Looking at rental units

Category: Tenant Rights & Laws Last Updated: Sunday, 28 September 2014 Published: Sunday, 21 September 2014 Written by ATA Admin

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Looking at rental units:



Once a possible home has been found, it is the tenant's duty to check it out completely. A tenant should not rely on the landlord or the landlord's agent to tell the tenant if anything is wrong with the property. The tenant must inspect the property carefully and ask questions about it.

Before agreeing to rent, the tenant should inspect the apartment or house for:

  1. Kitchen appliances in working order.
  2. Water pressure strong, plumbing without leaks.
  3. Electrical outlets and wiring working.
  4. Walls and ceiling painted or papered without cracks
  5. Ventilation or air conditioning accessible.
  6. Floors, railings and bathrooms in good repair.
  7. Fire escape easy to use.
  8. Stairs safe and well-lighted.
  9. No rodents or insects.
  10. Heating system in working order.
  11. If furnished, check and write down condition of all furniture.
  12. Windows and doors operable and weather-tight; screens provided.

The tenant should also check the security of the building to find out if there is a dead-bolt lock, security chain, or through-the-door viewer.


The landlord is required to maintain a certain level of quality housing. You may want to talk with tenants in the apartment complex or the neighbors in order to get a sense of how the landlord responds to the needs of the tenants.  Use a checklist as a guide to insure that you will get what you are looking for. We have included an Apartment Visitation Checklist provided by North Penn Legal Services.

You can also check the assessment record to make sure the landlord actually owns the property. Lehigh County Assessment Record Search: http://www.lehighcounty.org/Departments/Assessment/SearchRecords/tabid/315/Default.aspx

You can also check the sheriff sales listing to make sure the property isn't being foreclosed.
Lehigh County Sheriff Sales: http://www.lehighcounty.org/departments/sheriffsoffice/sheriffsale/tabid/554/default.aspx


Before agreeing to rent, the tenant should ask the following questions:


  1. Who is the landlord? Who is the agent (if the landlord has one)?
  2. How much is the rent?
  3. When is the rent due?
  4. To whom and where should the rent be paid?
  5. Is a security deposit required?
  6. To whom should problems and repairs be referred?
  7. Will there be an oral or written lease?
  8. Will the tenant be renting for a month-to-month or a year-to-year term?
  9. Who has the responsibility to pay for the utilities (electric, water gas. oil)?
  10. What are the rules and regulations about such things as pets and children?


Should I Move into an Apartment or House Where There Are Problems? What If The Landlord Promises To Fix Them?

Generally, the answer is no. You should try to find a place that does not need significant repairs.  Even if the landlord promises to make the repairs once you move in, there is no guarantee that he will do so. If the repairs are minor ones (new light bulbs or shower curtain), then it might not make a big difference because you could fix these problems yourself.  If the repairs are major (no smoke alarm, broken windows, and no heat) you should not move into the apartment.


However, many people do move into places with bad conditions because the rent is cheap, the landlord promises to make the repairs, and they need a place right away.  In this case, you want to make sure that you get the landlord to sign a written agreement that he will make the repairs by a certain date.  If you agree to do some of the work in exchange for a reduction in rent, get that it writing or it will be difficult to prove later. You should also take pictures of the repairs that are needed.  If the landlord doesn’t make repairs and you need to sue him to try to get the repairs made, you will then have the pictures and signed agreement as proof of the conditions and his promise to make the repairs.  Remember to keep a copy of the agreement signed by your landlord.


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