Author Topic: Apartment renting questions and concerns  (Read 3190 times)

FiguringItOut

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 742
  • Location: NYC
Apartment renting questions and concerns
« on: September 22, 2014, 01:25:30 PM »
Hi.  I need to put some checks and balances to my situation with my impending apartment renting.

Currently living in a mortgaged house with husband and two kids.  The divorce is in process.  I am waiting for my younger one to finish elementary school (this is the last year) and move out of the house and into a rented apartment next summer after school year ends in late June 2015.

I am not going to move out of my area/town, so please don't suggest that.

Scanning local craigslist tells me that 2 bedroom apartments in private houses run around $2.5K (or higher) per month and may or may not include some utilities, some lawn maintenance, etc.  We only have private house (or part of the house) rentals available (no buildings/townhouses).

I definitely want to move and get settled with kids by the time next school year starts. 

I've lived in my house since 2008, and before that I rented apartment from my parents for 4-5 years at below market price.  Before that I rented regular apartment in the large building for market price.  I've never been late with my rent or mortgage payment. 

My salary is $76.5K and I will be getting child support of at least $2K/mo (could be upto $2.3K/mo).  This is 3.5 times the rent at $2.5K.  I have a steady job and will be looking in my kids school district.  My credit score is around 800 (+-5). 

Do you think this is enough to get into the apartment?  What do landlords look for in a tenant? 

How far in advance do you suggest I should start looking for a place?  Would April/May be too early for July move in?  What do you think I should look for in the landlord? 

How do you suggest I can look for rental by owners (no brokers)? 

The though if having to lay out at least $7.5K (3 rents) just to get the roof over my head is making me sick, so if I can knock of one of those rents it would be great. 

Since most houses in my area have oil heat, I having heat included in the rent would be huge plus.  I would also not agree to do any lawn maintenance, they can hire a lawn service if they want to, but I've only seen this in some cases where people rent full houses, not part of the house. 

If they say there is a separate meter for electricity/water/gas/etc, how do I know that it is only for the apartment or part of the house that I will be renting, and does not include other usage from other parts of the house? 

Anything else I need to think about/know before I start looking?

Thanks









frugaliknowit

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1662
Re: Apartment renting questions and concerns
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2014, 01:48:54 PM »
While I think you will qualify for the apartment at around 30% of gross income (assuming child support of 2K), you will be REALLY STRETCHED (tough love)!  Check my math:  76500/12 = 6375 + 2000 = $8375 Month gross.  2500/8375 = 29.85%.  Assuming you also have a car and will be running the little ones around, you will be strapped with the slightest "wiff of the wind" (tough hugg). :)

Look for a much lower rent.  Maybe 20% of gross which would be around $1700.

FiguringItOut

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 742
  • Location: NYC
Re: Apartment renting questions and concerns
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2014, 01:52:20 PM »
While I think you will qualify for the apartment at around 30% of gross income (assuming child support of 2K), you will be REALLY STRETCHED (tough love)!  Check my math:  76500/12 = 6375 + 2000 = $8375 Month gross.  2500/8375 = 29.85%.  Assuming you also have a car and will be running the little ones around, you will be strapped with the slightest "wiff of the wind" (tough hugg). :)

Look for a much lower rent.  Maybe 20% of gross which would be around $1700.

$1700 rent doesn't exist in my town for 2 bedrooms.  I know it will be tough, but it will be better than what I have now, so it will be a plus to me regardless.  And, yes, I have a car, no way around without it.

galliver

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1890
Re: Apartment renting questions and concerns
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2014, 02:03:48 PM »
Sorry about your divorce, and having to move with the kids; that sucks. Having just completed an apartment hunt in Southern CA, I think you should be fine, at least financially. I think income = 3x rent is a number that floats around a lot; a company we applied with required income = 2.5x rent for a single-earner household, possibly accounting for being in a pretty expensive property area. With a high credit score you may not need more than 2x rent although I don't know NY laws to this effect (in CA it's either first&last months rent or first&deposit, with the deposit a MAX of 2x rent for low credit, but typically 1x rent if you have decent or good credit).

As far as timing, I took my cues from CL itself and it worked out well; people tended to post when a unit was available, and it was typically 'now.' So my bf and I moved out here without a place lined up and had one within 5 days. I would guess that your expensive area has a similarly-timed market and you should start applying in May or even June. BUT, definitely keep an eye on the postings and make your own call! The area I lived before, you could line up a place almost a year in advance, but there were also units open year-round; real estate was cheap.

FiguringItOut

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 742
  • Location: NYC
Re: Apartment renting questions and concerns
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2014, 08:13:30 AM »
Sorry about your divorce, and having to move with the kids; that sucks. Having just completed an apartment hunt in Southern CA, I think you should be fine, at least financially. I think income = 3x rent is a number that floats around a lot; a company we applied with required income = 2.5x rent for a single-earner household, possibly accounting for being in a pretty expensive property area. With a high credit score you may not need more than 2x rent although I don't know NY laws to this effect (in CA it's either first&last months rent or first&deposit, with the deposit a MAX of 2x rent for low credit, but typically 1x rent if you have decent or good credit).

As far as timing, I took my cues from CL itself and it worked out well; people tended to post when a unit was available, and it was typically 'now.' So my bf and I moved out here without a place lined up and had one within 5 days. I would guess that your expensive area has a similarly-timed market and you should start applying in May or even June. BUT, definitely keep an eye on the postings and make your own call! The area I lived before, you could line up a place almost a year in advance, but there were also units open year-round; real estate was cheap.

Thank you, personal experience helps. 
I'm still concerned for some reason that starting to look a month before may not be enough time.  But I'll keep tracking craigslist.

Any suggestions on what to look for in a landlord and what to be aware of?

mulescent

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 114
Re: Apartment renting questions and concerns
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2014, 12:31:16 PM »
Hi,

I agree with other posters that you will be really strapped with a 2.5k rent.  Moreover, you will be completely dependent on your soon-to-be ex holding up their part of the bargain.  If they flake, you sink.  So I would first like to question your assumptions. 

Could you deal with a one bedroom place?  Depending on the age of your kids it might be doable. 

You didn't give us any details about the city/town where you live, but I wonder whether you could move just outside the really expensive area.  Since you already have a car, you might be able to save a bunch of money and still be close enough.

Why not do yard work?  If I were you I'd be looking for someone who wants to have more than just a tenant (e.g. an older person who might be willing to offer a steep discount on rent in exchange for help with yardwork/errands/etc).  Being creative could help you avoid a financially difficult situation.

OK, having posed questions, here is my advice on finding a good landlord.  Look for an individual who really cares about their property and who has a good track record with their tenants.  In my (long) rental career, I learned to avoid corporate management companies of any kind like the plague.  They nickel and dime tenants and raise rents to monetize the agony of moving (which, with kids, will be large).  If you present yourself as a responsible individual who will do your best to care for their property you can find someone who will pay you (in the form of fewer rent hikes, etc) for being a good tenant.  I would be very clear about what they expect of you and what they will do for you.  You can ask specific questions about how they handle maintenance issues, etc.  You can also offer specifics about what you will do (e.g. care for the place, keep quiet between X and Y hours, etc).

Good luck!

rugorak

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 382
Re: Apartment renting questions and concerns
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2014, 08:39:09 AM »
As a renter I have had mixed results. I had a good landlord who turned into a bad one. Managed property that was great, other not so great.

If it is a managed property meet whomever is the super. If they care you are probably fine. If they don't then red flags. They may have to fight with the management company and/or owners to fix things at times so if they care then you won't have to worry.

mulescent has good tips for a good landlord. Timing all depends on the place. Most places do not list until it is open or going to be open in under 30 days. So they typically want to fill the vacancy asap. But occasionally places will know of a vacancy a few months in advance and start listing early hoping to find a better tenant. Most likely you want to start looking hard about 90 days before you want to move with the expectation that nothing will be really an option until 60 days or closer.

I would also try and get the costs down a bit. Considering what I have seen posted as rents for entire houses in some higher priced areas $2500 a month seems really high. NYC and SF are the only 2 areas I have heard of where that would make any sense. But with the car requirement I am guessing you are not in one of those areas.

Sometimes the best way to find a place is by word of mouth. So talk to friends, family, and coworkers. A house I rented for 8 years I got because my coworker was moving out. I paid less than most of the apartments in the area and the only thing I had to do that I wouldn't have had to in an apartment is mow the lawn and shovel the driveway of snow. Well worth it in my opinion. And the house was never listed. My coworker had lived there for years and was a great tenant so the landlord preferred to just have the referral.

rujancified

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 197
  • Age: 41
  • Location: NC
Re: Apartment renting questions and concerns
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2014, 09:01:42 AM »
Don't have a ton of specific advice since some of the questions are location-specific, but wanted to chime in and say this: As a landlord, someone like you would be my DREAM tenant. I would assume you'd want stability for your kids, would stay put for a bit of time, and would pay your rent on time to avoid any shenanigans. If you're looking to move to North Carolina, hit me up :)

Scan CL for the next months to see how quickly places are available - I put mine out this month for an ASAP move in date, but some places nearby had move in dates in mid-October or November.

Very best of luck to you.