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Is there somewhere to get rental assistance?

Is there somewhere to get help making rental payments?

I am having trouble making rent. Is there help?

There are lots of renters having trouble paying rent. Many are looking for some kind of assistance in paying that rent. The problem is that rental help or assistance is difficult to find or non-existent. We all see homeowners getting all kinds of assistance with their mortgages and we feel that it would be nice to get some help paying our rent. We have gone through the same economic downturn with the same financial problems and now many of us actually have to pay higher rents.

While there is assistance if you are looking at Section 8 and some towns, counties or cities that may have some cheaper affordable housing outside of that options are limited. Try to contact the following organizations to see if help exists;

Local non-profit housing agencies

Town or City agencies in charge of housing

HUD.gov – while this is federal the website provides a lot of information to tenants

Local charitable organizations

Local religious organizations

If you are unable to find help it is best to talk to your landlord and explain the problems you are having. He may allow you some additional time to pay your rent or maybe even reduce it if you have been a good tenant over a number of years. As soon as you realize you are or will have trouble paying your rent you should reach out for assistance or your landlord.

 

 

 

Should I use a broker to find a rental?

Should I use a broker to find a rental premises?

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a Broker

Do you need to use a broker to find a rental property? There are advantages and disadvantages to using a broker to find a rental property. The biggest disadvantage is that you may have to pay a fee. If you are like me you hate paying a broker for anything, that with a little work I can get for free. One other possible disadvantage is that they deal with or have relationships with landlords that require them to do background checks, such as credits checks and looking into references. While that may not be an issue for some people, with the economy over the last few years, many of us have some items on our credit report that could hurt our chances of getting a rental property.

The next issue I have with real estate agents is that I have found many of them to be extremely dishonest. They will do whater is necessary to get you to sign the lease even if it may not be in your best interests or that they may have left out some significant information regarding the rental premises. After you sign a lease your recourse is usually limited. Always try to get some references for any real estate agent you use.

Another downside to using a broker is that they may requests upfront fees. Do not pay any upfront fees to a real estate broker. If they find you a place they may want to charge you an application and credit report fee and that is fine. While we all hate fees these you may not be able to avoid if you want the property in question.

Also, a scam going on today is that someone will list a property, as a broker or owner, and meet you there to show it to you. They will request a month of security deposit which some people will pay. The problem is that these people actually do not own the property and are not brokers. It may be a foreclosed upon home or just one that is actually for rent and this scammer knows this. While this is difficult to check out you can go to local property records and see who the recorded owner is.

So there are some advantages to using a broker. You have someone doing the leg work for you and they should only be finding rental properties with landlords that they either know or might know some background on. So a good broker will know what is available and what  would be a good fit for you. There are also some landlords that only use brokers so if you want that specific property you have no choice but to use one and with some landlords they will actually pay the brokers so you have no fee involved. 

A good realtor, which is very hard to find, can be a vast source of knowledge on the local rental market and be of extreme use when fing a new house or apartment to live in.

If you want to do this on your own and avoid any possible fee, you should try local resources first. Local newspapers or pennysaver are a great source of rentals. Craigslist is another. If you know of a neighborhood you like drive through and see if you see any signs for rental properties. If you are diligent you can usually find a place without a broker. I just had to find a new home and used the local pennysaver and found one. The market where I am is kind of tight and it was hard to find a house in the cheap price range I was looking for. When I did find it I had to move very quickly because if I had not there were numerous other renters interested in it.

 

Can I use my security deposit for my last month’s rent?

Can I use my security deposit for my last month’s rent?

What can a landlord do if I use my security deposit for last months’s rent?

Many tenants want to know if they can use their security deposit to pay their last month of rent. At the end of a rental term many tenants and renters may need some extra cash to get another rental property and wonder if they can use their security deposit for the last month of rent. From a legal standpoint you are not allowed to do this even though many people do. I have done it on numerous occasions and the landlord could not do much about it. You do open yourself up to potential legal and financial liability, and you should always ask a lawyer what you can be liable for because every state is different.

So let’s say you are not going to pay last month’s rent and you tell the landlord. Where you need to be careful is to make sure you are leaving the rental premises in the condition you found it minus normal wear and tear. A security deposit in most instances is to compensate the landlord for any unpaid rent, fees, charges or damage done to the property. Many tenants believe they are leaving the property the way they found it, but that is not always the case. You should get the apartment professionally cleaned if possible and remove everything from the property including any garbage. If there are items that you broke, fix them.

TAKE PICTURES OF THE WHOLE RENTAL PROPERTY. You may need them later if the landlord claims you caused damaged to the premises. If you follow these steps the landlord will generally not have any recourse to come back after you unless you live in one of the few states that prohibit this.

Also make sure you give the landlord the proper amount of notice when you are leaving as prescribed by the lease or your state law. There is a timeframe usually within your lease, or prescribed by law, dictating the amount of time you must provide notice for when you are leaving a rental property. If you have a year lease which just terminates at the end of lease term no notice is necessary, but it is always good to let the landlord know when you are moving out. The best course of action would be to bring the landlord in before you leave to do walk through the premises with you. This also gives you a chance to fix anything the landlord claims you damaged. While you may not want to do this because you are using the security deposit for the last month of rent, if you can you should. Also make sure you return your keys.

If there is no damage to the rental premises and you do not owe the landlord for any additional fees or charges you can probably get away with using the security deposit as the last month’s rent. If this is not the case the landlord will probably file an action in court to recover damages and it will look bad for you that you did not pay the last month of rent.

There are a few states where it is strictly prohibited (using security deposit as last month’s rent) so you always need to be careful and consult an attorney or local housing agency, if possible, or review your state law.

 

Does my credit score matter when I rent?

Does my credit score matter when I rent?

Will a Landlord Pull My Credit When I Rent? 

Does my credit score matter when I am going to rent an apartment? This is a great question and many times it will determine whether you get a rental property or not. Many landlords or brokers will require a credit report from prospective tenants. They will look at your score and for any negative items on your report. If you are chronically late on payments that affect your credit score, your chances of getting a rental property with some landlords will be slim.

There are a few ways you can prepare for this or try to get around it:

If you have had a legitimate setback try to explain it before they pull your credit report. Ask you current landlord if they will give you a reference. If you always paid your rent on time they may overlook the credit report. You can also provide them with paystubs so they can verify you can pay the rent.

Another way around this is to have someone with good credit guarantee the lease. This will almost always work so if you have someone willing to do this for you, keep it in mind. Any person who guarantees a lease should be made aware that if you break the lease they can be responsible for any damages claimed by the landlord.

Finally, you can always offer the landlord a few more months’ rent as a security deposit. While most potential tenants do not have this much money it is another way to get around providing a credit report or having to provide a negative one.

The best way to avoid a bad credit report issue when you are trying to rent is to find a landlord that does not pull credit. There are still many that don’t. If you are using a broker most of the time they will be working with landlords who require a credit report and references so you may want to avoid this route. The landlords that do not pull credit are mostly small landlords that may only own one rental property. A good place to look for these is local newspapers and sites such as Craigslist. Many times it will say if they do a background check or not.

The best way to avoid this problem is to make sure you make payments (credit cards, car, student loans, and other installment loans) on time to avoid any negative reporting on your credit report. You should also check your credit every year to make sure there are no incorrect items that are hurting your credit score. You are entitled to one free credit report a year and you allowed to challenge any item you believe to be inaccurate by writing to the credit bureaus challenging the specific item in question. They have an obligation to confirm that the derogatory credit item is actually yours and if it is not they must remove it.

 

 

Top 5 Reasons to Keep Renting

Top 5 Reasons to Keep Renting

Why Renting is Better Than Buying

For many people renting is better than buying a home. We hear so much about how buying is better but for many people renting is the better choice. If you had purchased or refinanced a home in the last 10 years you would probably be underwater. You would have lost any down-payment you put down and all the money you put into a home. You may have ended up in a shortsale or unable to get rid of your home and have lost it to foreclosure. So here are 5 reasons renting is better:

 

1. Since 2006 housing prices have on average declined 26% and in some areas the declines were substantially more.

 

2. Approximately 25% of homeowners are currently underwater (homes are worth less than the mortgage).

 

3. 3 million homes have already been foreclosed upon since 2006 and it will be a few million more before the crisis is over.

 

4. Average yearly maintenance on a home is $3,300 (1-3% of purchase price every year and many years it will cost a lot more).

 

5. The average time to sell a home is 10.3 months.

 

So chances are that if you owned a home you would owe more than the value of the property or at least have very little equity in the home. Also don’t forget about the headaches. If you rent and your boiler goes you don’t have to pay for it. If and when the home needs a new roof that is not your obligation. KEEP ON RENTING.

 

Rents are rising!

Rents are rising!

Why and what does it mean to renters?

In the January Zillow Real Estate Market Reports, that was just released, there is now included the Zillow Rent Index (ZRI) which allows them to compare the rental yearly performance between different areas.  It shows that rents have risen in nearly 70 percent of the metropolitan areas covered by them and only about 7.3 percent of the metropolitan areas showed declines.

Why is this happening? The rental market usually moves in the inverse or opposite direction of the homeowner market. Over the last number of years so many people purchased homes that the rental market took a hit with renters enjoying lower rents and more options. Today we are faced with a significant foreclosure problem that still has a number of years to work itself out. With so many people losing their homes it is only a natural byproduct that rent would increase. While this is a very simplistic way at looking at the increase in rents and their are many other factors, this is one of the main contributors.

What does this mean to all of us? It means that for the foreseeable future rents will probably rise putting a squeeze of all of us that rent. It will mean less options or choices with less ability to negotiate with landlords. It is never easy for us but if you are diligent there are still great places to rent with prices not yet too high. You may want to consider a multi-year lease if you plan on staying in the same place for a number of years or to ask your landlord to put a provision in a current lease that allows for a small yearly increase if you were to stay for a numbers of years. Even with rents rising this is still in the landlord’s best interest. Landlords may lose rent when units turnover and it is always good to keep a great tenant.