Organizing Your Search
- Find out if you're eligible for low-income housing, utilities, cable, etc. It may take awhile to get approved, so make these calls early!
- Use index cards to write down potential houses/apartments, contact info, & things you want/need, e.g. (upstairs v. downstairs unit, dishwasher, washer/dryer, pets, etc.) Use one card per location and include as much info as possible on the front; use the back for additional notes when you check out the place.
- Talk to friends who have lived in West Sacramento and redline the less desirable places; keep these notes so you'll remember which places to avoid.
- With your cards on the table, start calling each place, run down your list of requirements, note the price, availability, and attitude of the person answering the phone. Schedule appointments as you go.
- When you look at a place, take notes on your index card and pick up any floor plan brochures available at each apartment complex, so you will remember key points and information later.
- If you really like the apartment/ house go drive by for about a week or two on different days and times. This will allow you to see things that did not happen while you were there the first time. Example: If you went around lunch time on a Saturday you may have not scene that there is a school bus stop by the front building. In this case you might prefer a building more towards the back or you might want that building for your own child so you can keep an eye on them while you yourself are getting ready. (This might be seem a bit much but it is truly worth it.)
See Apartments for a list of local complexes.
Most rental units in West Sacramento require you to sign a 6 to 12 month lease. With this type of agreement, expect your up-front costs to include first and last month's rent as well as cleaning and/or security deposits. Some landlords/property managers may offer month-to-month leases, but these are rare. Typically, these types of agreements are available only for privately owned/managed homes [as opposed to something managed by a property company or an apartment complex]. Again, expect your up-front costs to include first and last month's rent as well as cleaning and/or security deposits. These types of leases can be terminated by either party with a thirty-day notice. However, if you rent a unit for more than one year under a month-month agreement, you must then give (and be given) sixty days notice.
Need a Roommate
Take the time to provide some information in your listing to make it easier on buyers. Give your name and phone number (and list appropriate times to call you) - most buyers would rather call directly than send an email and wait for you to call them back. Provide information about the place.
Always give the address or at least general location of the place right in the ad, and if it is an apartment complex then be sure to name which one it is. This is perhaps the most important step, as many buyers will research the place themselves if they see an ad. Post or provide links to pictures of the place, especially of the floor plan. You can usually find these images for apartments online by looking at the place's website.
Make sure you give your gender and whether or not you are open to living co-ed or not. Other import up-front this to tell are, smoking issues (do you smoke or do they smoke), pets you have or are allergic to.
Consider things from the buyer’s perspective. Give them stuff they want to know right up-front. Tell them if they get their own room, and if there's an option for them to share it with one of their friends (or one of your current roommates, or another roommate). Tell them a bit about yourself and what they might expect when they live with you - if you're up-front about how you're a quiet person or sociable party-friendly person then you're much more likely to find a good match for a roommate.
Setting a Price
Make yourself familiar with what other people are charging. Browse ads yourself for a bit to eye the competition. Two people sharing a room tend to pay slightly more than a person taking the room for himself, so you may want to list two prices, the own room price and the sharing price. Short term leases generally go for significantly more per month than yearly ones, although the difference is less dramatic in high demand places that sell like hotcakes where the risk of being unable to fill the place is lower.
After signing your lease you might be a little excited, but next the few suggestions could help once moving out.
- Before you move any boxes make sure you take pictures of you place with a time stamp on it. Things to take picture of include a dent in the wall, stains in the carpet, or any thing that comes with a previously rented apartment. (Even if it is brand new I suggest doing this.) You don’t want to get stuck paying for cleaning up carpet stains that may have already been there.
- Take a note pad and write everything down. If you take this list to your complexes office they may be able to fix it before you move in. At most complexes someone will do a walk through with you and take their own notes on things to be fixed before move in.
- Always get a copy of every thing they are putting in you file so you can keep you own records. Things include leases; walk through papers, maintenance orders and notices left on your door.
If for some reason you ever have to go to court these things could help you win your case. Example: once you moved out the complex went in and said your garbage disposal was broken and you have to pay for a new one. If you have multiple maintenance orders showing you asked to have if fixed on multiple occasions, take it down to the office and show them that it was never fixed correctly and you feel that you should not have to pay. In most cases this simple reminder of “I have been asking for it to be fixed” is enough to get the fee waived.
Getting Things Fixed
General Maintenance Calls
When getting a maintenance order/ request done ask your complex when they are coming. You might want to be home. Some complexes have a work order turn around time, example: once you put in the order they give themselves 48 hours to get it done as a permission of entry. If not done in the 48 hours you might have to go and give them another permission to enter. This is to protect your privacy. Once things are fixed such as a hole in the wall take a before and after pictures for your files and document when things were done (It took then 4 trips and 5 weeks to get it done or they fixed it with in 5 minutes of my phone call.).
Emergency Maintenance Calls
Complexes should have a 24 hour line that is either a cell phone or a pager number. Use this number with caution. If you have two bathrooms and one toilet is broken use the other one until the morning when you can call the office during normal business hours (you don’t want to wake up someone at 2 in the morning for something that can wait). If you have only one bathroom and something is wrong most complexes see this as an emergency and are quick to come and get it fixed no matter the time. Also note when you move in you should have a conversation or possible something saying what the guide lines are for overnight/ after hours calls.
- If you have decided to move out make sure you give proper notice. (You might get stuck paying the extra rent if you don’t)
- Clean — tenants are legally entitled to a pre-inspection within two weeks of relinquishing tenancy; at this time the landlord must give you an itemized list of things to clean/repair. If you need to fix something like hole from shelves some place have a move out kit for sale so you can patch things the way they would like it done.
- Once you have decided that the apartment/ house is clean. Take pictures showing how it was left. You don’t want to have to pay for a new stove if the one that was there was damaged by their, own maintenance workers.
- Some places have a small fee they take out of you deposit to get carpets cleaned whether you did it or not (these costs should be in the lease and noted upon signing). Once you have moved out ask them about these fees and why they kept them. Most management companies will write you a letter stating what was wrong and how much it costs to fix it.