Renting An Apartment
first few years after you arrive in the U.S., renting an apartment rather
than buying a home may be a better option. Renting offers greater flexibility
so that if you need to move in order to take another job you won't need
to go through the time-consuming process of selling your home. Renting
now will also let you take your time to choose where you want to settle
may be better for:
with non-immigrant work visas, ie. H-1B workers and Corporate transferees
in a lower income and tax bracket
unfamiliar with an area
the costs of buying and renting a home, here is a useful calculator:
find an apartment, you may do several things:
for a rental agency in your city which has listings of available apartments.
Often you will need to apply for a set fee, $35-$50 in order to receive
regular listings from them.
in the classifieds section of your Sunday newspaper under "apartments
for rent". The larger newspapers usually feature separate listings
for furnished and unfurnished units.
online services like Move.com, Apartments.com, ForRent.com & Craigslist.orgwhich let
you browse available apartments in large multi-unit complexes.
survey the apartment property you might be interested in and its surrounding
neighborhood before making an appointment to make sure the unit looks
safe and presentable, and is in a good neighborhood. Make sure it is
close to transportation and shopping, especially if you have to use
public transportation. Check the terms of the lease - is it one year,
six months or month-to-month?
have narrowed down your choices, you can make an appointment to view
the apartment with the landlord, agent or representative by calling
the number of the appropriate contact.
Compile a personal and professional resume(cv)
to bring to the appointment, You may find yourself in a one-on-one situation
with the landlord or in a large group of competing tenants milling around
the apartment. In any case, dress appropriately (casual but neat dress)
and be ready to "sell" yourself in a competitive market.
to bring to the appointment:
- a professional
- a personal
Be on time for your appointment, and call ahead if you need to cancel.
In general in the U.S. it is better to call than to simply miss an appointment.
to Inspect the Apartment:
a mental or written list of problems you see need fixing.
a preliminary checklist:
that the plumbing works properly in both the kitchen and the bathroom.
try all the faucets and the toilet to check for problems like low
any strange or objectionable smells - animal urine, for example, may
be quite difficult to erase from a carpet
in the carpet and the walls
or chipping paint
around and under the sink areas
sure the blinds work properly
the hallway and entrance lit properly for safety?
How secure is the building? Many apartments have buzzers or doormen
- If you
own a car: Is there enough parking nearby? In some cities like San
Francisco, it is nearly impossible to park on the street.
through your checklist, if you decide you still want the apartment but
want to negotiate any repairs, you may give the landlord a list of things
you would like to have fixed.
apartment market is very tight, you may want to hold off on certain
items until later in order to increase your chances of getting the apartment.
Even in this type of market, make sure you look at least two or three
different apartments before settling on one that's less than ideal.
you sign a lease, make sure you have a signed acknowledgement by the
landlord of existing problems with the apartment so you don't end up
paying for repairs you did not cause.
"Go with your gut" - it is better to forgo an apartment if
you have an inkling the landlord might be disagreeable. This may end
up costing you money, time and possible legal battles down the line,
Use your gut to weed out future problems.
ask for both first month's and last month's rent and a security deposit
to cover any minor damages or cleaning costs that you might incur. This
is to insure them against tenants "skipping out" before finishing
of the security deposit should be no more than one or two months' rent.
Most states (including Florida, Texas and New York) have no legal maximum,
but a few, like California, do - two months rent (waterbeds are more).
Maximums allowed under the law may be found in individual state statutes,
found at nolo.com's online legal encyclopedia: http://www.nolo.com/encyclopedia/articles/lt/lt1.html
>> Info on how to get your security deposit back (Nolo Press)
finish your lease you are entitled to receive your security
deposit back along with the interest made from the deposit in a
timely fashion, usually within two to four weeks.
Deadlines for All 50 States: http://nolo.com/encyclopedia/articles/lt/deadlines.html
Books and Links:
Tenant Legal Rights Kit:
Legal Guide: http://www.nolo.com/product/EVTEN/summary_EVTEN.html?t=01750MPTB03202000
Landlord and Tenant Page, Nolo Press: http://www.nolo.com/category/lt_home.html
have a six-month or a year lease, the landlord may not raise your rent
unless it is specified in the lease. If you have a month-to-month lease,
the landlord may raise the rent as long as you are given at least 30
days' written notice.
states - California, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey
and New York - have rent control statutes limiting rent increases. Check
your local rent stabilization board or city hall clerk to find a copy
of your city's statute.
York Rent Stabilization Laws: http://www.tenant.net/Rent_Laws/
Rent guidelines (how much can rent increase?): http://www.housingnyc.com/
York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal:
Resource Directory (Useful info for tenants and landlords in California
HUD California guide: