Apartment Hunting Tips Apartment hunting can be very daunting for some potential renters. Often the variety of options available to these renters is a source of overwhelming frustration for the renters. With so many appealing options it can be difficult to choose just one. However, there are some tips which can help to ease the process of apartment hunting. The process of finding the perfect apartment can be broken down into three simple steps. The first step is to set a budget. Next the renter should research their available options and then comparison shop to determine which option is the best. Set a Budget First For many renters the most important consideration is how much they are willing to spend on an apartment per month. For this reason it should come as no surprise that the first step in the apartment hunting process should include establishing a budget. Renters should consider their monthly income and subtract out all of their monthly expenses from this amount. Monthly expenses should include all bills which are paid regularly as well as money spent on food, entertainment and miscellaneous items each month. The renter may also wish to subtract out an additional amount to allow for some savings each month as well as emergencies. The total left after these subtractions is the amount the renter is able to spend on an apartment per month. Once this amount is established the renter will have a better understanding of the type of apartment they are able to afford. Research Available Properties Once a budget has been established, the renter should begin researching the properties which fall within his budget range. It is likely to consider properties which are slightly above the range as well as properties which are slightly below the range. Doing this will allow the renter to see if there is an opportunity to either make improvements on the amount of monthly spending to allow for the renting of a more expensive property. The renter can also determine whether or not they feel there is the opportunity to negotiate a lower rental rate on a particular property. When initially researching properties, the renter does not necessarily have to visit each property. Most of the pricing information can be obtained from resources such as Internet websites, newspapers and rental magazines. Since pricing is the primary concern at this point, the initial research will enable the renter to eliminate properties which are too far out of their price range. Comparison Shop Once the renter has narrowed down his list of possible apartment complexes to a more manageable number it is time to start visiting these properties. It is during this step that the renter will really get a feel for the quality of the apartment as well as the amount and quality of amenities offered by the complex. This is very important because this information can be used to decide between properties which are otherwise very similar. The comparison shopping process is also worthwhile because it gives the renter some bargaining power in negotiating more favorable rent rates. Renters who have visited a number of apartments likely have a good idea of the going rate in a particular area for a particular size apartment. These renters can use this information to potentially convince some leasing agents to lower their prices at least a little bit. There will not likely be huge drops in price from these negotiations but it will likely be enough to be considered worthwhile. Word count 581
Before Renting an Apartment Renting an apartment is a very serious decision which warrants a great deal of attention before a final decision is made. When choosing an apartment to rent, renters have a variety of factors to consider including, but not limited to, price, size, location, amenities, whether or not they want a roommate and how long they want to stay in the apartment. Those who plan to rent an apartment should consider all of their options before making a decision to ensure they are making the best possible decision. This article will discuss the importance of considering all of the possible options as well as the possibility of having roommates and the importance of reading contracts carefully. Consider All of the Possible Options When renting an apartment, the renter should first investigate all of the options available to him to ensure he is able to make an informed decision. This is important because the renter may not even be aware of all of the available options until he starts to for an apartment. The best way to find out what type of apartments are available is to do some research on the Internet and in newspapers and rental magazines and then start visiting apartments which seem interesting. In visiting the apartments the renter will get a better idea of the size and types of amenities which are available in his price range. He will also begin to learn more about the types of amenities available. This is important because not all apartments will offer the same amenities. Renters may not find what they are looking for unless they visit a few places before making a decision. Consider the Possibility of Roommates Deciding whether or not to have a roommate or multiple roommates is one of the important decisions a renter will have to make. This is an important decision because roommates can make a living situation either significantly better or significantly worse depending on a number of factors. These factors may include compatibility of the roommates, ability to pay the rent and ability to assist in the household activities. Having roommates can make an apartment more affordable. Often larger apartments may be more affordable for two people than a smaller apartment would be for one renter. Additionally, apartments designed for two or more people often have a larger overall living space with a larger kitchen, dining room and family room. This makes the possibility of roommates very appealing to some renters. However, there are some caveats to making the decision to live with a roommate. Care should be taken to carefully screen potential roommates to ensure they are not potentially harmful. Strangers do not present the only potential roommate problems. Problems may even occur when the roommate is a trusted friend. In these cases, compatible living styles may be the issue. For example, if one roommate likes to stay up late and listen to music or watch television and the other roommate likes to go to sleep early there can be some conflicts if compromises are not made. Also, if one of the roommates is particularly neat and the other rather messy, conflicts may arise. Read the Contract Carefully Whether a renter opts to have a roommate or not and regardless of the type of apartment they select, the renter should be careful to read the contract before signing it. This is important because a rental agreement is a legal document and the renter should understand this document before they sign the agreement. Many renters may never need to know the exact information in their contract document but if a dispute arises, the renter should be aware of his rights. Additionally, the renter should pay special attention to any sections of the contract which specify the landlord’s ability to evict the tenant. Contract sections specifying the requirements of the renter are also very important. This may include requirements for breaking the lease agreement in the event that the renter has to move before the lease period ends. Word count 669
Benefits of Renting While there are some renters who view renting an apartment or a house as a failure, there are others who see the benefits there are to be gained from renting a property as opposed to purchasing a property. Some of the benefits of renting include the ability to save money while renting for the purpose of purchasing a home, few maintenance requirements and the inclusion of amenities which the renter would not likely be able to afford if they were to purchase a home instead of renting. Although there are some negative aspects to renting an apartment, this article will focus exclusively on the benefits of renting a property. The Ability to Save Money Being able to save up a great deal of money for the purpose of making a down payment on a dream home is just one of the many great advantages to renting a property. Many homeowners were able to realize their dream of homeownership only after living in a rental property for a certain amount of time. Although renting is often criticized as throwing money away because it does not result in equity, the ability to save money while renting is unparalleled Rent for an apartment is usually considerably less expensive than the monthly mortgage on a home. The home is also typically much bigger than the rental property but in cases where the renter is renting for the sole purpose of saving money, the value of renting cannot be denied. Depending on how long the renter stays in the apartment, they may save hundreds or even thousands of dollars during the course of the rental agreement. No Maintenance Properties Another advantage to renting a property is there is typically little or no maintenance required by the renter. This is especially true in an apartment situation. The renter may be responsible for small items such as changing light bulbs but more extensive repairs such as leaks in plumbing or clogs in drains are typically handled by the maintenance staff of the rental property. Additionally common areas such as grassy areas or gardens are maintained by the maintenance staff. The exception is usually when the renter rents a home as opposed to the apartment. In these cases the renter may still not be responsible for small repairs but might be obligated to take care of items such as maintaining the grass. Worthwhile Amenities Another advantage to apartment living is often the amenities offered to residence. Such amenities might include usage of the pool, an exercise room, meeting spaces and a theater room. In most cases these amenities are offered free of charge to resident and their guests. Many renters who might be able to purchase a home would not likely be able to purchase a home with amenities such as a pool, fully equipped exercise room and a home theater. These items are often considered luxurious and are not available in the majority of homes which are on the market at any particular time. In fact searching for homes which specifically have these features may severely limit the number of search results and may result in no search results at all when these features are searched in conjunction with a typical price range. However, those who rent can enjoy access to these amenities. They may pay more in rent than those in a comparable apartment complex without these amenities but they are also still likely saving a considerable amount of money each month as long as they are budgeting wisely and have chosen a rental property within their price range. Word count 596
Breaking a Lease on a Rental Agreement Most rental agreements have a section regarding the renter breaking the lease agreement. While there is also likely a section or several sections regarding when the leasing agent can evict the renter, the section on breaking the lease should be of particular interest to those who might be in a position to have to break the lease some day. Renters should understand these contract terms so they can make an informed decision. Additionally the renter should consider all costs associated with breaking the lease. This includes both financial costs as well as emotional costs. Understand the Contract Terms Renters should review their rental agreement carefully before signing this document. The rental agreement is a legally binding document which should be given proper consideration before entering into the agreement. This is important because understanding these terms will be essential if the need to break the lease becomes a reality. Rental agreements typically do allow the renter to break the lease but not without some form of penalty. This penalty usually comes in the form of requiring the renter to give a specified amount of notice before the contract is up and also requires the renter to pay a sum of money to break the rental agreement. A notice of 30 days and a lease break amount equal to one month’s rent are common penalties associated with breaking a lease, however, individual leasing agents may impose penalties which are either harsher or less severe. Consider the Costs of Breaking the Lease As previously mentioned there is typically a fee associated with breaking a lease. This fee is often set equal to one month’s rent. While paying this fee may seem excessive there are some instances in which it is an economically good decision to break the contract even though there is a financial penalty imposed. Consider the example of a homeowner who is the process or relocating due to a job change. The homeowner may opt to rent an apartment in the new state while the house is put up for sale in the previous state. If the renter enters into a 12 month contract under the supposition that it will take this long to sell the old house and purchase a new house, he may be surprised if his other house sells quickly and he finds a home in his new state rather quickly. This may all occur within a matter of 2-3 months. The renter has the option to stay in the apartment until the rental agreement nears expiration and then start looking for a home. However, this option runs the risk that the home he previously found will not likely be available. The renters other option is to place a bid on the new house and plan on breaking the lease if he is able to close on the new house. In this case, the renter would be saddled with both a rent and a mortgage for 9-10 months. This will likely be significantly more expensive than the price the renter would pay to break the lease. Breaking the Lease is Not Always a Financial Decision The decision to break a lease is not always completely a financial decision. There are sometimes emotional components which factor into the equation. For example a renter may have only 1-2 months remaining on his rental agreement when he is offered a dream job which will require him to relocate immediately. Although breaking the lease that late in the agreement is usually not financially wise, the renter may make this decision to avoid missing out on a dream job. Word count 603
Caring For a Rental Property Those who live in a rental property may have questions regarding how they should care for their domicile. While treating the property with respect and not intentionally doing damage to the property should be understood there are other gray areas where renters may not be sure what their rights and responsibilities are in the rental situation. In most of these cases, these questions can be resolved by carefully reviewing the rental agreement. This can provide the renter a great deal of insight regarding which items will be corrected by the leasing agent and which items are the responsibilities of the renter. Treat the Property Like it Is Your Home The heading to this subsection is certainly appropriate in theory but in reality it may not be true. The theory behind treating a rental property like it is your home is that you should treat the rental property in the same way you would treat your own home. This means the renter should not intentionally damage or otherwise neglect the rental property. It also implies that the renter should care for the rental property by making necessary repairs as they arise. However, the reality of this heading is not true because renters are often not free to treat a rental property like it was their home. Homeowners are free to make modifications at any time to their property. Renters do not have this option and are only allowed to make modifications which are permitted by the contract agreement. These permissible modifications are usually rather insignificant in nature. Seek Assistance from the Property Manager When Warranted Renters should also seek assistance from the property manager when there are repairs which fall under the jurisdiction of the property owner or manager. Such repairs might include items such as unclogging drains, fixing appliances and making modifications to the residence such as installing lighting features. Although the renter may be capable of performing some or all of these actions, the rental agreement may specify these items are the responsibility of the property owner or manager. Renters who attempt to fix these items may be held liable for damages which occur during these attempts. Similarly, the rental agreement may imply, by omission, that certain items are the responsibility of the renter. These may be small items such as changing light bulbs or similar items. In these cases the renter is free to make the adjustments. However, in other situations where the rental agreement specifies the apartment manager will handle certain complaints, these complaints should be called to the attention of management. When the Property Manager Isn’t Doing His Job Renters may encounter a problem where the apartment manager is not being responsive to his complaints and is not addressing situations which are brought to his attention. When this occurs the renter may have no choice but to bring this to the attention of the property manager’s supervisor. When a property manager is required to make certain repairs and address certain issues and fails to do so, he is creating a hazard for the members of the community. This is why the renter should not allow these transgressions to occur. The renter should also not be fearful of retaliation by the property manager because the contract will likely specify the renter’s rights to complain to a higher authority about the quality of service they are receiving. Word count 564
Consider the Amenities The amenities on a rental property can often be the deciding factor for many renters. The available amenities may make a less affordable property seem more appealing. Conversely a property which is more expensive may be considered worthwhile if the amenities offered are considered valuable enough to compensate for the higher price. When making this decision, homeowners should consider their own personal preferences as well as their budgetary constraints to make an informed decision. Before making a decision to rent a property, the renter should carefully consider which amenities are necessary, which amenities are optional but highly desired and how much the renter is willing to pay for these amenities. What Amenities Do You Really Need? Although many of the amenities offered by rental properties are not exactly necessary to live, there are some amenities which some renters would not consider renting a property without. An exercise room is one such example. While this is certainly not necessary, many renters prefer having this option. Without an onsite exercise facility, many renters would have to consider joining a gym for their exercise needs. This will likely increase the monthly expenses significantly and, depending on the location, may also make it inconvenient for the renter to visit the gym. An onsite exercise is significantly more convenient than traveling to a gym in another location. For this reason many renters consider the added expense associated with an onsite exercise facility to be worthwhile. Some renters may even consider only renting an apartment in a facility that has a pool. Although this is not a necessity some renters, especially in warm climates, might only consider living in a rental property where there is access to a pool especially if the majority of rental properties include this amenity. What Amenities Do You Really Want? In addition to the amenities a renter feels he needs, there are some amenities which may be desired as opposed to necessary. A movie theater may be an example of this type of amenity. Renters may not decide against a rental property which does not have this feature but may be more inclined to select a property that has this feature as opposed to one that does not as long as the price is comparable. A meeting space may be another example of an amenity which may not be required but that many renters are willing to pay extra to have. Renters who entertain frequently may enjoy this type of amenity because it affords them extra space for entertaining. They may be able to easily invite eight or more people over for a dinner party if there is meeting space available but this might not be possible if the renter were confined to their apartment. Are You Paying Too Much for Amenities? While some amenities may be viewed as necessary and others may merely be viewed as worthwhile and still others may be viewed as superfluous, the most important decision renters will have to make is how much they are willing to pay for these amenitiesparison shopping may be the best way to determine whether or not certain amenities are financially worthwhile. Renters who are considering apartments of similar size in the same geographic region should consider the amenities offered as well as the price of the apartment. Apartments of similar size in the same area should be fairly close in price. However, an apartment which offers more advanced amenities might be significantly higher in price. Renters should list the available amenities and use this information in making cost comparisons. This information can be used to determine whether or not the renter is willing to pay a higher price for such amenities. Renters who conclude the additional cost is not warranted have determined that the prices of the amenities are not worthwhile to them and they are likely to choose the more affordable apartment which features fewer amenities. Word count 651
Dealing with Neighbors in an Apartment One of the major disadvantages to renting an apartment is the potential for conflict with the neighbors. While some renters may foster incredible relationships with all of their neighbors and never once have a disagreement with a neighbor this is not a likely scenario. Most renters experience at least one instance of dissatisfaction with their neighbors. They may or may not confront the neighbor about this issue but it is likely to cause at least some tension in the living situation. In some cases avoiding the issue can cause the problem to worsen. In other situations, discussing the issue can make the situation worse. Paper Thin Walls Although most modern apartment buildings are built with a fair amount of insulation, there is still the real possibility of neighbors in an apartment building hearing music, television, conversation or other noises emanating from a neighbor’s apartment on a regular basis. This is due to the close proximity of the apartments to each other as well as the common practice of having at least one shared wall among neighbors in an apartment complex. Renters should be aware of this and make an effort to avoid noises which will likely be heard through the walls during nights or early in the morning when others are likely to be sleeping. Being Considerate of Others Consideration for others is one of the key elements which can make apartment living more bearable and less prone to conflict. For example, while renters are free to listen to music in their own apartment, they should limit listening to music at a loud decibel to daylight hours when it is not likely that other residents are trying to sleep. Residents in an apartment complex should also be conscientious when throwing parties. This is important because the renter is responsible for the actions of his guests. Therefore the renter should ensure his guests are not causing discomfort for residents of the apartment complex. When Your Schedule is Unusual Finally renters who have an unusual schedule may have a great deal of difficulty functioning in an apartment complex. This includes, but is not limited to, renters who work a night shift and sleep during the day. The unusual schedule kept by these renters makes them more prone to being disturbed by other renters who assume everyone residing in the complex sleeps at roughly the same time. Unfortunately renters in this situation may have to make an effort to make their living situation bearable. While discussing the situation with the neighbors is certainly worthwhile, it is unrealistic to expect the neighbors to remain exceedingly quite during the daytime hours. Many residents do chores such as vacuuming during this time which can resonate in the apartment of another renter. However, asking the neighbor to do these types of activities in the evening is not feasible because the neighbor would likely be disturbing a number of other neighbors by doing so. This is why the renter with the unusual schedule is often required to make changes to make the living situation workable. This may include purchasing and using earplugs while sleeping or investing in a white noise machine which can help to drowned out ambient noise and make the environment more conducive to sleeping. Additionally, the renter with the unusual schedule should make an effort to be quite during hours in which they are awake but the majority of neighbors are likely sleeping. Word count 574
Decorating a Rental Apartment Those who live in a rental apartment are usually quite limited in the amount of decorating they are able to do. This can have the impact of making a rental apartment not quite feel like a real home. In many cases the rental apartment is painted a bright white and residents often feel as though this color is somewhat impersonal but are not able to repaint the walls to a more appealing color. This is just one example of the decorating restrictions which may be placed on an individual renting an apartment. There may be other restrictions and reading the contract carefully will help the renter to determine what is allowed and what is not allowed. Review the Contract Carefully Renters who are living in an apartment should review their contract documents carefully before they begin decorating their apartment. This is important because there may be some common decorating items such as painting or installation of shelving which may not be allowed by the contract documents. Decorating in any manner which is strictly prohibited may result in harsh penalties. These penalties might involve the assessment of fees at the conclusion of the rental period or possibly even eviction. Most standard decorating items such as hanging pictures are usually acceptable but some particularly strict policies may either prohibit this completely or place restrictions on the type of nails which may be used or the methods of patching the holes. Renters who have questions regarding whether or not specific decorating actions are permissible or prohibited should contact their leasing agent before taking action. This will help to ensure the renter is not penalized in the future for their actions. Additionally, if the leasing agent tells the renter it is acceptable to perform an action prohibited by the rental agreement, the renter should always ask for a signed, written document stating the exception to the contract. This is helpful because the leasing agent may not remember making an exception to the rule or may not even still be working at the property when the renter’s lease expires. Consider Whether or Not Modifications are Reversible When renters in an apartment living situation are making decorating decisions, one of the most important factors to consider is whether or not a modification to the apartment is reversible. In most cases, the action is likely to be permissible as long as it is easily reversible. However, the case of painting the apartment is a common exception to this rule. Although painting can easily be reversed, most apartment complexes due not allow residents to pain the apartment in which they reside. This is because although painting is often reversible, the process of returning the wall to the original color is not always easy. Irreversible modifications such as removing walls or adding permanent fixtures to the apartment are typically not considered acceptable when decorating a rental apartment. Although even major modifications are typically not completely irreversible, most leasing agents would consider modifications which require the assistance of a general contract to be permanent in nature. Conversely, small modifications such as nail holes to hang pictures are considered reversible because they can easily be corrected. Again, if the renter is unsure of whether or not an action is permissible, they should seek clarification from the leasing agent. Consider the Security Deposit Most renters pay a security deposit before they take possession of the apartment. This security deposit is collected to protect against damages which may be caused by the renter during the course of the rental agreement. The leasing agent may expect to need to do some minor cleaning or a few small repairs after the renter vacates the premises. However, a deposit large enough to cover the cost of more significant repairs is often collected to provide the leasing agent with some protection in case the renter damages the apartment and leaves it in need of considerable repair. Word count 653
Decorating a Rental House Those who opt to rent a house as opposed to an apartment may still be held to certain restrictions regarding the type of decorating which can be done on the property. These restrictions may be stricter or more lenient than those typically enforced when a renter is renting an apartment property. This will largely depend on the preferences of the homeowners. Homeowners who do not want to see major modifications done to the property may place strict restrictions while those who want to see the property improved may allow the renter a great deal of freedom in their decorating options. How Much is Too Much? This can be a difficult question to answer when used in reference to how much decorating is permissible in a rental house. Many renters opt for a situation where they are renting a house as opposed to an apartment strictly because they are looking for more freedom in their decorating options. However, the renter may find this desired freedom is not available to them. Some homeowners may allow the renter to make minor decorating changes such as painting the walls, hanging up pictures or installing decorative shelving. However, more extensive decorating items such as new flooring, knocking down walls or putting in windows might not be considered acceptable by some homeowners while others may allow the renter to perform such actions. Still others may require this type of work to be done but may place restrictions which specify all improvement work shall be done by a qualified professional. Check with the Homeowner When considering doing some decorating in a rental house, the renter should first carefully review all of their contract documents. This is important because the contract may clearly prohibit certain items. In this case the renter would know for sure that they are not allowed to perform these actions. However, the renter should not count on the contract documents to spell out every possible scenario. Therefore if a renter is considering making modifications to the rental house they should consult the owner before performing any work. They should also ask the homeowner to provide a written statement expressing their approval of the work to be completed. The homeowner is the renters best resource of these types of questions because the homeowner has the best understanding of their intentions when they wrote the rental contract. They might have specified that no renter can alter the appearance of the apartment without the consent of the homeowner but they may have meant for this statement to only apply to certain situations. In these cases, seeking clarification and written approval can be very beneficial to the renter. When in Doubt; Leave it Out If renters are in doubt about whether or not to perform a specific decorating action and are unable to reach the homeowner for clarification, they should opt not to make the changes. This can save the renter a great deal of time and money in the long run by preventing them from incurring excess charges for repair of the apartment and wasting a great deal of time making an improvement which the homeowner may ask to have reversed in a short period of time. This is why renters should assume an action is prohibited unless they have concrete proof otherwise. Word count 550
Do Not Let the Furnishings Fool You Renters who are viewing apartment complexes are often led to furnished models which have been tastefully decorated. Although the furnishings in these model apartments are usually very aesthetically appealing they also usually serve another purpose as well. This other purpose is to make the room appear larger than it is. There are decorator and furnishing techniques which can make a room in an apartment appear considerably larger than it really is. The size of the bed, the amount of furniture and the layout of the furniture are all items which should be carefully considered when viewing model apartments. This article will cover these three items and will provide useful information for renters who are trying to evaluate furnished apartments. The Size of the Bed Determining the size of the bed in a model apartment is important for the purposes of evaluating the apartment. If you are unsure of the size of the bed used in the model, ask the leasing agent for clarification. This is important because if the bed used in the model is a full size bed and your own bed is a king size bed, it will be difficult to make assumptions about the size of the bedroom. The differences in a full size bed and a queen size bed may not be as noticeable but renters should be aware a queen bed will result in less free space in the room. If the bed used in the model is not the same size as your own bed, take measurements to determine how well your own bed will fit in the room. Is There Enough Furniture? When viewing a furnished, model important it is important to note whether or not there is enough furniture in the room. For example there may be a kitchen table and only two chairs instead of four. This may make the room appear larger to those who are viewing the apartment but they are likely going to be disappointed when they move in. Consider the furniture in other rooms as well. For example a bedroom which only has a bed and a nightstand will be decidedly less crowded than a bedroom which has a bed, two nightstands and a dresser. Your furniture may not be exactly the same size as the model furniture but there should be comparable items in each room. Does the Layout Make Sense? Renters should also carefully consider the layout of the furniture when visiting a furnished apartment. An apartment may feature all of the pieces of furniture the renter expects to see in the room but may position these pieces of furniture in a way that is not logical. Consider the family room as an example. There may be a couch, an entertainment center, a television set, a coffee table and two end tables but if these items are positioned strangely it can be deceiving. Most renters arrange their living room furniture in a manner which makes the area conducive to conversations as well as viewing of the television. If the television is positioned where it is not viewable from any of the seating options, the layout of the room is somewhat unnatural. It is not likely to be similar to the layout used by the renter and therefore does not offer an accurate representation of how the space will likely be used. Word count 563
Finding a Rental Apartment Those who do not wish to purchase a home may find that renting an apartment is an ideal solution for their situation. An apartment can offer many of the conveniences of home ownership such as a functional living space offering the renter the opportunity to eat, sleep and entertain in their domicile. Renting can also offer additional amenities such as meeting spaces, pools, weight rooms or exercise equipment. These types of amenities are optional and may not be available in all rental situations. This article will discuss the art of finding a rental apartment that will suit all of your needs. Renters who are interested in finding an apartment should consider a number of factors. These factors might include their budget, location, requirements and desires. The key to finding an ideal apartment to rent is to strike a balance of these factors. For example a renter may desire amenities such as a pool, hot tub, sauna, steam room and onsite theater but these options may not be available in his budget range. In this scenario, the renter will likely have to make some compromises which may include realizing not all of the desired amenities are feasible within the current budget or making the decision to allot additional funds for rent. Set a Budget First Budget is one of the primary concerns for those looking to rent an apartment. For these individuals, the search for an apartment should begin with the process of narrowing down the search for apartments to those that are within the set budget. It might be worthwhile to look at a few apartments which are priced slightly above the budget. This is because, depending on the vacancy rate, there may be an opportunity to negotiate a slightly lower rate which can bring the rent of the apartment to within the renter’s budgetary constraints. Alternately the renter may decide he is willing to pay a little more for certain features such as a larger living space, more desirable amenities or a choice location. Choose a Location Location is a very important factor for renters to consider when searching for an apartment. An ideal location is one which is not to far from family, work or leisure activities. Again this is a matter of personal preference and will depend largely on the desires of the renter. Some renters may favor a shorter commute to work because it affords them more time to spend with their families. Other renters may not have family close by and may opt to rent an apartment further from work if it is near access to an activity they enjoy such as skiing in the mountains or surfing in the ocean. Renters should also consider the surrounding areas when choosing an apartment. Some renters may enjoy being near social activities such as movie theaters and shopping centers while others may prefer to rent an apartment in an established neighborhood apart from the commercial areas. Likewise some renters may prefer living in an apartment where there is nearby access to public transportation while others may not favor this option. Consider the Requirements and Amenities Finally, renters should consider their requirements and preferred amenities when searching for an apartment. Requirements might include criteria such as two or more bedrooms, two or more bathrooms or a minimum square footage. These are criteria which the renter feels they must have in order to function in the apartment. For example a family with two children might need 2-3 bedrooms while a single person may be able to function with only one bedroom. However, a single person who works from home may require an additional bedroom to use as an office. Renters should also consider the features they would like to have in an apartment complex. This may include access to a pool or exercise equipment, the use of a home theater for residents or meeting facilities which are only available to residents. Renters should carefully consider these options and determine which are most important to them. Word count 670
Furnished or Unfurnished? Renters will often be faced with the decision of whether to opt for a furnished apartment or an unfurnished apartment. The majority of apartments available for rent are likely to be unfurnished apartments but there are some apartments which are available with furnishings. There are some situations in which it makes sense to choose a furnished apartment. Likewise there are situations in which a furnished apartment is not a good idea.
This article will discuss these situations in an effort to assist the reader in determining whether or not it is better to rent a furnished apartment or an unfurnished apartment. What Does Furnished Mean? A furnished apartment may mean different things to different people. Some renters may expect a furnished apartment to have each and every room completely furnished with every possible piece of furniture. Typical furnishings may include a bed, a dresser, nightstands, alarm clock with built in radio, a television, stereo equipment, DVD player, an entertainment center, couch, coffee table, end tables, kitchen table and kitchen chairs.
It may also include dining room furniture such as a dining room table, chairs and a curial cabinet. Others may assume a furnished apartment includes only the necessary furnishings such as a bed, couch, kitchen table and chairs. This essentially eliminates all electrical equipment as well as furniture deemed to be decorative in nature such as a coffee table, end tables or nightstands.
When is a Furnished Apartment a Good Idea? A furnished apartment is a good idea for recent college graduates who lived on campus in a dorm room prior to graduation. These students likely have very little furniture of their own. In this case, renting a furnished apartment may be more economical than purchasing enough furniture to live comfortably in the apartment. The overall cost of a furnished apartment may be higher in the long run because the renter may pay more but those who are unable to pay a great deal of money upfront to furnish an apartment might not mind paying this additional amount.
For these renters, they are not likely to notice the impact of a slightly higher monthly rent payment but they would definitely feel the impact of significant purchases such as a bed, couch or dining room set. When is an Unfurnished Apartment a Good Idea? There are certain situations in which an unfurnished apartment is a good idea. This includes a situation where the renter has already accumulated enough furniture to furnish the entire apartment. In this case, selecting a furnished apartment would not make sense because the renter would have to find a location to store either his own furniture or the furniture supplied by the apartment complex. The cost of storage can add up very quickly. Additionally, the renter probably pays a higher rent to stay in a furnished apartment. An unfurnished apartment is also a good idea when the renter currently does not have any furniture but is looking forward to purchasing furniture and has already saved up enough money to make these purchases. In this situation the renter will likely select an unfurnished apartment and plan on shopping for furniture almost immediately after taking possession of the rental property. Storing Extra Furniture Renters who opt for a fully furnished apartment when they already have a sufficient amount of furniture have to determine what they will do with their furniture while they are staying in the rental apartment. The options are basically as follows: * Sell or give away all currently owned furniture * Store your own furniture * Store the furniture which comes with the apartment While each of the above options is certainly valid, the renter should seriously consider whether or not they want to pay additional storage fees just to rent a furnished apartment. Renters who plan to sell or donate their current furniture do not face this dilemma but those who plan to store one set of furniture should carefully consider the price of storage. They should also consult with the leasing agent to determine if there are any contract items which prohibit placing furniture owned by the apartment complex in an offsite storage facility. There may be provisions which allow for these items to be stored but require them to be stored onsite. Word count 709
Getting Your Security Deposit Back For many renters the subject of the security deposit is somewhat of a touchy subject. Most renters assume they should receive their security deposit back in its entirety as long as there is no significant damage done to the apartment. However, this is rarely true as there are number of factors which contribute to whether or not the security deposit or a portion of the deposit will be returned to the renter when they vacate the premises. Did You Do Any Major Damage? Certainly doing major damage to the apartment such as putting holes in the walls, breaking appliances or tearing up the flooring may warrant the security deposit being kept but even in these cases the leasing agent must justify these costs. In other words the leasing agent cannot use one damaged item to justify keeping the whole security deposit. Rather the leasing agent is obliged to determine a cost to repair the item. If this estimate is large enough to justify not returning the security deposit the renter should be informed of the estimated cost of repairing the apartment. Is Your Apartment Clean Enough? All apartments should be cleaned thoroughly before the tenant vacates the property. This should include extensive cleaning of all rooms of the apartment including the bedrooms, bathrooms and any common areas. A cleaning should also include cleaning of all of the blinds in the apartment. Blinds can be rather difficult to clean and many leasing agents charge approximately $10 per blind if they deem there is a need to clean these items. This can add up rather quickly if there are a number of windows in the apartment. Many leasing agents also perform a number of standard cleaning functions when any resident vacates the property. This may include items such as cleaning out the refrigerator, shampooing the carpet or repainting the walls. When these items are required, there is typically a fee associated with each item. In many cases, adding up these required fees results in a number which is likely already approaching the sum of the security deposit. Additionally, leasing agents often only allow for one hour of cleaning services to prepare an apartment for the next residents. This is rarely enough time to complete the work and therefore renters wind up being charged an additional fee at an hourly rate. Have You Read Your Contract Documents? Renters who want to have the greatest chance of having a large portion of their security deposit refunded to them should be very familiar with their contract documents. This is important while living in the apartment as well as while getting ready to vacate the apartment. It is important to be familiar with the contract terms while living in the apartment because it can prevent the renter from making decorating choices which are explicitly prohibited by the rental agreement. These types of decisions can be costly in the long run because they may result in the renter being assessed for perceived damages by the leasing agent. Renters should also carefully review the contract documents as they are preparing to vacate the property. This is important because it may help the renter to clean and make repairs to the apartment in accordance to guidelines set forth by the leasing agent. Doing this will make it much more likely the renter will not be assessed exorbitant fees at the conclusion of the rental agreement. Word count 571
How Much Apartment Can You Afford? Deciding how much apartment they can afford is one of the most important decisions a renter will have to make. This decision will help to determine a number of factors include the size and location of the potential apartment as well as the types of amenities offered. Those who are interested in renting an apartment will have to consider all of their current expenses in comparison to their monthly cash flow.
They will also have to determine whether or not there are changes they can make to their current budget to make a larger or more well situated apartment affordable. Consider All of Your Expenses When deciding how much apartment they can afford, renters should carefully consider all of their monthly expenses in relation to their monthly income. Expenses may include, but are not limited to, utilities such as gas, water and electric, telephone, cell phone, Internet services, cable television, car insurance, renter’s insurance, gas for car, cost of commuting to work, groceries and other incidental charges. Subtracting these costs from the monthly income will give the renter a good idea of how much money they can afford to spend on rent each month. Renters might also consider subtracting an additional amount out of their monthly income to give them the opportunity to save some money each month. Expenses to be considered should also include expenses for entertainment purposes such as dining in restaurants, going to movie theaters or cultural events. Even movie rentals should be considered in this category. Considering these expenses is necessary because otherwise the renter may not allot a portion of their budget for such purposes and may find themselves unable to participate in some previously enjoyed leisure activities. Is There Room for Improvement? When examining the monthly budget, renter should take the opportunity to determine whether or not there is room for improvement in their current financial situation. For example a renter may find they are able to minimize their monthly bills by obtaining their car insurance and renter’s insurance from the same insurance carrier. The carrier may be willing to offer a discount to a customer who utilizes their services for more than one type of insurance. Likewise there may be the opportunity to minimize expenses by bundling services such as telephone, Internet and possibly even cable television. Also, consider entertainment expenses as an opportunity for financial improvement. If a renter currently eats out in restaurants for dinner on both Friday and Saturday of every week, they could consider limiting these dining experiences to only one night a week or even only one night every other week. This can result in a significant cost savings which may enable the renter to afford a more expensive apartment. Other areas where renters can sometimes cut expenses are on cell phone bills and cable television bills. Examine your cell phone bill carefully. If you are not using all of your minutes each month, it might be worthwhile to switch to a plan with fewer minutes. This would lower your monthly bill without causing you to make any sacrifices. One area where sacrificing might contribute to more monthly cash flow is with cable television. Renters who pay higher fees for premium channels can consider eliminating these channels. All of these small changes to monthly spending can contribute to the renter being able to afford a more expensive apartment which may be larger or in a better location than the apartment they would be able to afford without making changes. Is There a Need for Improvement? Although trimming superfluous expenses is always a good financial strategy, renters should determine if this is necessary in terms of their rental situation before making drastic changes. Once a renter has established the amount of money they can afford to spend in rent, they can start to look for available apartments in that price range. If the renter is happy with the choices available to them at this time, there may not be a need to make financial adjustments at this time. However, if the renter is not happy with the options available, financial changes and stricter budgeting are warranted. Word count 693
Maintenance on a Rental Property Maintenance on a rental property can be a confusing issue. Renters may mistakenly assume all maintenance is the responsibility of the leasing agent and maintenance staff but this is usually not true. In many cases the leasing agent and maintenance staff are responsible for maintaining the common areas and performing major repairs on the apartments but the renters do typically have some responsibilities. These responsibilities are often defined in the rental agreement and the renter should familiarize himself with this document to verify his rights if a dispute arises. Renter Responsibilities Typically renters have the responsibility of maintaining their apartment and the surrounding area. This may include the interior of the apartment as well as deck or patio space. However, maintenance of these areas applies to generally cleanliness only and not issues such as painting or repairs to the exterior or the interior of the apartment structure or the appliances within the apartment. Additionally, renters are responsible for small repairs in their home. This may include plunging a clogged toilet or changing a light bulb. However, if there are any duties a renter feels uncomfortable performing such as changing a light bulb in a high location, the renter should contact the maintenance staff for assistance. Renters also have a responsibility to show common courtesy to other renters by not intentionally damaging or otherwise marring public areas. This includes vandalism, littering and even failure to pick up after dogs. Renters who fail to follow these rules of common courtesy may be subject to fines or other penalties according to the rental agreement. Leasing Agent Responsibilities The leasing agent and maintenance staff are generally held responsible for major items such as repairs to the exterior of the building, fixing appliances which are malfunctioning and dealing with plumbing issues such as leaky pipes. Additionally, the maintenance staff is responsible for intervening if the renter is having trouble with public utilities. Problem such as no hot water or heat to the apartment should be addressed by the maintenance staff in conjunction with the public utilities entity. The leasing agent and maintenance staff is also responsible for maintaining the common areas. This may include keeping grassy areas manicured and other common areas looking clean and attractive. When the Leasing Agent is Not Taking Responsibility As previously discussed, the leasing agent has certain responsibilities to perform tasks and address concerns and complaints by the renters. However, when the leasing agent is not fulfilling these responsibilities it could create a harmful living environment for the renter. For example hot water is required to adequately clean dishes. This is why there should always be hot water to the apartment. Additionally, in severely cold weather the inability to heat the apartment due to faulty utilities or windows which are not properly sealed can create a hazardous condition for the renter. Both of the examples mentioned above are situations in which the renter may put in a hazardous condition by the leasing agent’s negligence. In these situations the renter should contact the Department of Housing to determine the proper cause of action to take in this situation. In some cases the renter may be informed the alleged transgression by the leasing agent is not actually his responsibility. However, in other situations the renter may be informed that the actions of the leasing agent are a serious violation of the rental agreement. In either case, the representative can provide information on how to proceed to achieve the desired results. Word count 583