It starts with looking at reviews and doing a lot of research.
"You want to make sure that the property you're renting is a legal licensed rental," said Julie Powers with the Greater Lansing Housing Coalition. "That's the first step that everyone can do to make sure that where they're living is going to be safe for them."
Does the property have any violations? Who does it belong to? All information you can find online.
Next, you'll want to see the place too.
"You really do want to go to the property, walk around the exterior, talk to current tenants," suggested Powers. "Whatever you can do to find out more about the facility."
Ask to see your specific apartment and take a closer look at everything.
"Run all the systems," said Powers. "Flush the toilet, run the sinks, make sure they operate properly. Open them up underneath and make sure water isn't dripping out."
When it comes to signing the lease, understand your responsibilities.
"Are you in charge of changing the furnace filter? Are you in charge of taking care of the sidewalk shoveling the snow?" asked Powers.
And know who to contact in case something goes wrong.
"They should ask for the rental license," said Powers. "You want a copy of it as part of your lease, and if there's any disclosures, you want to make sure you have all the paperwork."
If something does go wrong, let management know, leave a paper trail, and document everything.
But if nothing gets done, contact the city.
"We will go over and inspect and let the property owners know and give them a notice they have to repair," said Annette Irwin.