So you are out looking for your new home; you are “apartment hunting”. You are working with a great real estate associate who is showing you exactly what it is that you are looking for and you have a couple of great choices to pick from and are ready to make that much anticipated offer. Yo
u sit down to sign the offer which your agent has prepared for you and as they explain; you are hit with the harsh reality that you will need to come up with THREE MONTH”S rent to move in. WOW, that is a lot of money for a rental. So why is it that landlord’s require so much money; I mean after all you have great rental history, great credit, your income can easily afford the rent and you have no criminal record. Shouldn’t you be able to move in with just first month’s rent and the security deposit. The reality is that the answer to this question under these circumstances is probably “YES”; you should be able to move in with just first and security, you should be rewarded for having good rental history and good credit. In most instances both landlord and tenant would agree to this arrangement. However there are other scenarios more often than not that dictate differently. I would like to discuss the main issues which would prohibit a landlord from accepted the first month and security alone.
1. Many condo boards require a common area deposit equivalent to one month’s rent, or sometimes a predetermined amount. Therefore if the owner accepts the tenant with first month and security and the condo board gets the security then the owner has no deposit for damages on their property beyond regular wear and tear; the landlord would be exposing themselves to potential loses.
2. Many condo boards have what we refer to as rental restrictions. Sometimes these restrictions can cause issues with deposits. For example; a common restriction is that a unit owner may only rent the unit once per year. Sounds great to most owners especially those that occupy their units as primary residences; “Hey, we wont have that transient atmosphere of people constantly moving in and out”. But now look at it from the point of view of an owner who is renting out their unit. “If I rent this property out to this particular tenant and they stay for only 6 months or for that matter any period of time for less than the 12 month lease; in other words if the tenant breaks the lease I am stuck with an empty apartments with no income”. The landlord still has to pay the mortgage (if any), condo maintenance fees and taxes. Therefore, the owner who has such a restriction enforced by his association will be less likely to lower the move in requirements because they would prefer to guarantee the tenants lease performance for the entire term and this way if the tenant does break the lease the landlord can at least keep two month’s rental equivalent and still have the option to seek damages for the remainder of the lease term.
3. The landlord has simply had a bad experience before and is unwilling to take the risk again. Yes, this may seem unfair, as it seems like future tenants pay for the shortfalls of past tenants but it is the reality and a business decision that the landlord ultimately has to make.
In short, although there may be other reasons for the three months move in requirements these will typically represent the main reasons.
However, I will provide a warning for tenants; watch out for those landlords in foreclosure that are just looking to keep your deposits and collect rent until they get foreclosed. So how do you protect yourself. Well, first of all ask your agent to look up any Lis Pen dens against the property, try to find out if the owner is already in default. Also, if you are looking at a two bedroom with a direct ocean view in a full amenity building and the unit has granite counter, marble throughout and a jacuzzi in the master and the owner is asking only 1300 monthly, it may just be too good to be true. Scroll down to read blog on landlord / tenant laws on foreclosure.
At Miami Rent Seekers we specialize in residential real estate in the Aventura, Sunny Isles, North Miami, Hollywood, Hallandale, Bal Harbor, Miami Beach, Brickell and Downtown Miami markets. In recent months we have noticed a significant drop in the inventory levels for available rentals. I believe this may be attributed to several factors which we are noticing in the market.
1. The market is offering excellent rental rates for properties which in the past would have rented for much more.
2. There are many people unfortunately losing their homes to foreclosure, this sector is turning to the the rental market for there housing needs. Increasing the pool of potential tenants
3. Banks are placing REO or Foreclosure properties on the market for sale but not for rent.
4. We are currently in the “snow bird” season; therefore, many owners which have rental properties in buldings which allow short term or vacation rentals will simply take advantage of the increased rental rates for a vacation rental during the season.
In essence all these factors are adding up to a decrease in available inventory.
Our advise is that if you are currently in a rental property and you do not need to move yet, but your lease is expiring, that you simply negotiate a renewal with your current landlord. If you used a real estate agent to locate the unit in the first place, you can simply contact your agent and they will be happy to take care of the negotiations for you. When one of our associates attempts to negotiate a renewal with a landlord on behalf of the tenant they will typically suggest a rate reduction when appropriate due to market conditions; pointing out aspects of the deal like; your “great payment history”, the fact that there will be no down time for rental payments (no waiting for a new tenant), the idea that the landlord will not need to paint or clean the unit for a new tenant.
If you do not need another year, landlords are sometimes apt to renew for a shorter period of time. Again, the agent you originally used should be able to assist you with this process.
If you must move we recommend you contact an agent which is familiar with your desired area and you start your apartment hunt as early as possible. We recommend 45 to 60 days prior to your lease expiration. This will provide ample time and will avoid the pressure situation of having to settle because you are in a hurry. This will also allow proper time for the application process.
In short rental rates are still great; you will get much “bang for the buck”, but your choices may be less than in the past.
Miami Rent Seekers
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.