Looking to Rent in Alexandria (near a metro) (real estate, apartment complex)
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I am trying to find a one-bedroom apt in the Alexandria area near a metro for no more than 1500. I do understand that I would be responsible for all utilities.
I am so sick of renting from apartment corporations (i.e. Bainbridge, Post Properties, etc), since the unit rents tend to fluctuate dramatically from year to year.
Presently I'm looking to rent from a condo owner. I have considered renting a condo unit (804 sq feet) at Midtown Alexandria. The amenities seem great, and I'm hoping to lock in a two year lease agreement. Sure, it's not in the best of locations, but it's right across from the metro and 2 metro stops from king street. I should also add that I will be working two blocks from the L'enfant station stop (on the yellow line) so it will be very convenient for me to commute to and from work.
Has anyone else looked into renting at Midtown Alexandria. Are there any special things that I should consider? Will the owner have the ability to enter the condo at anytime he/she wishes because it's his/her condo?
I have a lot to consider...if you have rented a condo unit, please advise me about what I should be on the look out for.
Will the owner have the ability to enter the condo at anytime he/she wishes because it's his/her condo?
You can write into the lease that they have to give reasonable notice prior to entry (usually 24 hours prior). If you get a lot of push-back on this clause, you may want to re-think renting from that particular owner. I've rented condos before and in my experience the owners only came in 2x/year except in cases where I had notified them of problems in the unit.
Did you have maintenance/ repair issues when you rented? If the owner is living out of state, I'm sure it's harder to get them to make the needed repairs.
Also, did you have a better experience renting from a condo owner or renting at a management company? I'm just so sick of the apartment complex 'communities.' Even when you pay top dollar for your rental, other renters seem to leave their trash everywhere, and let their dogs urinate in the elevators. I'm certain that this is NOT the case in 97% owner occupied condo developments.
I've rented from owners as well as your standard complexes and have found the rent from owners to be a better deal. Owners love to have a reliable tenant that they trust in their investment and that goes a long way towards not hiking the rent. I have rented in the past to two landlords that either traveled frequently or were located outside of the area. They were upfront about it and one gave me her sister's number to call and she would track her down and we worked together to get the issue resolved. In both cases I sometimes needed to take off work for repairman and they arranged payment over the phone but this happened maybe twice. I would ask a lot questions and trust your gut, they are doing the same.
Overall, I had better experiences in management company properties. More responsive to getting stuff repaired, pest control, keeping maintenance up on the HVAC, etc. The condo units I rented, the majority of the community was not owner-occupied and so basically no one there cared about the upkeep on a day-to-day basis. Also, the places I rented only allowed dogs in the ground-floor units if they allowed dogs at all.
Renting a condo from an owner is usually a good deal in terms of saving on rent.
But I'd advise against signing a 2 year lease. Yes, you can insure yourself against unexpected rent increases that way. But the tradeoff is considerable - if the landlord turns out to be a jerk, or the condo not to your liking for any of a million possible reasons, you're stuck there for an extra year. We made this mistake with our current rental, thinking we'd save a few bucks, but only after living here a couple of months did we realize it was a bad situation. Too late to change that lease, though.
Even if your landlord turns out to be fantastic and you love the unit, you could still get hit by unforeseen problems like rotten neighbors moving in next door. One of the few good things about renting is the flexibility it offers - think hard about that up in favor of saving cash.
A condo owner will likely use a standard lease form that includes provisions for how often the owner can inspect the unit, under what circumstances, and what kind of notice has to be given. Just make sure that's in the lease before you sign one.
I have rented both from individual owners and apartment companies in the past. I believe owners are more flexible on rent. Some may have already paid the property off and are aren't concerned with extracting as much money as they can from renting it - it's not their main income. Of course, this is highly variable and depends completely on the particular owner.
As far as issues like repairs and complaints go, I've had better experiences with apartment management companies (or the apartment's office). Whereas an owner may not be trying to squeeze you for the highest rent, when an unexpected expense comes along they can turn into penny-pinchers. Again, this will vary from owner to owner.
My experience with apartment offices has been that they were very responsive and took care of things to my satisfaction. Apartments have more financial resources and are more accustomed to replacing things like appliances when they wear out. But to an owner who's just renting out their one condo unit, they can balk when these things come up. I had the bad experience of renting a condo (for a great price) from a woman who kept my security deposit when I moved out, because she claimed the range needed replacing (it was very old when I moved in, I hardly ever used it, and I certainly didn't damage it). I should have expected it because before that, she complained about having to replace the window AC for her prior tenant - her attitude was that it must be the tenant causing the problem - not that things wore out and that's an expense of owning property. Bottom line - inspect everything in the unit carefully, report any existing defects, and while living there, promptly report any problems with anything and document it.
Currently I'm a landlord myself, renting out one condo. I have never felt the need to go inspect the property but have had to arrange for other workmen to enter for rare association-required inspections. At those times, I've been very considerate of my tenant and ensured that we coordinated things so that I didn't inconvenience him.
Also, if an owner is living out of state, I'm fairly positive that they have to have a rental agent handling the property. You would deal with the agent or company for things like repairs. They tend to handle it well because it's their business. One of my friends uses such a company to manage his rental condo, even though he lives in Virginia, because it's less hassle for him (although I haven't felt any hassle managing my own rental - but it's all up to what the tenants are like).
As far as the place you're looking at, I don't know about the actual complex, but you're right that the area doesn't have much to do there. And you're also right that it's very close to where you can have a lot to do and see (plus close to work). So if the price is a good deal versus places in Alexandria City, I'd say it's worth considering.
I'm presently going through the initial process, trying to get approved. Century 21 is the real estate agency that is handling the transaction...
Since I'm a fed, the Gov. pays my full metro expenses, therefore I am very much looking forward to living across the street from the yellow line metro. This particular property is only 2 stops from the king street (old town) stop which is full of great eateries!
I should add that the building is sound proof -which is great (considering that the metro is so close). Also, I like the amenities offered. Generally speaking, the units are very square...but the kitchen is comprised of beautiful stainless steel (gas) GE appliances. This is very important to me since I really love to cook.
But thanks for the advice, I will make certain that there's a clause included in the lease regarding repairs and when the owner can enter the unit.
I'm very big on privacy; I'd hate to think that the owner was in the unit when I wasn't home.
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