Renting and Leasing
Utilities: Many complexes will include some sort of cable package, but if you need every channel there is, do your research. Some apartments might not let you put up a dish, so keep that in mind if you’re using services, such as DirecTV or Dish Network. If a particular phone or Internet service provider is important to you, ensure that they service your area by asking the landlord or going to the provider’s website and entering the ZIP code in the service area box. All apartment residents pay for water, some through their rent, some separately. As water becomes more expensive, many property owners are using submeters, or a water allocation system to bill residents for water directly. If a renter agrees by lease to pay separately for water, there are rules the owner of the property must follow.

Parking: Do not overlook parking space especially if you have more than one vehicle and you live in a neighborhood known to have a shortage of street parking. If you check during the day, there could be plenty of available parking spaces, but how about at night when everyone is home from work? The weekends also can be misleading with so many professionals working varied schedules. It is best to inquire about peak hours and visit then. Ask the landlord if parking spaces are available at a monthly charge or included in your rent.

Activities: Many places will have at least a few of the following available: basketball court, swimming pool, gym, tennis courts, fitness center, walking trail, picnic areas, pet areas and maybe even a play area for children. Other properties have gone beyond typical and offer activities normally reserved for resorts.

AMENITIES GALORE
In addition to affordable rents in the area, amenities provided by many apartment complexes are considered luxuries in other U.S. cities. Expect to find amenities, such as disability access, some paid utilities, balconies or patios, cable-ready outlets, emergency maintenance, laundry facility, outdoor pools, hot tubs and spas. Many have tennis courts, basketball facilities, billiard rooms, playgrounds and fitness facilities outfitted to rival private gyms. Also available at many complexes are limited-access gates, dry cleaners, detailed landscaping and basic cable television. Some apartments have extravagant clubhouses with big-screen televisions, executive business centers, parking garages, sundecks, gazebos, elevators and video-monitored limited entries.

Interior features considered standard for most apartments include heating, air conditioning, miniblinds, ceiling fans, fully equipped kitchens with a dishwasher and multiple phone lines. Other features might include nine-foot ceilings, crown molding, oval garden tubs, bay windows, fireplaces or garages and/or covered parking. In addition, some communities have resident programs that include free and optional services, such as maids, concierges, aerobic classes, guest suites for visitors, free shuttle services and car detail centers.

TYPES OF HOUSING AVAILABLE
There are different renting options in the Los Angeles area. In the suburbs, houses are a popular and expensive option. Much of what is available depends on the city you live in and how close to Downtown LA you are. The closer you get to the city of LA, the more condos, townhouses and apartments you’ll find. Condos are similar to apartments—there is a common area shared with other residents and it’s located within a larger structure. However, with these tenants can own their property, rather than rent from the complex. A townhouse is also similar to an apartment, but it is at least two or three stories. Townhouses share walls with other townhouses and all are usually similar in appearance. Lofts are sometimes in a former industrial warehouse that has been converted to residential living. Lofts are characterized by an open floor plan, tall ceilings and concrete floors. There are many places to live in and around L.A., but it all comes down to how much you want to pay.

RENTER RESOURCES
If you need help looking for a rental property, there are several rental agencies and online sites dedicated to helping you find the perfect place. The online classifieds and weekly city magazines at the LA Times are also great places to look. Sites like these can help match you with your best options in your preferred neighborhoods and price range. The Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (www.aagla.org) is another good resource. They provide resources for renters, such as landlord dispute resolution centers, answers to frequent renting questions and guidelines for their member apartments.

Before moving into any rental property, it is important to know your rights as a renter. In California, the security deposit can be up to two month’s rent or three month’s rent if it’s a furnished apartment. The laws vary depending on the city you live in, so be sure to check before you move.

   
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