Category: Expert Advice

Energy Efficient Apartment Tips for Renters

While renting has many affordable benefits, such as not having to pay when your water heater suddenly breaks down, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to save a couple dollars every month. One of the easiest ways to do that is through your electric bill, since it might be one of the only bills in your apartment complex you can control. Woodlake Properties has outlined the easiest energy efficient apartment tips to lower your electric bills. While many of these tips will be especially helpful to first-time renters, they are useful to anyone looking to lessen their impact on the environment (and their wallet).

9 Tips to Lower Apartment Rental Electric Bills

Energy Efficient Light Bulbs: The very first thing you want to do is switch all every old incandescent lightbulb to more energy-efficient LED bulbs. While it will cost you more upfront the money, the savings on your electric bill is worth it in the long term.

Tip: If the bulbs are still working when you move out, take them with you!

Turn Off Fans & Lights: Our parents nagged us to death about turning off the lights in rooms that were unoccupied and you’ll thank them when you get your electric bill! Similarly, ceiling fans simply help to circulate existing air and are only necessary when someone is in the room.

Dishwasher Tips: Run the dishwasher at night to reduce your AC’s heat load. You can also shut off the heated dry, prop the door open and let your dishes air dry!

Washing Machine Tips: Almost every single detergent will dissolve in cold water, there is really no reason to use hot water any longer. Consider larger loads of laundry to reduce the number of times you’re running the machine each week.

Upgrade Thermostat: Replacing your outdated mechanical thermostat with a smart programmable thermostat allows you to set temperatures directly from your phone no matter where you are! Make sure to refer to your lease agreement if there are any stipulations in place before the installation.

Rugs on Hardwood Floors: If your apartment has hardwood floors throughout laying down area rugs in the winter months will help to see your place insulated and the warm air inside.

Fix Leaky Faucets/Running Toilets: Alert your landlord right away if you notice a constantly leaking faucet or running toilet as that is a huge waste of water and money on your water bill.

Draft-proof Outlets: On the first cold day of the season put your hand in front of every outlet to feel any drafts coming through. If so, purchase gasket plugs for all the drafty outlets to seal the air leak. Don’t worry, these are inexpensive and can easily be removed when you need to use the plug.

Avoid Phantom Power: When your cell phone charger, microwave and power strips are plugged in but not in use they’re still using energy and wasting your money. You’d be surprised at the difference it can make to unplug your coffee machine or Christmas tree when they’re not in use.

Renters Toolkit: Essential Tools all Renters Should have in their Apartment

There are many perks to renting an apartment, mainly not having to do any major repairs when an appliance breaks down. But, it is inevitable that at some point you will put together a coffee table or want to hang a picture, none of which are covered in a maintenance request. When this happens, you’ll need a renters toolkit equipped with the basic and essential items to help you with DIY projects in your apartment. Woodlake Properties highlights the 10 essential must-haves for your renters toolkit so you’re prepared in any situation!  

Renters Toolkit: 10 Must-Have Tools for Every Apartment

Compact Multi-tool: Every renter should start their toolkit with a multi-tool since it serves many many purposes. This all-in-one essential includes pliers, utility knife, wrench, mini screwdriver, a corkscrew and several more! While we still recommending buying the full size items listed below, if you’re on a tight budget this is the best place to start.

Cordless Power Drill: One of the most useful tools in your Renters Toolkit arsenal, the cordless power drill can be used on a wide variety of projects. From hanging a shelf to putting furniture together, if there is one tool to buy for your apartment it’s this one.

Screwdriver Set: Every apartment should be equipped with 1 Phillips screwdriver and 1 Flathead screwdriver.

Small Hammer: Another useful tool that can be used to mount picture hooks or as a mallet for putting together furniture pieces. Plus at only $10, it won’t eat into your $1,000 furnishing budget.

Tape Measure: This is an invaluable tool when it comes to measuring everything in your home! From how high to hang your pictures to the distance between couches, a 25-foot tape measure is essential for all renters (and homeowners).

Utility Knife: Don’t ruin your brand new knife set opening all of those Amazon boxes, purchase a utility knife instead!

Ladder: Since almost all of your projects will take place inside the apartment a simple 4-foot ladder will suffice for most projects. It will also come in handy when you’re trying to save space and stack high.

Nails/Screws: Keeping a small collection of nails and screws will come in handy more than a few times during your rental agreement. When hanging artwork or adding shelves, you’ll need these on hand in case there is a few missing from the set you purchased.

Adjustable Wrench: A great item for your renters toolkit in case there is ever a leaking faucet or lose plumbing fitting you won’t have to wait around for your maintenance man.

Extension Cords: More than likely all of your apartment’s outlets will not all be located in the best place for your furniture. Use extension cords to decorate freely without worrying about blocking power sources.

Apartment Essentials for All Renters

Besides your security deposit, renters insurance and furniture, tools are an essential item you need when moving into an apartment. Using your own tools provides you with the freedom to make small repairs and explore some DIY decorating projects (like these rental friendly bathroom upgrades). However, remember follow our tips to avoid losing your security deposit!

Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving in a Small Apartment

Huge table, endless platters of food, decorations galore and a room full of cheerful friends & family is what most people envision every Thanksgiving holiday. But, those who live in a small apartment shouldn’t be left out of the merriment! Woodlake Properties has provided a few easy tips to host a successful apartment Thanksgiving dinner. From studios to one or two bedroom apartments, you’ll be able to pull off the best holiday feast yet if you follow our smart tips below.

5 Tips to a Successful Apartment Thanksgiving Dinner

Make it a Potluck: Cooking for a large group in a small kitchen is not only time consuming, but extremely stressful. You don’t want to spend the entire party in the kitchen, unable to enjoy the food and company. To get the most out of your get together, ask each of your guests to bring a dish! It can be their favorite Thanksgiving recipe, a simple dessert or even a pizza!

Disposable (eco-friendly) dishware: Since it is probably just you and maybe 1 or 2 other people living in your apartment every day, chances are you don’t have enough silverware or dishes for a party of 10 or more. With the help of an eco-friendly disposable dishware set you’ll have plenty of plates, forks and knives for everyone at your party with minimal impact on the environment.

Borrow extra tables & seats: Folding tables go a long way when it comes to hosting a dinner party at your small apartment. Colored tablecloths artfully upgrade mismatched tables and touches of decorations will make it feel like you’re dining in a hall, rather than your living room. Borrow these essentials from your guests or neighbors.

Strict guest list: The easiest way to ensure you have enough space for food, guests and comfort is to keep the guest list short. Make sure you’re guests know there are no plus one or children, unless you spoke to them in advance.

Sit back, relax & enjoy the holiday: You’ve spent the last few weeks preparing for your apartment Thanksgiving dinner feast and now the time has arrived! Make sure to enjoy yourself, mingle amongst your closest friends and family and enjoy all of the food that has been prepared. Remember, the holidays are not about what you have, but who you are surrounded by.

How to Properly Host a Party in your Small Apartment

The above tips are not just true for a Thanksgiving dinner feast, but are universal rules to hosting a dinner party in your small apartment. Remember not to stress about every little detail being perfect, simply enjoy the time surrounded by loved ones and be grateful for all you have.

Help Guide through the Rental Application Process

Woodlake Properties Rental Application Process Guide

You’ve spent the last few months searching all ends of the internet universe, going from building to building in all the hottest neighborhoods and now you’ve finally found the apartment of your dreams! But before you head out and start buying all the furnishings for your new pad, there’s one more step: the Rental Application. Navigating through the endless questions and countless signatures can be a bit overwhelming, especially for new renters. Woodlake Properties has put together a step by step rental application process guide to ensure you get approved!

Rental Application Process: Tips & Tricks to get you Approved

Fill out the Application Completely & Honestly: Every person who will be living in the apartment must fill out the rental application. While it can be long, tedious and time consuming, you must fill out every question and do so honestly. Lying on your rental application is no way to start off a relationship with your landlord.

Pay the Fees: These fees cover the cost to run your credit and background check. If you’re interested in a rental property, be sure to ask about any fees before you fill out the application. Applying for multiple apartments at one time can get expensive, make sure you only apply for places you really love.

Bring your Pay Stubs: Your landlord will need proof that you can cover the cost of the rent and all associated fees (heat, utilities, water, garbage). Bringing proof of income, such as bank statements & tax returns with you to fill out the rental application will speed up the process.

Get Quality References: If you are a first time renter, getting quality personal references will help landlords know you’re a serious applicant. A quality reference can be an employer, colleague or professor.

Woodlake Properties Rental Application Process Guidelines

Be Upfront about Pets: Never lie about renting with pets. The landlord is almost always guaranteed to find out and when they do you’re putting yourself and your pet in a risky situation. Even if the apartment states it’s not pet friendly, if you’re honest sometimes the landlord may be willing to work with you. See some tips on renting with dogs.

Have Renters Insurance Ready: You don’t need renters insurance before you have an apartment, but do some research beforehand. Have a strong sense of the company you want to go with this way when you go in for the rental application process you can call your representative and get the policy ready.

Woodlake Properties Step by Step Rental Application Process Help

Be Prepared: Bring more than what you need so you don’t have to stall the process and risk losing the apartment. Make sure you bring pens, photo IDs, references, cover letters, bank statements and W2 forms with you when you fill out the rental application.

Apartments for Rent in Philadelphia

While searching for apartments for rent is only half the battle, going through the rental application process can be a tedious task in itself. However, many landlords have found ways to make the process a bit easier, such as online applications and phone/video meets. If you haven’t yet found the apartment of your dreams, Woodlake Properties offers beautiful studio, one and two bedrooms in Philadelphia, Bucks County and even North Jersey. Browse our website for available rentals and call the listing number for a tour!

Guide to Top Neighborhoods to Rent in Philadelphia

Woodlake Properties Top Rental Neighborhoods in Philadelphia

When making the decision to rent in Philadelphia, there are many factors to take into consideration, mainly price point and neighborhood, which always go hand-in-hand. Philadelphia has many subsections, each with its own unique vibe, culture, diversifications and entertainment spots. To help you narrow down your choices, we’ve put together a list of our favorite districts and what each community has to offer. Listed in no particular order are Woodlake Properties’ top 5 neighborhoods to rent in Philadelphia based on median age, restaurants & nightlife, affordability, crime rates and more.

5 Best Neighborhoods to Rent in Philadelphia

  1. Manayunk: This unique neighborhood has made some distinct transitions over the last few years. From blue-collar to an upper-middle class community, Manayunk is currently one of the safest places to rent and boasts a high price tag (average rent is $1,898). Your apartment is in close proximity to dozens of artsy bars, restaurants and boutique shops, especially along Main Street. It is also the youngest neighborhood to rent in Philadelphia, with a median renters age of 27.
  2. South Philadelphia: In our opinion, South Philly is probably the most desirable place to live in the city. It boasts the quiet suburb vibes with all the perks of living in the city. Each street offers a variety of top-rated restaurants and eateries from BYOB Italian to dim sum, upscale Irish bar food, craft beer spots and more!
  3. Fishtown: Both culturally diverse and family-friendly, the Fishtown district is the perfect location for anyone looking for a quiet neighborhood to rent in Philadelphia. However, inventory is very low so when you find an apartment for rent we advise you make an offer on it quickly.
  4. Northern Liberties: Probably one of the fastest growing, “up and coming” neighborhoods in Philadelphia. If you’re looking for eclectic and newly renovated apartment buildings, this is the spot for you!
  5. Center City: If you’re willing to pay out top-dollar to live in the most desirable neighborhood in Philadelphia, Center City is calling your name. No apartment in the area is listed for less than $2,195, but you’ll experience all the best parts of city living. Just a few steps in any direction you’ll find the hottest restaurants, trendiest bars, shopping areas and city staples.

Apartment Rentals in Philadelphia

Woodlake Properties Best Apartment Rental Neighborhoods in Philadelphia

While there are many more amazing, unique and diverse neighborhoods to rent in Philadelphia, the above list was put together based on our independent research and opinions. If you’re moving to the area for college, refer to our off campus housing vs. college dorm room guide. As a comprehensive online guide to find apartments for rent, Woodlake Properties has listings throughout Philadelphia, Bucks County, Delaware County and North Jersey. Browse through our website to see available properties and schedule a tour today!

Tips to Avoid Losing a Rental Security Deposit

Woodlake Properties Tips to Keep your Rental Security Deposit

If you’re about to move out of your apartment, you’re probably itching to get that rental security deposit back into your own bank account. But the question is looming over your head – will my landlord return my deposit? Even if you have the most amicable relationship with your landlord, it is important that you take all necessary precautions to ensure you retain your security deposit when the time comes to move out. Woodlake Properties has highlighted the best tips to make sure you get your full rental security deposit back when your lease is expired.

7 Ways to Ensure you Retain your Rental Security Deposit

Take photos & videos when you move in: Before moving any of your furniture into your place, go through every room and take photos and videos of everything. Make sure to store and save them with a time stamp. This way, when you move out your landlord can’t falsely claim damages against you, because you’ll have solid proof.

Woodlake Properties Tips to Retain your Rental Security Deposit

Document existing damages: After you’ve taken sufficient photos and videos, request a walk-through with your landlord. This will give you both an opportunity to properly document damages and keep them on file until it is time to move out.

Take photos & videos when you move out: Have proof that the apartment is just as clean and nice as the day you moved in (side by side images for comparison). Again, make sure they are clearly date & time stamped.

Clean the carpets: Invest a little bit of your own money to rent a professional carpet cleaner. This will remove deep down dirt and restore the carpets to brand new!

Don’t leave anything behind: If you do not want to bring something with you to your new place, donate it or throw it away. Do not let your landlord deal with getting rid of your personal belongings.

Restore the property: Put the property back to its original condition. This includes: patch holes from posters, paint to original color, fix any damages, clean everything top to bottom and clean the entire apartment thoroughly. This is especially important if you’re renting with dogs.

Ask for a final walk-through: After you’ve done all of the above, ask your landlord to walk through the apartment with you present. Use the walk-through sheet from your move-in walk through to ensure everything is in tip-top shape.

Keep your Apartment Down Payment

Woodlake Properties How to Keep your Rental Security Deposit

Retaining your security deposit at the end of your lease is usually a top priority for good-standing renters. Tenants are not perfect and accidents happen, but if you stick to the guidelines above, these tips should help you in getting back most or all of what you put down. If this is your first rental space, read the 10 Must-Ask Questions when Renting an Apartment.  Tenants looking to rent an apartment in Philadelphia, call Woodlake Properties main office line to request a tour of our available spaces.

7 Renters Insurance Benefits

Woodlake Properties Renters Insurance Benefits

If you’re in the market to rent a house, condo or apartment then you’ve probably come across the term renters insurance once or twice in your search. With rent prices rising, many naïve renters may choose to opt out of an insurance policy to save a few bucks annually. Similarly, some new renters believe their belongings and other such items are covered under their landlords’ policy – which is simply untrue. Woodlake Properties has outlined the top 7 renters insurance benefits and why you need to take out a policy before moving into your next apartment.

Benefits to Investing in Renters Insurance

Woodlake Properties Reasons to Buy Renters Insurance
  1. Protect Your Personal Property: A common and cost effective insurance policy will provide the necessary protection to replace your personal belongings in the event of fire, vandalism, flood, etc. Your personal items (electronics, clothing, luggage, etc.) are not covered under your landlord’s policy.
  2. Landlord Requirement: Your landlord’s insurance policy will cover the housing and exterior, but not the personal property you bring with you. More and more landlords and apartment complexes require renters to provide their own renters insurance, with proof.
  3. Won’t Break Your Bank: Renters Insurance rates vary from state to state, but the cost per month greatly justifies the cost to replace all of your valuables. Quickly add up the value of your clothing, electronics and kitchenware and you’ll easily get into the thousands of dollars. Renters insurance ranges from $7 – $25 per month, a reasonable rate to protect your possessions.
  4. Extensive Coverage: Many renters insurance policies cover a wide range of tragic, yet realistic, events including theft, fire, floods, liability, injury and more. Be sure to fully understand your range of coverage before signing up and paying your policy.
  5. Worldwide Protection: One of the many renters insurance benefits is it covers your belongings no matter where they are: apartment, car or traveling the world. Be sure to ask your agent what your policy constitutes as “other covered losses” to fully understand this aspect of your policy.
  6. Covers more than your Possessions: Protect your bank account if your current rental property becomes uninhabitable due to natural disaster, flood, fire, etc. Renters insurance can cover the cost of living expenses and temporary residence until you’re able to move back into your rental.
  7. Expand your Rental Opportunities: Investing in renters insurance expands your options when looking for rental properties. Instead of limiting yourself to only places without an insurance policy requirement (very limited options) you have the freedom to rent anywhere you choose – within your budget.

Reasons to Invest in an Insurance Policy

Woodlake Properties 7 Reasons Renters Need Insurance

When searching apartments for rent in Philadelphia, Bucks County PA or Northern NJ you’ll want to make sure you are covered with (at least) a standard, affordable renters insurance policy. Be sure you fully understand what is covered and the amount of money. Lastly, always have proof of renters insurance on you when searching for your new apartment rental.

Questions you must Ask when Renting an Apartment

Woodlake Properties Important Questions to Ask Renting an Apartment

There are many options to consider and choices when renting an apartment in Philadelphia. You can easily fall in love with a studio loft or a 3 bedroom in Center City and want to move in immediately. However, there are many questions you should ask during the touring process to ensure it is the right choice for you. Woodlake Properties has highlighted the 10 questions you must ask when renting an apartment in Philadelphia. Ask your landlord these questions before applying, as the answers could make or break your final decision.

10 Questions to Ask when Renting an Apartment

Can my rent increase during my lease? This should be the very first question you ask before renting any apartment and your landlord’s answer ought to be clear and precise. In a fixed-term lease your rent stays the same throughout the contract. However, in a month-to-month lease your landlord has the freedom to increase at any time throughout your tenancy. Make sure rent increases or deposit returns are discussed, put into writing and signed by you and your landlord for future references.

What is not included in my rent? Besides rent, you may have to pay out of pocket for your own utilities, gas, water, garbage/recycle pickup, etc. If certain household expenses are not included, your landlord should be able to give you an estimate of the cost per month. Make sure you know exactly how much you’ll be expected to pay before moving in to ensure you can afford this apartment.

What happens if I have to terminate my lease early? Unexpected situations happen every day: a job promotion in a new state, a family emergency or loss of job are all viable reasons you may have to terminate your rental agreement early. It is usually very difficult to break your lease without taking monetary loss. Your options must be clearly discussed and phrased in your lease agreement.

Is renter’s insurance required? In almost all rental situations insurance on your part is required. This questions is not really is it required, but how much is required? While you may be dreading having to spend even more money monthly on your rent payment, remember renters insurance protects you in case of damages to the apartment or your personal property.

Woodlake Properties 10 Questions to Ask before Renting an Apartment

What changes can I make (without losing my security deposit)? Leaving your personal mark on your new home is important. It is equally important to remember you do not want to lose your hard earned rental security deposit. Discuss all changes you want to make in detail with your landlord beforehand.

How can I make rent payments? While this may seem like an obvious answer as everyone does online pay, there are still some old-school landlords who want cash in hand. Make sure you know what forms of payment your landlord accepts, as well as the website for online payments and/or who to make the check out to each month.

What are my initial move-in costs? Every apartment handles the move-in process differently, so be sure to ask how much you will need before the apartment is yours. First + last month down is the most common, but additional security and application fees may apply.

How do I call for maintenance request? Emergency repairs can happen at any time, day or night. Make sure you know how your landlord handles urgent requests. If possible, get the phone number for the maintenance department so you can call them directly.

What is the pet policy? Pet policies are often complicated and, unfortunately, most apartments do not allow pets at all. If you plan on bringing your pup or cat with you, the first question you should ask is if it is a pet-friendly apartment. Once you know it is, then you can go into details on breed and weight specifications, extra fees, etc.

What is the parking situation? If you’re renting in Philadelphia and you have a car, or more than one friend, this is a very important question to ask. You’ll want to make sure that parking is included with your apartment, or if you’ll have to fight for street parking on a daily basis. Then, you’ll need to ask if the spot is included with your rent or if there is an additional fee associated.

Apartments for Rent in Philadelphia

Now that you know what questions to ask during your apartment hunt – now’s the time to start looking! If you’re a first time rental, refer to our step-by-step rental application guide. Browse through Woodlake Properties directory of apartments for rent in Philadelphia, New Jersey, Bucks County and Delaware County. Call 215-634-9444 to schedule a rental property tour today!