Tag Archives: find

Tenants – Make your apartment search easier!

Looking for an apartment?  Having been a tenant myself, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed in the search!  For example: Where do you start the search?  What are the most effective ways to find a new place?

Here are some tips and tricks to minimize hassle, get access to as many options as possible, and rent the apartment you want!

  • 1. Figure out “What you’re looking for”

Do you know what you want?  Being an Admin for the Nassau County for Rent group, I see vague, nondescript requests often. (How can we find what we’re looking for, if we don’t KNOW what we’re looking for?)

So – the first thing to do is to determine what would we like to have in terms of:

– Number of bedrooms & bathrooms (easy)

– Max monthly budget : Renting for the first time and unsure of what’s a “safe” budget?  Take your monthly income and multiply it by 0.35.  This is a common “safe number” or ratio between housing expenses vs monthly income.

– Target towns / areas for the apartment : Be as thorough as possible.  The more specific town names you have, the easier the search will be!

– Pets permitted : Do you have to bring a pet with you?  If so, seriously think about this question – most properties DO NOT allow pets of any kind, so by having / bringing a pet, a huge number of properties are no longer available as an option.

  • 2. Have ready and on hand “what you have to offer” 

Unlike buying an off-the-shelf item, apartments are a limited commodity, and their availability is generally controlled by its landlord or apartment manager.  To maximize your chances of securing the apartment you want – it pays to be prepared BEFORE starting the search!  Here are some items to prep before / while searching for the ideal apartment:

– a. How is your credit?
(i.e. Can you show that you will pay on time?)

This will be one of the most commonly asked questions in your apartment search.  Most landlords these days will likely require a credit check- so it’s in your best interest to check it BEFOREHAND!  Learn how by clicking / reading here:

Tenants : Why you need to check your credit – and how to do it for FREE (No Credit Card, No BS)!

By having your credit report ready and on hand, you’ll help improve your chances of success and cut down the time required to find the right place!

– b. How much do you earn per month/year?
(i.e. Can you prove that you can afford this place?)

Along the same lines as the credit report, have your last 2-3 pay stubs handy!  These will show your income, which many landlords use as a measure of ability to pay.

As a general rule of thumb, some landlords target to a 35 percent gross income to housing ratio. (What this means is:  Say if you make $1000 per month. Of that $1000. landlords would generally would not want their renter to to spend more than $350 per month on rent.)

Note that not all landlords use this calculation as a qualifier, so it may not be a big deal. However, keep in mind that you’ll likely be competing against others for the same apartment – so targeting apartments that fit into this ratio will help you “win” the search!

– c. Are your funds for rental & security deposits liquid and ready to move?
(i.e. Can you sign the lease, or should the landlord keep looking?)

Time is money – so landlords & PMs hate having an unoccupied unit.  If you fit the landlord’s bill for credit & income requirements – the last hurdle would be getting funds ready to sign the lease!

If you don’t have your funds ready yet, seriously consider postponing.  Otherwise, you may find it all in vain if you find the perfect place – but it was passed along to someone else since the funds aren’t available to secure the place.

How much should we save?  Typically, landlords would expect 1 month’s rent + 1 month security (2 months total).  If you’re using an agent, add another month for their commission (3 months’ total).  Some areas may require 1st and last month’s rent + security (3 months total + agent, if applicable).

  • 3. Start your search, and narrow down the list

Got the criteria above figured out?  Awesome!  It’s now time to  start looking!  This article by yours truly covers the topic nicely:

Top FREE resources for finding your next apartment

Best of luck in the search!

Top FREE resources for finding your next apartment

Ready to start your apartment search?  Here’s a list of some great websites to start the search online – from the comfort of your chair!

Craigslist – Click on ‘Apts / Housing’
Yahoo! – https://homes.yahoo.com/
RentBits – Click on ‘Rental Search’
AOL Real Estate
Oodle – Click on “For Rent” to filter out item sales
BackPage.com – Click on your location, then “Rentals” category
Geebo – Click on “Rentals/Roomates”
Yakaz –  Note: This is a compilation search engine
Trovit – Click on “Homes” (Note: This is a compilation search engine)

(Listing updated July 11, 2015)

Alright – with all the resources above, have you found a bunch of potential options yet?  If not, or if you want even more options, consider your local:

Pennysaver / Town Crier / Newspapers:  Some small, non-PC savvy landlords still do advertise – don’t dismiss it!

Supermarket bulletin boards : Like print media ads, non-PC savvy landlords may also use a local bulletin board.

Real Agent : Help the apartment you want FASTER with help!

“Whoa – an Agent?  I may have to pay for that!”

Alot of people write off the help of an agent because of the cost associated.  However, having known many landlords – one should be aware that the best properties may NEVER be offered / shown as an option online – and these places would ONLY be available behind these Gatekeepers.   If the search doesn’t go well – seriously consider working with a Real Agent!  You may find that the number of available option can DOUBLE – since you now have access to many more “private” listings.

Tenants : Why you need to check your credit – and how to do it for FREE (No Credit Card, No BS)!

These days, more and more landlords are relying on credit checks for potential applicants before any lease offer is made.  Thus, it’s absolutely critical that one checks their credit report, fix any mistakes / errors, and be prepared to explain any negative remarks when hunting for an apartment!

I’m sure you’ve seen the plethora of “Free Credit Check Offers” that promise a free credit report… but once you visit those sites they invariably ask you for credit card information to “sign you up for a free trial, which turns into a 4.99/9.99/19.99 subscription if you forget to cancel!”


Here are two places where you can get a REAL credit report for FREE (Yes – you can put away your credit cards):

  1. AnnualCreditReport.com
    This is the first and ONLY site set up by the big three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, & Transunion) in the United States, to furnish free annual credit reports, as required by federal law.  Accept no imitators (well, maybe except CreditKarma – see below).  A full discussion on AnnualCreditReport.com can be found by clicking here.
  2. CreditKarma.com
    Unlike AnnualCreditReport.com, you’ll get your FICO credit score. This site’s business model is ad-based, so how they make their money is to send emails / offers to your inbox.  Just set your junk mail filters carefully – and all will be well!  A full discussion on CreditKarma can be found by clicking here.

OK, so we’ve got our credit reports – what now?

Once you have the report, PDF/save/print it, and be prepared to submit it along with any apartment application.  (Note: Most landlords will still want to confirm the info provided & get an independent credit report – expect this to happen, as this is perfectly normal.)

If you have good-excellent credit: Great news!  Having this info available on demand will put you ahead of the pack!

Conversely – if the credit reports show up blemishes, review it now/see why it is, & make sure it’s accurate! (Wrong / bad info can often be corrected.)  If the negative remarks are accurate, be prepared to explain how the issues happened – and what you can offer to the decision maker (either landlord or property manager / “PM”) to help guarantee against late / non-payments from occurring again.  (i.e. You’ll need to convince the decision maker that payment problems won’t happen.)

Hint: Have fair, bad, no credit?  A possible work around is to offer additional months of security (that are refundable after a certain amount of time passing with on time payments) and/or higher than asking rents may do the trick. (Doesn’t always work though – but the worse they can say is “no!”)

Best of luck in the search!