Renting a good apartment shouldn't be difficult, but there are times when you need to be aware of potential pitfalls. Not every apartment that's up for rent is a good one, and just because it's in the right location for you doesn't mean you should bite. You are, after all, signing a lease for a year in most cases, and that's thousands of your hard-earned dollars.

Sure, it's easy to be enthusiastic, and it's also easy to be in a rush because you want to secure a new place as soon as possible. But being careful and perceptive now can save you time, money, and headache in the long run. Here are five signs you should probably walk away from what might initially look like a good apartment rental opportunity. This list is especially important for those who are first-time renters. Experienced renters, however, can still make mistakes, so don't say we didn't warn you.

The Landlord is Quick to Sign But Slow to Show or Answer Questions

Let's say you head to the leasing office to ask to see a unit you're interested in, but they point you to a model unit or are evasive in answering your questions. You want to know how much the rent is for a 2-bedroom on the top floor. They tell you that a 1-bedroom costs $1,000, and 2-bedrooms vary and they don't really answer your question. They say they'll give you a bonus for signing today. You can get a $100 gift card, a month's rent-free, or some other carrot on a stick to get you to sign the lease. But you haven't even seen the apartment.

Also, don't be fooled by the fancy leasing office, the free cappuccino and muffin they just offered you, or the landlord's Cheshire Cat-like smile. These are all reasons to head for the hills, and you should avoid signing if they won't answer your questions or at least schedule a viewing. It seems they're more eager to get renters than they are in answering your questions or providing you with a real look at the rental unit in which you're interested. Time to move on.

The Lease Language is Sketchy

Don't be stupid and just sign a lease without reading the fine print. Most leases are pages long, and most tenants don't really read it all. But you absolutely should. If the landlord has a provision that allows him to enter your unit whenever he wants, be wary that this is against most state's landlord-tenant law.

Also, if they waive their own "implied warranty of habitability" (meaning, they have to maintain the unit to be livable during your tenancy), then you could find yourself in a bad situation months into your lease agreement. Just be mindful of what state law says, and compare it against your lease. Ask the landlord for a copy to read. If they say no, then you probably just dodged the proverbial bullet.

The Exterior Conditions are Poor

If you haven't yet seen the inside of the apartment building, but the outside looks less than savory, you're probably right in guessing that the inside of the unit is going to be consistent with the exterior. The paint is peeling, the brick facade is in bad shape, the landscaping is disheveled, the parking lot has a poor surface, and the exterior light bulbs are burned out... all of these should inform you that the landlord isn't keeping things up very well.

It's a safe bet that the inside is just as bad, or possibly worse. This means the landlord is trying to save money by allowing the conditions to worsen, and they're probably not responding to tenant requests to fix these conditions. Again, time to move on and find a place that's in good condition inside and out.

The Surrounding Area is in Poor Condition

Even if the building you're looking at looks good, and the exterior is in good shape, you have to look at things in their proper context. If the buildings and businesses surrounding your prospective new apartment are falling apart, there's a lot of pollution, vagrancy, and crime, you should take note and consider things carefully. Looking up the local crime map is a good place to start. You don't want to bring your family to an area that's unsafe.

You also want to take a look at the other tenants. Are they noisy? Are there people regularly smoking or drinking in the parking lot? Do you see a lot of strange individuals going in and coming out quickly? There could be drugs and crime happening in or nearby. Don't be misled by good rental prices or even a nice building. Be wise and look at the location, as well.

The Landlord Makes Too Many Promises

If you've taken a look at the apartment unit you're interested in, and it mostly looks good. But there are some items that bother you. The built-in shelves are broken, the door on the microwave is bent, and the entryway carpet is ripped. He says he'll take care of it immediately after you move in. It may say in the lease language that they have a certain time period in which to fix them, but you're not 100% convinced.

If the unit is in this state of disrepair when he shows it, how long has it been this way? You have no idea, and you don't have the time or the patience to wait for him to deal with it after you've moved in, no matter what the lease says. To us, these are empty promises that are indicative of a poorly maintained apartment building by a less-than-savory landlord.