Over a third of all families in the United States lease their houses. Due to this high demand, exploitative lease arrangements are a regrettable but all-too-common reality. Exploitative rental agreements can vary from blatant fraud schemes to rentals with unfavorable or unethical conditions.
Landlords that are dishonest often capitalize on those who are in urgent situations or who are just ignorant of their privileges. Based on this, it is crucial to understand the warning signs that a leasing agreement is exploitative before appending your signature on the contract. Following are the red flags to look out for:
It Necessitates a Spectacularly Massive Down Payment
A non-refundable deposit is usually required when you move to a new apartment. When you notice that the security deposit is more than a few hundred dollars to several months’ rent, and you are being asked to pay a large amount in advance, which puts a considerable financial strain on you in addition to the possibility of never receiving any refund, you should suspect foul play.
A homeowner’s ability to demand from you a damage deposit may be limited based on where you live and even if your state does not have a cap on advance payments, one to two months’ rent is typically the accepted standard. Regard this as a red flag if a landlord requests more than that.
Being pressured By the Owner to Sign the Lease
Some proprietors will put undue strain on you to agree to the terms of the lease as soon as possible. They can try to persuade you not to read it by saying they have another engagement or persuade you that you must sign immediately since the property has attracted other buyers.
If you find yourself in this situation, please do not expedite the finalizing process. Take as much time as you would like to analyze and discuss issues about the agreement before signing it and double-check that you fully comprehend and agree with all of the terms.
There Isn’t A Way Out of the Lease
Events can sometimes evolve, even if you wish to stay in your new house for years. It’s possible that you lose your job, just have to tend to a loved one in need of care, or need to migrate for new employment. These situations may lead to the termination of your lease due to unforeseen reasons.
Although you may be liable for rent until the expiration of your rental period, depending on your area and the conditions of your rental agreement. In some places, the landlord can keep charging you a rental fee until a new tenant is found and approved, which can take months.
Check for an appendix regarding terminating a lease when going over the lease. You may be able to get out of it by paying two months’ rent. You risk getting trapped making payments even if you no longer live in the house if the lease doesn’t have explicit wording about sudden cancellation.
Postdated Checks are Requested By the Landlord
You can utilize postdated checks to guarantee that you keep up with your rent payments. Predatory landlords, on the other hand, may need repeated postdated checks or payment cards before allowing you to move in. Fraudulent property owners can use this tactic to remove cash from your bank after you’ve moved out.
If they cash the checks before you anticipate them, you may be responsible for account overdraft fees and other expenses on top of the money they already took out.
Adding Unnecessary Fees
Some exploitative rental contracts will include costs that aren’t customary but that new tenants might not notice. Some landlords, for instance, may impose the following fees:
Fees for comfort- this is a fee charged for paying your rent with a credit card, which can range from 1.5 percent to 3% of the total rent.
Fees for moving in this one-off fee is designed to accommodate any destruction to the unit which might occur during your move-in.
Charges for using the phone- even if the renter uses another operator, the landlord charges a fixed cost for telephone and internet connections.
Even though these changes aren’t always illegal or particularly excessive, they can pile up quickly. So read the contract carefully, evaluate how much they will raise your monthly payment, and dispute any that seem excessive.
Where to Get Help as a Tenant
If you are a renter looking for a new place to live or you are trapped in a deceptive rental agreement, it is a smart idea to seek help from a local renters’ rights organization. They can assist you in understanding your privileges as a renter and can represent you in negotiations with your landlord.
Exploitative leasing contracts, which range from blatantly unlawful to outrageously unjust, are an uncomfortable fact in the property market. Renters with limited alternative options or who don’t know any better may be subjected to them by unscrupulous landlords.
Therefore, renters must read any rental contract prior to finalizing it, be on the lookout for potential red flags, and clarify until they’re happy with the answers.