Learn what to look for when trying to find a
home and learn how to inspect a rental that your
Tenant Association of Allentown
The first problem which every tenant faces is finding a
good and adequate home. Before beginning the
search, the tenant should decide what is needed, for
example: the number of rooms, location or distance from
public transportation and how much the tenant can afford
to pay. By making some decisions first, the renter can
avoid being forced into a rental situation which he or she
may later regret.
Newspapers are usually the easiest place to find out
where private properties are. Renters can get information
about rental property from realtors or reliable rental
location services. But remember that these services may
often cost money. Make sure to find out what the money
covers and what services will be provided before you
agree to the service.
Ask your friends about any “For Rent” signs in
their neighborhood and check your own
neighborhood for signs. Check the classified
section of the local newspapers, which covers
Look for local apartment guides in grocery and
convenience stores. The apartment guides will
likely be near the community service bulletin at
the front of the store.
When you find apartments or homes that you
can afford, start looking at them! Keep in mind
that there is no perfect unit or perfect landlord.
You should make notes of the surroundings
(neighborhood, parks, shopping malls, access
to main roads, bus line, etc.) and the quality of
the rental unit. Your notes can help you
compare different apartments or homes.
Allentown Housing Authority
1339 W. Allen St., Allentown, PA 18102
Subsidized public housing (location of
residence would be within the existing public
housing developments) and Section 8 rental
assistance (eligible individual pays a portion of
income for rent and HUD-Federal Program
funds the balance).
Public housing was established to provide decent and
safe rental housing for eligible low-income families,
the elderly, and persons with disabilities. Public
housing comes in all sizes and types, from scattered
single family houses to high-rise apartments for elderly
families. There are approximately 1.2 million
households living in public housing units, managed by
some 3,300 housing authorities. The U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers
Federal aid to local housing agencies (HAs) that
manage the housing for low-income residents at rents
they can afford. HUD furnishes technical and
professional assistance in planning, developing and
managing these developments.
Public housing is limited to low-income families and individuals.
AHA determines your eligibility based on: 1) annual gross income;
2) whether you qualify as elderly, a person with a disability, or as a
family; and 3) U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status. If you
are eligible, the AHA will check your references to make sure you
and your family will be good tenants. AHA will deny admission to
any applicant whose habits and practices may be expected to have
a detrimental effect on other tenants or on the project's
Has use income limits developed by HUD. HUD sets the lower
income limits at 80% and very low income limits at 50% of the
median income for the county or metropolitan area in which you
choose to live. Income limits vary from area to area so you may be
eligible at one housing authority but not at another. The AHA can
provide you with the income levels for your area and family size, or
you can also find the income limits on the internet.
HOW SHOULD A TENANT INSPECT THE RENTAL
Once a possible home has been found, it is the
tenant's duty to check it out completely. A
tenant should not rely on the landlord or the
landlord's agent to tell the tenant if anything is
wrong with the property. The tenant must
inspect the property carefully and ask
questions about it.
Kitchen appliances in working order.
Water pressure strong, plumbing without leaks.
Electrical outlets and wiring working.
Walls and ceiling painted or papered without cracks
Ventilation or air conditioning accessible.
Floors, railings and bathrooms in good repair.
Fire escape easy to use.
Stairs safe and well-lighted.
No rodents or insects.
Heating system in working order.
If furnished, check and write down condition of all
Windows and doors operable and weather-tight; screens
When you are looking at the rental unit inspect
it thoroughly. In the kitchen check to see if all
the stove top burners work. Check the kitchen
faucet for leaks or low pressure.
Be on the look out for water stains or cracks in
any of the ceilings in the rental. Cracks could
be a sign of a leak or a structure issue. Water
stains could be a sign of a leak as well.
Check every window in the rental. Make sure
the windows open and are operable. Check to
see if the windows are weather-tight.
Landlord’s are not required to provide screens
but if you want them it would be a good idea to
mention it to the landlord.
Check to see if every bedroom has a working
smoke detector. They are also required on
each floor and area outside of the bedrooms.
Check to see if the toilet flushes properly. Test
the sink faucet and the tub faucet. Be on the
look out for leaks.
Make sure the heating system is in working
order. Be on the look out for a tag showing it
was serviced. Also be on the look out for signs
that it needs cleaning such as black smoke or
dirt. Ask the landlord to turn it on to make
sure it works properly.
Check to see if the electrical outlets are
working properly. Make sure they all have
covers on them. Bo on the look out for
The landlord is required to maintain a certain level of
quality housing. You may want to talk with tenants in
the apartment complex or the neighbors in order to get
a sense of how the landlord responds to the needs of
the tenants. Use a checklist as a guide to insure that
you will get what you are looking for.
You can also check the assessment record to make
sure the landlord actually owns the property. Lehigh
County Assessment Record Search:
You can also check the sheriff sales listing to make
sure the property isn't being foreclosed.
Lehigh County Sheriff Sales:
Before agreeing to rent, the tenant should ask the following
Who is the landlord? Who is the agent (if the landlord has one)?
How much is the rent?
When is the rent due?
To whom and where should the rent be paid?
Is a security deposit required?
To whom should problems and repairs be referred?
Will there be an oral or written lease?
Will the tenant be renting for a month-to-month or a year-toyear term?
Who has the responsibility to pay for the utilities (electric, water
What are the rules and regulations about such things as pets and
Generally, the answer is no. You should try to find a place that does not
need significant repairs. Even if the landlord promises to make the repairs
once you move in, there is no guarantee that he will do so. If the repairs
are minor ones (new light bulbs or shower curtain), then it might not make
a big difference because you could fix these problems yourself. If the
repairs are major (no smoke alarm, broken windows, and no heat) you
should not move into the apartment.
However, many people do move into places with bad conditions because
the rent is cheap, the landlord promises to make the repairs, and they need
a place right away. In this case, you want to make sure that you get the
landlord to sign a written agreement that he will make the repairs by a
certain date. If you agree to do some of the work in exchange for a
reduction in rent, get that in writing or it will be difficult to prove later. You
should also take pictures of the repairs that are needed. If the landlord
doesn’t make repairs and you need to sue him to try to get the repairs
made, you will then have the pictures and signed agreement as proof of
the conditions and his promise to make the repairs. Remember to keep a
copy of the agreement signed by your landlord.