International Apartment Hunting 101 Part II: Landlords

The Second Rule of Real Estate (when renting) is Landlord Landlord Landlord

Before I moved overseas I rented apartments all the time, and in the States you certainly want a good company running your apartment complex, but when renting directly from private landlords, which I have found is more common internationally, it is essential to find a landlord whom you can trust. I learned this lesson the hard way while living in Russia. One of my landlords there, in an effort to protect his son who was facing criminal charges, kept his family registered at the place where I was staying. It was not a happy morning when the police came by the house and did a thorough search through my stuff looking for stolen items. Can you say “not cool,” kiddos?

So here are a few things that I look for in landlord when renting from a private person.

1. Character- Are they abiding by the laws as far as you can tell. Do you have a rental contract or is everything just verbal agreement? Is he paying taxes on the place? How does he feel about you registering at the apartment? Sometimes this stuff is hard to find out unless you ask. So ask!

2. Flexibility- Of course you can’t expect to get away with murder, you need to make sure you stick to your contract and get your rent in on time, but are they at least open to negotiation on certain non-essential things like pets or allowing you to get rid of the furniture in the apartment that you don’t want.

3. Availability- This is important. You are going to have problems with the place and you need to be able to get a hold of the landlord sometimes. Again this one might be hard to gauge at first, sure in the beginning they’ll bend over backwards for you, they want their place rented! However, once the deposit is in will you be able to call them when you are having a problem with the stove that belongs to them or you need to find the gas meter so that the utilities guy can read it?

4. Likeability- Now your landlord probably won’t become your best buddy and let’s face it, if your landlord is going to be coming over to check in all the time that might not be such a good thing either, but if you can at least get along with them that can go a long way.

Bottom line, a rental agreement with a private person is not just a contract, it’s a relationship. That’s an important thing to remember. Of course, the relationship goes both ways so I need to make sure I’m a good renter (regardless weather I have a good landlord). After all, who knows what the Lord will do through your tenant-landlord relationship.

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