Sometimes, the biggest hassle of renting an apartment is dealing with a difficult landlord, which can be even worse than long and tiring apartment searches themselves. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to know just what a landlord is like until something goes wrong and they show you their true colors.

Once you are tied into an apartment, getting out can seem impossible, so it’s important to get a good read on a landlord before signing anything. Here are a few signs to look for that might indicate a landlord is not someone you want to deal with:

  1. Trouble contacting: If you are having trouble making contact with landlord, especially right off the bat, then they may not be the most punctual or reliable person. If they do miss your call and take more than a day to call back, take it as a red flag.
  2. Existing damage: When you do go check out the apartment, do a thorough check for any existing damage and take pictures if there is. Not only is this important so that they can’t charge you for repairing damage that you didn’t do, but it also indicates that the landlord doesn’t care enough to fix it on his own. In these cases, there’s no telling what else they might have ignored to fix.
  3. Avoids answering questions: When looking for an apartment, it’s always important to ask questions about any concerns you may have. A good landlord should be able to give you an answer, even if it may not be the one you want hear. However, if a landlord appears to be dodging questions or dancing around the answers, they likely have something to hide.
  4. Wants only cash: There’s nothing really wrong with paying rent in cash, but if the landlord will take nothing but cash, that could be a sign of trouble. This could mean they are pocketing the cash to avoid being taxed. Not only does this mean they are untrustworthy, but that they could end up in legal trouble at some point.
  5. No lease: Similar to problem of only taking cash, a landlord who doesn’t want to use a lease is up to something. Leases are important. They not only protect landlords and their property, but they are also meant to protect renters as well. Otherwise, landlords could evict tenants and charge them for any reason they want.
  6. Online resources: In recent years, apartment searches have been made much easier with online resources now available. Some even have reviews for different landlords, which is probably your best way to get a good idea of who a landlord really is.

With an estimated 6,837,605 students enrolled in four year college programs throughout the U.S., many of which prefer to live in off campus student housing for privacy, there will be millions of apartment searches being conducted every year. Make sure you aren’t one of the unlucky ones stuck with a bad landlord.