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When it comes to renting, it’s important to pay attention to warning signs and possible problems during a walkthrough. Though you aren’t purchasing a house, your rental will serve as your home for the length of your lease. If issues go unchecked or simply aren’t taken care of, you may want to think twice before committing to a landlord who hasn’t shown interest or care in maintaining the property. Keep your eyes open and watch out for these four warning signs that a rental has not been well-maintained.

Discolored Walls and Ceilings 
Leaks are a property nightmare. Because they are often costly to fix, a neglectful landlord or property manager may procrastinate and avoid repairs. However, leaks don’t fix themselves. In fact, they often get worse when they aren’t taken care of. If you move into a rental with leak problems, your personal belongings are at risk. As you walk through a new rental property, look for brown-ish discoloration on the walls and ceilings, as well as any bubbles or mold that may indicate unwanted moisture. 

Broken Appliances and Smoke Detectors
In most states, landlords are obligated to routinely test and maintain smoke detectors on their rental properties. Also, if a rental offers large appliances, such as a refrigerator, oven, dishwasher or washer and dryer, it is up to them to make repairs as needed. When you visit a new apartment, be sure to test each item to determine the quality and any potential issues. If you find that an appliance or smoke detector isn’t working, it can be a sign that the landlord doesn’t care for the property or the safety of their tenants. 

Unkempt Grounds 
Whether you’re looking at an apartment complex or a rental house, don’t ignore the landscaping. As it is the first thing you see when you pull up, you can get a pretty good idea of how the rest of the property is maintained. Even if it falls on the tenant to cut the lawn or trim the bushes, if the landscaping is in rough shape, you never know what else the landlord might let slide. Shaggy grass, dangling tree branches and overgrown gardens and bushes are just a few prominent signs to look for when determining the care of a property. 

Signs of Pest Infestation
Whether it’s insects or rodents, pest infestation is not only dangerous to your health, but a telltale sign that a property is neglected. Because pests such as cockroaches, mice and ants can be easily hidden in the walls or under appliances, it can be hard to spot them. Keep your eyes—and noses—open for any signs of pests, such as droppings or an unusual smell. If you come across evidence, or possibly spot an insect or rodent, notify the landlord and walk away from this potentially harmful property.

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