You’ve Signed Your Lease, Now What?

a fountain pen and a signature on yellow paper. symbolic photo fYou have already found the perfect apartment and you’ve signed the paperwork. There are still a lot of things you need to consider, and time is most likely not on your side – especially if you’re moving in the next couple of weeks. So, it is time to prioritize and get certain to-do’s off your list before the moving day.

Schedule the Move

This is the first and most important thing on your to-do list. Everything will depend on when you move – utilities, etc. So, set the date and make sure you clear it with your new apartment. Some apartments don’t allow moving on certain days (such as no moving on a Sunday).

Set Up Cable

If you plan on having cable or satellite at the new apartment and it’s not included in the rent, you are going to need to set it up before you move. Some companies have a back log of up to two weeks, so now is the time to schedule. Call and schedule an appointment, but don’t have them come on moving day – the last thing you need to deal with is a cable installation while trying to unload boxes.

Don’t Forget Internet

In most cases you can get internet through your cable TV provider, but if you are doing satellite TV, you might need internet from a different company. Set up the appointment as soon as you can, since some internet providers can take days to bring out the equipment and set up your new account.

Set Up Electricity, Water and Gas

Water might be included in your monthly rent, but if it’s not, you need to call the city and let them know the water should be turned on. This might require you to go down to the city physically to fill out a form (since not all areas use online services). Also, you’ll want to start your natural gas and electricity accounts if they aren’t included in your rent.

Change Your Address

Now that you have utilities set up and out of the way, you need to change your address. Contact the Department of Motor Vehicle and change your address for your driver’s license. Not doing so could result in a fine, so do this right away. Next, contact all of your credit cards and banks to change your address. You may have to go through a verification system to change your address, which could take a few days. Last, change your address with the post office. This will automatically reroute any mail you forgot to your new address.

Moving to a new place is a lot more than just packing some boxes and scheduling a moving van. You need to be prepared for the move and that means take a few days or weeks before to get everything set up. The more you do ahead of time, the less panicked and stressed you’ll be on moving day.

Apr 2014
POSTED IN Legal Tips

How Much Money Do You Need to Rent Your First Apartment?

House In Hands Of BusinessmanMoving into your own place is a new adventure. You are in charge of your day, what furniture you have, and you’re finally on your own. But, before you start hunting for your own place, you need to consider the finances. The rental market is pretty tight, and vacancies aren’t as high as they used to be. That means you’ll need to start saving, especially if you want a prime spot downtown.

Get Your Income Straight

You need a steady income if you want to get your own apartment. This isn’t just for your benefit, but most apartment managers require proof of a steady income before they will even give you the apartment. You not only need to have a constant flow of cash, but you need to make sure you have enough left over after rent to pay for other things. The best way to tell how much rent you can afford each month is to take your monthly income and divide it by three. The result is how much, maximum, you can pay each month in rent. So, if you make $1,000 per month, you don’t want a rental payment over $333 per month.

Remember the Security Deposit

Most apartments require a security deposit to hold the apartment and prove you’re capable of paying the rent. Some have a fixed fee, such as $500, while others charge first and last month’s rent. Contact some of the apartment complexes you’re considering and see how much they want for a security deposit. In some cases you might need your first and last month’s rent, plus a security deposit. And, all of that is due the day you want to sign the lease.

Moving Costs

Most people forget about the moving costs. But, it is likely you will need a moving truck or you need to hire a full-service mover. Start pricing these services. If you are going to rent a moving truck, expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $200 for a local rental. If you are thinking of hiring a full-service mover, you could pay a few thousand dollars.


Unless you have lived on your own before, you are going to need to purchase some furniture for the new space. This might include dining room chairs and table, couches or even a new bed. Price out the items you need and start saving. While you don’t have to buy them before you move, it wouldn’t be fun to have your own space without a couch.


Some utilities require you to pay a month ahead – such as internet and cable. So you will want to save for these expenses before you move. Expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $300 per month depending on everything you add.

So How Much Should You Save?

  • Your First and Last Month’s Rent
  • Your Security Deposit
  • Furniture
  • Moving Costs
  • Utility Deposits
Apr 2014

To Renew or Not to Renew? Tips for Deciding If You Should Renew Your Lease

rentalsYour lease is coming to an end soon, and now you’re wondering if you should renew or not. Sometimes it’s an easy answer, but other times you’re not sure whether or not it is the right choice. If you’re on the fence as to whether or not you need to renew, use these tips to help you decide.

How’s the Rental Market?

You might want to relocate, but what are your options? The rental market is just like the housing market – has its ups and its downs. So, you might not have a lot of open apartments to choose from. If, however, there are plenty of vacancies and you have your pick of the litter, then moving somewhere new might be a good option.

What Are the Rates Like?

Rental rates can vary. Take a look at how much you’re paying now and how much you’ll pay if you move. You might be surprised at how little or how much you’re paying where you’re at now. Also, see if your landlord plans on raising your rate if you renew.

Think About Why You Want to Move

Create a list of your likes and dislikes. What reasons are motivating you to move somewhere else? Are the dislikes something you can live with or are they more severe (such as safety issues)? Some dislikes are ones you may just have to live with, such as not having an elevator.

Are You Currently Living With a Roommate?

Eventually you’ll get to a point where living with a roommate is no longer feasible. If you’re tired of your roommate situation, moving out and getting a place of your own is a viable option. But, keep in mind that if you move out and get a place of your own, you will have to pay more rent and utilities each month – so make sure there is money in your budget for that type of expense.

Do You Have Any Spare Money in the Budget?

You will pay more upfront to move no matter what. Even if you’re saving on rent, you have the costs of switching utilities, paying a new security deposit, and the cost of moving itself. So, make sure you have some spare money for a move before you even consider doing it.

On the flip side of that argument, you may have more money each month now than you did when you got your first apartment. Maybe you switched jobs or got a raise, so you can afford to move – regardless of the added costs for the month.

It is up to you whether or not it is time to renew. Just sit down and think about what you really want and see what’s right for you.

Apr 2014

10 Things to Ask Before Signing Your Lease

signing a leaseYou have found that perfect apartment. Everything looks great, you love the location and you’re ready to sign. But, wait, have you read what you are signing? Before you sign your lease, there are 10 questions you should ask your property manager and have solid answers to.

1. How do you handle emergency repair situations?

Not all apartments offer emergency repair services. You may have to wait for the next business day or contact an emergency repair service on your own. Therefore, you will want to work this out first before signing.

2. Can you enter my apartment without notice? What situations would allow this?

You don’t have anything to hide, but it is nice to know when a property manager will enter your apartment without telling you. While you might not own it, you have the right to some privacy.

3. Will you show the apartment before I move out?

This is important. If your lease is about to end and you aren’t renewing it, how do they show the unit? You don’t want strangers walking through your apartment while you’re still there.

4. How much notice do you need before I move out?

This should be in your lease, but you also want to clarify it with the property manager. Some places require 15 days’ notice while others can require up to 60 days.

5. What are the rules about subletting?

These days it is hard to find an apartment building that lets you sublet. So, if you can’t finish out the lease or need to get rid of the apartment, you might be in a bind. Find out the rules for subletting before you sign the lease.

6. What alterations can I make to the unit?

Some places will let you paint a wall, while others won’t even let you hang pictures or put any nail holes in the wall. Find out what alterations are allowed and what alterations could reduce how much of your security deposit (if any) you get back at the end of the lease.

7. Are you planning any construction or updates to the units?

This is important. You don’t want to be relocated or deal with loud construction that you didn’t know about.

8. What utilities am I responsible for?

Some apartments cover a lot of utilities, others will only cover the cost of sewage. You want to know how much you have to pay for your unit and how much of your rent goes to utilities.

9. How do I earn my security deposit back?

Find out how you get your security deposit back and what situations could cause you to not get it back.

10. How do you keep the apartments and tenants safe?

You want to know what your managers do to keep you and your possessions safe. Do they have security cameras? Do they do background checks on new tenants? If you want to feel secure where you live, this is important to ask.

Apr 2014
POSTED IN Legal Tips

Five of the Best Los Angeles Areas to Rent In That You Don’t Know About

Downtown Los Angeles As Seen From MacArthur ParkThe rental rates are on the rise in Los Angeles, but not everywhere. Regardless of how much you’re paying, you want an area that is great to live in — not just save you money. Los Angeles is vast and has plenty of neighborhoods to offer. But, it is all about finding those that have entertainment, accessibility and affordability.

North Hollywood

North Hollywood is part of the valley region of LA. While it doesn’t look like it has much to offer, it does have some affordable places to rent. In the NoHodistrict, you can rent next to the up and coming places of LA, including the art district, amazing theaters and some of the best galleries LA has to offer. And, you might be able to get a one bedroom, one bath unit for under $1,000.


The name makes it sound really expensive, but you would be surprised at how affordable Westlake is. This area is cutting-edge and it is growing fast, so now is the time to lock in a good rate if you want to be here when it explodes. You’ll find some of the best cuisine in Korea Town and if you are a night owl, the nightlife in Westlake is some of the best in LA. You’ll find apartments and townhouse apartments that are affordable too — for under $1200.

St. Andrews Square

St. Andrews Square got a bad reputation a long time ago, but it is the place to be if you want affordable rent and something to do. West of Third Street you run into this small area of LA that is low crime (compared to most regions in the area) and borders some of the nicer regions of LA. Consider it a go-between. You have access to the best food, shopping and everything in between here, and the rent won’t kill your budget.

Wilshire Vista

This thriving community features old school apartments that have been renovated, taco stands and cafes that you won’t find anywhere else in the area. If you are a foodie, this is the place you want to relocate to. And, it isn’t a budget-breaker. You are likely to find a one-bedroom apartment at an affordable rate and three bedroom, two bath duplexes are just a little over $2,000 per month.

Del Rey

This area is LA’s best-kept secrets on the west side. Most people don’t realize everything Del Rey has to offer — until they move there. You’ll find affordable rent and you’re just a mile away from the beach — making it a prime location.

Apr 2014