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Renting in Boston

Maybe you are new to Boston, moving to Boston for work or for school. Or maybe you have lived here for a while, dropping your r's and avoiding the green line at rush hour like a true Bostonian. Either way, renting a home in Boston can be a challenging and expensive proposition with many different hurdles to overcome. To find the perfect apartment in Boston without all the stress, you need to work with an agent who has access to all of the city's best apartment listings, knows the neighborhoods you are looking in and can guide you to the neighborhoods that you haven't yet discovered. That's where we come in.

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Renter's Guide

The Home Renting Process

Speak with your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Warren Residential agent about what you want in an apartment and a neighborhood. From the North End to the South End, Bay Village, and South Boston, Boston offers lifestyles that meet any taste and preference. Working with an agent, we will define the price range, apartment size, neighborhoods, and building amenities that will allow us to review the inventory and suggest apartments for consideration. In a city like Boston where apartments are in high-demand, remaining flexible in is important in order to find the place that suits your needs. Your apartment search in Boston should not be scheduled any earlier than 8 weeks prior to your desired lease start date. The Boston rental market operates on a 30-60 day cycle, and if you start your search too late, it is unlikely that many apartments in Boston with your desired move-in date will be available to be seen. Please view our Landlord Requirements section for a list of items you will need to bring with you on your visit.

Working With Your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Warren Residential Agent

Always fully disclose your financial situation to the agent. Trust that they will guide you to the apartments that best fit your parameters, thereby reducing the time it takes to find an apartment and obtain a lease.

Your agent will meet you at your pre-determined location to assist in viewing properties that match your parameters. It often happens that the perfect apartment is found on the first day; however, if it is not, your agent will take the knowledge gained from the day and apply it to the next day’s search. It is imperative that you be honest with your agent and openly express to them your likes and dislikes. This will allow them to help locate your new home in the shortest amount of time. The best time to view properties is Monday through Friday, 9 am to 6 pm. Many of the rental apartments in Boston are shared with many different real estate brokerages, meaning that our agents have the ability to show you everything in the city. Before you view property, you will be asked to sign Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Warren Residential’s Brokerage Fee Disclosure. The signing of this agreement is recommended by the Department of State and protects both you and the agent by specifying the services to be rendered and fees for the transaction.

Application, Lease, and Checks

Throughout all of the changes in the Boston real estate market, one thing remains the same: once you have found the apartment you want, it is best to act immediately. If you have prepared the documents listing in the “Landlord Requirements” section, then you are ready for the application process. The apartment application process in Boston is as varied as the landlords themselves. Most frequently you will be asked to complete an application, which together with your letter of employment, previous landlord reference, and credit report (run either by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Warren Residential or the landlord) will be submitted to the prospective landlord for approval. Usually, there is an application fee that can range from $25-100. Upon landlord approval, your agent will schedule a lease signing at which you will be required to provide all or a combination of first month’s rent, last month’s rent as a security deposit, and the brokerage commission. Remember that in most circumstances a personal check will not be accepted for these fees, and a certified check or credit card is typically required. Read the lease and any attached riders in their entirety before signing. Your agent can help define anything that is not clear to you.

Move-In Day

Move-In Day

Your new landlord will determine how your copy of the lease and keys will be provided to you. Speak to your agent or superintendent regarding the move-in policies of your building. Routinely an appointment is required, and some luxury developments have very strict move-in policies.

Prospective tenants may be required to submit numerous items to prove financial ability to satisfy the lease terms. As a general rule, landlords require that the prospective tenant has an annual income equal to 40-50 times the monthly rent, a good credit history, and a previous landlord reference. (Depending on the landlord, combined incomes for roommates or couples may be used.) The following is a list of regularly required information:

  • Letter of Employment - This is usually a brief statement on employer’s letterhead of annual salary, bonus, position, and start date with the company. International customers will also want to have included the number of years if any that they have worked for their current employer.
  • Letter from Current Landlord - Some companies may ask for a letter from a current or past landlord. These typically require that the letter reference includes the length of tenancy and history of paying rent on time. If you cannot obtain a letter, the previous landlord’s name, address, and phone number may be sufficient.
  • Good Credit - If your credit is not in good standing or you have no US credit history, the landlord may require a guarantor.
  • Personal Identification - A valid Passport or Driver’s License. In addition to the above list, it is essential that you prepare the necessary funds before arriving to find a home in Boston. Landlords often do not accept personal or out-of-state checks. We suggest bringing funds equal to one month’s rent and a month’s security deposit in the form of traveler’s checks or certified checks from a bank for your home-finding trip. The brokerage commission, as stated in the commission agreement, is agreed to be paid at the time of lease signing. Payment can be made in the form of personal check, travelers check, money order or wire transfer. If you have questions regarding meeting any of these requirements, speak to your agent or relocation counselor about the possible use of a guarantor.
What is a Guarantor?

What is a Guarantor?

Because many prospective tenants, especially young professionals or students, do not meet the strict requirements of some Boston landlords, the use of a guarantor is common. A guarantor is an individual that can co-sign the lease. Guarantors should earn in excess of 80 times the monthly rent in annual income. Guarantors from Boston are best but most property owners will accept anyone within the United States.

  • Brownstones and Townhouses in Boston are usually 4-6 stories and are either single-family homes or have been converted into multiple apartments (usually one per floor). Brownstones are very common in the older, most historic neighborhoods of Boston, including Back Bay, Beacon Hill, and the South End. Generally, these buildings offer a lot of charm with elegant wood moldings, fireplaces, and other details that are not as easily found in newer homes.
  • Modern Buildings in Boston are generally considered to be anything built from the 1990s through to the present. They are mainly high-rises with door attendants and/or concierge services. Many will house a health club and/or pool within the building. These are referred to as luxury developments on our site, and you can search these buildings here.
  • Loft Apartments are usually large open spaces with high ceilings and big windows. They are predominantly located in the downtown neighborhoods and seldom have door attendants. However, many new loft developments are being built in classically residential neighborhoods including some suburbs. Loft apartments are often located in old factory buildings in Boston, which lend them a distinctive character. They often feature exposed brick and other unique elements, which make them very popular with young professionals, younger couples, artists, and creative urban dwellers.
  • Walk-up Buildings are no more than six stories and have no elevator and no door attendant. They were originally constructed as multi-family housing. Typically, the higher up the apartment is, the less expensive it is. These buildings are very common in older neighborhoods, as well as in the student areas of Boston.
  • Pre-War Buildings are those built before World War II. These buildings tend to be less than twenty stories and are recognized for features such as larger rooms and/or windows, hardwood floors and high ceilings. These can be doormen or non-doormen buildings.
  • Post War Buildings are larger buildings than Pre-War, built between the 1950’s through the 1970’s. Most will have doormen. They can be found on most city blocks constructed of white, red or brown brick.
  • Studios are one or two rooms, combining a living room and sleeping area. The kitchen may be in the same room or separate.
  • Alcove Studios (or L-Shaped) is a one or two room studio with a separate alcove, which can be used as a sleeping area or can be “walled off” to form a bedroom.
  • Duplex or Triplex are apartments with two or three floors respectively.
  • Loft Area or Mezzanine is an additional space created in apartments with very high ceilings. The loft area is usually constructed above the living room, accessible by a staircase or ladder and typically used for storage or sleeping space.




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