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.
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.