Rental viewings only offer a quick glimpse into what it’s really like to live in a unit. Some variables, including noise and safety, may not be obvious during a brief rental tour. If you’re viewing an apartment at 4pm on a Tuesday, it’ll take some guesswork to figure out if noise from the bar next door is actually going to disrupt your beauty sleep every Friday and Saturday night.
HotPads worked with Ipsos, a market research company, to survey over 400 U.S. apartment renters about their biggest regrets, as well as the factors they consider important when looking for a new rental. According to the study, more than two-thirds of renters have regrets about their apartment. Over a quarter of renters cited their monthly rental payment (26 percent) as their biggest regret after moving in, followed by remorse over the noise level of their apartment (26 percent) and the safety of the unit and neighborhood (21 percent). However, renters say noise and safety were not even in their top five considerations during the apartment search.
To help renters avoid these types of regrets, HotPads has added building reviews to its robust Ratings and Reviews feature. Building reviews can help renters get the inside scoop on a property with available units, based on feedback from other prospective tenants who have seen the property in person. Since launching Ratings and Reviews for neighborhoods and units this summer, HotPads has published over 90,000 Ratings and Reviews to help renters gather as much information as possible about a rental before committing to a lease. The addition of building reviews will help renters better understand what it’s like to live in a property before signing a lease.
Here are four crucial tips for using apartment ratings and reviews to score a rental you’ll love long after you sign the lease.
Inform your initial search.
Ratings and reviews can give you a better idea of any specific complaints or concerns you should keep a close eye on when embarking on your tour of the building. To avoid regrets, savvy renters should investigate all parts of a building – even factors not obvious during the time of a rental tour — before committing to a lease. For example, renters in the HotPads survey claim that noise and safety, both among their top regrets, were not among their top five most important considerations during the apartment search. if you like going to bed early, keep an eye out for reviews mentioning late-night noise before scheduling a viewing. By learning what issues other renters experienced early on, you can vet the concerns early and make more informed decision about how impactful these issues might be in the long run.
Look for potential red flags.
Finding a new place to live is exciting – and it’s hard not to let your imagination run wild when a listing looks like a perfect match. Plus, in hot markets where renters face constant pressure to sign a lease as quickly as possible, it’s easy to write off one “little” problem with a unit in favor of snagging an excellent deal.
But don’t get caught up in the honeymoon phase – there’s a good chance it’ll be short-lived. According to the HotPads study, renter’s remorse can set in fast: 61 percent of renters who have lived in their new rental for less than three months already have at least one regret about their choice. Read ratings and reviews before committing to a long-term relationship with an apartment, and determine if any minor issues that arise in your research could potentially snowball into major regrets down the road.
Cross-check your amenity wish list.
If there are any must-have amenities on your list, scope out ratings and reviews to see if a building or unit will provide what you’re looking for – or to get insight into the condition of the amenities offered. According to the HotPads study, renters also regret the lack of in-unit laundry (17 percent), a parking garage (14 percent) and air conditioning (12 percent) in their building – so it’s worth checking ratings and reviews for more information on these building elements that are difficult to assess before signing a lease.
Responses are key.
A good landlord or property manager is a renter’s number one ally. The way a landlord or property manager responds to a review can be more telling than the review itself.
A kind response from a property manager, or one that acknowledges a negative review as an opportunity for improvement, shows that he or she pays attention to feedback and works to incorporate it into their business. If he or she is attentive and responsive to online reviews, renters can expect them to take the same approach with their tenants. Humans aren’t perfect – even property managers – but a responsive and well-meaning property manager will be more likely to do their best to serve a client’s needs, even after they’ve moved in.