Category: First Time Renters
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Upgrade Thermostat: Replacing your outdated mechanical thermostat with a smart programmable thermostat allows you to set temperatures directly from your phone no matter where you are!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
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.
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.
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!
Everything Students Should Know about Dorms vs. Off Campus Housing
As college students prepare to embark on the next chapter of their lives, besides choosing your Philadelphia university, the hardest question may be where it is they’ll live. If the campus is close to home, you may stay living with your parents for the first year until you get adjusted to college life. But, if that is not a reasonable option, you have two choices: dorm or off campus housing. There are pros and cons to each option and the decision is ultimately yours to make. Woodlake Properties has highlighted the benefits of dorms and off campus housing in Philadelphia.
Benefits of Dorm Rooms
Close to Campus & Activities: Depending on the size of the campus, dorm rooms are usually within walking distance, or even biking, to class buildings, dining halls, libraries, recreational activities, clubs and campus events.
No Extra Expenses: Utilities, telephone, cable, electricity and water are all included in your room & board. All dorms also come fully furnished with a bed, dresser and desk. You’ll also purchase a dining package so all of your meals are included as well.
Security: All Philadelphia college campuses hire their own security to protect the safety of their students. Dorm buildings are also equipped with security cameras, student ID activated key locks and a variety of safety measures.
Benefits of Off Campus Housing
Options: You do not get to pick the dorm you stay in, you’re simply assigned one. But if you choose off campus housing, you get the luxury of deciding between a studio, 1 bedroom or 2 bedroom apartment, depending on your budget.
Privacy: Dorm rooms can sometimes get loud and rowdy, which makes difficult to study for your upcoming final. In your own off campus housing apartment, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing your space is quiet and without interruptions.
Stable Housing: During summer break and in-between semesters students must leave their dorm and find temporary housing until the campus opens up. With your own apartment, you’re locked into a lease agreement (6-month, 1 year) and do not have to pack up when the school year is out.
Less Restrictions: For the safety of their students and to promote a healthy living environment, dorm rooms enforce strict rules including curfews, room inspections and more. Off campus housing allows you to come and go as you please, as long as you comply with the apartment building policies.
Find Off Campus Housing in Philadelphia
Philadelphia has thousands of affordable off campus housing options available to students. Woodlake Properties has apartments for rent in the heart of Philadelphia, very close to campus, or a little further outside of the city in Bucks County, PA. Browse our website to see some of our available options and to book a tour!
Questions you must Ask when 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.
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!