What’s a Mother-in-Law Apartment? Should You Rent One?

decorated apartment living roomYou’re on the prowl for a new place to rent in your city’s super competitive rental market — so you think outside the box! One of your coworkers mentions a mother-in-law apartment for rent by one of his neighbors, and what do you do? You come to ApartmentSearch, of course! Here’s the ultimate guide on what mother-in-law apartments are, their pros and cons, and when you should consider renting one of these properties instead of a traditional apartment.

What’s a Mother-In-Law Apartment?

While the name comes from the fact that many of these dwellings are built for aging relatives to live in the same house as their family, you don’t have to be senior citizens or an actual mother-in-law to enjoy the benefits of a mother-in-law apartment.

Often called a guest house or in-law suite, mother-in-law apartments are separate living units incorporated into a larger home. They can be built in a variety of ways — as a finished basement apartment, built as a detached structure on the same property, or as a converted garage. Although they have varying floor plans, most include a bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom, and a separate entrance from the main house.

Suppose it is a secondary housing unit completely independent of the main house — meaning it includes everything from a kitchen to a bathroom — but is located on the same property. In that case, it may also be considered an official accessory dwelling unit (or ADU). This term is often used to describe being legally able to rent out that particular dwelling.

The Pros of a Mother-In-Law Apartment

According to a report by iPropertyManagement, around 36% of Americans live in rental properties, and the rental industry in the United States “has increased by nearly 3.4% since 2014, bringing in over $176 billion in revenue in 2019.” In other words, renting is a popular option for many people when it comes to where they live. But what are the benefits of living in a mother-in-law apartment?

Easy Maintenance

One of the top reasons to move into a mother-in-law apartment is that in most cases, you don’t have to worry about the responsibility of repairs, yard work, preventative maintenance, and the additional expenses that they might bring. The owners of the mother-in-law apartment — who live in the adjoining house — are typically responsible for property maintenance.

Potential Savings

Some say that paying rent for a mother-in-law apartment rent is sometimes higher than a mortgage payment. Still, they don’t consider homeownership expenses like property taxes, insurance, and higher utility bills required to maintain a full house.

With a mother-in-law apartment, all that’s required is a small deposit fee, renter’s insurance, smaller utility fees, rent, and depending on the lease, little to no monthly maintenance expenses. It allows you to save money for your future and remain flexible, as you don’t have a mortgage to tie you down.

Increased Safety

Because a mother-in-law apartment is often connected to the primary residence — or at least close by on the property — you have the security of knowing that if something happens, there are people nearby that can help you in the situation. While you have your independence, you also have people nearby to provide an additional layer of safety.

The Cons of a Mother-In-Law Apartment

Of course, living in a mother-in-law apartment does have a couple drawbacks, including:

Restricted Space and Style

When you live in a mother-in-law apartment, you have to make peace with the fact that the amenities and features you see are the amenities and features you get. There’s often no way you can add on to the property, and any decorating and renovation have to be approved by the homeowner before being undertaken.

This means you’re often restricted when it comes to personalizing your space. While some homeowners might be okay with you painting a wall, still others might require you to change it back when you move.

Delayed Repairs

While it’s great that you don’t have to fix that leaky dishwasher, it’s not so great to be at the mercy of the homeowner to get it repaired. They might be out for the night when the heater dies and not be able to get in touch with a repairman until the next day, leaving you in the cold and at their mercy.

Lack of Equity

While an advantage of living in a mother-in-law apartment is that you don’t have a hefty mortgage payment, the disadvantage is that you also don’t get any long-term financial benefits from paying rent. Your landlord can increase rent at any time, and while it can be your home, you won’t build any equity if you’re renting a property. With a mortgage payment, the interest and property taxes are usually tax-deductible. This isn’t the case with a mother-in-law apartment.

How Can I Find a Mother-In-Law Apartment for Rent?

A mother-in-law apartment isn’t going to be right for everyone. Some people will want the freedom to customize their living space without restrictions, while others are looking to build some equity in a way that renting a mother-in-law apartment just can’t provide.

But if you’re looking for an affordable option that gets you away from the crowded, often noisy traditional apartment scene and you’re not ready for a mortgage payment, a mother-in-law apartment is the way to go. But how do you find one to rent?

First, word of mouth is a great way to help you find a new place to stay. If you live or work nearby, ask people you know in the area if they know anyone renting out mother-in-law apartments.

Then there’s social media — specifically Facebook, which is useful for more than just finding out what your old friend from high school is doing for the holidays. Since Facebook ads are very local, you can get localized listings and a great idea of what things would be like in the area before moving.

And last but certainly not least, if you’re running out of ideas for good housing solutions in your area, visit ApartmentSearch to browse rentals by price, size, amenities, and more! We can help you find a mother-in-law apartment that provides you with everything you need.

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com

Pros and Cons of Moving During the Winter

person standing outside in a ponchoShould you stay or should you go? Don’t let freezing temperatures give you cold feet when deciding whether or not to move apartments this winter! There are many positive reasons why moving in the winter months could benefit you — and your wallet. Check out this list of pros and cons to learn if moving during the cold months makes sense for you.

The Pros of Moving Apartments During the Winter

Sure, the weather outside might occasionally be frightful and cold, but the best time of the year to move into an apartment might actually be during those winter months. Why? Here are a few of the benefits.

Less Competition

First of all, if you’re looking to move apartments during the winter, you’re going to have much less competition than if you were looking to move in the spring or the summer. During the warmer months, college students are out of school, graduates are moving to new cities, and families are not relocating to avoid moving their kids during the school year.

When it’s warm, landlords have no problem finding people to fill up a lease and can pick and choose who gets the property. In the winter? Not so much. And this is good news for you, as they’re eager to get you to rent given there’s much less competition.

Lower Rents During the Winter

Landlords don’t like empty apartments, and because fewer people are looking to rent during the winter, that means they may try and entice you with lower rents during this time. In fact, Investopedia goes as far as to say that “individuals renting between the months of December and March typically find the best rental bargains.” In turn, the most expensive months to start a lease are usually between May and October.

Use this to your advantage before demand picks back up in the spring.

Better Negotiations

Along those same lines, you have a distinct negotiating advantage in the winter that you don’t have in the summer when they have dozens of people willing to take the apartment as is for the price they command. During the winter landlords want to fill the vacancy, they tend to be more lenient and open to negotiations.

For example, if the apartment generally doesn’t allow pets, but you have a cat, they might just let that slide, and you and Fluffy can live there with no worries. What else should you negotiate? Ask about a shorter or longer lease term, nicer amenities, associated fees, parking restrictions, and above all — rent! During peak months, you’re at their mercy in terms of this point. But when they’re feeling a bit desperate and want to fill the vacancy ASAP, you might be able to negotiate different rates.

More Attention from Moving Companies

First, if you use a moving company, you’ll have a broader selection to choose from during the winter. Their schedules are lighter, meaning they can often even fit you in on short notice. And once you go with a specific company, you’ll have plenty of time to work out a deal, and the moving crews will have enough time to handle your items carefully, making the winter move more efficient and relaxed for all parties involved.

The Cons of Moving Apartments During the Winter

There are also some drawbacks to packing up your stuff and hauling it to a new apartment when the snow flies. This includes:

Bad Weather

This is by far the most significant deterrent for most people, as snow, ice, subzero temperatures, and even a massive storm are the risks that you take when you decide to move in the winter.

There’s the chance movers will slip and fall on ice and break some of your items; that the freezing temps will not only chill you to the bone but also damage your sensitive belongings; and roads might be closed due to snow or ice, meaning you’re at risk for an accident at the worst and a delay at best.

To combat the winter conditions, you may need to insulate all your belongings and get a climate-controlled moving truck (at an extra cost). Additionally, it may be a good idea to protect all floors and carpets in your old place and your new apartment, and make sure all sidewalks and walkways are clear of ice and snow.

Fewer Options

The tradeoff for having less competition, the upper hand in negotiations, and lower prices is that there’s also less for you to choose from. Why? Most apartment leases end during the summer, meaning summer renters often have more units to choose from.

In the winter, you run the risk of renting the apartment of someone who terminated their lease, was evicted, or left due to other unexpected circumstances. In other words, the listing might be less than ideal. But as long as you know what factors are really important to you in an apartment, you can decide what you’re willing to compromise on before signing on the dotted line.

Busier Season All-Around

We all know the holidays are in the winter, so adding in a stressful move on top of an already stressful season is, well, stressful. You might not even have the time to settle into your new apartment before you’re thrown into holiday shopping, parties, and the general hustle and bustle. Moving will take time away from your holidays, so you have to decide if you want to spend your time packing up boxes of your belongings or packing up and wrapping boxes for seasonal gatherings.

Ready to Make Your Move?

Demand for apartments tends to be lowest in the winter months, making them the best time for renters to find a steal! But moving during winter can come with drawbacks, including horrible weather conditions, so it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons.

Luckily, ApartmentSearch can provide a complete list of available apartments in your area no matter the season! If you’re ready to take advantage of winter rental rates, explore apartment units on ApartmentSearch.com!

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com