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Rental F.A.Q.

Boston Realty Net rental agents will work diligently and listen carefully to your needs. We aim to save you time in your apartment search by providing as much information as possible prior to coming into our office for an appointment. On this page, we will provide an overview of the rental process.

  • When should I begin my apartment search?
  • Where do I want to live?
  • Information you should have for your rental application
  • Types of Apartments
  • What can I afford to pay?
  • How do I take an apartment off the market?
  • Rental Application Approval
  • Apartment Rental Fees
  • What should I expect to pay prior to move-in?
  • Rental Incentives
  • Utility Costs
  • Pet Policies
  • "Sight Unseen" Rentals
  • Types of Leases
  • Preparing for move-in

When should I look for an apartment?

The date an apartment is listed is often dependent upon the time of year. On average, apartments are listed anywhere from 30 days to 60 days prior to the move-in date, give or take a few weeks. Most leases in Boston end on a date between June 1 and September 1, so the most inventory is typically available between March and September. Student apartment listings for September 1 are listed as early as January or February. September 1 apartment listings for professional tenants are usually not listed until May at the earliest. Apartments for June 1 may also be listed as early as March. Regardless of your particular situation, it is never too early to contact us about your intention to move and need for an apartment rental! Please fill out our online questionnaire and we will respond in a timely manner!

Where do I want to live?

Please view our page of Boston Neighborhoods for an overview of the areas in which we have apartment listings.

What information do I need prior to renting an apartment?

We recommend obtaining the following information in a timely matter so as not to interfere with the approval of your rental application:

  • Landlord contact information and/or references for current landlord and previous landlord, if applicable.
  • Offer Letter or Confirmation of Current Employment, including confirmation of salary, start date or term of employment and position
  • Pay Stub from current job
  • Pet references from previous landlords, if applicable.

Types of Apartments

We handle all types of apartments, including brownstone apartments, full-service high-rise apartments, apartments in gated complexes, new construction apartments, loft apartments and entire townhouses for rent.

High-rise apartments frequently offer views and countless amenities, including concierge services, garage parking (usually for an additional cost), central air conditioning, private balconies, on-site health clubs, community rooms, in-unit laundry or laundry facilities on each floor, and on-site management. High-rise apartments may be found in areas as diverse as the Back Bay, Financial District, Waterfront, Midtown/Boston Common area, West End and Cambridge.

Many brownstone buildings were originally built as single family homes and often feature hardwood floors, high ceilings, bay windows, fireplaces, woodwork and moldings and much original detail and old-world craftsmanship. Outdoor parking is sometimes available behind the buildings. Brownstone apartments are located in residential areas such as the Back Bay, Bay Village, South End, Beacon Hill, North End, Fenway, South Boston, Brookline and Cambridge.

Loft apartments offer flexible floorplans and may be found in many different types of buildings, including new converted factories, churches and schoolhouses and new construction buildings. Many lofts do not have separate bedrooms and are open spaces with no divisions. Some buildings consist primarily of artists and the lofts are designated as “live/work” spaces. Loft apartments are most often found in commercial or industrial areas such as the Seaport District/Fort Point Channel area, Leather District, South End and South Boston.

What can I afford?

Landlords and management companies frequently base their approval of a tenant on a simple formula: The tenant’s monthly income should be no less than three times to four times the monthly rental price. Another way of calculating this is to take your yearly income and plan on spending no more than 25% to 33% of it per year on rent.

How Do I Take an Apartment off the Market?

As soon as we receive a completed rental application and a deposit equal to one month’s rent, we will notify the landlord and all agents in our office will stop showing the apartment. Because many of the same apartment listings are shown by multiple agencies, we will be as expedient as possible in our communication with the landlord or management company. In many cases, we will go over a lease and have you sign a lease the same day submit your application and deposit.

Rental Application Approval

Landlords base their approval of a rental application on many different factors, including your credit history, employment and salary, and current and previous landlord references. All tenants over the age of 18 must complete a rental application. As soon as your application is approved, we will schedule a lease signing if one has not already taken place. We will also collect the balance owed and advise you on what to do to prepare for move-in.

Rental Fees

A one month fee is collected for every apartment rental. Sometimes the owner pays the entire fee and sometimes the tenant pays the entire fee. In some cases, the tenant and the landlord each pay half or a different fraction of the fee. The amount of fee you should expect to pay is dependent in many cases upon the type of building, the owner and the time of year. Many high-rise buildings frequently pay the entire fee. Management companies may pay either the entire fee or half of the fee. Individual landlords often pay a portion of the fee during the “off” season (winter, early spring and late fall).

What Should I Expect to Pay Prior to Move-in?

According to state laws, a landlord may collect no more than first month’s rent, last month’s rent, a one month security deposit and key deposit from a prospective tenant (this does not include the broker fee which is separate). Most owners require two month’s rent -- either first month’s rent and last month’s rent or first month’s rent and a one month security deposit. A key deposit is sometimes charged and is frequently refunded when the keys are returned after moving out the apartment. You should expect to have these payments as soon as possible. A one month deposit is the minimum required to take an apartment off the market pending application approval. Some owners require first month’s rent, last month’s rent and a one month security deposit. This is frequently the case for tenants with pets and students with guarantors/co-signers.

Rental Incentives

Some management companies and landlords offer one month’s rent free and may offer other incentives such as free parking, health club membership, etc. These incentives are more likely to be offered during slower times of the year such as the late fall, winter and early spring. They are also often incorporated in the marketing of new developments and are more likely to be associated with a building consisting of many units.

Utility Costs

When viewing apartments, it is important to consider utility costs. The rental price of many apartments often includes the cost of heat and hot water. This is especially the case in buildings with units that are not separately metered, such as many high-rise buildings and some brownstones. Boston Realty Net’s advertisements clearly state what utilities, if any, may be included in the rental cost. We can provide telephone numbers for the utility companies for tenants who wish to know the average utility bills for a particular apartment. We advise contacting all utility companies to set them up in your name prior to move-in.

Pet Policies

Many owners do not accept pets. This is especially the case with high-rise buildings and buildings owned/managed by large companies. Cats are sometimes allowed but dogs are frequently not allowed. Some exceptions are made and we are very clear about this in our ads. You should expect to pay a security deposit. Some owners restrict the weight of the pet and do not rent to tenants with large dogs over 30lbs, for example.

Sight Unseen Rentals

Frequently, due to the inability to travel to Boston in person to view apartments, a person may have no choice but to rent an apartment without seeing it until the move-in day. Our agents will provide as much information as possible about each available listing, include photos, movies, floorplans, addresses, maps, etc., in order to ensure you are going to make the most well-informed decision. We cannot hold an apartment off the market until we receive a rental application and one month deposit via mail or wire transfer. Once we receive the deposit, we will process all paperwork and send leases in the mail for you to sign and send back. We will also assist with everything necessary to ensure a smooth transition, including assisting with mail forwarding, setting up utilities, resident parking, etc.

Types of Leases and descriptions

A Tenant with a Lease is one who signs a lease to rent a particular apartment for a specified time period. A lease, or rental contract between the landlord (lessor) and the tenant (lessee), is a written document which legally binds both parties. The tenant is obligated to pay a stated rent at a given interval, usually monthly, in return for a safe and habitable apartment. Most landlords and management companies have twelve month leases. Many prefer to end the lease on August 31st of any given year because the majority of tenants (both professionals and students) look for apartments for this move-in date. A Tenant-At-Will is one who occupies a rented premises without a lease but pays rent periodically (typically monthly). The agreement for the Tenancy- at - Will may be either written or verbal. Either the landlord or tenant may terminate this arrangement by giving written notice 30 days or one full rental period in advance, whichever is longer. No reason is required to terminate. If rent is paid the first of each month, notice should be given prior to the first day of the month. However, either the landlord or the tenant may be able to give notice as late as the first day of the month itself.

Preparing Move-in:

  • Set up utilities – Electricity, Gas - Nstar or KeySpan, Cable - Comcast or RCN, Phone & Internet – by contacting each company.
  • Complete all paperwork, including guarantor forms and leases.
  • If you are moving into a high-rise, call to schedule move-in time to reserve elevator.
  • Call moving companies. For move-ins occurring during peak times such as September 1, we recommend contacting a moving company as soon as possible after application approval.
  • Apply for moving permit from City Hall to create towzone for moving truck in front of apartment building and get signs.
  • Apply for Street Occupancy Permit from City Hall to create towzone for moving truck in front of apartment building and get signs.
  • Apply for Resident Permit for parking with signed copy of your lease or utility bill or arrange to rent a parking space. http://www.cityofboston.gov/transportation/parkprogr.asp
  • Contact US Postal Service to forward mail. https://moversguide.usps.com/?referral=USPS
  • Purchase Rental Insurance to insure all belongings, as the owners policy only covers the building and not your possessions. http://www.brownstoneinsurance.com/ ; http://skellyinsurance.com/;
  • Bank Accounts – www.citizensbank.com
  • Contact our office to let us know when you would like to pick up your keys. Normally keys are picked up at 12 p.m.
  • You should expect to receive copy of lease signed by the landlord no later than 30 days after move-in.
  • Complete Apartment Condition Statement and return no later than 15 days after date of occupancy
  • Be aware of trash regulations and the street-sweeping schedules for the city, which vary depending on neighborhood. Link to Street Sweeping/Trash Info http://www.cityofboston.gov/publicworks/Sanitation.asp
  • Know the contact information your landlord/management company for maintenance issues and emergencies