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Getting the best deal on an apartment

Getting the best deal on an apartment

By Paul Nelson | Posted - Sep. 22, 2010 at 7:22 a.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Analysts have noticed an uptick in renting over the last six months, but there are still plenty of good apartments to go around. So, potential renters should slow down and do their homework.


Make sure you know what you're getting into and that you try everything.

–L. Paul Smith


Utah Apartment Association Executive Director L. Paul Smith says, "About 10 years ago we were at 3 percent vacancy. Right now, we're at 8 percent vacancy. So, there is no rush."

Smith says there are things a potential tenant can do to protect themselves from getting into a bad deal and moving into a lemon of a housing unit.

"The first is to do a thorough inspection of the premises. Make sure you know what you're getting into and that you try everything. Turn on the (faucets) and make sure there are no leaks," he recommends.

Smith says the more professional landlords will explain their renting standards up front so potential renters know exactly what is expected from them. Have you ever rented a car? If you have, you know the car rental companies ask you to look over the car to see if there is any damage before you use it. Smith says you should ask for a similar checklist before you move into an apartment.

"If there are any deficiencies, you can write those down. You can say, ‘There's a little spot in the carpet,' or you can say, ‘There's a little ding in that baseboard,'" he says.

That way, you don't get charged for damage that was already there. Smith also recommends taking pictures of the entire apartment to help you support your claims.

The people who might have some of the best insight into whether a landlord is good or bad are the current tenants in that building.

"If it's a bigger building, you ought to talk to some of the other neighbors about how that landlord treats their clients and their customers, and what kind of customer service do they give," Smith advises.

If the apartment manager doesn't want you speaking with other tenants in the building, Smith says that ought to tell you everything you need to know. In other words, don't rent there.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

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