Everything you need to know about renting in Philadelphia
Finding the perfect place to rent isn’t always easy, but there is hardly a neighborhood in Philadelphia that doesn’t have something to offer. Whether money is not an issue or you are living pay-check to pay-check, all renters have to deal with landlords, security deposits and insurance. This renters guide will take you through the ins and outs of renting in Philadelphia.
If you are already familiar with the city and know where you want to live, you can skip this section. If you don’t have a clue, a fun first step is to take this quiz that matches you to a neighborhood in Philly based on your income and favorite activities. The next step is to visit the neighborhood you’re matched with. Ride through it in a trolley, on your bike or walk around it.
Take note of what you love and what you don’t. Ask yourself questions like: Are the people in the community-friendly? What will my commute to work look like? Is there a grocery store or farmers market nearby? Finally, can I see myself living here? If the cons outway the pros, move on. There are plenty of other neighborhoods to explore in Philadelphia.
Finding a place you love
Once you know what neighborhood you’re going to rent in, you need to find a home! During this process, you are likely thinking of three main factors; price, quality, and location. If you are trying to save money, you will probably need to sacrifice either quality or location.
Gentrification has brought many new beautiful residential buildings into the city of Philadelphia. These buildings come with increased rent in and around the building. Luckily, there are still good deals out there! Depending on the quality and location you’re searching for, rent will usually range from under a grand to upwards of 3,000 a month. Your best bet is to browse sites like Rental Beast, Trulia, Zillow and Padmapper. These sites allow you to search by size, price, and amenities.
It’s all fun and games until you find the house you like and have to start paying your landlord.
What your landlord is responsible for
If you know someone who has rented in the past, I’m sure you have heard horror stories about greedy and lazy landlords. It’s important to know what you’re entitled to when it comes to renting. Tenants have the right to a safe and habitable environment. Below is a list of basic requirements your landlord is responsible for in Philadelphia.
- Heat at 68 ̊ minimum October through April
- A flushing toilet in a room with a closeable door
- Running and hot water
- A smoke alarm
- Taking care of leaks/water damage
- Exterminating insects and vermin before you move in
Knowing what your landlord is legally accountable for will give you leverage when you need them to fix or replace something within your complex. For a complete list of your rights as a renter visit the City of Philadelphia Partners for Good Housing. If your landlord refuses to adhere to these prerogatives, you should file a claim with Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections. Another tip here is to rent through a good property management company that will take care of maintenance for you.
Prior to moving in your landlord can charge you up to two months’ rent, according to Pennsylvania’s landlord-tenant laws. A security deposit is your landlord’s insurance in case you damage the property or skip out on rent. If you don’t meet the lease’s requirements, your landlord is entitled to withhold your deposit or deduct from your return. So, be sure to read your contract before signing it and once more before moving out.
The good news about the deposit is that it’s refundable if you hold up your end of the leasing agreement. The landlord is obligated to return your money in full no more than 30 days after you have surrendered the property. Surrendering the property implies you have removed all of your belongings from the grounds and have returned the keys.
The benefits of renters insurance
Although another bill to pay may be a tough pill to swallow, imagine the cost of replacing all of the items in your house should disaster hit. While your landlord is responsible for the payment of a repaired leak, they are not obligated to pay for damages to your personal property due to said leak. That’s where renters insurance comes in handy. Renter’s policies can be purchased from several reputable insurance companies such as Geico, Allstate, Progressive and State Farm.
The policy is pretty straightforward; your renter’s insurance will cover the losses from the contents of your home up to the amount you are insured for. It will also cover your liability for damages you are responsible for. For example, if you overran the bathtub and flooded your bathroom, that’s on you. But, if you have a decent renters insurance policy, you’re covered and ready to start renting in Philadelphia.
Welcome to Philly, make yourself at home!