When dealing with tenants in Massachusetts, it’s caveat landlord
Aug 2011 24

Being a landlord gives you the opportunity to earn income on a regular basis while your property, your investment, increases in value over a period of years, eventually allowing you to sell it for a handsome capital gain.

It can also be a living hell.

Dealing with tenants is something I would never wish on any loved one … or even people I hate. It can be a nightmare. All it takes is one bad tenant to undo the good ones. Late rent payments, noisy / disruptive / illegal behavior, tenants can cause major headaches.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, from what I have read and learned over the years, has very stringent tenant – landlords laws that most people would conclude favor the tenant. (I’m not suggesting the laws are wrong, mind you, just stating what I believe to be fact.)

It is very hard to evict a tenant, even one who isn’t paying his/her rent. Even one who is breaking the law.

I mention this because there was an article in yesterday’s New York Post about a .. well, a squatter is what you would call him.

He is accused of living in an apartment that he’s not paying rent on, nor has he paid a dime for at least four months. He is believed to be employed at a “swanky Manhattan steakhouse” and therefore capable of paying, he just chooses not to. At least that’s what his landlord claims.

The landlord has tried to get the tenant out of the apartment. He even changed the locks. The tenant called the police and they told the landlord to hand over a key and let the tenant in. They said, “Take it up with housing court.”

If you’re thinking of becoming a landlord, please contact us to learn more about tenant – landlord law. We can refer you to a good lawyer and also help find you a suitable investment.

We can never guarantee you the perfect tenant, however.

Small and cheap Boston apartments
Aug 2011 08

Well, not in Boston … yet.

But, if the cost of housing continues to rise in Boston as it has in other cities, such as New York, you’re bound to see something like this.

I could live in a space that small, maybe. But, he lost me when I saw that he kept his sneakers next to his microwave and that he had to share a bathroom with three other people … which, I guess, is actually like having roommates, but seems kind of gross.

His rent is $750 per month, and the room looks to be in good shape. He lives in Hell’s Kitchen, which is a popular but not most-popular neighborhood in NYC. New York is very different from Boston, with much higher density in Manhattan than we have in any Boston neighborhood.

Could you live in a small space?

If you live in Boston, contact me to learn more about the cost of housing and how to save yourself money when renting an apartment.

Boston apartment search leads to September 1 rental rush
Jul 2011 20

RentJuice is a national rental database used by landlords, real estate agents, and renters / tenants to post, search, and find apartments for rent. Open for just two years, the company has rapidly become the default database for real estate agents in all the cities it currently covers.

For the first time, RentJuice has compiled its Boston apartment data and released the results to the general public.

What their data shows is that most apartments in Boston rent for September 1 occupancy – as much as 79% of all apartments being listed for rent.

That’s a startling figure. Obviously, a lot of what’s driving that is college students looking for housing for the school year.

The unintentional effect is that, most everyone else ends up going on that schedule. Landlords who rent to “everyone”, students and professionals, want to have their apartments available for September 1, so they often force tenants to sign September 1 – August 31 leases.

No landlord wants to be stuck with an apartment to rent in January or February – people just don’t move then, unless it’s a job relocation or something similar changing their lives.

Because there’s huge demand, and limited supply, this puts pressure on prices – upward pressure. That’s why tenants often have to pay brokers’ fees in order to secure an apartment.

So, in a certain way, the system as its unfurled is jigged against tenants.

RentJuice has done an excellent job of collecting data and presenting the results. I do have major issues right now with drawing any conclusions, however. Even RentJuice would probably agree, right now, its reports are works in progress.

The reports only include rentals put into the RentJuice system; not all apartments available for rent. So, craiglist and landlord-direct apartments are not included. These might often be available for less than what is offered by brokers. (Basically, you’re paying your agent to find you an apartment so you don’t have to waste your time on craigslist hour after hour.)

For example, RentJuice reports that Kendall Square and East Cambridge have higher average rents than its overall average.

That’s because the many apartments available out there are in new, large, high-rise, full-service buildings (Watermark and Third Square) whereas other neighborhoods have a much-wider selection from which to choose (Back Bay, Beacon Hill, South End).

So, take the data with a grain of salt; it’s not exhaustive and it’s not complete. (Again, not that they’re saying it is …)

If you’d like to see the full report, have any questions about rentals / apartments, or would like to see apartments, please let me know.

The Boston apartment search shuffle continues
Jun 2011 30

Looking for an apartment in Boston is a really tough, often discouraging process. Finding a suitable apartment (notice I didn’t say, “great”) is a real challenge.

If you’re looking for September 1 availability right now, sorry, it’s almost too late. Although you might expect that landlords would list their apartments for rent just one or two months ahead of time, things have gotten out of whack and most landlords have already secured fall tenants by the time the 4th of July rolls around.

This is almost always true out in the college neighborhoods of the Fenway, Allston, and Brighton, but it’s becoming more of the rule downtown, too.

High-end units in the new multi-hundred apartment complexes will always have a selection available, but even there you have problems; first, the prices are high, over $2,500 for a studio and as high as $8,000 for three bed (if you can find it), second, the floor-plans are often smaller than you’d prefer, often 1,000 square feet or less. Add in that you might want your own washer/dryer, on-site parking, and/or own a pet, and you’ve limited yourself dramatically in what you’ll be able to find.

Having an agent help you can be a big benefit, if only to cut down on the amount of garbage you’ll end up seeing. If you can swallow paying a full month’s broker’s fee in order to do so, it can save you time and aggravation. Otherwise, you’re in for a long, drawn-out process of searching through hundreds (thousands, actually) of listings on craigslist.

For one renter’s perspective, check out Rona Fishman’s blog entry on Boston.com’s Real Estate Now Blog.

Above, one of Warren Residential Group’s apartment listings, located at 294 Newbury Street. Available now, it’s a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment with ~657 square feet of space, priced at $3,300.

Dog-friendly apartments in Boston hard to find
Jun 2011 27

Have you been searching for a Boston apartment for yourself, and maybe your dog?

Chances are, you’ve had some difficulty.

Many times, landlords don’t want pets in their units. They are certainly within their legal rights to do so. Even though many people have pets and are good owners, landlords can point to bad tenants who have let their dogs and cats destroy common hallways.

The solution if you can’t find an apartment that accepts pets is to buy, instead. Of course, not everyone has the option or desire to do so.

The New York Times had an article over the weekend about a couple who owned a co-op in the city and who decided to rent out their current home while renting another, larger place somewhere else. Not only did they have trouble finding a pet-friendly apartment building, they found it hard to rent out their co-op, since their building’s rules forbid renters from having dogs or cats. Owners could, just not renters. This isn’t that uncommon.

Almost always, condo buildings allow pets. It used to be less common but as dog ownership has increased over the years, many buildings have modified their condo docs.

If you’re looking to rent an apartment, it’s best to find out ahead of time the pet policies. Too many times, it’s not brought up until too late. Heartbreak results.

Please let me know if I can help.

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