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Researching Landlords

One important step before signing a lease is reseaching the prospective landlord. There are a number of resources available to help you in this search. No one source has complete information about a landlord. The better approach is to gather information from several sources and see if a trend emerges. Here are some options::

1. Better Business Bureau. This website provides information on landlords, including any complaints lodged through the BBB against that landlord, how those complaints were resolved, and a letter grade for easy reference. The letter grades tend to reflect how willing the landlords are to engage in the BBB resolution process more than how satisfied consumers are with their experience with those landlords.

2. Yelp. Consumers can directly post reviews to Yelp. They tend to be those who have strong feelings one way or the other, so aren't necessarily representative of the average tenant's experience.

3. UJS Portal. Pennsylvania has its court docket information online. This allows you to see if the landlord has been in court either as a plaintiff or defendant and how those actions were resolved.

4. Current or prior tenants. Actual tenants are a great source of information about day-to-day life. Some questions to ask: Did they have trouble getting their security deposit back? Were maintanance requests handled promptly? Did the desk staff treat tenants respectfully? Was the apartment in good condition when upon arrival?

5. View Unit. Some apartment complexs will only show a model unit. Others won't assign you to a specific apartment until later in the rental process. Ask to see the actual unit wherever possible.

Reviewed 10/19/2015

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