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Rental apartments: Separating the good from the bad

  • Published at 11:51 pm November 4th, 2019
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Photo: Courtesy

While the result of this quick small-scale survey is a surprise to some extent, what was the most alarming was the fact that only a small portion of those rental home dwellers were content with their housing situation

Finding a “good” apartment to rent, it seems, is difficult, to say the least. When we asked 50 random office-goers which aspect they prioritize the most when choosing a rental apartment, 15 people said that they prioritize the behaviour of the landlord and rules in place for the property the most. And among the remaining interviewees, 12 people said they prioritize the rent amount the most, and 11 said the location of the property. 

While the result of this quick small-scale survey is a surprise to some extent, what was the most alarming was the fact that only a small portion of those rental home dwellers were content with their housing situation. Two of the more common complaints they shared was about their landlords’ attitude and hidden problems – both of which stem from a lack of transparency. Even though not a lot of properties or landlords are as problematic, you can never be too careful and it pays to be on your toes.

Longevity is a big part of credibility

A good way to find out the quality of a product is to see how long people have been using it uninterrupted. As far as logic goes, if any particular item is considered useful or good, there will be a number of long-time users. In real estate, that translates into long tenantships. 

Any high-quality apartment with a friendly landlord will have tenants who have lived or have been living in the property for long stretches of time. This long tenure can be anywhere between five years to 10 years or even more. Finding people who have been living in the same rental place for more than 10 years is not at all that uncommon in Dhaka and around Bangladesh. And it is absolutely understandable as no one wants to remove themselves from a good situation unless it is absolutely necessary!

However, since you probably will not have the chance to find out directly from previous and current residents in the building about their longevity at the property, you need to find out such information from the landlords themselves during your initial meeting. If the landlord says tenants frequently move in and out of the apartment, then you should be cautious about choosing to move into that property yourself. After all, there should be a valid reason behind people deciding to leave an apartment in high frequency – which could very well be unfair rules or atrocious behaviour of the landlord or some other quality-related factor. 

Ask the landlord about previous tenants and go back to the first tenants if possible. And if the property in question has had three to four tenants in the span of a year or two, be very wary! On the other hand, if the property has had the same tenants living there for more than a few years, chances are it is a good place to live in.

The devil is in the details

Is having a lot of information ever considered a bad thing? After all, we always associate large volumes of information with transparency and vagueness with deceit. So the more information we have about a particular product, or rather the more information the manufacturer or owner provides, the more trusted that product seems. So whenever you are viewing an apartment, pay attention to what type of information and how much of it the landlord is providing or is even willing to provide – viz a viz, construction date, rules of the property, building maintenance, previous rent, rent increment schedule and amount, utilities and services and charges, and responsibilities of the tenant and landlord. All of this information will give you a proper heads-up about the property as well as give you clear insight into your potential relationship with the landlord.

On the off-chance that the landlord tries to omit mentioning the above mentioned key points or answers in vague terms, you need to press on the matters and get as much information as possible. And during all the conversations and discussions, look out for legal aspects being brought up. Every tenant and landlord has their own set of rights and drawing the terms and conditions of the tenancy into a legal document will legitimize and safeguard your tenure at the property.

Never forget the basics

The term “basic,” in regard to homes, have different meanings to different people. To some, having a swimming pool is a basic feature while for others, its a bathtub. But things that are universally considered as basics are room sizes, rent, wiring, airflow, natural light and location. These few aspects need to be checked and validated thoroughly, if needed, by independent or third party resources.

The reason being, even a seemingly splendid apartment may have faulty wiring which could lead to electronic items getting damaged or worse, and bad airflow or lack of natural lighting will produce a confining and stuffy environment for residents. Clearly outlined rent and charges, an interior that is true to its design and sufficient electrical load-bearing capacity are just some of the characteristics of a “good” apartment.

Most of the reasons people are not content with their rental homes stem from a lack of transparency. So if any landlord is refusing to be transparent or feels not fully honest, it is the responsibility of the tenant to be on the lookout for signs.