If you're like me and are just scraping by, chances are you're not able to be too picky when it comes to where you live. And when you're desperate for a cheap place to lay your head, unfortunately you'll put up with almost anything.
Before I received benefits for disability, I moved around a lot because getting fired constantly affects your ability to pay rent on time. In the process, I developed a list of the worst kind of landlords and the warning signs you should look out for.
1. The one who has a stripper pole in his basement
At first you'll think it's cool that he has a room dedicated towards a hot tub, complete with a black light and stripper pole. He seems friendly when you meet, implying that the house has a nice backyard and a sense of community.
But what goes on in that room stays just as ominous as your new roommate, who often locks himself in his bedroom and blares techno after work. While he originally told you that you could use the TV in the living room, he later goes back on his word because “he feels like he's living in your house.”
One day he tells you that his birthday is coming up and there's going to be lots of “adult activity.” Uncomfortable living in an unfriendly, even odd, environment, you'll decide to move out before finding out what that actually entails. Don't wait around for your damage deposit – he won't end up mailing it to your new address.
2. The one who makes sexist comments towards women
You'll meet him from a friend of a friend, and at first, he'll seem like a cool guy. You'll try to brush off his comments about all the female friends he wishes he could sleep with, and how he finds you attractive – a conditioning you've developed because you know way too many guys like this in the first place. You'll have far too many conversations with him about how he's “the nice guy” and how he “doesn't know why girls only want to be friends with him.”
Then one day you'll come home to confide in him about an uncomfortable, even scary, encounter you experienced from a man, only to be met with victim blaming and the words, “What did you expect?” You'll soon move somewhere else and lose touch when he starts a Facebook fight on one of your posts about feminism, declaring that men have rights too.
3. The one who insists a-little-too-eagerly that there aren't any bedbugs
This place will seem like your dream apartment. It's in your price range, it's visually appealing and it's in one of the best parts of the city. The landlord who maintains the building has a sense of pride in his work and is very attentive, fixing your leaky kitchen faucet and even unclogging the drain when you get hair caught in the sink. When you first arrive he'll confirm that there are no bedbugs – almost seeming insulted that you would ask.
But one day the person who lives beside you will warn you of their bedbug problem and tell you that they're getting ready to move out. Use this moment as an eviction notice, because once he leaves, the bedbugs will certainly take up residence in your own apartment, leaving you with the terrible feeling of waking up to itchy bumps on your skin – even months after you leave.
But don't worry, your landlord will let you borrow his bedbug spray. Next time, you'll be sure to use the bed bug registry.
4. The one who makes you feel like you have to walk on eggshells
Moving in with your friend's uncle, you'll be excited about knocking $100 off your rent and being able to live with people you know. As he's semi-retired, he'll have multiple boarders to pay the bills – yet he'll become annoyed at the fact that they're living there. He'll find every opportunity to make you uncomfortable – from telling you that your light is shining in the middle of his TV, to telling you that candles next to the bath are a fire hazard, to forbidding you from taking baths altogether because the water bill went up during gardening season.
He'll ask you for rent money early each month, but don't think that this will make him cut you some slack. He'll still yell at you if he finds a mess, even though there are four other people there who could have made it.
If you get up the nerve to do anything other than avoid confrontation before you leave, remind him that with the economy there would likely be no one to replace your rent for months should you find a more reasonable landlord.
5. The one who forbids you from having sleepovers
This place will look like a steal, as it'll have everything included and the rent will be right on budget. However, take a closer look at the online ad and what you're agreeing to.
Even though you're in your 20s, the room listing asks that you don't have sleepovers, have visitors after 11 P.M or watch porn. Yes, you read that last one right. The woman on the phone will sound so friendly and agreeable that you'll almost overlook these details because you're desperately trying to leave one of the places on this list above – plus, it happens to be furnished.
Even though it's incredibly tempting, you'll decide to wait until you find a rental property that not only suits your basic needs but also provides a healthy environment – after all, you don't want a repeat of the places previously mentioned.