Tag: rent

Baltimore Rises to 25th-Most Expensive City to Rent an Apartment

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Charm City is now among the 25 priciest places in the United States to rent a one-bedroom apartment, according to one new study.

Millennials Pay High Rents in Baltimore

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Baltimore may be a great city for millennials… as long as their parents are paying their rent. 

This Is Baltimore’s Most Expensive Street

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Looking to rent an office in Baltimore? If so, let me recommend that you opt for, oh, anywhere other than Pratt Street downtown. Rents there average $26.37 per square foot, the highest rate in the city and one of the highest in the country, according to the Baltimore Business Journal.

Rich Blocks, Poor Blocks in Baltimore

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We live in an economically-segregated world, so much so that it’s sometimes difficult to get a wider view and see things as they really are. That’s why I’m a fan of websites like Rich Blocks, Poor Blocks, where a savvy data journalist has combined U.S. census data with Google Maps technology to create a stark visual representation of who lives where — and how much it costs.

Lease Agreement, the Movie

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Well, despite how expensive housing has been getting in Baltimore, and despite the difficulty of navigating craigslist, my wife and I have found an apartment that fits our budget, and it’s right in Charles Village.

Now for the lease agreement. Time was, I was so disempowered and desperate for an apartment I would sign whatever I needed to in the name of securing shelter. But experience has taught me that when it comes to renting it pays to be a choosy beggar. So when my wife and I saw some odd clauses in our agreement, we spoke up about it.

If my reading of the lease agreement were adapted into a major motion picture, every weird clause would cue a flashback illustrating a relevant horrible experience with past landlords.

Possession—Owners shall endeavor to deliver possession to Tenants by the commencement date of this Agreement. Should Owners be unable to do so, they shall not be held liable for any damages Tenants suffer as a consequence, nor shall this Agreement be considered void unless Owners are unable to deliver possession within ten (10) days following the commencement date. Flashback to 2005. Bob moves into his efficiency apartment and finds no stove in the kitchen. He turns on the shower and leaky pipes flood the bathroom. Boring montage of Bob leaving the same message with his landlord’s secretary everyday for two weeks. Bob stops payment on his rent check. The landlord comes to the apartment and threatens Bob with legal action, eventually installs a stove and fixes the bathroom.

No. Owners shall be held liable.

Appliances—There are major appliances in the dwelling, such as a refrigerator and stove, the use of these appliances is included in the rent. Flashback to 2007. Landlord talks up the free washer and dryer. A week into the lease the washer and dryer stop working. (Close up of washer and dryer running fine while “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” plays in the background. Switch to super slow motion as appliances stop functioning. Song also  slows down and stops.) Bob calls the landlord about the needed repair. Landlord informs Bob that the washer and dryer were not mentioned in the lease agreement, and he has no plans to replace them. (Cue heartbreaking violins.)

Umm how ’bout we actually write each one down?

Okay, so this is a crummy idea for a movie. But it has a happy ending. We emailed the landlords with seven proposed amendments to the lease agreement and every one was accepted.

If you’re apartment hunting in Maryland, I recommend reading the lease thoroughly and comparing it to Maryland standards. If something seems bizarre or unreasonable in the lease, it’s probably against the law.

In some cases, if a clause contradicts Maryland’s landlord/tenant laws, it’s void anyway. But it will be a lot easier down the road if it’s clarified in the beginning. For example, did you know that you are entitled to interest on your security deposit? It’s the law, but you absolutely will not get it if you don’t pipe up about it.

The Perils of Craigslist

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My family and I find ourselves suddenly in the market for a new dwelling. As mentioned previously, finding a cheap apartment in Baltimore isn’t as easy as it once was. But when you’re combing craigslist for a potential home, it isn’t just the scarcity of reasonably priced apartments that makes it difficult. There are at least three types of suspicious apartment listings that we’ve come across. And like a good American, I saw something, and I’m saying something.

Type 1

These postings never include a picture and usually go something like this: “2 bedroom, 1 bath, quiet neighborhood, no pets, call Tony (410) 555-5555”

Ah, Tony, a man of few words. But when he speaks people listen!

I cannot wrap my head around this style of craigslist ad. Does he think he is going to be charged by the word? Is this the same Tony you call when you need a fake inspection sticker? (“Oh yeah, you need an apartment? I know a guy; he’s cool. It’s totally legit.”)

If the guy can’t be bothered to write more than one sentence or include a picture to advertise the apartment what’s it going to be like when the furnace needs a new thermal coupler? Always pass on these.

Type 2

These listings are suspicious because they are just too good to be true. It’ll ask $750 for a three-bedroom apartment with central air, washer/dryer, and two parking spots in Roland Park. Often this type of post will go on and on about the location. I don’t even call to follow up on Type 2. I just assume the apartment has no roof and three inches of standing water on all floors.

Type 3

This is the listing that seems perfectly reasonable, but you can see that it’s been reposted ten times in the past three months. It’s better not to follow up on these apartments either. They are definitely haunted, and any interaction with the home or the landlord brings with it the risk of catching the unwanted attention of the wayward spirits.

So far we’ve found two apartment listings that fit our budget (and don’t fall into any of the aforementioned categories). We called on one of them, and our would-be landlady kept my wife on the phone for 20 minutes talking about how much she loves her son but doesn’t approve of his life choices. Uh oh!

Maybe we just caught her at a bad time. We’ll see how she acts when we view the apartment today.

Is It Just Me, or Is It Getting Expensive in Here?

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When I moved to Baltimore in 2008, the city’s legendary cheap rent was a major draw. Live in an artistically thriving community within a mid-size city for 200 bucks a month (in an apartment with four of my friends)? Sign me up.

Three years later, faced with the prospect of moving out of my foreclosed Waverly apartment with my wife and infant child, Baltimore no longer seems quite so cheap. There are no affordable options in Mt. Vernon, Charles Village or Hampden. Even Waverly is giving us guff; the only reasonable apartments are deeper into the neighborhood, further away from Hopkins’ Homewood campus.

The problem is compounded when you’re a full-fledged family. When we were preparing for our child, my wife and I were considering many new expenses, but we never thought that having a kid would drive up our rent. Effectively it has. Communal living is less tenable with a baby, and we’ve found many landlords will refuse to even show us their one-bedroom apartments because we’re three people.

What gives? Is the JHU expansion putting pressure on the housing market? Are landlords with dollar signs in their eyes jumping the gun on the projected revitalization of their neighborhoods, and tenants, a notoriously disempowered population, are just taking it? Sure, there are still good deals to be found if you’re willing to live with six or seven other people in a dangerous part of town. But is that for everyone?

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