One division of our company is dedicated to property management. We represent owners and tenants, helping them meet their goals. What we have found out is that most prospective tenants, quite frankly, are clueless as to how the process works.
There are dozens of reasons why someone would choose to rent verses buy, but bottom line – that’s just it, it’s a choice. No one should feel forced into buying (take note of the real estate meltdown around us; a lot of people shouldn’t have bought) until they are ready – mentally and financially. So let me help clear up some of the confusion with renting.
In SW Florida, there really aren’t any apartment complexes. That means would- be tenants need to search for willing landlords to rent their place to them. This is accomplished numerous ways. Obviously, a Realtor is the best bet. Realtors are a great source for tenants because they often know of properties available for rent that are not advertised or not on the market yet. Your standard internet searches and newspaper searches will work as well.
Make sure there is a due diligence period because with today’s economic climate, you want to make sure the owner/landlord is current on their mortgage (if they have one) and that the home or condo is not going into foreclosure. Otherwise, you may find yourself on the street a couple months down the road, kindly escorted out by the local sheriff.
Here are a few general tips to take your search for the perfect rental from stressful to successful:
First and foremost, don’t be like the majority of people and wait until you have to be out of your current place in only 2 weeks. We have yet to figure out why most people wait until the last second to move, it really causes a lot of stress and a lot of problems for people – don’t do it!
Secondly, be prepared. Most owners will require a background / credit check. They will also require a security deposit (usually equal to one month’s rent) to protect their home from damage. A lot of owners are requiring first month’s rent AND last month’s rent prior to moving into the home or condo. With the economy as bad as it is right now, we often times are getting the owner to waive last month’s rent for the tenant. The real kicker are the fees to move in. All the beautiful gated communities in SW Florida require an application to be filled out along with a fee for that application. They range from about $100 to $400, but most are around $100. Also, there may be a credit check fee of another $50 to $100. You cannot move into the home until the association approves your application and processes your fee. There may also be a fee to transfer the amenities of the community; the golf course, pool, tennis courts, clubhouse access, etc.
Be prepared by giving yourself time; time to find a home, time to fill out all the applications and lease paperwork and time to get that paperwork approved by the association so you are cleared to move in. Be prepared with a check book. Plan on at least first month’s rent and a security deposit equal to the same as one month’s rent. Good rentals are moving quickly, so you want to be ready to put a deposit down as soon as you find that perfect rental.
Hopefully this will give you better guidance for yourself or to pass along to a friend to help them through the process of renting a home. I wish you the best of luck in finding the right rental for your needs!