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If you have no credit history under your belt, then you understand how tricky it can be to get an apartment.
This especially resonates with college graduates with no rental history whatsoever.
You may be living alone but you still find yourself trying as hard as you can to squeeze more from your hard-earned income to raise the house rent.
Let’s face it; housing takes the most significant slice in any budget for specific people from different walks of life.
Fortunately, there are a couple of things you can do to find yourself a cost-effective lease, no matter where you go apartment-hunting. Here are ten ways to get an apartment with little money:
1. Don’t Waste Time (and Money) on Expensive Neighborhoods
You don’t have enough money so your last resort should, therefore, be to scour listings in pricy ZIP codes.
The obvious way to go to save money is to set your sights on a significantly more affordable home. If you honestly want to save even more, move to a recently established neighborhood, city, or state.
If you’re in a position to switch locations, you can potentially accelerate the rate of your savings while boosting your purchasing power all at once.
Living in a less expensive area will enable you to spend within your means and invest more of your paycheck.
You’ll pay extravagantly less for your rental home as well as your property taxes. Additionally, you’ll find it easier to keep up with the Joneses and still find it easy to accumulate wealth.
As you’ll get to find out in the course of your search, there’s more to finding a place to rent than just the cost.
When you settle in a neighborhood you can call home, consider essential factors such as the people and the climate.
If there are close friends and family nearby, the better. Choose a place you’ll be comfortable living in either for the short-term or the long-term.
The apartment you decide to move into will have a more significant effect on your financial success in the long-term. That exceeds almost every other factor. At times, how much you earn is also a factor you should put into consideration.
Finally, settle for an apartment that’s relatively close to where you work or go to school. You’ll do yourself a favor by walking, biking or taking the bus other than driving yourself there.
Choose an apartment that’s befitting of your lifestyle and everyday needs. Any real-estate agent or mortgage broker can give you the same advice.
2. Get Yourself a Guarantor
A guarantor is an individual (usually a family member like a parent) who takes it upon themselves to back your lease.
Often, the path to renting an apartment is paved with a significant number of obstacles. The mere task of securing a lease for any student can prove to be a daunting task.
Aside from students, some renters have been struggling with low income and poor credit scores. Such individuals automatically don’t qualify to rent an apartment.
Given that landowners require financially stable tenants who can pay their rent on time, you have to prove that you can meet each of these requirements.
If you find yourself in a tight fix such as this, your solution could very well come in the form of a guarantor.
Rent guarantors act as apartment co-signers who can vouch for applicants and be held legally responsible for any issue about the apartment. They act as a safety net in the event of any property damage or late rent payment.
Despite taking the title of a co-signer, guarantors don’t share apartments with the tenants they represent.
Moreover, most landowners sometimes require the guarantor to own their own home.
This is just a precautionary measure they have to take.
With house rents skyrocketing with each passing day, there’s nothing peculiar about renters who can’t afford an apartment let alone guarantor insurance.
In such a case, if you rent an apartment at $3,400 per month, you would need to raise a monthly income of a little over $10,000 to gain approval.
Your rent guarantor needs to have an annual income that’s 80 times what you pay for the rent. They will have to prove this by putting together financial documents in the form of pay stubs or tax returns for the apartment.
3. Leave a Good First Impression to Your Apartment Manager or Landlord
You have decided which apartment you want to move into.
Good for you.
Your next step will be to visit the apartment and introduce yourself as an interested party to the owner.
Before handing over the keys to the apartment, landlords like to know the kind of potential renters they’re dealing with. They do this by silently evaluating whether they’re easy to get along with, courteous or reliable.
The first impression should start with the phone call you make to set up the appointment. Speak clearly and maintain a polite tone.
The clothes you wear on that material day also matter a lot. It doesn’t necessarily have to be formal; a simple polo and nice denim will work just fine.
Be gratuitous to the landlord or manager for sparing time to meet with you. From there, proceed to evaluate the rental unit and try to keep your comments positive. There’s no point in airing your grievances before you get the apartment keys.
While you keep your complaints about the unit to yourself, don’t shy off from asking the apartment manager or landlord essential questions such as:
- How much is the rent?
- Is the rent inclusive of the utilities?
- Can I make any modifications to the apartment? (e.g. re-painting walls, replacing faucets, etc.)
- How much for a parking spot?
- In the case of any repairs or minor maintenance issues, will I be the one to cater for the costs?
When asking these questions, try not to come off as combative. If they’re able to answer all these questions, that’s how you know how professional your potential management really is.
The impression you leave to the house owner matters a great deal. Even if you don’t have a lot, they may be kind enough to consider your situation. If they don’t, you can always do so some old-fashioned negotiation.
4. Negotiate the Rent
When you go apartment-hunting, you may find the ideal place that’s unfortunately out of your financial reach. Moving on to the next apartment is not an option.
If the apartment goes in line with most of what’s discussed on the first point in this post, don’t be shy to negotiate the rent. As intimidating as it may sound, you may just win the landowner over with even the most straightforward strategy.
Start by asking them if the price of the rent is open for negotiation. On that note, don’t bother if the apartment in question is a large property company.
The owner is highly unlikely to put the rent up for discussion. Independent landlords, on the other hand, are more flexible to price changes.
Next, show the landowner how financially stable you are by offering them a couple of concessions. You can opt to sign for a longer lease, which in turn will save them thousands in turnover. Alternatively, you can decide to pay a few months’ rents in advance
Landowners are fully aware that summer is mostly the best time to find tenants. Since most individuals have flexible schedules, they’ll most likely look for rental spaces.
Offer to end your lease at or around this time. Very few landowners will back down on such a deal considering it will be worth their while.
Finally, if you’re impressed with a particular property, do some background research on its value. Find out if it’s worth the prevailing market. Talking to neighbors or landlords in your area is one of the best ways to do some background research on rent rates.
As you negotiate, be sure to do it personally and not by proxy. Face to face negotiations usually yield the best results. Of course, stay collected, professional and polite all through the discussion.
5. Split the Rent with a Roommate
If you thought college kids are the only ones allowed to have roommates, think again. A growing number of young adults are opting to have a roommate not only for companionship, but also to save on living expenses such as rent.
Before moving in, ensure your ideal roommate is responsible in all sectors, including financially. If you wish to move in with someone you don’t know, make a thorough inquiry about their money habits.
Once you’re confident that your roommate is good enough to share your living space with you, think of how to split the bills.
Two people’s bills are bound to be slightly higher compared to one, but you can take it down a notch by splitting bills like electricity, water, internet, etc.
If possible, convince the manager of the apartment you plan on moving into to sign two different leases for you and your roommate.
If he/she defaults on what they’re supposed to give as rent, you will not be affected by their poor credit score.
In 2017, the average cost of a single bedroom apartment was $1,166, while a 2-bedroom apartment was $1,132.
If you were to divide the second figure by two, you’d find that it’s cheaper by $500 per month and per year, it’s $6,000 less expensive to share an apartment with a roommate.
When starting, don’t be one of those people who have something against getting a roommate. You risk missing out on a golden opportunity of getting an apartment with little money.
By splitting the rent and other bills around the apartment with your roommate, you can enjoy the luxury you desire without having to strain your monthly budget.
As a potential renter, you should be able to consider your personal needs while keeping an accurate record of the costs as well as the benefits.
6. Create a Budget for the Apartment you Want to Occupy
Don’t go apartment-hunting blindly. Set up a workable budget to help you get a rough idea of the maximum amount to set aside for rent.
A rule of thumb is that your rent should not take up more than 30 percent of your net monthly income.
If you live in expensive cities like San Francisco or New York, setting up a budget may be tough. In such a case, you need to venture far out into less-costlier areas for your ideal apartment.
Renting an apartment is cheaper than buying a home. Even so, you’ll still need to spend a great deal within the first few months if you want to secure the apartment of your dreams.
Most times, landowners require that you pay a security deposit, broker’s or finder’s fee, rent for the first and last month and if you have a pet, a pet deposit. Fortunately, not all apartment managers pay close attention to most of these fees.
To be on the safe side, include every single one of them in your budget. In the course of your apartment-hunting, you may be lucky enough to find an apartment manager that won’t ask for half of the upfront move-in costs that others ask for.
Unfortunately, the costs listed above are only for securing the apartment. Moving in is another expense you can’t afford to rule out of your budget. In any case, you need to rent moving trucks, buy food, general household goods, and so on.
Also, consider factoring the monthly expenses that will come in addition to the rent into your monthly budget. The budgeting process can be long and tedious.
For that reason, try using Zillow’s Rent Affordability Calculator to assist in determining the price range of your overall budget.
Wise planning and budgeting can help you determine how much you need to add to the little money you have to have a smooth experience as a renter.
7. Provide Verifiable Proof of Income to Your Landlord
In a situation where you don’t have enough money to get an apartment but you have a well-paying job, provide legitimate proof of income.
The following are some of the most effective ways you can prove how capable you are of paying rent at the end of every month:
A pay stub shows an applicant’s name in full, contact information, and their employer’s name. They’re one of the most reliable proofs of income.
Pay stubs indicate just how much income in total an applicant makes and the frequency in which they receive their paychecks.
If you’re self-employed, you need to show legitimate alternative documents such as bank statements and tax returns.
Provide two of your most recent bank statements to the landlord for him/her to verify your income. There are numerous benefits to providing bank statements as proof of income. For one, the landlord gets to see your full banking history and monitor your cash reserves.
At the same time, if you’ve had an overdrawn account or several bounced checks, that may hinder your chances of getting an apartment.
During the screening process, you may be asked to provide your two years’ worth of tax returns if you have no other viable proof of income. The tax returns show where you worked for the last two years and how much you made.
The more tax returns you provide your landlord, the higher the chances of you being considered based on your financial history.
The three methods mentioned above should be more than enough to prove your financial capability to the apartment manager or landlord.
If you have no proof of income whatsoever, the chances of you being given the green light to move in are slim to none.
8. Rent from a Private Owner
Private owners (otherwise known as individual owners) are property owners who choose to rent out their property on their own.
They manage their rental directly without the help of a property management company or a letting agent.
Aside from inexpensive monthly rent, there are numerous reasons why you should consider renting from a private owner and these are just a couple of them:
If you rent your property from a private landowner, you will have direct contact with the landlord throughout your stay. From there, you can quickly tell if he/she is someone you can have a healthy relationship with or not.
Zero Admin Fees
In commercial apartments, letting agents are known to charge hefty fees to tenants and landlords alike. Private landlords keep costs as low as they can to give them a competitive edge over letting agents. That makes a significant saving on your end.
Reduced Pressure On Your Credit Score
Not all private landlords run a traditional credit check as compared to letting agents. If for some reason, you have a poor credit score, the private landlord may rely heavily upon character references and not a full credit check.
The number of private landlords the world over is growing by the day. If you’re mainly seeking to rent an apartment, look on accessible spaces such as social media, TheHouseShop (and other dedicated property portals), classified ad sites such as Gumtree and so on.
When searching for a private-owned apartment on Facebook, key in ‘private rental in…’ or a phrase of that nature to find a rental, private property around your locale. Airbnb is also an excellent place to find rental, private apartments.
9. Use the Best Apartment-Finder Websites and Apps
When you’re looking for an affordable apartment to move into, the first thing that comes to mind is a tranquil, serene and accessible living space.
Unfortunately, however, the process involved in finding our dream apartment isn’t always what we expected it to be.
Finding a cheap apartment is often time-consuming and most difficult to contact the apartment manager or landlord for evaluation.
The following apps are bound to make apartment-hunting a reasonably easy endeavor through their unique mode of operations for the benefit of potential renters.:
As you browse through the most beneficial apartment-related sites, don’t scroll past the Apartment guide app. It has a straightforward interface that enables you to input your desired rent price range when looking for apartments near you.
Right after specifying the details of the living space you have in mind; the map pane will be awash with a list of options for you to choose from.
This app utilizes a precise approach that’s entirely data-driven. That means that it makes use of proprietary algorithms to find out what users’ choice of apartments, then brings up recommendations based on their preferences.
Most of the results that follow are inclusive of today’s hottest apartment deals. For each, there are informative user reviews that will help you decide if it’s the perfect fit for you.
This is one of the best apps for apartment-hunting based on the fact that it offers three-dimensional (3-D) views of every apartment. This allows you to zoom in, see a miniature version or rotate to get an in-depth look of the apartment.
It also offers availability specifics, including whether you can move in immediately or wait until a specified date. This feature saves you the time and hustle of reading through the property description.
Livv is advertised as the leading mobile-friendly apartment search assistant that’s powered solely by AI (Artificial Intelligence).
This app looks for apartments based on your unique description. Compared to most simplified searches, Livv pays close attention to user reviews and other critical aspects.
To get started on Livv, just head on to the website, click the search button and describe your preferred property. Fill in other fields including your desired location, price range, and any additional vital detail.
Finding an Apartment with Little Money Has Never Been Easier
Hunting for an affordable apartment only ends well for the patient and persistent. Try out any of the tips outlined in this post, and you’ll see how straightforward it is to get an apartment without breaking the bank.
Take note: most of these tips apply to your situation only if you have good credit. If you have bad credit, the only viable solution is to pay up front.