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Renting 101

Maybe it’s been awhile since you had to rent a place, maybe you’ve never rented before, maybe you’re just coming from another area, or maybe you’ve never rented from a private landlord… and maybe you’re quite experienced in this rental game.  No matter what your prior experience is, anytime someone contacts me about luxury apartments for rent, I always like to give them the “Renting 101” info, just to make sure there are no surprises.  So, here we go…

PRIVATE RENTAL VS. RENTAL COMMUNITY:  If you rent from a rental community, such as an apartment community, you’ll find that things are quite different.

RENTAL COMMUNITY ~ Rental communities do this every day, they’re “pros”.  They make money by having a quantity of tenants, and you’ll see that provides some benefits to you, the tenant.

  • Faster Move In:  If they have a place that’s vacant they may even be able to get your application processed and get you moved in the same day.
  • Easier to Reserve in Advance:  If you’re relocating in 2 months you may find it’s difficult to line up your housing now if you’re looking at renting from private landlords but at rental communities they know there’s always something coming up, and they can reserve a place for you well in advance.
  • No competition:  Most communities will reserve a place for you when you leave an application and small deposit especially when you are looking at luxury apartments for rent…. you won’t be competing with other prospective tenants for the same place.
  • Lower Fees: Fees are often a bit less… Things like security deposits can be $300 or $500 for a rental community (occasionally even less).
  • Flexible Lease Terms:  If you’re looking for a shorter term lease (less than a year) or you think there’s a possibility you might get relocated mid-lease, than a rental community is probably the way to go.  Usually they offer shorter term leases (for a cost) and/or offer some kind of lease termination clause, so if you have to move mid-lease there’s a maximum liability.
  • Flexible Qualifying Criteria:  They’re more willing to work with you if you have some credit blemishes, because if you don’t pay they know how to deal with it and they’re ready.  Some communities will accept Section 8 vouchers and other such assistance and they can usually work with being reimbursed from insurance companies, corporations or other payment providers.
  • Concierge Level Services & Amenities:  Some communities are very service oriented and offer concierge and resort like services and amenities…. pools, fitness centers, business centers, social events, pet care, you name it.  Of course, you pay for these things via higher rent, but sometimes it’s worth it.
  • Maintenance:  Most rental communities have onsite maintenance.  If something breaks, you’ll get service pretty quickly – usually within a day or two, and for emergencies they typically have someone on call even after hours. And at most communities, maintenance personnel will even change your HVAC filters, batteries in smoke detectors and make sure the common areas and lawn are kept in tip-top shape at no additional cost to you. You can also hire experts like AirMAX Heating & Air if you’re more familiar with their work.
  • Smaller places: On the negative side, rental communities are high density.  You may find the homes are smaller and in our market, it’s mostly apartments – it’s hard to find a rental townhome community and I don’t know of any area communities that offer single family homes.  Private landlords offer small to very large homes, and usually more private homes… plus if you’re looking for a yard you’re almost certainly going to have to go through a private landlord.

PRIVATE RENTALS ~ If you’re looking for available apartments and rent from “Bob and Mary” or any other people who happen to own a property they wish to rent you, you’ll find things are a little different.  As with everything there are pros and cons.  But here, the MO is about quality of tenant not quantity as some offer No Restriction Dog Breed Apartment options.  They *need* you to take care of their home as if it is your own, to handle minor maintenance and to pay your rent on time, because they likely have a mortgage they’re paying and they are counting on your income.  So you typically find…

  • Slower Application Processing: Typically a private landlord will do a more thorough background check, which takes a little longer.  Usually it’s 3-5 days.
  • Less Flexible Move In Dates: Private landlords usually don’t have a home advertised for rent until about 30 days prior to its available date, and often will not show a place until their tenants are moved, and then they are looking for someone to move in very quickly.
  • Higher Fees: A security deposit is typically one month’s rent for most private landlords, and they may ask you to pay for other fees as well.
  • Lease Terms:  Usually private landlords are looking for a 12-24 month lease.  And if you need to move mid-lease you could still end up paying through the end of the term.
  • High Qualifying Criteria:  Standards for meeting qualifying criteria can be high.  They will expect 3-4 times your rent in verifiable income, and if you have a lot of debt, they consider that, too.  They want a credit score above 700, and good rental or housing payment history.   Most steer clear of Section 8 vouchers, working with insurance companies, corporations or other payment providers.  They are looking for simple arrangements where they get paid on time.
  • Competition: A private landlord usually considers their home available until the lease is signed.  So leaving a deposit or submitting an application doesn’t necessarily mean the place is yours if you qualify.  Lately, we are seeing as many as 3 or 5 applications on one place…. so the landlord is choosing the application they like best which usually means higher credit scores, longer lease terms, less people in the household, etc.
  • Services and Amenities:  You may be renting in a condo or housing community that offers some services and amenities, but they are not usually the same level of rental communities.  Ask about anything that is important to you.
  • Maintenance:  Many private landlords will actually ask you to contact contractors, get proposals and coordinate any work that needs to be done. Tenants may be responsible for a deductible (usually less than $100).  Tenants may also be responsible for mowing lawns, changing filters and other such minor maintenance.
  • More Space:  As stated earlier, you’ll typically find that larger homes are privately owned, rental communities are mostly apartments in our area.  If you’d like a place with a private yard, that’s typically going to be found with a private landlord as well.

I hope this helps summarize some of what you might find when you’re considering renting in our area.  If you have other questions, please reach out to me.  I’d be happy to be of service!  Meanwhile, feel free to search for rental homes HERE.

Vicky Chrisner; 703-669-3142


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