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Blog Posts (80)
- Tips for Moving From a House to an Apartment
Whether you're an empty nester, looking for a different lifestyle, or are trying to save money on bills and invest in other things, moving from a house to an apartment can be a mixture of exciting and overwhelming. According to NerdWallet, you can save about $205 per month by renting instead of owning a home. Of course, apartment living comes with many other benefits, as well, from zero maintenance to plenty of neat amenities for you to enjoy. However, you may be wondering how you're going to manage to cram your life into a smaller space. Here are five tips for moving from a house to an apartment. Take Inventory of What You Have Before you begin packing everything into boxes, take a look around at your belongings. Obviously, you probably won't be able to bring everything with you. Determine the essential items that will definitely go with you to your new place and those that can be left behind. You may be surprised at how much stuff you've accumulated over the years that you no longer want or need. You might also realize there are lots of items you're on the fence about. Taking the time to plan accordingly and sift through what you have is the first essential step in moving to an apartment. Get Rid of What You Don’t Need Getting rid of old furniture or possessions can stir up attached memories and emotions for many homeowners. On the flip side, downsizing has several advantages and can give you the sense of moving forward with a clean slate. Either way, you know you're going to have to let some things go. Creating separate piles of items that are staying, being donated, or tossed in the bin is an excellent way to determine what fits into the next chapter of your life. With each item, ask yourself if you want to give it to someone you know, throw it out, donate it to Goodwill, sell it, or even put it in storage. Measure Everything to Make Sure It Will Fit Most likely, your apartment living room and bedrooms will be relatively tighter than what you're used to, so make sure you measure your furniture in advance. If your furniture is too big for the apartment, you may luck out by selling it or consigning it. Whatever money you get can then go towards new pieces that'll work better for you. Buying something new will also allow you to upgrade your decor and change your style entirely if you choose. Decide How You’re Going to Move Your Stuff Once you've gotten rid of what you don't need, you should think about how you're going to get your belongings to your new place. Although it can be costly, there are many opportunities to make your move more affordable at this stage. Some things to consider are: Will you hire a moving company, or rent a truck or van? Do your research and compare prices. Ask your friends and family to help you. Use self-storage or find free temporary storage for your belongings, such as a friend’s attic or basement. Use plastic containers, dressers, cabinets, and nightstands to pack some of your belongings. Check your grocery store for free moving boxes to use. Take Advantage of Apartment Amenities Realize that unboxing your life can be just as stressful as the move itself. But after you begin to settle in, you can enjoy the perks of apartment living. Many apartment facilities offer pools, fitness centers, common areas, rooftop gardens, classes, clubs, and loads of other amenities. Remember to take a break, relax, and explore everything your new place has to offer. You may even meet your neighbors and find people willing to lend a hand. Enjoy Your Fresh Start Keep an open mind and embrace this new beginning. Even if having a house meant more room to spread out, apartment living offers plenty of things you didn't have before: more freedom, extra savings, and fewer responsibilities. Now's your chance to live the simpler life you've always dreamed of. Author Bio: Cora Gold is an avid writer who loves to share her experiences with life, family, home, and more with others who share her passions. She is the Editor-in-Chief for Revivalist magazine and can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
- How to Find Housing Help in the US?
When you're in a tough financial position and looking for affordable housing to prevent your family from becoming homeless then you need to know where to find the right kind of housing assistance. Because everyone’s circumstances are different, there are different types of housing services available across the nation to help you with access to emergency shelter, temporary and permanent housing, and rent assistance. To help you with the necessary housing resources, we’ve created a complete housing guide for individuals and families with disabilities, seniors, veterans, and those looking to prevent or address homelessness. Let’s start by looking at the options for housing along with the qualifying criteria so you know which services are available and who to contact when you’re facing a housing crisis. Housing Services Provided by the HUD All housing services and resources such as rent assistance are governed by the HUD or Department of Housing and Urban Development. There are 3 types of programs the HUD offers to assist qualifying households with housing: Public Housing Housing Voucher Programs (previously Section 8) Private Subsidized Housing In privately owned and subsidized housing, the government pays landlords a set fee to provide affordable rent to low-income families. Housing for Families with Disabilities If you are living with a disability or caring for children or family members with disabilities, you may qualify for housing services including Public Housing, Section 8, and Rent Assistance programs. The HUD offers different types of federal and state programs that focus on finding a place for you to rent that may include assistance with a housing voucher or public housing services. There are also programs that focus on modifying your current home to make it more accessible to relatives with disabilities. The Assisted Living Conversion Program (ALCP) was founded by the HUDto provide housing modifications for both seniors and those with disabilities. The purpose of this program is to help both older adults and those with disabilities to maintain their independence and their homes for much longer which minimizes the need to rely on state housing. There are different modifications that are performed based on the nature of the disability or physical limitation. Changes can range from altering doorknobs to pull handles, adding handrails, or the installation of a wheelchair ramp. How to Get a Free Home Modification? If you or a family member living in your household has suffered an injury causing permanent disability or as a senior, you need to improve the safety of your home, but you can’t afford to, you can apply for a housing improvement grant. One of the most common is the Federal Disability Grant which is meant to cover the costs of making alterations to your home to make it more wheelchair friendly or to simply provide access to more supports so you can continue to live safely and comfortably in your home. The Home Accessibility and Repair Program provides qualifying low income homeowners with a grant to upgrade the home without having to pay the money back. The Accessibility Program is offered through the HUD in your state, including financing departments and local finance agencies. There are also private disability programs offered through organizations such as Rebuilding Together and Self-sufficiency grants. Applying for a Home Improvement Grant? The application for a home improvement grant is open to homeowners who earn a low income. Program applications can be found online (you can visit the HUD website or the Home Accessibility and Repair Program in which documents such as your social security, income, and medical or clinical proof of disability are required. You would also need to attach a letter of motivation as to why you should be considered and how the funds will be used. Housing for Seniors Seniors have the option to choose between 3 HUD housing programs including Section 8, Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), and Section 202 Supportive Housing Services. Section 202 Adults over the age of 62 with a low income may qualify for Section 202. It is a similar program to Section 8 but only offered to seniors who pay 30% of their income towards their rent. Low Income Housing Tax Credit This is a property developer and government deal where the developer determines the number of units for low-income renting and accepts the amount suggested by the HUD for monthly rent. Once accepted, the developer is eligible for tax credits. Who to Contact for Senior Housing? To find out about affordable senior housing, you can contact the HUD for assistance in your area. You can also contact Area Agency on Aging which has a nationwide network of more than 600 agencies specializing in resources for older adults. Housing for Veterans For veterans, there are several federal government programs that help with safe and comfortable housing. These programs include the provision of grants through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). For surviving spouses and veterans, these grants or loans assist with funds to modify homes for those with disabilities or the provision of a VA loan to afford to buy a house. For senior veterans, the federal government also makes programs available for assisted living and nursing homes. Housing Solutions for Homelessness When you can’t afford your rent or you are evicted from your home, you could find yourself homeless. While many people and families have struggled with homelessness across the country, it is important to realize that you can access emergency housing or shelters that are available in your region. It is not an easy journey and for many, simply trying to reach support services or rent assistance is a challenge in itself but it is all about trying. The key to finding the right kind of help is to know who to speak to and to learn which resources are available to address your unique circumstances. Is Homelessness a Problem? The problem with low cost or affordable housing is the rising gap between income and affordable rent or homeownership. The current shortage of affordable housing units has made it harder for people to secure their rent which places them at risk of losing the roof over their heads. When people cannot afford their homes and are faced with few housing options, it places them at risk of homelessness. Recent studies in the housing sector have also shown that most people who are currently homeless are single adults. In the US, around half a million adults and families experience homelessness on a given night. In 2020, more than 580 000 adults including families with children, were homeless. The highest rates of homelessness were recorded in New York followed by Los Angeles and San Francisco. The rising number of people who find themselves on the streets is of concern but with limited housing available and a lack of affordability, where do you go and who do you speak to if you and your family don’t have a home to go to? How to Find Shelter Services in Your Area? Whether you are at risk or you are currently homeless, you can reach out to a community-based shelter or you can contact your local church for assistance with recommended shelters in your region. There are two nationwide services or call centers you can contact to assist with potential and current homelessness. If you can’t get assistance from a local shelter or church, you can call the following organizations for help: The Continuum of Care (COC) The COC offers a program for all who are homeless or who need help with local housing services but who exactly is the COC and how can they help you? “The COC is a local planning agency that is responsible for the coordination of housing services for both individuals and families who find themselves homeless or at risk of being homeless. The purpose of the COC is to provide representation for communities across the nation who need of housing and funding for housing assistance.” This means that it is a community initiative to help people move into secure housing, prevent the return to homelessness, and to improve the lives of individuals and families with emergency shelter, transitional and permanent housing. The Continuum of Care is governed by the HUD or US Department of Urban Housing and Development with the purpose of providing specialized services for the homeless based on their range of needs. If you are at risk of homelessness, you can contact the COC to speak to a housing agent for help and to learn of your options for either temporary or permanent housing in your city or state. Alternatively, you can contact the national housing hotline at 211 to speak to an experienced agent. Agents will help with food and access to social services, including housing resources. Should you struggle to find a community program for help, you can contact the HUD, or you can reach out to a non-profit organization that specializes in community or individual aid. If You Live in Public or Affordable Housing, Speak to a Professional Agent Don’t wait until you are evicted or end up on the street before you contact a housing agency or social service. Most agencies are able to provide support to maintain your current housing, so you don’t end up homeless. This includes negotiations with landlords and access to rent assistance until you can find a more permanent solution. What About Accessing a Shelter? Some see shelters as a last resort but for many individuals and families, it has made a tremendous difference in their lives. If you have to access a shelter, service providers will ask a series of questions about your current mental and physical health. They will assess your employment, whether you have a criminal history and the number of children that you have. The purpose is to match you to the best possible social and housing services, so you don’t have to remain at a shelter. For some individuals, these assessments also provide access to long-term housing and rentals to prevent long-term shelter stays. Finding the Right Housing for Your Needs There are many federal government programs available to help you with affordable housing, grants, and access to housing resources in your area. To determine which type of housing is best for you and your family, it is important to compare the pros and cons of each type of residence and program available to you. Learn of the qualifying criteria and think about what you need to live safely, comfortably, and independently. For seniors and veterans, specialized housing programs are available while affordable housing such as Section 8 can be accessed by all individuals and families on a low income. There are also second chance homes to rent providing affordability in decent apartments for those with bad credit or a former eviction.
- Fix Your Rental History
When you apply to rent an apartment, the landlord will perform a background check which reveals things like your credit score, criminal record, and your rental history. You may not be aware of it, but every tenant has a rental history that is documented in a report or record. These records contain information about former evictions, broken leases, and even late rent payments. Needless to say, having any of these elements show up on your report when you want to rent can be a bit of a problem! We all make mistakes, and you certainly don’t want a single late payment from a previous rental to stand in the way of getting approved for an apartment to rent. So, to help you fix your rental history, we investigate what’s included in these reports, how to check records for errors, and the steps you can take to remedy your past so that it no longer affects your rental future. What is a Rental History Record? The rental history record or report provides landlords with a detailed history of your time as a tenant which includes information such as late rent payments and evictions. When you apply for an apartment to rent, landlords have the authority to look into your background to learn more about your behaviors and responsibilities as a renter. They assess your credit, your history as a tenant, and whether there are any collections against you. Landlords may also schedule an appointment to interview you before deciding on the approval of an application. For these reasons, it is important to learn what a rental report is and whether there are any errors that should be disputed. You don’t want to be interviewed by a potential landlord and feel shocked or unprepared by the information that is presented to you. When you know what’s in your report, you can take steps to clear it, or you can prepare for an interview with the landlord to explain your circumstances and your current position. The landlord will certainly appreciate your honesty and the time you took to clarify the information in the rental history. What is Shown in a Rental History Report? As these reports provide a breakdown of your past rentals, it includes the following information: Physical addresses of your previous rentals The timeline or dates of tenancy, how long you lived in a specific location How much you pay in monthly rent Problems including evictions, late rent payments, and even a broken lease will reflect on the report Along with the details of your past tenancy, the report will also reveal the recommendations provided by the former landlord. If you’re a good tenant, then you’ll have a positive recommendation but if you’ve left the apartment in disarray, failed to pay rent on time, or broke the lease, then a negative recommendation will remain on the report. How Long Does an Eviction Stay on Your Report? Evictions are not pleasant situations but sometimes, for whatever reason, you find yourself receiving a notice from the landlord to move out of the property. Evictions can occur because of failure to pay rent, ongoing noise complaints, and a violation of the rental lease agreement but when it comes to moving on and renting a new place, how long will an eviction remain on your rental history record? Evictions will stay on your record for 7 years. How is a Rental Report Created? Most rental reports are produced by a consumer reporting company that will research individual information from credit reports and background checks. The company should always be enlisted with the Consumer Finance Protection Board to ensure that personal information is handled confidentially. Landlords will conduct their own checks into rental history when screening tenants. They can find your credit history and any criminal charges through background checks. They can also contact a former landlord to ask about your previous tenancy. How Do Landlords Vet First Time Renters? First-time renters don’t have a rental history, so landlords use other methods to determine whether you’d be a reliable tenant. They will examine your credit history, your monthly income, and they may ask for references from an employer. Checking Your Rental History Report You aren’t required to get a copy of your rental report when you apply to rent an apartment but checking it can help you spot errors that would otherwise compromise your application. Fortunately, there are many tools available to help you get a free report. You can visit online agencies that provide a breakdown of your rent payment history including rent still owed on a former lease. These reports should be assessed every 12 months to ensure that the details are accurate and updated. How to Examine Your Report Looking at the rental history report helps you see what a potential landlord will be investigating prior to renting. You want to know if there are any errors and to have these reported and cleared prior to applying for an apartment or home to rent. The first step is to request the report from the appropriate agency. Sometimes, you can call the prospective landlord to ask which agency they use to retrieve these records. This will produce the exact report that the landlord will examine in your case. If you notice an error on the report, you can contact the agency telephonically or by email. Some agencies have an online submission form you can complete with details concerning the inaccuracy. Remember that something as simple as the incorrect date on a payment could create an impression of late rent payments. You should provide the agency or company with documentation to dispute the error. Credit Reports and Rent Payments For those of you looking for information on your past rent payments that you can’t find in a rental report, you might find it in your credit report. Skipped rental payments and collections will be recorded in your credit report. Keeping up with rent payments is the best thing you can do to maintain a healthy credit report and credit score. Landlords like to see that you can keep up with the monthly rent and that you don't have multiple late payments or outstanding rent. Can You Hide Your Rental History? No, you cannot hide your rental history. Because it is based on information retrieved from multiple sources such as a background check and credit report, it is virtually impossible to hide information that has been reported by a former landlord or property management and financial agency. If you are disputing the information on your rental history, then you can contact the agency responsible for generating the report with your own proof, to have the inaccuracy removed. How to Create a Positive Rental History? It can be difficult to clear past rental difficulties that are true and appear on your report. In a situation such as rent owed or a hole in the drywall that you didn’t pay to repair, you can contact the former landlord to negotiate a settlement. You can also get them to remove the “judgment” once you have paid the debt. If you are looking at an eviction, then you won’t be able to get this cleared. Creating a positive rental history is about starting from scratch. If past evictions and money matters are preventing you from renting and rebuilding your rental record, then second chance apartments offer an alternative rental solution. These types of apartments specialize in assisting renters with former evictions for example and won’t dismiss an application to rent solely based on this information. If you have experienced a positive tenancy in the past and you don’t have a recommendation from that particular landlord, you should contact them and ask to have them vouch for you as a renter. If you have negative information on the report, adding positive recommendations from an independent party can create powerful impressions. Where you have an eviction or bad rental history, include a cover letter with your application to rent. Explain your personal circumstances and why things happened the way they did at that specific time. The landlord can be a reasonable person and may appreciate the effort you took to clarify a past discrepancy. Add reliable references to your application. If you have a landlord on your report who's given a bad recommendation about an eviction, you could have a reference from an employer or friends to vouch for your character. Sometimes one or two really good references can change the mind of a landlord who is looking at one negative recommendation. Another step that you can take to improve the chances of getting the apartment that you want to rent is to add a co-signer in case of financial difficulties. A co-signer with a good debt management history takes on the financial responsibility of rent should you default on the payments. It is a major responsibility on behalf of the co-signer but has become a valuable way for renters and potential home buyers to secure their applications. Renting Made Easy Provided you have a full-time job and you can afford the security deposit and monthly rent, then you should be able to find an apartment to rent. Take the time to get a copy of your rental report if you've been a less than stellar tenant so you know what the future landlord will assess when considering your application. Any errors should be disputed and clear if false. If you have an eviction on your rental history, consider second chance apartments that specialize in assisting potential tenants with valuable and affordable homes to rent. There are always means and ways of finding a rental to suit your lifestyle and your pocket despite difficulties in your past.
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