Common Mistakes New Renters Make

FirstTimeRookieMistakes_0326Renting an apartment is a great way to formulate your independence and prepare you for home ownership one day. It’s not just important to find an apartment you love or a property owner you get along with — it is about taking responsibility. Unfortunately, most renters assume there is no responsibility requirement for them — until they lose their security deposit or are kicked out. So if you’re new to renting, make sure you avoid these common new renter mistakes.

Going Crazy with Personalization

Yeah, it’s your apartment. But, if you spend hours and hundreds of dollars decorating, how much will that benefit you when you move out? Painting your apartment could be allowed, but some landlords require you to paint it back to a neutral color when you move out. All of those nail holes you put in the wall could be deducted from your security deposit too. So, keep the decorations simple and remember you’re just here during your lease — not forever.

Not Taking the Time to Secure Your Unit

You’re a renter, true, but you still own everything inside your apartment. Always lock your doors and make sure your windows are tight and secure. It’s not your property manager’s job to protect the inside of your apartment once you sign the lease — it’s your own.

Being Careless with Care of the Apartment

You might not have to replace the carpet or worry about stains on the counters— after all, you’re renting right? —But being careless with your unit will cost you big in the end. Not only could you lose your entire security deposit, but the landlord could take you to court for excess damages. Treat your apartment as if it were your own home.

Ignoring the Need for Renter’s Insurance

Renter’s insurance is ridiculously cheap — less than $10 per month. It is a necessity for anyone renting, because if your apartment is broken into, it’s on you; not the landlord. You take the time to insure everything else, so insure your personal belongings while you’re at it.

Not Doing Your Chores

Back when you lived with the folks, you had a list of chores and to-do’s that were monitored. It’s easy to let things go once you’re on your own. But, cleaning your apartment consistently will make it easier when it comes time to move out.

Not Notifying Your Manager About Issues

Got a leaky faucet? Dishwasher broke? If you don’t tell the property manager about these issues right away, they could hold you accountable for them. Report issues as soon as they occur and request repair so that you aren’t stuck with the bill.

If you’ve already committed one or a few of these rookie mistakes don’t worry. Now is the time to take responsibility for your new freedom, maintain your apartment, and prepare yourself for home-ownership one day.

30
Apr 2014
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Just Moved to Los Angeles? A Few Tips for Getting to Know the Area

forsalesignYou’re fresh into LA, welcome to southern California! The city of Los Angeles is really a package of multiple areas, which can make it quite intimidating if you’re not used to busy metropolitan areas. But, Los Angeles really isn’t too hard to figure out — as long as you know the basics. So, to help you get acquainted with your new neighborhood, we have a few tips for starting out in LA.

The Half Hour Rule

In Los Angeles, you can usually get from one end to the other in about a half hour. But, that’s when the freeways and streets are working in your favor. If you are trying to cross LA during rush hour, add a few hours to that mix to be more accurate. But, the good news is if you’re late in Los Angeles and just say it was traffic, most people understand.

Stick to the Streets — Avoid the Freeways

Los Angeles freeways — which are up to seven lanes wide in some areas of the city — are notorious for standing still during certain hours of the day. If you want to get anywhere, you’re better off staying on the city streets than hitting the highways. If traffic scares you or you just don’t like the idea of sitting at a standstill for long periods of time, then embrace walking — you’d be surprised how many Los Angeles natives walk everywhere they need to go.

No, You Really Won’t See Movie Stars

People come to Los Angeles with the assumption that they will see famous Hollywood actors at their local grocery store or they’ll accidentally bump into Cameron Diaz at Starbucks. No, it’s not true. Los Angeles has a booming population and the chances of you running into Hollywood’s finest in your neighborhood are slim to none — they have assistants to run errands for them. But, if you do happen to see one, use the proper etiquette and don’t bug them. Only the tourists bug actors out and about.

Weather, What Weather?

California is known for the consistent weather. If you’re worried about what you’re going to wear to work every day, keep it cool. California maintains a standard temperature of 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit on most days. Sure, they get the occasional chilly day, but these are few and far in between.

But, earthquakes are another story. They don’t have a season and they do hit unexpectedly. But, California has dozens of earthquakes every day you don’t feel — and the ones you do feel more like you’re rocking back and forth than a violent jolt.

Just Blend with the Rest of Us

In LA, it’s easy to spot someone that doesn’t belong. If you’re getting many looks on the streets or people are talking to you like a tourist, it’s time to change the way you look. You’ll notice most LA residents stick to jeans, t-shirts and sunglasses.

29
Apr 2014
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Four Things to Remember About Subletting Your Apartment

keys-and-handsThings happen and sometimes you just can’t stay in your apartment as long as you originally thought you would. Subletting is a great way to keep your apartment while you’re living somewhere else or traveling for an extended period of time. In most cases, subletting goes right without any hiccups. But there are those occasional times where it can go wrong. So, before you sublet, remember these four very important things.

You Should Be Picky — Always

This isn’t a roommate and you’re not buying a new dish set; you’re picking someone who will be renting your apartment, living in your space, and possibly taking care of your stuff (if you sublet with your furnishings too). So be as meticulous as possible with the process. Do your own background checks and don’t be shy about getting as much personal information as possible. Make sure the person has steady employment and can afford the rent too.

Does Your Lease Allow Subletting?

Some leases strictly prohibit any subletting. So, read the lease and make sure it’s a legal move. Whetheryou’re having someone permanently take over the lease or temporarily stay in your apartment, you don’t want to break the terms of your lease or any city codes. Breaking your lease could result in you being kicked out and not getting your security deposit back — or worse, legal action from your property owner.

Get Everything in Writing

You should always have a written agreement between you and the person you are subletting to. Make sure to cover not just the fact they are subletting, but additional details like:

  1. How the security deposit will be handled.
  2. The amount of monthly rent, when it is due and how it will be paid.
  3. The information of the person you are subletting to.
  4. The agreement between you and the original landlord.
  5. Who is responsible for what maintenance costs?

Document How You Leave the Apartment

Before your renter can move in, you need to document the current condition of the apartment. That means writing down any pre-existing damages, taking photographs of each room to documents the condition they were given in, etc. That way if the person you sublet to leaves damages, you have proof you were not responsible for those damages.

Subletting is a great way to get out of a lease, travel or relocate. But, you have to do it right. While you might have friends and family that want to sublet your place, make sure they’re responsible and take steps to protect yourself — after all, it is your name on the lease, so keep your name and credit secure.

28
Apr 2014
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How Long Does It Take to Find an Apartment Really?

Smiling couple sitting on the floor with laptop in the new apartYou already have the money saved up to move out, and you’re ready to start hunting for your first apartment. But, how long will the process take? If you’re not sure how long to expect, here is a general timeline to consider.

See What the Lead Time Is

A lead-time tells you how long from the time you find the apartment to the time you can move in. It’s unlikely you’ll find one today and move in tomorrow, but what is a reasonable move-in date? It depends on the area. In downtown Los Angeles, you might find apartments with leases about to end or a few vacant units. But, don’t just pick an apartment because you’re in a hurry — you might be stuck in a lease in an apartment you hate.

How Long Does It Take to Search?

You should try to spend at least two or three days searching for apartments and look through at least eight different units before picking one. If you can, devote a week to apartment hunting. That way you aren’t rushing through your walkthroughs or rushing to make a decision. Plus, you never know if a great new apartment will list mid-week.

Consider the Approval Time

Once you have picked out the apartment you like, you’ll go through an application process. This could take a few hours or a few days — depending on how the property manager sets up their application process. Most places do a background and credit check, they may also call your employer. So expect one to two business days for the approval process to finalize.

Scheduling Your Move-In Date

Even if the apartment is ready to move into tomorrow, do you really want to move that fast? Be realistic and think about how quickly you can move. You have work, school and other obligations, so where will moving fit in. Plus, if you need help, you need to give friends and family a few days’ notice. Set aside at least a week (or two) to pack and plan the move itself. The less rushed your move is, the less stressed you’ll be come moving day.

Conclusion

So how long does the process take? Depending on how fast you move, you could be in a new apartment in as little as two weeks or as long as a few months. But, ideally you should have your new place all said and done within four weeks.

There’s no rush to finding your new apartment — except the rush you create. Take your time, be savvy with your money, and make sure you’re signing for an apartment you really want to live in.

25
Apr 2014
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5 Benefits to Downsizing Your Long Beach Apartment Square Footage

couple at their new empty apartmentWhen you first signed for your apartment, you had big plans. So you wanted the extra square footage and the spare bedroom. But now that your lease is ending, it’s time to decide whether or not you should downsize or stay where you are. There are some surprising benefits to downsizing your apartment and if you’re on the fence, consider the benefits of getting a smaller place first.

You Save Money

In Long Beach, rental rates aren’t cheap. So if you’re looking to save some money each month, downsizing to a smaller apartment can do it. But, you’re not just saving on your rental payment each month — you’re also saving on utilities when you have a smaller apartment. If your rental insurance is based on square footage, you’ll save money there too. And, if you have been living on a tight budget, that extra savings could go a long way.

More Money Savings Means More Opportunities for You

Whenever you have more money in your budget, there are more opportunities. Perhaps you have been dying to go to more concerts, and now you have the extra cash to do so. Maybe you have wanted to join a gym, but didn’t have the cash. By reducing your rent and expenses, you can afford that gym membership — who knows maybe the smaller apartment unit will come with a community gym.

Your Chores Are Downsized Too

If you’re not the type that enjoys housework, you’re in luck. When you downsize your apartment, you also downsize your chore list. Instead of two bathrooms to clean, you just have one. Instead of a living room and dining room, you have one common living area to clean up. It’s simple: the less square footage you have, the less you have to clean.

It’s An Opportunity to Downsize the Clutter Too

It’s easy to stock up on clutter and useless items when you have the square footage to spare. But, if you downsize to a smaller unit you can use that opportunity to downsize the clutter too. You won’t make as many unnecessary purchases for your home either — because now that you are in a smaller unit, you won’t have the extra storage space for them. This may help you save money too.

Organization is a Breeze

Organizing a bigger space isn’t always easy. But, when you downsize and reduce the clutter, your organization becomes easier. Also, you’ll be forced to use more space-saving creativity when you do organize the new apartment.

If you have been on the fence about downsizing, consider the benefits. In Long Beach, the savings of moving from a two bedroom to a one bedroom could be considerable. 

24
Apr 2014
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