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Renter FAQs

RENTER FAQs

Q: When should I start my search for an apartment?

Q: What kind of move-in fees can I expect to have to pay once I’ve chosen an apartment?

Q:How to I secure an apartment?

Q:Is there a broker fee?

Q: Is the lease term negotiable?

Q: Is there any flexibility in the move-in costs for the apartment I’m looking at?

Q: Does my credit have to be run in order to apply to an apartment?

Q: What if I have bad credit?

Q: When will I know if my application has been approved?

Q: Is the apartment I’m considering de-leaded?

Q: What if the oil tank has oil left over from the previous tenants?

Q: What is tandem parking and how does it work?

Q: Who takes care of snow removal in the winter?

Q: Can we meet the landlord?

Q: Can we paint our apartment once we’ve moved in?

Q: How do I set up utilities?

Q: Can I move in early?

Q: Where do I send my rent checks?

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ANSWERS:

Q: Can I move in early?
A: Every landlord is different and the landlord with whom you enter into a lease agreement with may be okay with you moving in a few days early. However, while it never hurts to ask, it’s important to understand that for every landlord that’s ok with tenants moving prior to the lease start date there are ten who aren’t and you should really set your expectations around the terms of the lease.

Q: How do I set up utilities?
A: There are only a few utilities providers out there for gas, electricity and your apartment will likely be serviced by a single company for each. All you need to do is ask your landlord company whom the provider is and you can generally set up your service with a single phone call for each utility. For cable/internet/phone services and oil there are usually a few providers. Your building might be wired for only one or two cable/internet/phone providers and you should find out from your landlord which provider(s) you can select from. If the apartment you select is heated using oil you can select from a number of local providers.

Q: What if the oil tank has oil left over from the previous tenants?
A: For oil-heated apartments in which the tenants pay the utilities, it is important to understand that the previous tenant paid for the any left over oil in the tank. Therefore, given that you will ultimately use this already paid for oil to heat your apartment you may be expected to purchase the remaining oil from the previous tenant upon move-in. The upside to this arrangement is that you will be given the same courtesy when you move out of your apartment should there be any remaining oil in the tank.

Q: What is tandem parking and how does it work?
A: Tandem parking refers to parking spaces that are positioned one in front of the other within a driveway, as opposed to side by side. The downside is that you have to coordinate with the other user(s) of the driveway to make sure that nobody gets blocked in. The upside is that you always have a parking space, which is hard to come by in certain parts of the city! In some cases you may be coordinating only with you own roommate(s) in other cases all of the tenants of a building might work together to establish proper use of the spaces.

Q: Who takes care of snow removal in the winter?
A: Generally, your landlord or management company will take care of this. In some cases, landlords ask that the tenants take care of a portion of the grounds (e.g. your own walkway), and/or the driveway. It’s always a good idea to ask about it so you don’t get surprised come winter.

Q: Is the apartment I’m considering de-leaded?
A: Finding out whether an apartment has any lead paint in it is a concern for anyone with children under 6 years old. However, it can be difficult because a lot of owners themselves may not know since that information may not have been disclosed when they purchased or inherited the building. Lead paint was phased out of production starting in 1978, so if the apartment you’re looking at was built in the 1980’s or after it is generally less of a concern. The process of identifying lead paint requires an inspection by a certified professional who will produce a detailed report on the property. There are different option for making a property in compliance but this is going to vary greatly from one home to the next.

Q: What kind of move-in fees can I expect to have to pay once I’ve chosen an apartment?
A: The standard fees due at or before the signing of a lease are:

1. First Month’s Rent
2. Last Month’s Rent
3. Security Deposit (in the form of one month’s rent)
4. Broker Fee (in the form of one months rent)

Generally speaking, you will almost always have to pay at least 2 of the aforementioned fees at or before the signing of the lease. Some landlords will omit the last month or the security deposit from the up front costs. Others will ask for a smaller amount for the security deposit, while still requiring the last month. Moreover, the way that landlords handle the broker fee varies as well. Some landlords will pay the entire broker fee, while others will ask that the tenant pays it, or a portion of it.

A good rule of thumb is always be prepared to produce at lease three month’s rent up front when looking for an apartment in your given price range and be prepared to produce four month’s rent for the place that you just can’t turn down. If you can move in for less then you got a deal!

Q: Is there any flexibility in the move-in costs for the apartment I’m looking at?
A: It never hurts to ask, and for the right tenant landlords can sometimes be very flexible relative to what they say they require. However, it is important to be realistic about your own personal desirability as a tenant. For a landlord, desirability = someone who’s quiet, takes care of their place, can afford their place and always pays on time. Translation: a high credit score and the ability to demonstrate employment, adequate income and a rental history with good references are what make you a desirable tenant. If any one of these criteria is a trouble area for you then the likelihood of being able to negotiate successfully will go down considerably.

Q: Is there a broker fee?
A: It depends. Technically speaking, there is always a broker fee when you rent an apartment that you found with the aid of a real estate agent. That said, you aren’t always the one who has to pay it. The broker fee is generally one month’s rent and different landlords have different positions on who pays it. Some require that the tenant pay the entire fee, others will pay a percentage of it and request that the tenant pays the rent, while others still will pay the entire fee themselves. Whether you as a tenant have to pay any part of the fee will depend largely of the demand of the area you’re looking in or the desirability of the unit you’re looking to rent.

Q: Can we meet the landlord?
A: Perhaps. In many cases apartments are owned or managed by corporations, in which case there is no one person to meet. In other cases, the landlord may be out of town, or are simply too busy to accommodate a meeting, which is sometimes why they use agencies like ours to advertise their properties. Many landlords, however, are local and do like to meet the prospective tenants before they produce a lease in order to make sure that they have an opportunity to address any issues or concerns. While you may not be able to meet the landlord in person it never hurts to ask your agent.

Q: Can we paint our apartment once we’ve moved in?
A: This is always a good question to ask BEFORE committing money to an apartment. Some landlords have had great experiences with past tenants painting their apartments, and just as many landlords have had horrible/costly experiences with it. It’s important not to expect that the answer will be “yes”. However, if being able to paint the apartment is so important to you that you would choose to move on to another place should the answer be “no” then make sure you ask you agent to bring it up to the landlord early in the process.

Q: Does my credit have to be run in order to apply to an apartment?
A: Yes. Anytime you apply to an apartment the landlord requires a credit check be performed on the prospective tenant(s). If you’re credit score is above 650 there is rarely, if never, an issue; at least not one concerning the credit.

Q: What if I have bad credit?
A: If your credit score is not up to the standards of the landlord whose place you are applying to then, in most cases, you will have the option of producing a cosigner. As long as your cosigner’s credit and income are adequate you may still be able to rent the place of your choice. Your agent will tell you what documents are required in order to rent an apartment with the use of a cosigner.

Q: When will I know if I’ve been approved for the apartment I apply to?
A: In most cases we are able to tell you whether you’ve been approved within 24 hours of your application submission.

Q: Is the lease term negotiable?
A: In some cases the lease term can be negotiable. The rental market in Boston revolves around a summer cycle, May1st – September 1st. Therefore, landlords are sometimes amenable to shorter/longer lease terms that will still fall into this time frame. The likelihood of negotiating a lease term that ends in any other month is low, but it never hurts to ask.

Q: When should I start my search for an apartment?
A: If you are looking to move in to your new place on or around September 1st you may want to start looking for a place as early as January if you are a student, but for non-students, as early as May. After September 1st it is a good rule of thumb start looking about 60 days in advance of you anticipated move-in date at least to start getting a realistic idea of what the market in your chosen area is like (e.g. price range, number of available units). Don’t get caught with only two weeks to look for a place and having to compromise!

Q: How do I secure an apartment?
A: To remove an apartment from the market you must submit an application and a deposit in the form of one month’s rent. From there we will produce a credit report, check references and deliver your application package to the landlord as soon as physically possible. Once you’re application is approved by the landlord they receive the deposit, which becomes the first month’s rent and removes the apartment from the market ensuring that it is reserved for you until the signing of the lease.

Q: Where do I send my rent checks?
A: In almost all cases, rent checks are sent directly to the landlord or the management company taking care of the property on the landlord’s behalf. Often times though, people make the mistake of thinking that their rent checks go the agency that helped them find their apartment. It’s always a good idea to find out whom to send payments to at the signing of your lease. In the event that you forget, the name and address to send your rent to is on your lease. If it is not on the lease, a phone number that you can use to call and ask most certainly will be.

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