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.
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.
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.
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 amenities. Comparison 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.
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.
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.
Tips for Finding a Rental Apartment
Finding a rental apartment is not always easy. Depending on occupancy rates in a particular area, it actually might be quite difficult to find available apartments that are also within your price range and meet all of your pre-determined requirements. However, even in areas where there is not a great deal of competition for the available apartments, renters may still have some difficulty finding the perfect apartment. This article will offer some tips for finding a rental apartment that suits all of your needs.
Figure Out Your Needs
The first step of any apartment search should begin with the potential renter carefully identifying all of their needs in an apartment. This list of needs will be different for every renter. While some renters are simply looking for a place to eat, bathe and sleep other renters may be looking for a living space which will serve a number of purposes including working, entertaining and participating in leisure activities or hobbies. When making this list of needs the renter should consider the options they cannot live without as well as the options they want to have but can live without. It is important to make this distinction because the renter will want to ensure the apartment they choose has all of the features they need and ideally a few features they want. However, an apartment which does not have all the required features may become an uncomfortable living situation very quickly.
Do Your Research
Once a renter has a good idea of the basic features he is looking for in an apartment, he should begin researching his options. Researching apartments can be done on the Internet, through the newspaper or through rental magazines. Renters may use one of these research methods exclusively or may combine a few of the methods to form a customized strategy for researching apartments. The research phase will give the renter an idea of the types of properties available for rent in the area.
The next step is the process of comparison shopping. This basically entails visiting several different rental properties and touring these facilities. During the tour the renter will get a good idea of available options as well as the costs associated with these options. This is helpful for two very important reasons. First it gives the renter a good idea of the types of apartments available within their budget. Second it gives the renter the ability to bargain regarding price. Renters who have proof of other apartment complexes offering more favorable rental terms, may be able to entice another complex to lower their prices slightly.
Ask for Recommendations
Renters can also help themselves in their search for an apartment by seeking recommendations from trusted friends and family members. These recommendations can be taken to be much more worthwhile than recommendations offered by the apartment complex from previously satisfied tenants. It is important to note the apartment complex is likely to only offer testimony from tenants who were happy with their rental agreement. For this reason, opinions offered by friends and family members are much more valuable because they do not have a vested interest in the rental property and simply offer their honest opinion. Friends or family members who share your interests and personality traits can be very helpful in offering recommendations for apartments because it is very likely you will be happy with the apartment they recommend.
Consult the Better Business Bureau
Finally, renters should consult the Better Business Bureau (BBB) before making a final decision and choosing an apartment complex. This can be very helpful especially if the renter finds a particular apartment complex has a number of unresolved complaints against them. While a lack of complaints is not necessarily an endorsement, it is a good sign if the complex has been in business for number of years without a slew of unresolved complaints.