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Tips for Tenants

If you’re in the midst of an apartment search, a rental may be a little harder to locate these days. As apartment vacancies have fallen in recent months, higher occupancies are proving tobe a game changer for renters trying to find that perfect new home in many New Jersey cities.

  • Timing is everything, so start as early as possible.   Give yourself enough time in looking for a place to live.  Start the process of searching before the actual time you need it as this process may be time consuming.

  • The 80/20 Rule: A perfect place is hard to find, and if you can find 80% of what you want or need, you’re in good shape. Write down what your priorities are in finding the right apartment.  Review and evaluate them.  Keep your list short and simple.

  • Make a comparison of the places that you’ve seen, and a checklist as you do your apartment hunting.   Sometimes you start to lose track of places you’re interested in after several visits.

  • Dollars and Sense: Find out the cost of living in the area.  Make a list of average apartment rent prices in an area and don’t forget to include in your list other possible expenses such utilities, food, water and transportation.

  • Be ready with your credit score.  A landlord will most likely require a credit report, proof of employment, and probably references from previous landlords. No need to scramble last minute for these items when apartment hunting. And it’s best to be honest if there is something on your credit score that needs further clarification, or it might cause you to lose that dream apartment.

  • Location, Location, Location! Before signing that contract and moving into that dream apartment, make sure you familiarize yourself with this new location. Whether you have specific commuting needs, or good schools for your kids, get to know your new area!

  • Decisions, decisions.  After following all the steps listed above and you’ve found that perfect place, go for it!  A good apartment moves fast. And there’s nothing worse than making a tough decision on a new home, only to have lost out due to waiting too long!

  • Fees??  What costs are involved with a rental, and how much?  When a real estate agency finds you an apartment, the fee associated with it is typically equal to one months’ rent for that rental. Who pays for it is often dictated by the market. In a downmarket, a landlord may absorb the fee in the hopes to attract more potential renters. But in a hot market, the tenant will often pay. But it’s not uncommon for a landlord & tenant to split this cost, and there’s nothing wrong in asking your agent to try an negotiate this for you. That’s what we’re here for!

Tips for Landlords


All of these tips are simple, common sense recommendations that can help to provide a solid foundation for a property management business.  Being a good landlord, while important to the tenant, is even more important for you, your ability to attract the best tenants and certainly your potential to charge the highest rents possible in the marketplace.  Ultimately, being a good landlord protects your asset — your property.

  • Make sure you have what it takes to be a good landlord:  Good communication skills, proper legal knowledge/advice, sufficient accounting & management skills, dedication and patience.  And don’t forget the all-important cash flow!  Make sure you have the appropriate “emergency funds” when something needs to be repaired or replaced in your tenants’ unit.

  • Properly screen your tenants!  This isn’t the time for any short-cuts.  Request a credit report, call the supplied references, run a background check, speak to former landlords, even visit the tenant at their current home if you have any doubts about their cleanliness or tidiness.  You only have one chance to conduct a thorough investigation before you agree to accept a tenant!

  • Have a solid, plain-language lease ready for use.  Read and understand the entire lease, ask your attorney questions if you don’t understand it and keep the signed copy in a safe place.  Be sure to include all of the necessary and required disclosures.  Know the rules and your rights.  If you follow the landlord/tenancy laws to-the-letter you will have little trouble should you have to go to court.

  • “Say what you do and do what you say”.  Collect the rent on a schedule, follow the lease regarding any late fees, lawncare, trash removal, required city or township inspections, etc.  Be attentive to any unexpected repairs that may arise.  One of the worst things that any landlord can do is to allow a tenant to live with something that is in poor condition due to an unanswered repair request. Do not expect your tenant to live in a property that you yourself would be unwilling to live in. Give sufficient notice prior to entering the unit, show up for inspections when you say you will, fix things in a timely fashion, keep your property well-maintained.

  • Swing into action quickly if/when a problem arises.  Some of the most successful landlords are often the toughest.  Don’t be hesitant to collect a late-fee when your tenant is late, do NOT delay filing an eviction notice the very first time there is a lateness or a breach of the lease.  Be firm.  Be consistent.  Be the boss.  In life, folks usually rise to the occasion when the bar is set higher.  Tenants will do so, too.

  • Ready to place it on the market, what fees are associated?   When a real estate agency lists your rental, the fee associated with it is typically equal to one months’ rent for that rental. Who pays for it is often dictated by the market. In a downmarket, a landlord may absorb the fee in the hopes to attract more potential renters. But in a hot market, the tenant will often pay. But it’s not uncommon for a landlord & tenant to split this cost.

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