Shopping for a new place to live can be an exciting time that many people look forward to. However, people living on a limited income may find shopping for a new apartment stressful and frustrating. Based on their income, some apartment hunters find it near impossible to find an apartment they can afford and/or get approved for. Luckily, there are quality, low-income apartments available in nearly every major city, and getting approved for a low-income apartment can be easier than you may think. When applying for low-income apartments, be sure to ask the following questions to ensure you find the apartment that's right for you at a rate you can afford.
This should be the first question asked when looking for a low-income apartment, because it will determine eligibility of the applicant. Most low-income apartment complexes have a set guideline listing maximum and minimum income applicants need to meet before applying for an apartment. Knowing the answer to this question will help determine if it is even worth trying to apply.
Is there an application fee?
Even some low-income apartments require an application fee just to apply. This fee covers background, credit and other checks necessary to get approved. Ask for this amount up front and get all other upfront costs in writing to ensure everything gets paid during the application process.
If approved, how much will the rent be?
In some cases, the amount posted on an apartment complex's website or in promotional brochures is not the actual cost of rent. This is because some apartment complexes that offer low-income housing, also offer non-income based housing to those who would not qualify for reduced rates. Other developments charge rent fees based on income levels, which may vary from unit to unit.
How long will the lease be?
Knowing how long the lease will be before signing it will help the applicant know when he or she will need to re-qualify for low-income housing. Some low-income apartments have standard one-year leases, while others may require quarterly reviews, thus offering only short-term leases.
After moving in, will the rent go up?
Most low-income apartments maintain the same rent fees throughout the terms of the lease. Once the lease has expired, the tenant must get requalified before being allowed to resign a new lease. Some income-based housing units do have varied rent costs, which will be listed in the lease, including when and how much rent will go up by. To avoid any surprises, it is important to ask this question.
What paperwork is needed to apply?
Having all of the right documents when submitting the application will help reduce the amount of time it takes to get approved for a low-income apartment. Not having the proper documentation, such as a photo ID, bank statements, pay stubs and other required paperwork, will require the landlord to put the application on hold until all paperwork is submitted. This can drastically delay the approval process and move-in date.
Is there anything that can be done is an application has been denied?
Some low-income apartment complexes also offer units at market rate for those who do not qualify for the lower income units. If denied for a low-income apartment, ask the landlord if there is anything else that can be done to qualify or if it is possible to pay a higher rate.
How long does it take to get approved and moved into the apartment?
The amount of time it takes to get approved for an apartment varies upon how many other applicants are applying at the same time, as well as how long it will take to verify all paperwork that's submitted. The apartment complex should have a good idea of how long it will take to get an approval back. It is also a good idea to find out how long it will be until the apartment is available, or if the applicant will be put on a wait list.