Housing Conditions: The Basics
- Is the property well-maintained overall?
- Does the entry to the unit feel safe? Would you feel comfortable going in and out at night?
- Is the apartment clean? Does the apartment smell clean? (If there’s a funny odor, ask what it is and what they will do about it.)
- Does the plumbing work? Turn the faucets on and off, flush the toilet.
- Do the kitchen appliances (refrigerator and stove) work?
- Do you think the apartment will pass the Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspection by the Housing Authority?
- Will you have access to a washer and dryer in the complex?
- If you have a car, is there a convenient and safe place for you to park?
- If you have children, is there a place for them to play?
- How quiet or noisy is the apartment complex? Does that fit with your lifestyle?
- Does the neighborhood feel safe? Try to check it out at different times of day—morning, afternoon and nighttime.
- Try to find a home you want to live in for years. Do you like it? Do you feel comfortable there?
Costs: Get the Full Picture Up Front
- Do you think you will pass the screening criteria? Ask for a copy of the landlord’s screening criteria before you submit an application and pay an application fee. If you don’t think you’ll pass, think twice about spending the money to apply.
- How much is the application fee? Is it refundable? Can it be applied to the first month’s rent?
- With your Section 8 voucher, how much will you have to pay in rent each month?
- What utilities are NOT included in the rent? How much do they cost, on average, each month?
- Do you have to pay extra for pets (if you have them), parking, laundry or other things?
- How much is the security deposit? What is the policy about getting it back when you move?
- Which utilities do you have to set up yourself? Do they require deposits?
The Hidden Cost: Transportation
- How will you get to the places you need to go on a regular basis? (work, school, friends).
- Where’s the nearest grocery store? How will you get there and back with groceries?
- If you drive, will you likely spend more on gas than you do now if you move here? A lot more?
- Is there a transit stop near you? How often does the bus or train come? Does it go directly to places where you need to go, or will you have to transfer?
- Can you walk (or go in your wheelchair) to run errands from here?
- If you have kids, how will they get around if you live here? Are there safe places for them to go?
When You Meet Your Landlord
- First impressions count. Dress accordingly.
- Bring your references, photo ID and application fee.
- If the landlord accepts you as a tenant, bring your Housing Authority forms.
Think Bigger Than Just the Home
When you choose a place to live, you’re choosing more than a safe, affordable space for you and your family.
You’re also choosing a neighborhood that meets your family’s needs. You’re choosing schools, stores, medical providers, job commutes and many other things that affect how much time and money you’ll spend on transportation.
Why Consider Transportation Now?
In our area, transportation costs about 30% of what families with housing assistance earn each month. For many, that’s about as much as your housing costs.