What is a Concierge?

You’ve seen them at hotels … but what about your apartment?

A concierge is a hired professional of a multi-unit property, usually, a luxury building, tasked with acting as a “lent hand” to the residents of that building.

Concierges are primarily associated with hotel stays but can be found in any setting where there are multiple residents in one building.

What does a concierge do?

Tasks of a concierge vary widely as they’re generally assigned to help residents in almost any way that they can. That being said, there are some common tasks that apartment concierges likely handle frequently, such as making restaurant reservations, ordering car service, accepting deliveries, receiving visitors and making sure the building is secure.

Pros and cons of an apartment concierge

That all seems great, right? But as you probably imagine, there are some downsides to the luxury of an apartment concierge. Here are some pros and cons of having an apartment concierge.

Pros of an apartment concierge

  • A helping hand for some overwhelming day-to-day tasks
  • Added security for your building
  • Package and mail reception

Cons of an apartment concierge

  • Diminished privacy
  • Added costs

How common are apartment concierges?

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Apartment concierges are not extremely common, but they do exist. You’re more likely to find an apartment with a concierge in a large city where apartment life is the norm and luxury amenities are in high demand.

Beyond that, many of the primary functions of a concierge — like calling car services and making restaurant reservations — are only possible in larger cities. If an apartment concierge is high on your priority list, however, you shouldn’t have a problem finding one — for the right price.

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What is an Oversized Closet?

Like a regular closet… but bigger.

An oversized closet is a larger than normal closet. While a normal closet can be anywhere from three feet to eight feet long and two to three feet deep, an oversized closet can be much bigger and create more storage space.

Why should I consider having an oversized closet?

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It seems that bigger is often better and in this case, it’s mostly true. Having an oversized closet means you’ll have more room to store belongings, so you’ll likely have room for more than just clothes. It’s also great if you’re sharing your closet with a roommate or significant other.

But the square footage for a larger closet needs to come from somewhere, usually your bedroom, living room or other parts of your apartment will be a foot or two smaller to give more room to your closet. Closets can also become messy quite easily and with a bigger closet comes a bigger mess. Most apartments with oversized closets will charge a higher price, too.

Pros of an oversized closet

  • Spacious and easy to access everything inside
  • Easy to store more than clothing
  • Great for sharing

Cons of an oversized closet

  • Takes square footage away from other rooms
  • Can be a big mess
  • Higher rent price

Do you really need an oversized closet?

Oversized closets are great for extra storage space, but you need to weigh the pros and cons to decide what you’re willing to give up to have one. And of course, not every apartment will offer one anyway.

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What is a Media Center?

A home theater that’s shared by an apartment building or housing community.

A media center is a room with equipment for entertaining with digital media. It’s like a home theater but is a shared space for everyone in an apartment building or housing community to enjoy. It may be located within an apartment building or a shared clubhouse.

What’s the purpose of a media center?

A media center is meant for entertainment and social enjoyment and can be used in a variety of ways. It should be able to comfortably accommodate at least a small group of people, if not a larger gathering.

Some might use it for watching a live broadcasted event while others may use it for playing video games with friends.

What does a media center typically look like?

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As with all complexes, the media center layout will vary depending on the size and space. However, most will have a few staples:

  • Large TV
  • Comfortable seating (couches, chairs, etc.)
  • Sound system
  • DVD player
  • Video game systems (or ways to hook them up)

Is a media center worth it?

It’s really up to you how you want to utilize a media center. Its primary purpose is to provide a comfortable area for groups to socialize, so if one is available to you, consider using it for your next gathering instead of cramming all of your guests into your apartment.

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What is a Rooftop Deck?

Renting doesn’t mean you have to miss out on outdoor spaces.

A rooftop deck is an outdoor space located on the roof of a large building. Most buildings have access to the roof and it has become increasingly common that the property owner remodels it into usable space, perhaps by adding lights, plants, seating and other decor. Some rooftop decks even have a pool!

Do you share your rooftop deck with other tenants?

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Access to a rooftop deck, if there is one, is almost always limited to the tenants that rent in a particular building. Some apartments, especially luxury apartments, may have private access to rooftop outdoor spaces, but most rooftop decks are communal.

Pros and cons of renting in a building with a rooftop deck

A rooftop deck seems like an awesome amenity to be included with your apartment. Let’s take a look at some of both the pros and cons of renting a building with a rooftop deck.

Pros of renting in a building with a rooftop deck

  • Space for entertaining
  • Adds luxury to your rental

Cons of renting in a building with a rooftop deck

  • May be noisy
  • Not always private

What does a rooftop deck look like?

Rooftop decks are usually located on the flat surface at the very top of the building. However, some rooftop decks may be located on one of the higher floors and surrounded on two or more sides by the top floors of the building.

Rooftop decks are usually decorated very poshly with many comfortable amenities — perfect for watching the sunset as shown in the photo above.

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What is an HOA?

You might have to pay for one if you rent a condo or single-family home.

HOA is an acronym that stands for “Home Owners Association.” This is an organization in a housing community that makes and enforces rules about the appearance and maintenance of properties and that maintains common areas (clubhouses, tennis courts, pools, etc.) with money from membership fees.

Nearly all private neighborhoods and gated communities have an HOA. Of course, many apartment complexes have HOAs as well.

Do all apartments have an HOA?

The simple answer is no.

Anyone who purchases or leases an apartment that’s part of an HOA will be required to pay the fees to remain apart of the HOA. Usually, you can’t choose whether or not you want to be apart of the HOA because if the apartment is already apart of the HOA, its tenant must be, as well. You should take that into consideration when applying for an apartment that has an HOA.

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Pros of an HOA

  • Community areas that you can use to your advantage (gym, pool, restaurant, clubhouse, etc.)
  • You have a say in what goes on in your community
  • Guidelines often keep the appearance of homes and landscape clean and well-maintained

Cons of an HOA

  • Can be expensive
  • Specific rules
  • You might not agree with all the regulations

Do I want to live in an apartment complex that’s apart of an HOA?

That’s totally up to you. As always, weigh the pros with the cons and decide the type of apartment you want to live in. If you think you’d enjoy having a clubhouse or a gym or a guard gate, then maybe the fees are worth it to you.

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What is a Pet Wash?

A pet wash is a station designed specifically for bathing and grooming pets. Usually, a pet wash contains a large basin with a spray hose and a designated dry-off area with a vacuum or blow dryer.

Pet wash stations may also come equipped with shampoo and other cleaning agents at some apartment communities.

Do all apartments have pet washes?

Pet wash stations are becoming more and more common in apartment communities, but they definitely aren’t everywhere. Where you’re most likely to find a pet wash station is a newer apartment community, an apartment community that’s recently been upgraded or at an explicitly pet-friendly apartment community.

Why you may want to consider an apartment with a pet wash

If you’re a pet owner, you may think that a pet wash couldn’t increase the quality of your life by that much. After all, you’ve been bathing your furry family member some other way this whole time, right? But, there are certainly some advantages to having an in-building pet wash that you may not have considered.

  • Designated place to wash dogs during the cold, winter months
  • No risk of clogging your unit’s plumbing with pet hair
  • Facilities designed specifically for pets, including ramps to easily get large dogs in and out of the bath
  • Built-in systems to remove loose hair and reduce shedding

What does a pet wash look like?

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Pet wash stations come in a number of forms. However, there’s at least a baseline level that includes a wash basin, a drying table and a hair vacuum.

Beyond that, some apartment communities may offer luxury amenities. Just take a look at the pet wash from the Avalon Willoughby Square Apartments in Brooklyn, NY, pictured above.

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ADA Compliance: What Renters Need to Know

You may dream of owning your home or place of business, but renting is more affordable. Plenty of other people are in the same position, so this is a booming business. Part of a landlord’s responsibilities is creating a usable space for all tenants, which means complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

The ADA became law in 1990 to protect both tenants and renters in cases that could involve disability discrimination. Before you sign your next lease for your home or business, check out what every tenant should know about ADA compliance. Renters are responsible for more than you might think, so it’s essential to fully understand what you’re walking into.

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1. Both parties are responsible

People with disabilities are protected by the ADA, specifically when it comes to Title III. This requires landlords to make rental spaces accessible for anyone with a disability so they can access the property equally. They must modify their properties to meet current ADA regulations, which was last updated in 2010.

In the case of renting a commercial or residential unit, both parties are responsible for ensuring they meet ADA requirements. Before signing on the dotted line, discuss any needed additions or renovations and who’s responsible for paying for them. It’s supposed to be a team effort, which can result in liability exposure for the landlord if they don’t comply.

2. Auxiliary aids are included

Hearing and vision impairments sometimes get overlooked during building construction, but they’re part of Title III. Depending on the agreement with your landlord, they may cover most or half of the bill for aids like notetakers, Braille additions or signs in larger print.

3. Accessibility modifications may count

Your landlord may try to fight against paying for accessibility modifications if they want to cut corners. Still, they must pay the full bill if the changes count as reasonable modifications, like installing a ramp to get into the unit. Vertical lifts and elevators may also join the accessibility options list, depending on the renter’s disability.

Reasonable modifications are mostly defined by how inexpensive and quick the projects are, but the landlord should pay the total bill if they haven’t provided an accessible property.

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4. Both parties designate responsibility

Most commercial leases leave room for tenants and landlords to allocate responsibility before they become official. Depending on the tenant’s financial capabilities, the two parties will decide what they’ll pay for regarding unmet ADA compliance. The finer details, if any, will vary depending on the lease.

Even after both parties agree on their responsibilities, tenants may have to go a step further. Read through your lease to see if there’s language indicating you need to provide your landlord with a lawyer if they’re the subject of an ADA lawsuit. They’ll still legally have to meet their agreed-upon responsibilities, but tenants could have to pay for their legal representation if it’s outlined in the lease.

5. Landlords deal with common areas

Even though your rental space may be ADA compliant, the areas surrounding it could be challenging to access. Because spaces like sidewalks and parking lots aren’t included in your lease, landlords are responsible for them.

If you have any issues accessing your rental unit because these areas don’t have the disability modifications you need, your landlord should fix them at no cost to you.

6. Injunctive relief is common

Some renters may seek financial compensation for their time or efforts in dealing with inaccessible spaces, but most of the time, that’s not possible. The majority of states won’t allow plaintiffs to receive monetary damages or compensation under Title III. Still, you may be responsible for attorney fees and costs after the case gets settled in court. The majority of cases end with injunctive relief, where one or both parties work to solve the issues at hand.

The only time plaintiffs might get damages at the end of a case is if the U.S. Attorney General files an action based on a pattern of discrimination on the part of the landlord. The fines then may include financial compensation or back pay as needed.

Get everything in writing

Both tenants and landlords should get everything in writing as they work to come to an agreement about who’s responsible for which ADA compliance issues. If something goes wrong in the future and one party files a complaint in court, documented terms and signed paperwork will help sort through the problem and come to the best solution for everyone.

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What is a Walk-Up Apartment?

No elevator. Just you and some stairs.

A walk-up apartment is an apartment located in a building accessible only by stairs. There’s no elevator to reach the upper floors of the building — just your legs and lots of steps.

Things to consider before moving into a walk-up apartment

Walk-up apartments can be a lot of work so they might seem less desirable. Due to the low demand, that means they can be more affordable — even in an expensive city like Manhattan.

Buildings with walk-up apartments are usually smaller and have fewer tenants, giving you a more private living situation. And you can ditch the gym membership since you’ll be getting your exercise every day via the stairs.

But there are lots of obvious downsides to a walk-up apartment. If you decide to move into one, it’ll be difficult hauling all of your furniture up multiple flights of stairs. It can be tiring walking up and down stairs each day and even worse if you’re someone who’s bouncing in and out of the house regularly.

Pros of a walk-up apartment

  • More affordable rent price
  • Exercise
  • More privacy

Cons of a walk-up apartment

  • Difficult to move into
  • Tiring
  • Not ideal for someone who is frequently in and out of the house

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It’s all about perspective

Whether or not a walk-up apartment is right for you all comes down to your perspective. What one person views as a pro might be viewed as a con to you or vice-versa. Make sure the pros outweigh the cons from your perspective before moving into a walk-up apartment.

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Parking Options When Your Community Doesn’t Have a Parking Lot

Parking is an amenity that some people don’t even think about when looking to rent an apartment. But if you want the convenience of a covered garage or a guaranteed spot for your vehicle, it has to be part of your must-haves.

When a space is not included, then it becomes a much bigger deal. Do you live in an apartment complex that doesn’t have a parking lot? No worries, we’ve got a few options for you to consider.

1. Street parking

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Depending on where you live, street parking may be an available option at no cost to you. While it may be free, it’s often on a first-come, first-serve basis. This means you’ll have to try your luck and find an open parking spot.

Know ahead of time that some street parking will cost you. Think metered spaces or a permit for a block or specific neighborhood. More often than not, time restrictions on parking will be part of the deal.

Keep an eye out for signs posted with instructions. Pay attention to avoid getting a ticket, having your car booted or towed.

2. Garage or lot parking

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If your complex or apartment building doesn’t have its own garage, then paid parking in a nearby garage is an option. Or, a parking lot within walking distance of your home. Parking lots are most common near shops, bars and restaurants, according to the Parking Network.

There are parking lots that are open throughout the year, but some are also improvised. Think of when you’ve gone to an event. Where do people park for a music festival that only happens once a year? There might be an open nearby meadow for parking, for example.

Paid parking lots and garages sometimes include a parking attendant. Gated entries require a ticket to enter and leave, or a machine to pay the parking fee. For this type of parking, you’re usually charged for the amount of time that you park. If your car is there for more than a few hours, you may incur a flat fee for daily parking.

When parking in an area that requires you to take a ticket, be sure to hold onto the ticket to leave. If you lose the ticket, you may pay a flat fee, which could be more than the cost of the time you actually parked in the space.

It’s a good idea to shop around for the best rate since costs vary from garage to lot. While comparing rates, look at whether it is cheaper to pay for daily vs. hourly parking.

3. Parking apps

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Source: Parknay

Parking apps are one answer, especially in a lot of urban locales. Searching for and paying for parking has become easier because of parking apps. Some apps even let you make a reservation and will provide instructions on how to redeem parking at the garage.

Parknav is an app that offers real-time predictive street parking in more than 200 cities. Search the app for an address. Parknav displays a map with nearby streets. These streets are color-coded according to the likelihood of finding parking there.

That’s only one app out of many that help you find parking. Some apps are city-specific and there are even a few that help you save money. A quick search on your phone’s app store will give you a list of useful parking apps.

4. Ditch the car for public transportation

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Although it may not be ideal for everyone, public transportation is an option. Do you live in a transit-rich city? If you live in an area that’s easily accessible by mass transit or has everything you need within a short distance, you can always sell your car and use the bus, subway, train, bike or walk.

This option may save you money and will remove the stress of having to find parking. There’s a huge variation among different cities in the price of parking.

Park wisely

Parking is a problem when you live in an apartment without dedicated spaces. It’s also an issue when you’re a two-car family and you’ve only got one reserved space. Street parking could be lacking where you live. Especially in urban areas.

Some cities want to require the unbundling of parking space rentals from housing lease agreements, reports the Seattle Transit blog, which could lead to lower rents! Whatever the case, try to avoid parking in areas that are not well lit at night, block driveways or are in prohibited areas.

If you find that parking is important to you, keep this in mind for future apartment searches. But even if your apartment complex doesn’t have a parking lot, don’t stress. Just look around and know that you have options.

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Unlocking the Secret of Apartment Keys

You signed the lease. You cut the check for the security deposit. And the truck with all your stuff just pulled in. The leasing agent welcomes you and hands you the keys to your brand new place. But the key looks like a weird piece of plastic. And you’re not actually sure how it locks and unlocks doors. When did apartment keys get so complicated?!

Different types of keys mean different types of security. And that makes it harder for just anyone to gain access to buildings and units.

Many buildings now have electronic locks that log when a door was opened and whose card was used to open it. Others keep security by keeping close track of who has keys. Some use keycards and what the heck is RFID?

The good news is any combination of any of these locks, when used correctly, is a tested, secure and effective way to protect you and your home. And each method of security brings with it its own set of guidelines.

Metal keys

metal keysmetal keys

Tried and true, metal keys will go through the wash and dry cycle and come out just fine. You can drop them, lose them, toss them and they’ll never let you down. Metal keys are the reason we don’t really think about them much. Cheap to make and as long as you can keep an eye on them, they’ll last forever.

But are they really your keys? Or are they the property of your landlord? You’ll want to check your lease, especially if you want copies made. Are you even allowed to get copies of your keys made? Well, if you look closely on your key, and see the words DO NOT DUPLICATE, you think you’d have your answer. But the truth isn’t that open and shut. (Open and shut. Get it? Because of doors? Never mind.)

You may need to go through your leasing office or landlord before you make the trip to the hardware store. Your landlord may have spares for free. And what happens if you lock yourself out of your apartment? Can your building’s superintendent come by and let you in? Or do you need to call a locksmith? As with all things for your apartment, check with your landlord.

Key cards

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Convenient, skinny jeans-friendly, inexpensive to replace, the keycards you use to get into your building are just like the ones you use to get into your office. The only thing missing is an embarrassing photo of you on your first day. But not all key cards are the same.

Key cards are programmed by entering your information onto a card that’s read when it’s swiped or scanned. That information is either encoded on a magnetic strip on the back of the card or it’s loaded onto what’s known as a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip in the card.

A small chip containing your information is inserted into a plastic card and is powered by an induction circuit. When the card comes close to the scanner, it converts the electromagnetic field emitted by the scanner into electricity. That electricity powers the chip, which is then read by the computers. RFIDs are more secure than magnetic strip cards because the strips can become damaged more easily.

Key fobs

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The key fob is just like an RFID keycard, only smaller. The fob is meant to be clipped onto your keyring so it’s always with you. These are quickly becoming a popular option with many new construction buildings, not only for garage and mailroom access but also for individual units. The fobs are small and also use a tiny induction circuit, so there’s never a need to change batteries or reprogram them.

The downside is these little plastic doodads can be expensive to replace. And you have to remember to have your keys with you all the time. So, if you’re the kind of person who frequently loses things and locks yourself out of your house, this may not be the option for you. And make sure you don’t lose it! Replacing these things can be expensive. Your landlord could charge a few hundred bucks for a replacement.

Key codes

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Sometimes your apartment key might not be a key at all — but instead a code. Apartment communities have been using access codes for years for visitors to dial into your building. Some are using this same technology outside of your door.

Simply punch in your code, just like you would at an ATM, to unlock your door and enter your unit. In most cases, you’ll be able to select your own code. Just make sure it’s one that you’ll remember!

Bluetooth-digital combination

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This is the high tech solution many landlords are now considering. Besides your keys, what’s the one item everyone takes with them everywhere now? Your phone. In this case, your phone acts like a fob. Except instead of a small induction circuit powering it, it’s simply your phone that connects to the door lock via Bluetooth. Digital locks like these often use a backup code to get inside if you ever accidentally lock yourself out.

But as great as these digital locks sound, they aren’t perfect. Digital lock scanners need to be hard-wired to the building’s main electrical system in order to work. So, if the power goes out, that will be a problem.

And if they’re not connected to the main electrical system, they can also operate on small backup batteries built into the units. But there’s no telling how often those batteries or replaced, so you could find yourself locked out.

Safe home, happy home with apartment keys

Whether your apartment keys are old school or new, they should help keep your home safe and secure — provided you use some basic common sense and good practices.

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