The Apartment Search

November 21st, 2015 by hesty No comments »

When you are apartment hunting, prepare a rental search plan. Be sure to know in advance what you want in an apartment and what you can live without. Decide in advance what areas of the city you could consider living in and make a list of apartment buildings within that perimeter.

Be sure to consider how far and how convenient it will be for you to travel to your job or your school or your family and friends. Also, how far is the apartment from stores, banks, hospitals, Church (if you attend) etc. If you have a car, make sure that there is adequate and convenient parking space 24/7. If you don’t drive make sure that there is close by public transportation.

Narrow your apartment locating to the size of rental unit you need. Studio apartment or one bedroom apartment or 2 BR apartment or more. Are you considering a furnished apartment or do you possible need a short term rental. If you are renting an apartment with a cat, dog, or other pet, you need to find out which apartments allow renting with pets and which do not. And, if they do allow pets, is there an additional security deposit required and if so, how much it is. Do you need an apartment complex with an exercise room or tennis courts or a pool or a recreation room, etc. or do you simply need and desire a nice clean and quiet pad.

Be realistic about what you can afford. Most apartment renting guides suggest that your rent should not be more than 25% to 30% of your income. This can vary depending on the income bracket, but be sure to be “real world” when budgeting additional apartment expenses such as heating and air conditioning and other utilities. If you fall short of affording the apartment of your choice, you might consider sharing an apartment with a roommate or roommates. Keep in mind that living with roommates can help you afford an upscale apartment or even, in some cases, luxury apartments, but it also has extreme restrictions to your privacy.

If you are familiar with the area and its neighborhoods, that gives you a distinct advantage for your apartment search. If, however, you are relocating to a new city or are not particularly knowledgeable about the city, you may want to contact an Apartment Locator or an Apartment Finder.

Once you narrow your search for apartments down to apts which suit your needs and desires you must be well organized & well prepared for your visits to the apartment complexes. When inspecting the rental premises be on the alert for unsafe conditions, excessive noise from traffic or playgrounds or neighbors. Visit the apartment building at night as well as the daytime hours. This will give you a more comprehensive understanding of the total space you will be residing in.

When you find the apartment complex that meets your renting needs and desires, you must be ready to put your “best foot forward” when you meet the apartment’s rental agent. This person may be the apartment building manager or a renting agent for the apts. You should prepare for this apartment renting interview in a professional and intelligent manner. Be advised that you are going to be asked to provide proof that you are a reliable prospective tenant. You are most likely going to need references from previous landlords. You may also be required by the apartments to show that you are gainfully employed and can afford the rent. Many landlords may require a credit report. If you are a first time renter and/or you have limited credit history you may be asked for references from family, friends, employer, professionals, etc. Likewise if you are renting with bad credit you will certainly want to come to the interview with a strong selection of references.

You are not necessarily restricted from apartment renting with less than perfect credit, but you may be required to put up an additional security deposit and possibly have a credit worthy person co-sign the apartment lease with you. Don’t unprepared for by requests for any of these things. Be sure to fill out a 100% truthful apartment rental application and come to the interview with references, proof of employment, credit information and any other renting resources at the ready. If you do have a credit history or renting history that might be detrimental, going through an apartment locator or apartment finder may be the best solution. They will present your history to the landlord for you, (make sure they are 100% truthful about it) and they can also be quite helpful and save you a lot of time because they most likely will know which landlords and apartments are more lenient in these circumstances. They can also advise you as to exactly what kinds of references and documents you might need to prove that you can be a responsible tenant.

You Have Located Your “Dream Apartment”

Once you have located your “dream apartment”, or as close to your perfect apartment as possible, now it is necessary to pay extremely close attention to the particulars of the rental agreement. An Apartment Lease is a contract between you and the landlord. Once agreed upon and signed by the tenant and the landlord, the rental lease creates obligations and restrictions for both parties. The most obvious covenants of the apartment lease are the length of the rental, (Six month lease, one year lease, two year lease, etc.) The amount of the security deposit, when the rent is due, who is responsible for what utilities. Also in that apartment lease, however, are stipulations, (sometimes in small print) that can cover a great variety of landlord and tenant obligations and restrictions. They can include, but are not limited to, the following:

o Maintenance of the apartment

o Care of the premises

o Cleanliness

o Insurance

o Governmental regulations

o Eminent Domain

o Nuisance and noise clauses

o Stipulations as to the circumstances whereby the landlord can enter the premises

o Use of Common Areas

o Keys and locks

o Loss or damage

o Parking

o Pets

o Plumbing

o What the landlord may do if the rent is in arrears

o What the tenant can do to bring the rent current before any kind of action might be started

o Non performance or breach of the contract by the renter

o Renter’s penalties in the event of early termination

o Circumstances which might cause the tenant or the landlord to break the lease prior to the end of the term

o Heat and other utilities

o Removal of goods

o Surrender or Non-Surrender of the premises

o Waivers of various obligations

o Prohibited reprisals

o Garbage disposal

o Recyclables

o And the list goes on and on and on.

Prospective tenants should read an Apartment lease thoroughly. Prospective apartment renters should understand everything that is contained in that lease and make an informed decision to be 100% accepting of all the provisions for both the tenant and the landlord, that you are positive that you can live up to your end of the bargain and that you are comfortable with the provisions on the landlord’s end.

If you do not understand every single clause of that apartment lease then do not sign it until you do understand it. If necessary and if possible, request assistance in interpreting the lease from a trusted source such as a knowledgeable friend or family member or employer or professional, or anyone else who can understand it and explain it to you. If necessary get legal advice. It can cost additional funds if you do not qualify for free legal assistance, but that additional cost might save you a ton of money and save you a ton of heartache and aggravation down the road.

If you do not agree with any of the provisions of that apartment lease and/or you feel that you can’t live up to the tenant’s obligations, or if you are not in agreement with any of the landlord’s rights under the agreement, then do not sign the lease until/or unless it can be changed to your satisfaction. If the apartment rental agreement cannot be amended to meet your needs and desires and comfort level then do not sign the lease and do not rent that apartment. The Apartment Rental agreement that you sign as a prospective tenant will not change once you become the actual tenant of that apartment.

Good luck in your apartment search and good luck in your new apartment.

How to Find the Best Gainesville Apartments For UF Students

November 13th, 2015 by hesty No comments »

In Gainesville, if you’re looking for housing, chances are that you are a UF student; more than 40% of the population is here to attend the University of Florida. Looking for your first Gainesville apartment can be a daunting task– especially if you’ve never lived in an apartment before. By following these helpful tips and beginning your apartment search online, you can save time and find the best fit for you and your particular needs as a UF student.

DETERMINE HOW YOU’LL GET TO UF CLASSES

After spending a year on-campus in dorms like Broward, Hume, Springs or Fletcher, most UF students choose to live off-campus and begin searching for an apartment. And can you blame them? On-campus UF dorms are typically dark, damp and incredibly cramped, with most students sharing a bathroom with 45-60 other students. Unfortunately, UF does not offer on-campus parking near classes to UF students who don’t live in the dorms. So before you begin your apartment search, the first thing to consider is how you will get to your UF classes. Will you walk? Will you bike? Will you ride a bus or seek out a spot in ParkNRide? If you plan on riding the bus from your apartment, you’ll need to leave at least 1 hour before your class begins to ensure that you won’t be late. Remember that most RTS buses drop you off at the Hub (also known as the Reitz Union), and you’ll need to walk from there to your classes. The only other option is to seek out ParkNRide (which is so far from classes that you’ll need to ride a bus from your parking spot to the Hub and then walk from there). Because of the challenges you’ll face getting to your classes, most students seek out apartments near the UF campus, so that they can walk to class.

It can be very difficult to find an apartment near UF, especially if students do not have the help of older friends and family who have been through the process before. Many of the apartment complexes near UF are small and don’t advertise in the local apartment guides or Gainesville Apartment Hunters or similar apartment finder services. Instead, you’ll need to be proactive to find your best fit.

START YOUR APARTMENT SEARCH ONLINE

Smart students who want to find the best and cheapest apartments in Gainesville start their search online. They begin by navigating to sites like Google and typing in general keyword terms like Gainesville apartments and Gainesville apartments near UF. These terms will return a list of apartment complexes close to campus. The first few search results will include apartment finding services and roommate matching services that will list lots of the apartments with easy comparison charts, where you can search by style, size, move-in date and more. These same sites include many photo galleries, floorplans, virtual tours and maps showing where the apartments are located.

By starting their search for the best Gainesville apartments online, students can really cut back on their research time. Many websites also include time-saving tools like “schedule a tour” buttons and even offer online specials.

HOW TO COMPARE GAINESVILLE APARTMENTS

While performing your apartment search online, be sure to take good notes. You’ll want to make note of all of the following amenities in order to help determine which would be the best fit for you:

* Location – how close is it to UF

* How will you get to class – can you walk from the apartment to school

* Square footage – how big is the apartment

* Number of bedrooms – how many roommates will you have

* Roommate Matching Services – does the apartment complex offer roommate matching or will you need to find your own roommates

* Rental Rate per Person – how much will it cost you to live there

* Availability – is the apartment available for the month in which you need to move

TALK TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY

Before taking a tour, students should talk to their parents, friends and anyone else involved in their decision making process. They should make a list of what is most important to them: budget, location, size of the apartment, how many bedrooms they are looking for, etc. From this list, they will be able to tell if the apartments online match their particular needs. Apartments are a lot like cars; as you increase your budget, you are able to get better amenities. So to find the best apartment, it is important to start off by asking parents what the budget is.

SCHEDULE A TOUR OF THE APARTMENT

After finding a few Gainesville apartments that seem like a good fit, the next step is to schedule a tour. Tours typically take less than 15 minutes, and they are free. Plus touring is the best way to check out the actual apartment (though most apartment complex websites are honest, some are highly inaccurate). You should bring along anyone who is involved in the decision making process: friends, potential roommates, and parents (if they are in town). Always bring your checkbook and photo ID or driver’s license, so that you can put down a security deposit or make a reservation if you find that you like the apartment after your tour.

QUESTIONS TO ASK DURING THE APARTMENT TOUR

1) How many bedrooms does the apartment have, and are the bedrooms big enough for your furniture?

2) How many bathrooms does the apartment have? Will you need to share?

3) How does the parking around the apartment work?

4) How will you get to your UF classes from the apartment? Be forewarned. Most apartment complexes try to make the Gainesville bus system sound great– but RTS is terrible! For apartment near the Mall or off of 20th Ave, plan on leaving your apartment about 1 hour before class begins every day, to ensure that you get there on time. Between walking from the apartment to your bus stop, then waiting for the bus, then taking the bus ride (and all of its stops), then walking from The Hub on UF campus campus to the actual classroom, you are talking about a 45 trip. Plus, if the bus is late or if the bus is full, you will need some extra leeway. Because of this commute issue and because there is no on-campus parking (except for ParkNRide) for UF students who live off campus, most students try to live in houses and apartments close to UF, so that they can walk to class. Apartments that are walking distance to UF classes are a bit more money than those further away, but think about it: you’ll be saving up to 2 hours per day in commute time.

RESERVE YOUR NEW GAINESVILLE APARTMENTS

If you like the apartment after checking it out in person, be prepared to reserve the same day that you tour. Apartments in Gainesville Florida rent very quickly for fall move-in. Many floorplans fully rent out by January, for August move-in. Plan ahead so that you don’t miss out on your ideal new home!

London Apartment – Everything You Need To Know Before Booking A Serviced London Apartment

November 6th, 2015 by hesty No comments »

A few weeks ago a secretary telephoned me in absolute desperation. She was desperately searching for accommodation in central London for some VIPs from abroad. She stumbled onto my website, not really understanding what the service was about. I think the words ‘free service’, ‘apartments’ just helped her to figure out that Quality London Apartments had something to do with accommodation. Apologies for my long opening, but it is a prime example of how little travellers in the UK and Europe know about the serviced apartment industry. After explaining the concept of serviced apartments and helping her find an apartment, I realised that I needed to share this knowledge further afield. Thus, this article is my contribution to open up this elusive industry and offer tips to travellers.

What is a serviced apartment?

A serviced apartment is a flat in a block, which has a separate bedroom, sitting room/lounge, fully equipped kitchen, your own private keys to own door. Serviced apartments can be in the form of a studio flat (all in one room with a kitchenette), one, two or three bedrooms.
All apartments enjoy maid service, utilities and a management team to help….just like a hotel. Guests only pay for a nightly rate and can live in a flat with everything they would have in their own home.

Pros: Serviced London Apartment vs Hotels

  • More value for money and cheaper. In a hotel, no matter which star rating, you pay per night for one room which will have a TV, bathroom, sofa and a bed. This is similar to a studio apartment! In an apartment there is a separate bedroom, kitchen, sitting room, bathroom and dining table (exception is studio)
  • Pay per apartment and not per person. An example would be paying £250 per night for a two bedroom apartment, which could accommodate up to 4 people, that works out at £62.50 per person.
  • Freedom and privacy. An apartment is like being in your own home and there is plenty of space. You have your own keys to your own door.
  • Booking is easy, just like hotels. The majority of apartments require a credit card to guarantee, pre-payment before you arrive and that’s it. No deposits, no tenants’ contracts.
  • Cons: Serviced London Apartment vs Hotels

  • Apartments lacks the buzz and services of a hotel such as restaurants and Room Service. Albeit some apartments are owned by hotels and offer you the use of their restaurants and other services.
  • No 24-hour service around the clock. The apartments are ran by a small team who work Monday to Friday 9:00am – 6:00pm, so you are on your own during the weekend. There are emergency numbers to call should you suffer an electric cut, but no 24-hours hotel Duty Manager to run to your room.
  • No pool, massages, saunas like hotels
  • What to look out for when booking a serviced London apartment?

    1. Quality of the apartment – make sure you find out if they are clean, well furnished and well maintained. How? Check the photos, and ask if you can book an appointment to view the apartment. This is very important if you are staying over a long period of time.

    2. Do they have a friendly and efficient management team? If you need the comfort of a welcoming face to greet you on arrival, then ask for an apartment with a reception. Some apartments provide key boxes, so you can arrive any time, but there is no-one to meet you. A friendly and small team will be able to give you a very personal touch.

    3. Opening time of the apartments office – doesn’t sound important? Well it is because the majority of apartments’ operations team open Monday to Friday 9:00am to 6:00pm. If you arrive at your apartment during office open hours, then fine, but any other time and weekends will mean that you will need to pick up the keys from a different location.

    4. Key delivery by car at the airport? – If you are flying from abroad to London, and do not fancy traipsing throughout London at night to pick up keys, the majority of apartments will hire a taxi to deliver your keys to the airport upon your arrival. Convenient for a small charge.

    5. Payment procedure and cancellation policy – every apartment vary in their guest terms and conditions. All will accept a credit card as a guarantee of reservation, some will ask for 100% pre-payment at least 7 days prior to arrival and cancellation can range from 12:00pm on the day of arrival to 28 days. So, before you confirm the reservation, be very clear about the terms and conditions. Ask your apartment agents to explain the procedure to you and read the terms and conditions on your confirmation emails. It will save you a great deal of trouble and headache later.

    6. Apartments are always allocated on arrival. This policy is the same as any hotel, so unless you are a regular guest to a specific apartment, apartments are on allocations. In the same breath, some apartments only have a small number of flats, so if you are reserving the only 3 bedrooms penthouse in their collection, then you are guaranteed that specific apartment.

    7. Rates become more competitive the longer you stay. In this, we mean you have more bargaining power if you are staying for one month or longer. This is when your apartment agent can really help you by negotiating with a variety of apartments to get you the best deal.

    8. Using an apartment agent will also save you time searching, but most importantly they will work with your budget and negotiate a great deal for you. Of course, you also need to be realistic about what you can book, don’t expect to spend £80 per night for a luxury apartment. For example, one of our clients had £300 budget per night for a two bedroom apartment and he wanted something luxury. For those readers who know London well, also understands that this budget is actually very small. Despite that, we booked him and 3 friends into the Victoria Park Plaza luxury apartment (£150 per night less than the usual price) for £300 per night with free breakfast, gym and access to the executive lounge. Any apartment agent worth their salt can and will move mountains to help you.

    What if I don’t like the apartment when I get there?

    If you really feel that you have been hard done by, tell the apartment management team and ask to be moved to another apartment. All of the apartments that we work with are very customer focussed and try to help guests enjoy their stay. If this does not work, talk to your apartment agent, if that is how you booked. Best advice though, is to ask all the right questions before you book an apartment.

    Your appetite for apartments is now whetted – how do you find London apartments?

    1. As already explained, you can choose a free search and book service of an apartment agent or go direct to a specific apartment that you know. Both methods are absolutely fine, dependent of your knowledge of London apartments. Using an agent will mean that they will search far across their portfolio and present you with a variety of choices…all within 10-15 minutes. Agents are impartial and will only (good agents anyway) recommend the quality apartments for your needs.

    2. You can use search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN to find apartments. Type in keywords like ‘London serviced apartments’ or ‘quality London apartments’ and so on.

    3. Stating the obvious but, ask for a recommendation from friends and acquaintances.

    4. Check on Tripadvisor.com and other customer review websites.

    Summary

    If you have read this far, then thank you for your time. I have tried to make this article clear and as helpful as possible, but I welcome your comments and any further information that you feel is very important.