Archives for category: Renters

Boston’s North End Has a Noise Problem

Even if you are landlord in the most responsible, timid, and low-key neighborhood in the country, chances are you’ve had to deal with at least one set of noisy tenants. Whether it’s parties, loud exercise equipment, or even particularly raucous, ahem, intimate relations, where there are a lot of people living in close proximity, someone is bound to get to loud.

In Boston, a city councilor has taken to legislation to try to curb the decibels in one of that city’s most densely populated areas, known as the North End. Councilmember Salvatore LaMattina has proposed a city ordinance that would make landlords responsible for the loud behavior of their tenants. It seems that recent years have brought an influx of young professionals and recent college graduates to the North End who decided to bring their frat house habits with them. This has caused much dismay in this historic neighborhood where people complain of frequently being woken up 2 or 3 times per week due to noise on the street and in neighboring buildings.

According to boston.com:

LaMattina’s nuisance control ordinance, filed in late July, would levy fines as follows: for the first offense, the resident, the organizer, and any attendees of a loud party responsible for creating a public nuisance would face a $100 fine. On a second or subsequent offense within one year of the first, a $300 fine would be levied against all the above, plus the owner of the property.

This means that landlords, no matter where they themselves live or who their tenants are, will be held financially responsible for noise complaints filed against their tenants, even if it is a party and the noise is being cause by non-tenants.

As a landlord, you may have had to deal with noise complaints before, between your own tenants. But an ordinance like this is rare. After all, most landlords and property owners who rent out apartments do not live on the premises with their tenants. This makes it impossible to really know about noise issues until they become a problem.

Of course, there are a few ways to address these issues before they explode into problems and you find yourself paying fines. First, it is important to screen tenants before they sign a lease. This means more than just a credit check. Talking to past landlords can be one of the best ways to find out if a tenant is destined to be noisy since most people don’t pick up partying habits overnight. Additionally, having a property manager on site at your building can nip noise issues in the bud before they become real problems. Yes, this may mean losing out on a bit of rental income but if it saves you and your property even one night of contact with the police, it may be well worth the expense.

In the end, it is unlikely that most municipalities will enact the same kind of ordinance that is being proposed in Boston, but taking preventative measures to avoid noisy and disrespectful tenants will never be a waste of time.


It is no secret that the state of the economy in the United States has changed the way virtually everyone thinks about their money. But a new article from Bloomberg suggests that more than anyone, the spending habits of recent college graduates and other young adults have been severely impacted. Whereas previous generations quickly followed their college diplomas with a new car or even a mortgage, today this is rarely the case. Rather, young people have begun to delay or even eliminate these kinds of major purchases from their immediate future plans.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The fact is that college graduates and young people today have begun to expect and live with less. Their average salary is lower and they have more student loan debt than any previous generation. For many of them, big spending is just not in the cards. This generation has had to make hard decisions about whether they really need a car payment when they could ride a bike or whether they need a new refrigerator when they could get one on Craigslist, or even rent one. Buying used and spending less have become ingrained in many people’s mind. And buying a house means spending A LOT, which is scary and oftentimes impossible.

Flexibility is Key

Even as the economy begins to recover, it is still difficult to enter or re-enter the workforce. Not only does this threat of longterm unemployment mean that many renters simply do not have the capital to consider buying a home, it also means that when they find a job it may not necessarily be in the zip code, or even the state, where they currently live. This is certainly a major factor in what seems to be a generation of renters. After all, it is much easier to break the lease on an apartment, even if that means a financial penalty, than it is to sell a house. This is why the rental market will mostly likely continue to do business with members of this generation that need both the savings and the flexibility that it offers.

What This Means for Landlords

You may be wondering as a landlord or property owner, how to best go about catering to this vast, educated market, many of whom have the potential to be great tenants. In order to attract this younger generation, it may be important to make a few changes to your property and your process. First, this generation is virtually obsessed with technology. Any way that you can make your property technology-friendly, whether that is online rental applications, free WiFi by the pool, or paying rent via PayPal, will be an attractive feature. The youngest of the generation who are coming straight from college also often tend to want a sense of community, like they may have been used to at the dorms. Community areas like rec rooms or courtyards are good for fostering this kind of feeling. Finally, be amenable to the flexbility that they may need. Of course, you do not want every tenant running off for a job across the country every few months, but you can still be flexible. Being a good landlord to good tenants will see them telling their friends about you and ultimately keep your building full.

Although the economy is on the upswing, it most likely be quite a while until this “recession generation” feels stable enough to plunge into the real estate market en masse. In the meantime, property owners should make an effort to be millennial-friendly whenever possible because they are not going anywhere — except maybe their parents’ basements.

Pets are a tricky and sometimes controversial subject. We all know that there are those people who could never live without a warm, furry animal to nuzzle. But there are also those people who are no fan of fur, warmth, nuzzles or any of the other things that come along with having a live animal in your home. For landlords and property owners, there are a whole host of other issues that come along with pets. You may love animals personally, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you want someone else’s pets causing damage to your rental units, making a racket that bothers your current tenants or otherwise doing the things that animals do.  So what options do you have for renting to tenants with pets?

Ban Pets Outright

Whether it’s due to previous bad experiences or negative expectations, many landlords do not allow pets, end of story. While it’s your right to do that (pet owners are not a protected class of citizens against who you may not discriminate) there are some drawbacks to this solution.

First, it eliminates a big swath of the renting population, meaning you could have a harder time filling vacancies. But furthermore, studies have actually shown that  landlords who allow pets make more money and tenants with pets stay in their rental units longer. Finally, landlords who allow pets are actually able to charge more than those who do not, as well as save money on advertising all because units are simply easier to rent when they allow pets. Basically, current property owners who are having trouble filling vacancies may want to consider changing their pet policies

Filter by Type, Size and Even Breed…

But allowing pets to rent units doesn’t have to mean that you let every renter’s menagerie move in without question. Instead, decide what type of pets would be suitable for your unit and for your building and outline these restrictions as soon as you post an ad for your vacancy. Maybe you’re renting small and quiet places that would be well suited to a cat or two, but wouldn’t really fit a Rottweiler, you can decide to allow cats and not dogs. But maybe you’re renting out a condo with a yard in a family neighborhood and a dog would fit right in, then consider allowing dogs. Many landlords also choose to institute weight limits for apartments so certainly dogs may be eligible while others are not.

…or Just Screen For Yourself

An even more effective strategy for filtering out pets is judging the pet for yourself rather than making strict requirement right off the bat. Meet your potential tenant first and then ask to meet their pet before making your final decision. Two dogs may look exactly the same but one is well-mannered and clearly trained while the other is rambunctious and out of control, but you won’t know which is which unless you meet them.

Be Specific in Your Lease

Make sure your pet policy is clear in your lease. Some tenants may move in without a pet and decide to get one while they are staying with you. If there is no clause in your lease, you may have no recourse for dealing with this new pet, so be sure to be clear.

Collect a Pet Deposit

Even if you love animals and your tenants have only the best behaved tenants, it is true that pets can cause damage. This is exactly why the vast majority of pet-friendly rental units require a pet deposit that is separate from the security deposit. How much you want to charge should depend on the overall cost of the apartment and the fixtures, carpet, etc. that may become damaged. This deposit will protect you in the event you need to do pet-related repairs and most pet owners are more than happy to pay it.

Overall, the issue at hand isn’t really whether or not you like animals, it’s a matter of responsibility and that’s the most important quality in any desirable tenant, whether they have a dog or a cockatoo or a cactus. When you screen your tenants and their pets appropriately, you can quickly being to reap the benefits of being pet-friendly.

Who You Gonna Call? A Lawyer!

There are a lot of things you want to avoid as a landlord, like delinquent renters, unnecessary paperwork and shifty contractors.  But chief among these for most property owners is a law suit.  Whether you’re being sued for rental discrimination or unlawful eviction, you do not want to be faced with your recent tenants in a courtroom, no matter what the circumstances.

So you can imagine how thrilled a Toms River, New Jersey landlord was to find out he was being sued by a couple that had moved out of his rental home after only a week.  Turns out they thought they should get their security deposit back in full because the landlord didn’t tell them that the house was haunted.

After a week of what the couple has described as eerie noises, flickering lights and slamming doors, Jose Chincilla and his fiancée Michele Callan called in a paranormal expert to diagnose the house as haunted.  The ghost busters (not their technical name, I’m sure) at the Shore Paranormal Research Society decided that the house was indeed haunted and the couple moved out immediately.  You can visit the society’s website to see a video of their highly inconclusive evidence of paranormal activity (which is different from an all out haunting, apparently).

As you might expect, the landlord has a pretty different opinion about the situation.  He is countersuing the couple because he believes what actually scared them away was the prospect of paying their rent every month and the ghost story is just an excuse to break their lease and still get their deposit back.

A tenant certainly has a right to know about the quirks of a unit before they move in, but it’s doubtful that landlords are going to start including a haunting clause in their leases.

What would you do if your tenant told you that your property was haunted?  Would you give the deposit back?

Manhunter, Apartment Hunter, Same Difference

Up until this point, we’ve mostly been focusing on the landlord aspects of Rocket Lease, but the fact is that apartment hunters are our customers, too.  That’s why today we want to talk about the sometimes exciting but often dreadful apartment hunting process.  Whether you’ve found a new job in a new city or are downsizing your living situation to save your pennies, finding a new apartment can be extremely stressful, no matter what the reason is for your move.  To make things go as smoothly as possible, here are some things you’ll want to have as your start your search.

A Budget

One of the most important things to have when you’re scouring the world, or just the neighborhood, looking for apartments is a budget. The rent on your apartment is something you will have to pay each month, on time and in full so you want to be absolutely sure that the place you find is within your price range. Sometimes you will tell a property manager your budget and they will still show you apartments that are above that price mark, trying to sell you on newer appliances or more square footage, but you should stand your ground. Before you even open that craigslist tab one time, you should know how much you can afford to pay for your new apartment

An Open Mind

At the same time that you’re holding your ground about your budget, you may be forced to keep an open mind and have some flexibility about some things. Sure, everyone wants to live in the very best neighborhood with gleaming fixtures and a jetsetting neighbor who is only home twice a year during New York Fashion Week (she’s also a supermodel) but for most of us, that isn’t entirely realistic. You may have your heart set on a well-established neighborhood, but when you open your mind to an up and coming ‘hood, you might actually end up with a better apartment! The same goes for square footage. Something that sounds tiny might actually be all the room you need and you might actually be happier if you get rid of some of that early ‘90s Pizza Hut memorabilia. Think about it!

A Pet Policy or Plan

If you have a pet or are hoping to get one in the next year, be sure you know the pet policy of any place you look at. The last thing you want is to find your dream apartment only to learn later that Chairman Meow won’t be welcome there.

Good Walking Shoes

The internet has made everything better (obviously, since without it you wouldn’t be reading this blog right now). This includes apartment hunting which can now be done largely online, from searching to applying to signing a lease online (we do that, we should know). However, not every landlord is hip to the internet and you might actually find some killer digs by hoofing it around the neighborhoods where you want to live. Plus this is a great way to figure out the best spots that you’ll be able to walk to from your new place. Craig knows a lot, but his list doesn’t have everything!

All Your Application Information

The unfortunate fact for you as a renter is that we’re currently dealing with a landlord’s market. This means that, depending on the city where you live or are moving to, you might face some stiff competition for the best apartments. So when you do go out to find your new place, be sure that you have all your application information with you so that, if you like it, you can apply on the spot and have a better chance of getting it. Usually this means not just your own contact info but employment history, paystubs and references. Not everyone requires the same information but keeping it handy will put you at an advantage.

Dealbreakers

Especially if you’re going to be sharing your new apartment, either with a spouse or a roommate, you should both agree on a list of dealbreakers before you go on the hunt. Maybe one of you can’t live more than 2 blocks from a karaoke bar while the other one absolutely must have a parking space for no less than 3 Vespas. Whatever it is, agree on them so that hopefully you can avoid some of the hemming and hawing associated with apartment hunting as a pair.

Hopefully this list will help you when you venture out into the big bad world of apartment hunting. We can’t find your apartment for you, but feel free to give us a call when you need help moving. What weekend? Oh, we can’t, we’re going to be out of town. Um…pizza convention? Yeah, sorry, really wish we could help.