When to Start Searching
The best time to begin searching for a rental property is approximately four to six weeks prior to your move date. Four to six weeks allows a renter enough time to find the right property before giving a thirty day notice to their current landlord. It also allows enough approval time for some rental properties that require a Home Owners Association (HOA) or Condominium Association approval. Landlords do not want to keep their property vacant too long. Securing a property more than eight weeks prior to move in date is extremely difficult. A landlord receiving two equal offers on his/her rental property will usually take the renter moving in the earliest. Landlords may even refuse a renter in hopes of finding a tenant that will occupy sooner. Rental properties can easily be located and secured within four weeks of a renters move in date. The majority of renters select their properties in this timeframe. This is also more desirable for a landlord. Two to four weeks still allows enough approval time for rental properties with HOA or Condominium Association approvals. Most HOA or Condominium Association approvals only take up to one week, with the extreme being up to thirty days. Rental properties can also be located and moved into the same day. Do not be alarmed if you are moving to a new area or are relocating due to an unforeseen circumstance.
About Home Owners Associations (HOA's) and Condominium Associations
Many Home Owner and Condominium Associations have their own approval process in addition to a landlord's approval. If so, they will usually have their own application and application fee. Approval process times can range from one day to as much as thirty days. The average Association approval time is approximately one week. Associations may also require a renter to deliver a refundable common area security deposit to be held by the Association. The renter may negotiate with the landlord as to who will pay the common area security deposit. Most landlords will deliver the common area security deposit so as to not burden the renter with two security deposits. Associations may have restrictions on pets or the type of pet. Some may even allow the owners to have pets but not renters. Associations may also have restrictions on certain vehicles such as work vehicles, motorcycles, boat trailers, etc.
Move in Money
Move in money requirements vary with every property. They are usually negotiable with private owners. They may or may not be negotiable with apartment complex communities. Apartment communities tend to be more firm in their requirements. Each Apartment Community has its own set security deposit requirements. They will generally require the first months rent and the security deposit on the move in date. The apartment can usually be secured with a small deposit until the move in date. Apartment communities usually have smaller move in money requirements than private owners. They may have smaller security deposits (less than one months rent) and tend to prorate the first months rent (see Prorated Rents). They may also offer move in specials where they give money off the first months rent or reduce the security deposit amount. Private owner move in money requirements vary with every owner and tend to vary in different parts of the country. The move in money, as well as the rent, is usually negotiable. In some parts of the country first months rent, last months rent and a security deposit of one months rent are normally required. In other areas only the first months rent and a security deposit are required. The last months rent is the portion that is usually negotiated. Some landlords will allow the last months rent (if required) to be paid off over time after the renter moves into the property. Some will allow the renter to move in with just the first months rent and a security deposit. Most landlords require the move in funds to be cleared funds (ie: money order, certified check, cash, etc.).
If a renter moves in during the middle of a month, the 10th for example, the landlord has the following options: •They may collect the rent on the 10th of every month. This is the easiest way to avoid confusion.
•They may collect a prorated first months rent instead of a full first months rent. Future rents would be collected on the 1st of each month thereafter. The last months rent would be prorated when collected unless the lease is extended to the end of the last month.
•They may collect a full first months rent on move in and collect a prorated amount on the 1st of the second month. Future rents would be collected on the 1st of each month thereafter. The last months rent would be prorated when collected unless the lease is extended to the end of the last month.
•They may collect the prorated amount for the 1st month and the full 2nd months rent on move in. Future rents would be collected on the 1st of each month. This is usually done when a renter moves in towards the end of the month. Again, the last months rent would be prorated when collected unless the lease is extended to the end of the last month.
The most common way to calculate a prorated rental amount is as follows: Rent multiplied by the days remaining in the month plus one (for the day of move in) divided by the actual days in the month. Rent * ((31-10+1) / 31)
Rental rates can be negotiable. They are more apt to be negotiable with privately owned properties (ie: condos, townhomes and homes). They are less apt to be negotiable with apartment complexes. The rental market should be taken into account when considering negotiating with a privately owned property. During a renter's market, owners are more apt to negotiate their asking rent. During a landlord's market they are less apt to negotiate. A renter's market is when there is an abundance of rental properties available. A landlord's market occurs when the rental market supply tightens. Too often renter's lose out on a rental property believing it is a renter's market when in fact it is a landlord's market or in transition towards a landlord's market. Negotiating the rent on a rental property is different from negotiating the price on a property for sale. Rental properties can move fast in a landlord's market. Landlords will take the next offer that comes in without giving the first renter a chance to counter offer.
Credit / Rental History
Credit and rental history can affect a renter's ability to find a find a rental property. It can also become costly with properties charging non-refundable application fees. Rental history is the most important. When repairing credit renters should first resolve judgments or collections from previous landlords. Some apartment communities and private owners will accept more move in money to compensate for bad credit. Often an apartment community will not inform the renter of this option. We recommend you ask if you are turned down due to credit or rental history. Do not be over alarmed. Millions of people have credit issues. Many credit issues are explainable. Medical bills are a prime example. We are not recommending that people not pay their obligations. However, most of us know the state of our health care system and have given up hope of our politicians ever doing the right thing for our country to resolve the problem.
Lease options or rent to own rental properties are becoming more popular due to the increase of investors renting investment properties. A lease option is when a renter rents a property with the option to purchase the property at the end of the lease. An agreed upon portion of the monthly rent is applied towards the purchase price. A lease option should specify the purchase price of the property and the portion of the rent that is to be applied towards the purchase price. There should also be an option deposit that is separate from the security deposit. A separate option deposit may be required in some states to make it a valid option.
We recommend that digital pictures or video of the rental property be taken on the move in date in case a claim is made against the security deposit.
A general rule of thumb is "the shorter the term the higher the rent". If looking for temporary housing for different needs, the shorter the length of stay the higher the probability you may be charged a seasonal rate. Certain areas may even charge a tourist tax (or bed tax) for short term rentals. If seeking temporary housing because you are having a house built or your house is being repaired, we recommend negotiating a longer term lease with an addendum or clause allowing a thirty day notice when the property is ready. Most repairs and construction fall behind schedule. If you sign a three month lease and have construction delays you may be forced to relocate a second time. This may be done when new to an area and looking to purchase.
About on-line rental searches
Von's Property Mgmt & Real Estate provides a free on-line property search service to both renters and buyers. When areas have multiple or overlapping Multiple Listing Services, we strive to include them all (linked together) to provide the most complete source of data for the public. Our goal is to eventually provide the most complete nationwide search of properties for both rent and sale. Rental properties tend to turn over extremely fast compared to properties for sale. The on-line search capabilities are usually not as complete and up to date. It is recommended that renters call a rental specialist to get access to the most current rental properties.