How To Search For Apartments And Homes For Rent | Part 2*
Apartments and Homes for Rent
Being acutely aware of the difficulty associated with looking for that dream rental, we’ve gone to great lengths, in How To Look For Apartments And Homes For Rent | Part 1, to cover Credit, Finance, Lease, Landlords’ and Management Companies’ Requirements, Moving, Google Maps, Real Estate Platforms, and Resources For Tenants. In How To Search For Apartments And Homes For Rent (Part 2), we’ll explore what follows:
Before you move in a particular area, you may (you should) want to know the skinny on that neighborhood: statistics about the community, demographics, education, climate, employment, market rents, crime rate, etc. To search for community, school and nearby establishments’ information, select a State, enter a City, County, Zip Code, Neighborhood, or District information in the box, and click submit. Based on the search results, you can decide whether it is a community or neighborhood you want to move into.
Moving from one locality to another? Worrying about the commuting distance? Get a mileage, time, and fuel cost estimates, along with maps and turn-by-turn travel directions. Click “Get Directions”, input departure and arrival coordinates (addresses or zip codes) in boxes A and B respectively, and click “Get Directions”, again. Await the search results or itinerary. Alternatively, use your smart phone’s GPS (Global Positioning System) to map out your itinerary and estimate travel time.
Since your landlord has your vital information (first and last names, social security number, bank account number, identification number (driver’s license or the like), and credit report, it pays to pay your rent on time. Failure to do so may incur late fee/charge and a negative mark on your credit, if reported to the credit agencies.
Flexible landlords/property management companies offer a variety of rent payment options (PayNearMe, PropertyBridge, RentPayment, RealPage, RentShare, Resident ePay (NWP Management), and Zipmark) to tenants: cash, cashier’s check, certified check, personal check, money order, credit card, and electronic check. You can even make money paying your rent with credit cards.
Eviction is the expelling of a tenant from a landlord’s premises by a legal process. The lease, signed by both landlord and tenant, calls for certain performances on the tenant’s part, chief among them is the timely payment of rent. Failure to meet such obligation is ground for eviction.
You can be an established tenant who pays the rent religiously on time, and, as such, enjoys a good relationship with your landlord (or landlady). But the minute you fall on hard times (you become a dysfunctional economic unit) and can no longer afford to meet your financial obligations vis-à-vis the landlord, he must get rid of you to find a tenant who can pay the rent.
Since you’ve been a good tenant for all those years, the landlord may offer a mutually agreed-upon arrangement, suitable to both parties: he/she’ll pay 1-3 months of storage for you, in exchange for your moving out by a date certain, without resorting to eviction proceedings and reporting your missed payment(s) to the credit reporting agencies. The vacancy created by your friendly departure will be filled by another paying tenant.
This offer, which you should take advantage of, is a generous gesture from the landlord in an attempt to settle a potential financial dispute amicably with a tenant whose rent paying record and history has been stellar, up to this point.
Since this magnanimous landlordry act is not even called for in the stipulated lease, you should cease the moment. Alternatively, you can take preemptive action by putting your belongings into storage, before the situation gets out of hand, and find a place to stay temporarily (family, friends, shelters, etc.).
Most storage companies will even throw in a free moving truck/van to help you move your stuff, provided that the storage space is rented from them.
Real Estate Platforms
For Rent is an easy platform to navigate. You can search rentals based on city, zip code, map, college, military, radius, price range, bedrooms and bathrooms, and amenities such as air conditioning, alarm system, cable or satellite, ceiling fan, extra storage, furnished…high speed internet access, wireless internet access, washer/dryer on premises or hookups, etc.
If you are not fluent in English, but you are in Spanish, you can search the site in Spanish (beta) as well. If you are a pet lover, you want to know about an apartment/home rental pet policies before you move in. For Rent can help you choose your abode, based on those criteria as well.
For Rent By Owner is a “national and worldwide directory of houses for rent, condos, apartments, town homes, and more!” where renters can find quick rentals, and owners can list (advertise) their real estate for rent. The website is `easy to navigate. Just click on a State to populate the page with available rentals. You can also search by keyword or zip code.
If you are into nudism, as the name implies, this is the platform to look for a nude rental (just kidding!). Joking aside, Naked Apartments covers Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island, and offers studios, 1 – 4+ bedrooms, and lofts for rent. You can search by neighborhoods, amenities (balcony, dishwasher, doorman, gym, laundry room, etc.), and filters (pets, by owner, verified listing, no-fee or low fee, etc.).
No Fee Rentals has apartments for student, new grads, established professionals, etc. without a broker’s fee (no-fee). NFR has short and long term, furnished and unfurnished, and commercial rentals. You can download a Residential Lease Application or a Commercial Lease Application. Read the FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) list for more information. As an applicant, you must have a guarantor, who is financially sound, to fulfill your financial obligations on your behalf, if you default.
According to Realtor, its platform is updated every 15 minutes. Based on that claim, if you want to search for the latest rentals, nationwide, this is the site to go to. Searched is based on mini/maxi price, number of bedrooms and baths, property types (apartments, condos, co-ops, single family homes, etc.), square footage, closest nearby areas, pet policy, etc.
The search results yield a ton of information in terms of floor plans, property details, community and unit features (amenities), lease details, schools and neighborhoods, etc.
Rent incentivizes prospective tenants to use its platform to find a property with a $100 Reward Card icon, to mention it to the leasing office, and to report the lease to Rent by calling a toll-free number or signing in. Obviously, not all rentals are eligible for this generous offer, and other requirements must be met to receive the reward. Read the Reward Card Policy.
Rent claims to have sent out $150M worth of card rewards to date. You can search for rental properties nationwide, but if you want to view all the photos and floor plans, you must create a free account. You can also refine your search based on property type, bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, pet policy, etc.
One can’t help but wondering: why is Rent so generous? We don’t know the reason(s) behind this benevolence, but we can only speculate it to be twofold: a) To supplant the competition; and b) To keep unscrupulous leasing offices from ripping Rent off of their “Success Fee”.
Search for nationwide rentals (apartments, condos and townhouses, duplexes, lofts and houses) for free at Rentals. Your search can be filtered down to the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, price range, distance, pet policy, property and community features, etc. Properties can be sorted out based on best match, coupons first, low price first, nearest first, newest first, and cable/internet service provider. Simply put, it’s a platform easy to navigate.
If you are searching for no fee apartments (Who doesn’t want to save money?) nationwide, RentHop is your platform. You can search by neighborhood, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, rent, and filters (furnished, doorman, elevator, parking, pet policy, no fee, reduced fee, etc.).
Street Easy covers New York City (Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island), The Hamptons, and Northern New Jersey. It is a platform where you can browse for rentals based on listing types (By owner, no fee; Broker, no fee; Broker, fee); price, number of bedrooms and bathrooms. The Advanced Options search has plenty of listing and building amenities, property types, school district, nearby transit, etc.
Do not be fooled by the name. Sublet is more than sublease, it is a platform where you can search for rentals nationwide and worldwide, based on a set of criterions: private rental, room rental; lease terms (1 – 7 days to a (1) year), size (studio to 5+ bedrooms); furnished and unfurnished; bathrooms; rental types (apartments, houses, townhouses, mobile homes, hotels and B&Bs, and lofts); advanced (sublets only, no agents, free listings only, corporate rentals, no credit check, parking, elevator, laundry, air conditioning, etc.).
Check out the “Rental Tools” for more rental-related information (self-storage, moving quotes, tenants screening, job classifieds, credit repair, etc.). English is not your native language? Don’t worry, the site’s content can be read in multiple languages.
Trulia is an interesting platform to search for an apartment or house to rent. The navigation is easy. You can choose an apartment/home to rent based on the following parameters:
- Minimum/Maximum Prices
- Number of Beds and Baths
- Property Type, and
- Fee only or No-fee only
If you can’t afford to pay a broker’s fee, the no-fee only option can save you the equivalent of one and a half months’ rent, since most landlords ask for one (1) month rent, one (1) month deposit, and broker fee (one and a half months’ rent equivalent).
Trulia gives you information about the apartment/home, the neighborhood, affordability (rent calculator), and credit score. Trulia is not only for rentals, it is also for buying and selling real estate. Finally, before you engage in any rental transaction, read House2Home Realty’s Rental Property Frequently Asked Questions to avoid being victims of rental scams.
Urban Edge is a no-fee, no-commission platform to search for rentals directly from building owners in New York City, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Northern New Jersey, Westchester County, Northern and Southern Coastal Connecticut. Read the “Renter’s Guide”.
If you want to have a rough estimate (zestimate) as to how much your house is worth, Zillow is the go-to place. But Zillow is not only a platform to buy and sell real estate, it is also one for rentals. Although not easily navigable as Trulia’s platform (Zillow to Buy Trulia for $3.5 Billion in All-Stock Deal), apartments, condos and houses, nevertheless, can be searched for based on verified source, newest, rent (low to high), bathrooms, bedrooms, square footage, etc.
We would be reminisced if we were to leave out social media as a resource to search for rentals. Our list – a plethora of real estate platforms to look for that perfect rental – would have been incomplete without mentioning social media. You already use social media to brag about your prowess, why not use it for to locate an apartment/house to rent? We don’t have to enumerate them all, you already know the usual suspects: Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, etc.
Landlords’ and Property Managements’ Requirements (reiteration)
As alluded to before, in the preceding article – How To Look For Apartments And Homes For Rent | Part 1, landlords and property managers have some pretty strict requirements that a potential tenant must meet before a rental deal (signed lease) is closed. To refresh your memory, here is a reiteration of the requisites:
- Employment Letter
- Income (35 – 50 times the monthly rent)
- Last 2 pay stubs
- Application Fee (maybe refundable, inquire first).
- Security Deposit
- First and Last Months’ rent
- Tax Returns
- Identification (driver’s license, passport, etc.) and Social Security Number
- References from present and/or ex-landlords
- Bank statement(s), and last, but not least,
They must run also, at your expense:
- Criminal Background and Credit Worthiness checks, and
- Evictions Database check.
They also ask for:
- Cell, Home and Work Phone Numbers, and
- Email Address.
Renting vs Buying
Sometimes you rent an apartment, because you think you cannot afford to buy a home. A mortgage is beyond your financial means, so you think. But if you are flexible, willing to commute, and eager to realistically see the glass half-full, your monthly rent payment can be the equivalent of one (1) or two (2) mortgage payments.
The value of a house varies widely from one zip code to another, which explains that odd real estate equation (rent amount = mortgage payment). If you don’t mind moving a few miles away, you can buy (with the rent money) either a two-family home (rent one side, and live rent-free, or almost so, on the other side), or a one-family (live downstairs and in the basement, if any, rent upstairs, or any combination thereof), or two (2) houses (live in one, and rent the other).
Five (5) to ten (10) years in the home ownership process, you would have built equity, which you can leverage; vs. no equity built at all, to take advantage of within the same time frame of renting.
The preceding is not to deter you from renting, but to point out that what you think sometimes to be beyond your financial reach, may be within the realm of financial possibility, if you are open-minded and willing to compromise. If you care to explore the home ownership idea further, read “Free Foreclosures and REOs Listings: Where to Scoop Real Estate Bargains”.
After reading most of the “Rental Guides” and the landlords’/property managements’ requirements (hoops to jump through) enunciated herein to rent an apartment/home, you might as well buy a house/condo/co-op, in our opinion. For having gone through that rigorous financial vetting process, you’ll have at least something to show for it (other than canceled checks) somewhere down the road: a place you can call your own.
We’ve pretty much covered everything you need to know to:
- Find your dream rental
- Avoid falling prey to scams,
- File a complaint if you are a victim of fraud
- Meet the requirements for a successful outcome, and
- Proceed when the result of your search is successful.
At this juncture, the only thing left to do is to wish you success in your rental hunt. Take action!
Blackouts, brownouts, and power outages are equal opportunity offenders, they do not discriminate. Whether you are a renter or a home owner, we are all exposed to mother nature’s caprices, and the resulting disasters and widespread power interruption, as a corollary. If you implement the suggestion made herein, id es, the purchase of a Compact Emergency Power Supply Unit, when eventual hardships strike, you won’t be caught with your pants (or spanx) down. You’ll be prepared, as far as emergency power is concerned.
- Jump-start a car
- Inflate tires, air mattresses, volley, soccer, basket balls, etc.
- Charge cell phones, tablets, MP3 players, digital cameras
- Tune in AM/FM radio stations (Power Dome EX 2454 and Power Dome NX 2485)
- Track time (Power Dome NX 2485’s Digital Clock)
- Provide emergency lighting
- Power most AC and DC electronics, small appliances, etc.
As you can see, based on the generous array of built-in features, they’ll come in handy in time of emergency, until grid power is restored. Time is of the essence: Buy one now while you still can. You won’t regret it when the dreadful and inevitable natural and/or man-made catastrophes hit.
Resources For Tenants
Although the practices and tips alluded to are State-specific, you may nevertheless find useful, commonsensical and general information that may apply to your case or situation, hence helpful to you. Check your State’s Best Practices and Tips.
If you live in a building whose landlord/management is unresponsive to your individual concerns (untidiness, lack of heat, leaky faucet, clogged toilet or bathtub, leaky ceiling, pest control, no hot water, etc.), it may be time to organize a tenants association that, collectively, carries some weight and sway to compel the landlord/management to address your concerns. If you care to form an organization, TenantNet outlines the steps to take to organize a tenants association.
If, at one end of the spectrum, tenants have the right to form their association to oblige landlords to do the right thing; so do landlords, at the other, to protect their interests. As a tenant, it’s worth looking into the landlord association to get a feel for a landlord’s thinking and anticipate what might be required of you.
Today, you are a tenant. Tomorrow, you may be a landlord. In the interim, educate yourself. If and when you do become a landlord, you’ll know the do’s and don’ts of proper land lording and avoid being a slumlord. Landlordology has a wealth of practical information and resources to enlighten you.
Is your rent to low or too high? Find out at rentometer, which has resources for both landlords and tenants.
If in the process of searching for a rental/home online, you become a victim of internet fraud, you can file a complaint online to resolve the matter.