Much like New York City or San Francisco, the Boston rental market is very fragmented. Because these cities are hundreds of years old, small and large landlords are forced to purchase a few at a time and rarely are the properties located close to each other. As opposed to area’s like Atlanta that have land to build apartment complexes. Atlanta is an old and wonderful city, but it still has open land for larger corporations to put up 300 units at a time.
Ok, you need to find a place in Boston. First, what is your budget? Because like NY and San Fran, Boston is expensive. Second, what part of Boston? Where do you work, go to class, workout, shop and where’s your favorite watering hole? Do you own a car? Parking can be a problem or very expensive in certain areas, Beacon Hill, the North End, Brookline, Back Bay or South End. If you have to live in one of these areas, add $150-$200 per month to the budget, if you can find a spot to rent. Your car insurance will also be higher in these areas too if you’re not parking where you live.
If you have a car and don’t need to drive to work: Personally, I think Boston’s public transportation is pretty good compared to other cities. You have the T (subway) buses and express buses as well as the commuter rail to get down town. And I believe that the T still offers monthly passes.
Apartments & Pets:
Pet is a four letter word in Boston-period. I’ve heard that NY is more pet friendly than Boston and my guess is that it’s true. If you have a dog, you WILL have a hard time finding a place. If you own a large dog or a dog on insurance companies list of breeds they will not cover, it may feel close to impossible to find a place. Some of these breeds include: Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans, German Shepherds, wolf hybrids and St. Bernard’s. If you do find a place that permits your pet do not be surprised if you have to pay more per month, are required to pay a security deposit and show proof of a renters insurance policy. Even though statistics show that renters with pets stay longer, pay more and are more responsible, this is how pets are viewed by landlords in this area.
Apartment Rental Applications:
We use RHA form applications. Most applications will ask for your basic information; name, address, social security for the credit check, current/former landlord & employer, emergency contact and personal reference. Applications also require employment information, like how long you’ve been there and yearly income. The owner needs to confirm that you can indeed afford to pay for the apartment. Depending on your other bills, your rent should not be more than thirty-five percent of your monthly income. We require a earnest deposit consisting of the first month’s rent and the RE fee to be submitted with a completed/signed application in order to process the application. This is not uncommon with applying for an apartment because the owner will not want to stop showing the apartment until someone shows serious interest by putting down a deposit.
Fees and Deposits:
These answers are based on laws within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (and may vary in other states) and Federal Fair Housing Laws. And on the standard practices of Newton Centre Associates, other offices may use different policies:
How much is the security deposit?
In Massachusetts, a security deposit amount is equal to a month’s rent, but not more.
What is the security deposit for?
A security deposit is held by the owner for any physical or financial damages caused by the tenant.
What’s the difference between a security deposit and last month’s rent?
In the eyes of the law, a lot! Last month’s rent is the owners money, they are permitted to deposit into their own bank account. If the tenant stays longer than a year, and the owner does not put the money into a separate account, the owner must pay interest on the account. A security deposit is the tenant’s money and the owner is a “custodian” of the funds.
Can I offer the owner a year’s rent up front to negotiate a lower rent?
You can offer it but the owner is not allowed to accept it. An owner cannot request or accept more than first month’s rent, last month’s rent and a one month security deposit and a key deposit in MA.
What questions are asked on a rental application?
The rental application we use it prepared by the Rental Housing Association and accepted by the MA AG’s office. Most rental applications will ask for your name, address, social security number, past and present landlord and employer, income, personal reference, and run a credit report on the applicant.
Why do I need to tell you how much I make annually?
Because the owner will need to determine if you can afford the apartment. Most owners will ask for income and employment history.
Why do you need a contact in case of an emergency?
Well, God forbid, but if the owner enters the apartment and the tenant is injured, after calling 911 any reasonable person would contact a family member or someone close to them.
Do I have to disclose my social security number?
Yes, we need the social security number in order to run a credit check on the applicant. All prospective tenants must complete and sign a RHA application and submit a deposit consisting of the first month’s rent and the tenant’s portion of the Brokers fee. All applicants are required to fill out the same application and submit a deposit, and this is for any and all applications.
Is there an application fee?
NO, here at NCA it will not cost you anything to apply for an apartment or for the credit check either. Even if the application is not accepted by the owner, it’s still a free service to you.
Do I need renter’s insurance?
You should have it! Yes, however many owners don’t require it in a lease. On property we manage, we do require renters insurance if the occupant has a pet/dog. I explain it like this to my customers: “if there is just a small electrical fire in the building and the smelly smoke gets into your bedroom closet, how much would it cost to replace all of the clothes in there?” A full year premium for renters insurance is around $150, for $35,000 worth of personal property at REPLACEMENT cost. Key word being replacement, that means the cost to replace an item, not what the item is worth at the time of the loss.