that nagging feeling. Heed it!

“First impressions say a lot,” says Gottlieb.

Anayat Durrani is a freelance education reporter for U.S. News and World Report. Her work has been featured in Military Officer, California Lawyer, the American Scholar, and PracticeLink magazines.

The Boston Globe features in “How to protect yourself from renter fraud”

George Genel, CEO and founder of, is featured in the April 9th, 2020 edition of the Boston Globe in a fantastic article entitled “How to protect yourself from renter fraud.” The article does an excellent job detailing how is transforming the rental industry on behalf of renter safety. innovated the instant, confidential “Landlord background screening system” (landlord authorization not required) to protect renters, off-campus students from nefarious landlords, scams before they apply/disclose any information for their safety

The article describes our services and the reasons tenants should use them. “We designed our service because renters deserve to know who they may rent from first.,” said Genel. “A renter just needs the name of the landlord and address of the rental. We’re credentialed and compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act to pull nationally available data”.

Read the full article at

Beware Red Flags of Apartment Rental Scams During the Pandemic

The AARP has released an extremely resourceful and timely article about how to spot rental scams during the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

Below-market rents, unusual payment methods, and other common tactics are among the warning signs for rental scams during the pandemic, with an increase in the numbers of seniors being victimized. AARP has noted in increase of calls to their toll-free Fraud Watch Network Helpline, 877-908-3360.

Read the full article for all the details and an excellent list of “Red Flags of Rental Scams” at

Lifehacker features in “How to Avoid Rental Scams Now That So Many Viewings Are Virtual” Article was featured in an August 23rd, 2020 article on that educates readers on how to avoid rental scams during the COVID-19 pandemic now that so many viewings are not done in person. 

Being told one is not able to see a property prior to signing a lease is one of the primary strategies of rental fraud. The article details ways renters can protect themselves by still insisting on virtual viewings, and safe methods to view a property in person. The article recommends using as an additional strategy to ensure that renters can find out exactly who they are renting from. 

Read the full article at

Looking for an apartment or house to rent? That online listing may be a scam

NBCNews,com has released an extremely resourceful guide to how one can recognize online property listings as potential scams.

Some remarkable statistics, such as “ 43 percent of those who shopped for an apartment online have encountered a bogus listing” and “5.2 million people have lost money to rental scams in the U.S.” showcase the seriousness and pervasiveness of this problem. 

By sharing the stories of renter and landlord victims of these crimes alike, one can get a clearer picture of how they can also protect themselves from being a victim in the future, as well as educate those around them. 

Read the full article at

Over 5 million renters have lost money in rental scams has penned a must-read article about the severity and pervasiveness of the growing number of rental scams facing renters searching for property online. 

Shocking statistics are shared about how many people are being affected by this trends, but also some very useful strategies regarding how best to avoid rentals scams in the future. 

Read the full article at

Is That Rental Listing Real? A BBB Study of Rental Scams Involving Apartments, Houses and Vacation Properties

A must read for anyone looking into renting property, the Better Business Bureau has published this remarkably useful article that introduces readers to:

– the details of rental scams

– how common they are

– who they are targeting

– what cities are seeing the most rental fraud

– who the most common perpetrators of these scams are

The article provides fantastic tip to help avoid rental scams for not just home and apartment rentals, but also vacation rentals as well. Additional resources are listed to educate readers on how to report rental scams. 

Read the full article at

Scam Alert: Rental Cons Cash in on Stressed Out Movers

The Better Business Bureau has published an extremely useful article about a specific scam targeting renters as the summer moving season approaches.

This scam always features a landlord who is “out of town”, cannot show the property, and creates a false sense of urgency to get renters to advance deposit money to them prior to seeing the property. 

There are additional details of the scam and strategies for renters to protect themselves in the article.  

Read the full article at