We’ve learned A LOT working with a variety of renters, Agents, Property Managers and Owners in the past few years and would like to share this information with you.
- You need to know what your current credit score is. Please go to www.creditkarma.com which is completely FREE, find out your credit scores and let us or whoever you are working with know what those numbers are.
- In case you don’t know, the government says that everyone is entitled to a free credit report from all three agencies (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) once a year. Go to www.annualcreditreport.gov and request your credit reports by email or mail. This will give you an idea of what an owner is going to be looking at. Review what's on your credit reports and dispute anything that shouldn't be on them. That includes names, addresses, etc.
- One of the most important things I’ve discovered is that OWNERS/PROPERTY MANAGERS determine what they think a renter can afford! You may think you can afford a certain rent but they may not. Most owners require tenants to have a combined income (salaries, child support, disability, etc.) of 2.5 to 4 times the amount of rent per month.
For example, a monthly rent of $1500 could require a monthly income of anywhere from $3750.00 ($1500 x 2.5) to $6000.00 ($1500 x 4).
Or a monthly rent of $1500 could require a yearly income of anywhere from $45,000 to $72,000 depending on the owner and/or property management company.
- Your Debt to Income Ratio (how much money you bring in as opposed to how much your bills are) will be checked and they will determine if they think it is ok or too high.
- Rental payment history is VERY important. They want to see only ON-TIME payments and none or very few LATE payments.
- Some owners do not care about what your credit score number is, they want to know what is on your actual credit report. They look for Bankruptcies, Judgements, Late Payments and more. Some will not rent to anyone with a Bankruptcy even if it’s been discharged.
- They will also complete a criminal background check.
- Most require that anyone the age of 18 or over has to fill out an application and pay the application fee even if they don’t work.
- The application fee for rentals ranges from $35.00 - $75.00 per person, per application. All owners and property managers can charge whatever they want for an application fee and they can use whatever application form that they want to.
- When you are starting to look for properties to rent, you need to already have saved and have readily available your deposit and 1st month's rent. Plan on having immediate access to anywhere from $2400 to $4000.00, you will need more if you have to pay a Pet Deposit.
- When you fill out an application and are approved, you will be expected to pay the deposit and sign the lease within a few days. Then when you move in, you will most likely have to pay an entire month’s rent even if you move in in the middle of the month. They will prorate the next (2nd) month’s rent.
- If you are currently renting and are thinking about moving, please review your lease. Look to see how much notice you have to give to move out. It used to always be 30 days’ notice was required but now a lot of leases require 60 days’ notice. Also check WHEN you can give notice. Is it any day of the month or only on the 1st of the month? I had a client that went to give notice on the 15th and found out she had to give it on the 1st.
- Don’t start looking too early. Most Owners will not hold a property for more than a month and some won’t even hold it that long. They want it rented as soon as possible.
- If you have a Pet, there is almost always a Pet Deposit and now some are charging PET RENT! The deposit usually ranges from $250.00 - $500.00. Sometimes it is Refundable, but sometimes it is NOT Refundable. Some Owners are charging an extra $25.00 - $50.00 extra per month per pet! Some Owners even require a deposit on Birds!
- If you have credit issues, have made any late rent payments, have bankruptcies, etc. we recommend that you write a letter about your situation and attach it to any application that you submit. Owners seem to be more lenient when the credit problems are due to student loans and medical bills. Explain anything that people can relate to and any hardships you’ve experienced (student loans, medical bills, divorce, loss of job, etc.). Include anything that might not be understood just from the application.
- Another VERY important thing is to communicate with your Agent or whoever is helping you find a property. If your Agent calls, texts or emails you, please respond in a timely manner. And PLEASE if you don't want to work with them anymore, or if you've found a property, decided nnot to move, etc. please let your Agent know so they can close your file and not keep trying to contact you. They will REALLY appreciate it!
When Ron & I set up a search for you on our website, the emails you receive are ALL “For Rent” properties that fit your criteria and have been entered into the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) used by Agents/Property Managers for Owners We can search for and show you properties ANYWHERE in the state of Maryland and listed by ANY Agent. So you don’t have to contact a variety of Agents! The only properties that won’t be emailed to you are those that are For Rent by Owner. PLEASE do not use Zillow if you are searching the web. The information is not always reliable and up to date.
Sometimes owners that are renting the property themselves and not through a Realtor or property manager might be more lenient. So if you have a challenging situation you might want to try that avenue also. You can look for properties that are For Rent by Owner on www.craigslist.com (but be careful!). There are a lot of scams but there are also a lot of properties that aren’t scams. You can also check out some rental sites like the ones we've listed below. We don’t know much about any of them so we can’t recommend one over the other. You will see some of the same properties from our list (if we set up a search for you) but you might see additional ones that are advertised by the owner.
If you are interested in Waldorf, you can also try St. Charles. They have condos, apartments, duplexes and townhouses in all price ranges.
Thanks for your time.
Patti Harris, REALTOR ®
Ron Harris, ASSOCIATE BROKER ®
Century 21 New Millennium