Examine the Property
The condition of the property is a tell-tale sign of the where the landlord’s priorities lie. What’s the condition of the exterior? How are the hallways and common areas maintained?
Read the Lease Carefully
Do not become a victim of sneaky clauses or fine print agreements. This is not unheard of, so doing due diligence is a basic responsibility. If you aren’t familiar with what a standard lease entails, don’t hesitate to ask someone more experienced to take a look.
Ask about their time as a landlord, previous tenants of the building, who handles what on the property. Are maintenance and upkeep done by company employees? Outside contractors and vendors?
Talk to Other Tenants
This, along with the overall appearance of the building and unit, can be a tell-tale insight into who your landlord really is. If anyone is to know, it is current or previous tenants. If you can’t easily speak to any current residents, check out Yelp and other review sites to get perspective of tenants past and present. Be aware, however, that individual reviews should be taken with a grain of salt. Look for common complaints or praise across reviews.
Being a landlord is their job, it’s expected for them to display professionalism. I am all about "business casual", though if your landlord seems as though he is a washed-up drunk, you might not want to trust that he will take care of the property.