With more people renting than buying, and occupancy rates continue to escalate, being an apartment hunter in the Boston rental market is no easy task - especially if you're battling with students who come in droves almost every quarter. In fact, the rental occupancy rate in the city was a whopping 85% last year, the highest it's been in four years. And when the rental market starts squeezing renters with limited availability, renters tend to take units that they might not otherwise consider.
Instead, renters need to focus on what amenities they want, and start thinking about those amenities with price tags. For example, expect to pay an extra $60-$80 a month for an apartment who's less than half a mile away from a bus or subway stop. Everyone has a different set of priorities and preferences, some people are willing to pay a hefty premium for a patio, and some are the exact opposite. What we'd advice is for you to know what you want and make sure you're not overpaying for features.
More importantly, renters also need to remember the little things, like asking about cell phone reception (be sure to test it out) and whether the windows actually open and close. Unlike home buyer walk-throughs before closing, there are no inspections for renters, so treat any showing as if you're inspecting the unit. Don't forget these ten questions, which in our experience, renters often forget to ask:
How's your cell phone signal? You don't want to be forced to have all phone conversations while hanging out your window or the one tiny corner where you manage to pick up a signal.
How big are the rooms, really? Bring a measuring tape. You and the leasing agent or landlord may have different opinions on what room size comfortably fits a queen size bed.
How's the water pressure? Don't forget to ask the follow up, including is the shower pressure weak? How long does it take for the water to get hot in the morning?
Is the rental noisy? Be quiet for a minute and listen for ambient noise, such as weird fans, generators, barking dogs, loud trucks, trains or noisy neighbors.
How is the view? Are there enough windows to provide you with the natural light you want? If the curtains are closed, pull them open to check out the view. You might not want your living room overlooking your neighbor's bathroom.
Is the air fresh? If you're looking at a high rise or a garden unit, sometimes the windows can't open or open just a bit. Make sure you have enough fresh air.
How fast is that elevator? If there's an elevator, check the capacity. Is it single shaft or super slow? Are there separate elevators for garbage or taking your pet out?
What are the amenities? Get the details on amenity offered as part of the rent. For example, some buildings come with public areas or fitness facilities. Check the hours before you make the gym a deciding factor in your lease?
Who handles deliveries to the property? If there's no doorman or superintendent, what will happen to all those UPS or FedEx deliveries that come while you're at work?
What is the heating situation? Because people often rent during the summer, they neglect to ask about the heat, Lin said. Find out if the heating is individual or shared, such as an uncontrolled radiator, and find out the costs.
And here's a bonus question to ask: If you're renting a single family house instead of an apartment, you should ask who is responsible for maintaining the exterior of the property. Some landlords expect the tenants to mow the lawn and shovel the snow, while others do it themselves so they know the property is being maintained correctly. These responsibilities should be spelled out in the lease so there's never a question about who is supposed to do what.
Have a short memory? Download our 10 Often Forgotten Questions Renters Should Ask here, and bring it the next time you go apartment hunting. Contact us now to see what apartments we have in store for you! Call (617) 505-1781 now!