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Old 04-17-2012, 09:02 AM
 
4 posts, read 3,720 times
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Default Negative Apartment Reviews

My wife and I are planning to move to the DC area in a couple months, and almost every apartment complex we look at online has a wealth of negative reviews, even the places that are on the higher end of our price range (and beyond) and in suburban areas where decent places are less expensive.

Our price range is about $1400 to $1700 for a one-bedroom.

So my question is: Is DC and the surrounding area just full of awful apartments with bad managers? Or are we going to have to adjust our price range in order to land in a place that doesn't have a horrible reputation?

Another issue that comes up in a lot of reviews is frequent change in management. The place will be great, and then a new manager comes out of nowhere and everything goes to hell. Or the place is nasty and then a new manager comes and fixes it up. But it seems like the changes come frequently and with no warning. Is this a widespread DC area issue?

A lot of questions, I realize. But thanks for your response.
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Old 04-17-2012, 09:41 AM
 
1,783 posts, read 1,968,294 times
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Apartment reviews are always going to trend bad. People with a gripe are more prone to write a review than someone who was satisfied with their apartment. And let's face it, "satisfactory" is about as good as most apartments are unless you are shelling out a ton of rent on a luxury building. Plus a lot of complaints I read about can be chalked up to stupid tenants who are mad that they didn't get their full deposit back despite destroying the carpet, breaking the appliances, and putting holes in the wall.

That said, large managed buildings will always cost more than finding a private owner who rents out their unit. If you're new to the area, these can be a good idea because they are simpler. If you want to get a good deal from a private owner, you'll have to comb craigslist like a hawk and move quickly on good deals. This is hard to do if you're not in the area yet.

My advice: ignore the reviews, find a managed complex in an ok area. That price range will be hard in the nicest parts of DC, but you can find that in the quieter neighborhoods like Takoma, Brookland, or Hill East. You may be better off finding a nicer building in Arlington/Alexandria/Silver Spring.
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Old 04-17-2012, 10:28 AM
Status: "There are Crazy People on here!!!" (set 25 days ago)
 
Location: 10 Years Later from ...
7,248 posts, read 4,699,451 times
Reputation: 2412
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmn3380 View Post
My wife and I are planning to move to the DC area in a couple months, and almost every apartment complex we look at online has a wealth of negative reviews, even the places that are on the higher end of our price range (and beyond) and in suburban areas where decent places are less expensive.

Our price range is about $1400 to $1700 for a one-bedroom.

So my question is: Is DC and the surrounding area just full of awful apartments with bad managers? Or are we going to have to adjust our price range in order to land in a place that doesn't have a horrible reputation?

Another issue that comes up in a lot of reviews is frequent change in management. The place will be great, and then a new manager comes out of nowhere and everything goes to hell. Or the place is nasty and then a new manager comes and fixes it up. But it seems like the changes come frequently and with no warning. Is this a widespread DC area issue?

A lot of questions, I realize. But thanks for your response.
I think people definitely gripe about bad things, but there is a way that you can generally tell if something is really wrong. If you see several people saying similar things like there is a lot of crime for example, then it is probably some truth to it. Every once and while, you may get someone that has a bad experience. If that is one in just a few cases then I wouldn't put a lot into what is being said.

I can't speak for every area around here, but I can tell you that PG County definitely has some horrible apartment complexes. The problem is definitely management most of the time. It's just most of them don't care about the quality of the service they give and they would rather just fine people people or evict people. Unfortunately to get a decent place, in PG County, be prepared to pay.
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Old 04-17-2012, 11:44 AM
 
Location: Beautiful and sanitary DC
795 posts, read 1,022,502 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tmn3380 View Post
So my question is: Is DC and the surrounding area just full of awful apartments with bad managers?
Not really. I'd also say that it's mostly that apartment rating sites are just full of people who like to whine about things. Always take any online reviews with a huge grain of salt, but even more so for apartment reviews: unlike hotels or eBay, they typically don't follow up with all customers and so don't get reviews from the satisfied majority.

Even the best management can't take care of many complaints -- outdoor bugs, discourteous neighbors, occasional equipment malfunctions, even leaks. What I'd look out for in reading reviews is what steps management took after the problems were reported, and for things that are definitely within management's purview (common area maintenance, rodents, repairs).
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Old 04-17-2012, 03:07 PM
 
1,125 posts, read 1,314,394 times
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"DC and the surrounding area" takes in a large amount of territory, in two states and DC, with a variety of ordinances impacting both residents and landlords/owners. Your question is too broad, IMHO. Not all apartments in NoVa, Maryland and DC are alike. Obviously. You need to look at the apartments in person, and keep in mind the negative comments (they can be helpful in finding flaws you might not have thought of; you may also find that something that bothered one person wouldn't bother you). When I first moved to the area I lived in a studio apartment in Rosslyn. It was okay (I was in training nearby), except for the planes landing at National Airport and the false fire alarms). Years later I lived in a row townhouse in Silver Spring. I liked it. When I got married, my wife did not. I did agree it was too small (we bought a house in Silver Spring). Some of the things I liked or disliked in each place would have had a very different impact on others.

Crime stats for an area you can find yourself. Someone may "feel" unsafe with or without good cause. Lack of security for the property itself (e.g., no guards or bad locks) is serious, of course and for something like that I'd probably rely on reviews (though may still check out the property in person).
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Old 04-17-2012, 04:40 PM
 
Location: the wrong side of the tracks Richmond, VA
585 posts, read 648,405 times
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I'm not sure where you are moving from but I would HIGHLY suggest coming out here for a few days to look at any places you are considering before committing.

I mentioned this on another thread but I once went to check out a "luxury 1 bedroom" on coveted Mass Ave and it was a horrid, disgusting farce. The "hardwood floors" were actually hardwood-colored vinyl flooring (throughout the apartment), the bedroom was smaller than my closet and the bathroom looked like the kind of bathroom you expect to see in a Motel 6 400 miles outside of Omaha. Had I signed a lease sight unseen (I looked up the reviews before I went to check it out), I would be stuck living there now. Nightmare.

On the reverse, had I gone on the Craigslist description of my current condo alone, I would have never moved here. First it's in an allegedly horrible neighborhood, had no pictures and sounded way too good to be true. Hardwood and granite in the hood? Yeah right! I came and checked it out anyway and it was even better than I could have possibly imagined. I bumped my move date up by two weeks just so I could get in and make it home.

Do yourselves a favor and set a few days aside to get a good look at places you're interested in. You might catch some neighbors out and about and can ask them their thoughts. As everyone else has pointed out, people are more likely to complain online than they are write a glowing review about a wonderful business or product.
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Old 04-17-2012, 05:12 PM
 
4 posts, read 3,720 times
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Originally Posted by killabunnies View Post
I'm not sure where you are moving from but I would HIGHLY suggest coming out here for a few days to look at any places you are considering before committing.
Coming from MN and visiting this weekend, so we're definitely going to get our feet on the ground and explore these places ourselves, but since we have a limited amount of time for apt hunting, we'd like to narrow our search down as much as possible. We've visited DC before but didn't venture into neighborhoods much, so we have a lot to learn still. The problem right now is, it's difficult to know which apartments to eliminate based on bad reviews when pretty much every place has bad reviews. It's looking like we're probably just going to have to spend some of our time looking at trashy places before we find a gem (or something approximating a gem).

Thanks to all for the reassurance and advice.
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Old 04-18-2012, 08:30 AM
 
225 posts, read 246,770 times
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I can tell you that apartmentratings.com saved me years ago when I had contemplated moving into the infamous Woodner building on 16th Street.
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Old 04-18-2012, 08:57 AM
 
220 posts, read 255,880 times
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Currently I rent a unit in 2-unit townhouse from an individual owner, and it has been great. I previously stayed for a while in a complex in Silver Spring that had pretty bad reviews online, but was fine when I stayed there. It wasn't a luxury apartment (ie no marble countertops), but I had no major problems (ie air conditioning and all utilities worked, management was responsive to the rare problem, neighbors were quiet, no problems with crime, no problems with bugs, etc). This is only 1 experience, but I was a bit concerned because like you it seemed that all the complexes in my price range had bad reviews, but it ended up working out for me.
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