Apartments for Rent
Finding Apartments for Rent
Residents can use numerous tools and resources to help them identify appropriate and available apartments in their area or state. Most cities or regions have a selection of a websites dedicated to housing with specific subsections for rental units, as well as one or more print publications that regularly cover housing options. Local and regional governments often provide housing resources and local housing authorities, while housing counseling agencies regularly maintain publicly available listings.
What do I need to consider before searching for an apartment?
Location is one of the most serious factors to consider when searching for an apartment to rent. Those with steady employment will need to consider the length of their potential commute. Families with children may wish to stay within range of their children’s current schools or select a unit in a more desirable district. Proximity to family and vital services, housing costs and an area’s cost of living can also be deciding factors.
How long are rental contracts?
Rental contracts may run from as short as a week to up to two years in length. The most common standard length of time for a rental contract is one year. Short-term contracts are typically signed in one-month increments with the option to extend by the week or month when they are up. Renters can expect to pay higher rates for the increased flexibility of short-term contracts and lower rates for longer terms.
What are the most important things to look for when walking through an apartment?
Experts advise that when visiting potential apartments, renters go prepared to take notes. They also recommend bringing along a camera to document any preexisting damage and a tape measure to verify and make note of important size restrictions, such as doorways. Renters with large or irregularly shaped furniture are encouraged to measure those pieces ahead of time so that they can verify they will be able to get them into the new apartment if selected.
Would-be renters should examine every apartment for signs of infestation by pests and vermin. Evidence of active, recent or recurring infestation problems may include damage such as teeth or claw marks, droppings, the distinct scent of insect repellant and insect traps in cabinets or closets. Renters should also check under sinks and around tubs or other piping for water damage and evidence of mold.
Insurance companies strongly recommend that renters pay close attention to the safety features and factors of their potential apartment. This includes looking for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers and verifying that all are mounted in appropriate places and fully functional. All windows and doors should latch securely and keys should be provided for all locks. Walls and baseboards should be free of cracks or dents w might signal structural damage.
Renters with disabilities, mobility issues or friends and family with disabilities or mobility challenges are encouraged to pay extra attention to the accessibility features of the apartment. Potential renters should consider if the unit is on the grand floor or if there is an elevator. Another factor to consider is if the exterior sidewalks in good condition. The availability of ramps or other accessibility aids can also help renters make a decision about a potential unit. Not all apartments will clearly advertise their accessibility or lack thereof, so it is important for renters to be aware of and looking for these factors themselves.
What are the important things to look for in an apartment rental contract?
Depending on the location, type of property and landlord, rental contracts may be relatively short and straightforward or long, formal and complex. All renters must be sure that they have clarified and understand what they are agreeing to before signing to avoid problems down the line. Primarily, all renters should be precisely clear on how much they would owe in rent, when it will be due and how they can make payments. For example, many landlords accept electronic payments but they may charge an extra fee to use them. Likewise, late fees are common but when those fees will be implemented and how much they will cost varies.
Other details that are often overlooked but are vital to consider upfront including the circumstances under which property employees can enter an apartment with or without notice and property rules related to common but potentially controversial issues like parking and guests. Depending on the length of the lease, renters may wish to inquire about subletting rules and any penalties associated with early termination of the lease.
Renters should take care to be absolutely clear on what changes or alterations they are allowed to or prohibited from making to the apartment under their lease, and at what costs. Common questions include whether or not renters can paint their apartments and, if so, whether the cost of repainting will come out of their security deposits when they move out. Understanding which utilities and amenities, from basics like electricity and hot water to extras like cable or internet access, are covered in the rental costs and which are the responsibility of the renter are also crucial to clarify.
Renter’s Legal Rights
Both housing and civil rights experts advise renters to be aware that there are questions landlords are legally prohibited from asking. Renters are always free to offer information if they desire but they are not obligated to answer illegal or inappropriate questions. Moreover, experts caution that these questions are rarely straightforward but may be disguised as compliments or casual small talk so renters should remain on their guard.
Illegal questions uniformly relate to legally protected classes. This means that landlords cannot ask about nationality, sexual orientation, disabilities, religion, age or race. Certain family characteristics are protected as well. Landlords may not require renters to tell them if they are married, have children or intend or expect to get married or have children in the future. Finally, landlords may not require renters to disclose if they have ever been arrested or are receiving welfare or other financial support. The only exception to that rule will be certain designated low-income housing units which are federally subsidized and which may use enrollment in welfare or other federal support programs as part of their income-eligibility assessment.