up signs in front of the building. If you live
across the country, however, finding a great
Austin apartment can be more difficult.
There are a lot of things that can complicate
an apartment hunt, like a limited budget or
having pets. Austin is a very pet-friendly city.
For example, there are over 200 restaurants
in Austin that allow leashed dogs in their
outdoor or patio seating areas. That’s not to
say, however, that every apartment complex
will allow pets. Pets often mean more liability
for a landlord, and some complex-owners
choose to avoid problems by simply not
allowing pets. Overall, however, quite a few
places in Austin are pet-friendly. Some places
have restrictions on species, size, and breed.
Breeds that are considered aggressive, like pit
bulls, for example, are restricted from many
otherwise pet-friendly buildings. If you come
across an apartment that does not allow pets,
try offering to get pet liability insurance. The
landlord may change his or her mind.
Having a restricted budget can also make
an apartment search difficult, particularly in
a market with as much demand as Austin.
You may be tempted to rush into a commitment to secure a great deal before someone
else snatches it up. As anyone who has surfed
Craigslist apartment listings in any city will
know, deals that are too good to be true,
usually are. The fastest, easiest, and safest way
to find the perfect apartment in your budget is
to get help from a local — and Austin has a
lot of apartment locating resources.
Many apartment hunters from other cities
don’t think they need an apartment locator
to help them find a great place. The Austin
market is a very different beast, however.
While new apartment buildings seem to pop
up daily, there’s also a lot of demand for
them. Somewhere between 94% and 98%
of Austin apartments are occupied at any
given time, so finding an open place is tough.
“What you look at today will probably be
gone within 24 hours,” says Reeh.
AND TENANT RIGHTS
While finding an apartment in Austin may
be difficult, actually securing it can be
even harder. Once you’ve found the perfect
apartment, you’ll want to snatch it up. It’s a
renter’s market, here in Austin, so taking a lot
of time to haggle over price or look at renter’s
insurance before signing a contract might be
a huge mistake. Be prepared to take the next
step by understanding Austin’s housing regu-
lations, renters insurance options, and your
rights as a tenant — before your hunt for the
perfect apartment even starts.
Renter’s Insurance: All landlords are required
by the city of Austin to have insurance for
their building. This won’t however, protect
your personal items in the event that they
are stolen or damaged. In Austin, housing
laws allow landlords to require tenants to get
renters insurance, and a landlord can specify
a minimum limit for your policy. It’s a good
idea to speak with an insurance agent before
even beginning apartment hunting, to speed
up the renting process. Create a list of what
you own and each item’s value, and make
sure you buy enough to cover it all.
In addition to covering your personal property, renters insurance can cover loss of use
and personal liability. Loss of use insurance
covers living expenses, such as food and
rent, if you need to temporarily move out
of your apartment. Personal liability insurance protects you against personal injury
claims or lawsuits in the event that someone
is injured in your apartment. Look closely
at your policy, however, because it may list
events or circumstances your policy doesn’t
cover, like flood damage, for example. Policies that cover every type of loss (except
what is specifically mentioned in the policy)
are called “all-risk” policies. Policies that
only cover specific events listed in the policy
are called “named-perils” policies.
Some types of renter’s insurance also
include pet liability insurance. Your landlord may require this type of insurance if
you have a pet, as well as specify a minimum
liability limit. It’s a good idea to have this
insurance when living in close quarters with
other people and pets, even if your landlord
doesn’t require it. Read the fine print in your
policy, however, because it may exclude
“aggressive” breeds, like pit bulls or rottweilers, and only certain events may apply, like