1. FLAG #1: The move-in date’s too late, or not mentioned at all.
If you need somewhere to move fast, and realize too late that you can’t move in until two months later, you might need to start packing a camping bag.
2. FLAG #2: The ad looks like this.
This isn’t the worst ad ever — at least it’s got pictures — but caps usually mean “desperation”, and misspellings usually mean “sucker.”
If you’re considering responding to an ad like this, remember: You could probably find a sweeter spot in the woods.
3. FLAG #3: Anything “loft.”
If you’re buying a place, this usually means something fancy. But unless you’re really into the whole “artsy vibe,” renting anything “lofty” is a five-alarm disaster waiting to happen.
It could be an “artist loft.” Or a “lofted room.” Or a “long-term hostel,” which is pretty much the same thing.
4. FLAG #4: Upon meeting your possible new roommate, they don’t match up to the description in the ad.
That is, if there was even a description at all. And if that’s the case, you’ve got balls.
But seriously. If you see any hint of an axe in the kitchen, don’t bother asking about the security deposit. Run.
5. FLAG #5: The ad isn’t for an apartment. It’s a promotional ad for a real estate company.
Picture this, friends: You find the apartment of your dreams. You email the dude in the ad. He responds. Friendly. Nice. Caring. You set up an appointment. He gives you the address.
Now picture this: You show up. It’s a leasing office. A man in a suit walks out. He shakes your hand. He shows you five different apartments — none of which are the ones you saw in the ad — then shoves an application in your hand and tries to negotiate a broker’s fee.
This isn’t Catfish. This is apartment hunting. And dammit, in this jungle, you’ve got to be brave.