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Apartment Leasing Questions & Answers  

Questions and Answers 

Questions? Call Kathy Curtis 

Apartment Rental Questions and Answers

Common questions and answers for apartment rental or leasing apartments. Your best resource for apartment rental search answers is AptExpert.com Qualification criteria, fees, examples of what to bring when touring properties, standard apartment application approval. Purposeful information for your apartment leasing experience with my apartment locator and finder service.   

Q. What do I need bring with me when I tour/visit the apartment communities?​

A. You will need a valid picture ID such as a driver's license or passport to view an apartment. To apply for an apartment, it's helpful to have your paycheck stubs or verification of income, or offer letter of employment, prior employment paperwork, landlord contacts and or copies of prior lease or rental history.


Q. What is an application fee; what is an administration fee and why do I have to pay them? 

A. An application fee is required when applying for an apartment and may require an administration fee also. The application fee is non-refundable;  the administration fee may be refundable however this varies widely by property and individual scenario.  Every property management company has different policies. It's always best to ask prior to filling out the application and submitting fees. Apartment leasing offices or landlords charge an application fee to process your rental application for running the credit check, rental history check, employment, income verification, and background checks. The apartment owner pays a third party to process the application and they're passed on to you.  There may be specials such as "look and lease" incentives offered. AptExpert.com is your best resource for finding these just as for finding your apartment and all that goes along with it. Applications are no longer processed by the leasing or management staff to avoid liability issues, legal problems in handling sensitive and confidential information and to maintain the fair and equal housing opportunity guidelines.  

Q. How Long Does It Take To Get Approved For A Lease? What Information is Needed?

A. As little as 10 minutes to 10 days, every apartment community or owner representative company can differ in the time frame. Applications are not processed by onsite leasing/management staff. Independent companies perform the process once application fees, administration fees and deposits are paid via the leasing office or their online website per their guidelines. Most apartment leasing offices now accept electronic or credit card payments for rent, many also accept electronic fees however there are some that require a money order or cashier's check for initial fees and deposits. Having all the required documents such as paycheck stubs, employment letter, driver license, copies of leases can expedite the application and approval process. Call me with questions.  

Q. What are the qualifications or criteria considered to be approved for an apartment?

A. When evaluating and processing your apartment rental application - these items are considered: 

1. Credit History - acceptable credit history as a rule but varies by property,  may be approved with a higher deposit or fee depending on property or management company, as long as other financial criteria is met; 

2. Verifiable employment with income or proof of ability to pay rent - the standard is 3 times the "market rent" for the apartment as gross verifiable income to qualify but can be higher or lower - co-signers or guarantors will be considered but also varies by property;

3. Rental History - first time renters can generally be approved with a higher deposit or fee as long as other financial criteria is met, varies by property;

4. A Criminal History Background Check is required for every occupant over the age of 18 when applying for an apartment. Disclose and discuss prior to apartment search - this question is also listed on the rental application and if not disclosed can cause loss of admin fees and security deposits - application fees are not refundable other than application fee  - Disclose;

5. Broken lease  or outstanding landlord debt can negatively affect apartment approval and should be discussed prior to the apartment search with your apartment locator to avoid losing costly application fees.  Eviction will be cause for denial or negatively affect apartment approval, discuss prior with your apartment locator.

Q. How much does your apartment search service cost?

A. Our service is 100% FREE to you. There's no catch, our service is paid for by the property owner, after you lease and move in. Our business model is similar to the way a travel agent is paid, or a standard real estate lease transaction. All that's required for me to be paid is Kathy Curtis, Texas Apartment Locators to be listed as the referral source on the registration card or guest card and the rental applications/lease paperwork. Whether your applying online or in person, if there's no space provided, please contact me or the leasing office to confirm where to put my name and company name.  Submit your contact form or call today

Q. My credit is not good ... will you still be able to help me find an apartment? 

A. Yes is the answer in most instances, and I'll do my best to help you. As an experienced apartment locator, I have access to properties with the flexibility to consider some with credit issues. They may charge a higher deposit or non-refundable risk fee depending on your particular credit situation. Most apartments have criteria for approval that includes good credit, some require average but approval is not usually based on credit score alone. The application is also not done by the leasing or management office, management representatives are also not at liberty to discuss credit score or make guarantees. During our initial consultation, I'll ask questions in an attempt to prequalify you - questions about credit, gross income, previous rental history, background, etc. My goal is to help although you may be find the questions invasive, the more I know, the better I'm able to assist in finding the properties that are more apt to work with you, it's best to express concerns upfront with your agent. I'm trying to prevent you from losing costly application and admin fees and the disappointment of finding out that you're denied for an apartment without an explanation and you have wasted your time and money. Not all apartments qualify based on the the same criteria but they all adhere to the Federal Fair Housing Act which requires them to treat everyone equally. The leasing and management representatives do not have direct access to your credit; rental history; or background history when your application has been processed; nor will they be able to provide you with a copy of your credit history. They cannot discuss detailed specifics of your denial nor can they guarantee approval! I'm also not able to guarantee your approval however if I'm given all the facts, I can point you toward the properties that can work with certain issues. 

Q. Why should I use your service to find my apartment instead of apartment hunting on my own? 

A. The online apps and sites don't list all properties, potentially leaving out a property that could be a perfect fit for you; they are unable to keep up with the constantly changing price and availability. It's confusing and time consuming, that's why you want to use AptExpert.com. I'll do all the research, calling to check for price, specials and updated information for you. My knowledge and experience will be invaluable when you're looking for an apartment. It's hassle free, stress free and Free to you!

 We'll narrow down your search to a manageable list of properties that most closely match your requests.   

 My service is 100% FREE to you. You may be thinking "nothing is free"! After you move in, pay your rent in a timely manner, our service is paid by the property owner's marketing and advertising budget. Using my service will not increase your rental price! I can usually find specials deals or incentives you wouldn't find on your own. I'm in constant contact with the apartment leasing teams. My broker company, Texas Apartment Locators, has done business with apartment owners in Houston, Texas since 1975 and is a trusted and reputable name in the apartment industry.  

Q. Do I need to come to your office or meet with you in person by appointment? 

A. No,  skip the trip, you'll never have to leave the comfort of your apartment home or office to use my apartment locator services, I can assist you wherever you are. My business is fully online for your convenience. I'm a field agent and work remotely so I'm rarely at the Bay Area Boulevard location. Call me 281-414-5258 or 281-842-7965 or submit your contact form and as soon as I receive it, I'll contact you to discuss your apartment search details. I'm available to you 7 days a week via phone, text and email or with some advance notice by personal appointment, I can meet you at my office.  The contact form comes directly to me and is available on our "Apartment Search"  and Home page.  I will supply everything you need for your apartment search in an easily read format that's specifically tailored to your requests. You'll receive a customized apartment listing profile via email and I'll continue to help you throughout the process and help you to make the most informed decision on where you want to lease your next apartment home.  Each property listing is itemized with the detailed information and will be updated with pricing, specials, or discounts, with interior and exterior pictures and features, specific floor plans with square footages, assigned schools, community amenities, pet fees/rent, utilities that are not included in your rate, interactive maps with pins that show both directions and  map locations, and important notes related to your move date, lease term, and apartment search criteria.

Q. What if I am a first time apartment renter? 

A. No problem! Most Houston apartments are able to work with first time renters, providing other financial criteria or qualifying criteria is met. Some properties may ask for additional security deposits or first time renter fees as a one time charge; students may need a co-signer or guarantor. In this case, you would still be responsible for the rental payment, however if you default on the apartment lease payment or contract, your guarantor or co-signer is also held responsible. You will still be building your own rental history with a co-signer as the person or persons to sign an addendum guaranteeing payment for the apartment lease and rent payments. The guarantor or co-signer must also qualify; fill out required applications and pay the application fees to apply. This scenario is usually exclusive to students attending colleges or universities in the area but can also include cases such as insufficient income*. Co-signers or guarantors are held to a higher standard for income; cannot have broken leases or outstanding landlord debt; background issues'; recent or current bankruptcy; recent or current foreclosure; and must have maintained a good credit score to be considered. Qualification guidelines for co-signers vary from community to community, excellent to satisfactory credit; excellent rental or mortgage history; and a gross monthly income equal to 4-6 times the amount of the monthly market rate. Contact me for more details, I'll do all the legwork for you and confirm special co-signer requirements prior to your application.   

Q. How Long of a Lease Will I Need to Sign?

A. Most apartments offer a year lease term for best price or specials. There are some properties that offer 13 to 18 months for best price or specials. Many offer 6 month lease terms however, prices can increase with the use of dynamic software which has become commonplace in apartment management. The price can increase significantly even with a 6 month lease term in most cases but varies property to property. There are some properties that offer a 3 month lease term but with a much high premium, if the property offers 3 months, it will be at market rate plus additional upcharges. There are also corporate apartments that may prove to be an alternate option. The corporate style apartment offers the convenience of move in ready with everything included but will also come at a premium rate. It's not possible to provide an accurate quote until the area, lease term and requested options are determined however it will still be less than an extended stay hotel and provide many more conveniences plus amenities and almost always are pet friendly.     

Q. I'm ready, what do I do next to get started using your service to find my new apartment?

A.Fill out the "Start Search" quick contact form, text or call 281-414-5258. I'll contact you as soon as possible to discuss more details to better assist you. ( 1, 2 or 3 bedroom, price range, location or area, pets, specifics that are important to you).

Q. Can I purchase a home through you now or in the future? 

A. My specialty is apartment locating, if you're looking for a new home, I can definitely assist you. If you're in the market for a resale home, I'll refer you to an experienced and reputable Realtor. I'm a licensed real estate sales agent but apartment locating is my niche! You deserve a highly recommended realtor for a long term investment that a home purchase brings, just as you deserve an experienced and highly recommended apartment locator to assist you in finding your apartment home!      

Fill out this form and we'll find your apartment for you free

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Did You Know when you lease an apartment in Houston . . . ?

There are fees to apply for an apartment, and every occupant over the age of 18 must also have a background check!

“One Time Fees”

(These fees may be required to be in money order/cashier’s check form, unless credit card/online payments are accepted upfront prior to occupancy).

Typical Examples of Fees:

Application Fee per adult, may be higher for a married couple

$35 to $65 is customary

(Non-refundable fee paid by applicant for processing and verification of application information).

Lease Fee/Administrative Fee

$75 to $250 is customary

(Non-refundable fee required to offset expenses incurred by management. If the application is rejected by management, the non-refundable lease fee will be refunded as long as information is deemed truthful. If applicant cancels after the standard set time listed on application, from 48 to 72 hours of submitting application, the non-refundable lease or administration fee can be retained by owner/management. If the application is canceled or rejected by apartment owner/management, the Reservation Fee is typically refunded).

Security Deposit or Reservation Fee

(Becomes a refundable Security Deposit upon execution of the lease agreement*. Amounts vary by property and floorplan. Deposit may be applied by apartment owner/management to satisfy all or part of the resident’s obligations upon move out.* If the application is canceled or rejected by management, will be refunded unless there is false information).*

OR

Sure Deposit – In lieu of a standard security deposit the apartment owner/management may require a sure deposit, this is non refundable.

Did You Know when you lease an apartment in Houston . . . ?

 There are fees to apply for an apartment, and every occupant over the age of 18 must also have

a background check!

(These fees may be required to be paid in money order, cashier’s check, or may be paid with a credit card on their property website if they have an online payment acceptance system, upfront prior to occupancy).

Q. I'm ready, let’s get started!?

Typical Examples of Fees:

Application Fee for anyone over the age of 18 to occupy the apartment

Fees vary property from $35 to $70  

(Non-refundable fee paid by applicant for processing and verification of application information).


Lease Fee/Administrative Fee

$75 to $250 is the average 

(Also non-refundable. If the application is denied, the non-refundable admin or lease fee may or may not be refunded depending on the property. If applicant cancels after the standard set time listed on application, from 48 to 72 hours of submitting application, the non-refundable lease or administration fee is usually retained by owner/management).


Security Deposit or Reservation Fee

(Becomes a refundable Security Deposit upon execution of the lease agreement*. Amounts vary by property and floorplan. Deposit may be applied by apartment owner/management to satisfy all or part of the resident’s obligations upon move out.* If the application is canceled or denied by management, may or may not be refunded, varies by situation and property).*


OR


Sure Deposit – In lieu of a standard security deposit the apartment owner/management may require a sure deposit, this is non refundable but considerably lower amount. 

Monthly Recurring Charges Paid to the

apartment owner/management where you lease, you are responsible for these fees. 

(Most  apartment communities do not include electricity although there are some that do. I can provide you with electricity provider contact information. You will be able to choose the electric provider and pay that company directly for your usage* unless sub-metered electricity or electricity is included in your rent*).

Examples shown below:

Rent – as agreed to per your signed lease.

+

Trash Fee – varies by owner/management of apartment, may be valet trash service.

$7 to $35

+

Utility Administrative Fee – standard fee for most properties

$3

(Monthly administrative fee that covers the cost of reading, billing and system maintenance for the utility billing systems).

+

Water Charges – Sometimes referred to as sub-metered water.

Variable could be $8.00 to $70+

(Monthly water usage measured and billed, based on the prevailing rates as established by the local municipalities and will vary based on consumption and property).

+

Pest Control – (ranges from $1.50 to $5.00 monthly as an average).

+

Gas – varies by property, only if the apartment community has natural gas (for hot water heaters, heating, ranges/stoves, etc.)


IF YOU HAVE A PET(S)

Pet Deposit/Pet Fee – Part of which may be non-refundable*, a one time fee and varies by apartment owner/management.


Pet Rent* – recurring monthly – varies by apartment owner/management.


Renter Insurance or Renter Liability Policy

Most apartment owners/management companies require proof of renter insurance/liability policy. Check with your leasing office prior to application and they will provide a link for the preferred company, I can also assist with contact information.

Useful Information

You will be required to provide a valid picture ID to tour apartment property when you visit the leasing offices: Driver License or Passport, and all adults (18+) must present acceptable identification for this purpose to tour the apartments, vacant units, models or community amenities.


Most properties require that your gross income equals 3+ times the monthly rent or more as part of the qualifications for standard apartment approval; you may be asked to provide proof of your income with recent paycheck stubs, offer letter of employment or in some cases bank statements or IRS Returns, it varies by property. There are some properties that require only 2.5 times the monthly rent as income to qualify but they are not the majority.   


Criminal history, credit history, rental history, employment history are verified and processed for every adult occupant over the age of 18. 


Many property leasing offices aren't allowed to tour or show apartments during storm or inclement weather events due to liability issues.  

Examples shown below:

What are the differences in Townhouses, Lofts, Condos, High-Rise or Apartments?

Most communities are considered garden style apartments, 1 to 4 floors, usually with a pool, common maintained areas and amenities, manicured grounds and landscaping, and as a resident you'll enjoy free maintenance, 24 hour emergency maintenance, among other management staff services. 

Townhomes are usually situated within an apartment community.  They are most commonly split level floorplans, with no neighbors living above you or below you and rent like a traditional apartment. There are a few communities that are townhome only rentals scattered throughout greater Houston. 

 A High Rise apartment community is much more prominent in the urban areas, with multiple floors, almost always considered a luxury apartment rental with a wider array of amenities. Mid Rise apartments are newer built, luxury communities with 4 to 7 floors and amenities are similar to a Hi-Rise.

Lofts in Houston vary by location in their design. A traditional loft can be from a large open space to having exposed ductwork or brick accent walls, to a townhome floorplan with an open area or space upstairs, that allows you to view part of the ground floor of the unit.  

Condos are similar to apartments, depending on the area, and were either purchased by an investor or privately owned and managed by a company which provides some of the same amenities you get with an apartment rental. There are some condos in that started out for sale and were converted to apartments with a leasing office and 24 hour emergency maintenance. Privately owned condos don't usually have the same type of agreement.  

IS YOUR APARTMENT LEASE ABOUT TO EXPIRE?

Call me as soon as possible to search for your new apartment home. Most properties require a written 60 day move out notice, so be sure you have satisfied the terms of your current lease! If you do not give a written move out notice, you will incur a balance to the apartment you are moving from and that could interfere with being approved for your next apartment!

IS YOUR APARTMENT LEASE ABOUT TO EXPIRE?

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