Tenant FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a rental fee and why should I pay you one?

You can certainly search for, and find, an apartment on your own. However, paying Apartment Rental Experts a rental fee gives you access to the best apartments on the market, some of which we represent exclusively. And working with a professional agent saves you hours of scouring ads and scheduling appointments. We can easily show you 6-10 apartments that meet your needs, allowing you to quickly lock down the one you like best. The rental fee is equal to one month’s rent. There are three ways this is handled in rental situations: the full fee is paid by the tenant; the fee is split between the tenant and the landlord (usually, though not always, 50-50); or the full fee is paid by the landlord.

How does Apartment Rental Experts compare to other agencies?

Apartment Rental Experts has the most agents and the largest selection of apartments in Cambridge, Somerville and the surrounding areas. We are the Red Line rental experts.

How do you qualify me, financially, for an apartment?

In order to qualify you for an apartment, landlords usually require that your annual income be 3-4 times your annual rent. This does not include your other expenses – phone, heat, electricity, food, entertainment, etc. – which you must take into consideration when analyzing what you can pay. If you don’t qualify, some landlords allow you to use a guarantor, who must fill out an application that shows financial stability. (NOTE: Occasionally, a landlord will require an in-state guarantor.)

Can I rent an apartment without being present?

If you are unable to come to the Boston area to view apartments, we can definitely help you find an apartment site unseen. Here are some steps in the process:
  • Call us and we will discuss your specific needs. You can search our database or have one of our agents search it for you. Please work closely with your agent to help us understand your most important priorities so we pick the apartments most likely to fit your needs.
  • Your agent can visit the apartments that interest you the most and take additional photos, video, and possibly do a Facetime or Skype showing with you in real time.
  • If you have a friend or associate in the area who can view apartments with your agent this can be helpful, giving you a second set of eyes and another source of feedback.
  • Once you find an apartment you want to apply for we will send you all the relevant paperwork to be processed remotely. If the landlord wants us to prepare the lease we will send that, and if the landlord prefers to prepare their own lease we will process all the application materials and coordinate lease signing with the landlord.
  • Please be ready to provide current and former landlord contact info so that we can get references.
  • We will also need the following supporting information: employment verification in the form of a recent paystub or offer letter with salary; if you are a grad student then proof of enrollment and stipend information; if you need a co-signer we will need to send them an application; and a copy of a photo ID.
  • Often with site unseen deals the money will be wired to our escrow account. Also, sometimes a check(s) can be overnighted to our office.
  • Once all the money and fees have been received and your application has been approved we will facilitate the landlord to sign the lease and forward a copy of the executed lease as soon as we are able.
  • We will do everything we can in this process to show you apartments "warts and all," and our agents are experienced at conveying detailed information about apartments remotely. However, you will need to sign an acknowledgement that you are renting site unseen, so please communicate clearly with your agent about any questions you have, and if possible have a friend look at the apartment as well.

How do I take an apartment off the market?

We need a completed Application, a Deposit, and a Signed Lease. These three things will take the apartment off of the market and initiate the background check and approval processes. Personal checks are normally accepted, but some landlords require clear funds, such as bank check or money order. If you are from a foreign country, bring travelers’ checks or talk with us about arranging a wire transfer in advance.

What should I expect to pay in addition to a rental deposit?

When you sign the lease, you should be prepared to pay the first and last month’s rent and a security deposit of one month’s rent. Some landlords require only two of the three, but you should have the funds to pay all three.

Typically, there is also a broker’s fee of one month’s rent due upon lease signing. Some landlords split this fee with the tenant, but some require the tenant to pay the entire fee.
Some landlords also require a key deposit and cleaning fee, and occasionally the building management or a condo association will require a move-in/move-out fee, which normally does not exceed $500.

What personal documents do I need to bring in order to rent an apartment?

You will need to provide the following documents:
  • An employment letter that includes the name, address, and telephone number of your employer and a document that verifies your salary.
  • Your checking, savings account and credit card numbers
  • The name, address, and telephone number of your current landlord and any previous landlords
  • The name, address, and telephone number of at least one personal reference
  • Your driver’s license or passport
  • If you are self-employed or will pay your living expenses by some means other than a regular paycheck, bring your tax returns, bank statements, financial statements, trust fund documentation, or whatever documentation will confirm your ability to pay your expenses.
  • If a pet is involved, a photo of your pet and a written reference from your current landlord and previous landlords

What does the background check consist of, and why is it necessary?

Landlords require background checks to make sure they are renting to reliable tenants. Based on the information you provide on your apartment application, we will run a credit check, call your former landlord for a reference, and contact your employer for employment verification (if a paystub or welcome-to-the-job letter is provided, this is not necessary). The landlord also reserves the right to contact the personal reference you supply on the application.

How much do utilities cost for an apartment?

The best way to get hard numbers for gas and/or electric costs for a specific apartment is to call Nstar. Give them the address of the apartment and they will give you the average highs and lows over the past year for these utilities.

What can I expect in terms of the cleanliness of an apartment?

Massachusetts law requires broom clean, an empty refrigerator, and a clean kitchen. Many landlords go out of their way to professionally clean units prior to new tenants moving in. But this is not required by law, and even when landlords do have units cleaned, their definition of “clean” may not be the same as yours. If you would like to hire a cleaning service, we can provide contacts for local professionals.

Can I move in early?

Assuming that the current occupants vacate the apartment early, it is up to the landlord whether or not you can move in early. Sometimes landlords allow it for no cost. Sometimes they will want to prorate the rent to include payment for the days prior to the lease start-date (for example, if you moved in three days early, you would pay whatever fraction of your monthly rent three days would be).

Where will I send my rent?

Rent will be sent to the landlord, whose name and address will appear on the front of your lease.

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