Finding an apartment for 1.5 persons?
November 28, 2017 7:16 AM   Subscribe

I'm having some major anxiety about finding another apartment. It's complicated by a partner living with me, but only temporarily. I don't know how best to handle this when looking for new apartments. Also, how far in advance should one look for an apartment?

Unsure if I'm jumping the gun here and stressing myself a month in advance. My lease ends March 1st. After my lease ends, it becomes month-to-month. I don't think my landlords want to renew a year lease as they are planning on selling the apartment after my lease ends, so I can stay month to month until that happens.

The reason I want to move is the cost, otherwise things have been great (issues with my landlord were solved.) I could afford my current apartment, but I want to save money and travel to see my partner in the future.

My partner is going to graduate school in August and moves across the country around May or June. Until then he plans to live in my city in my apartment. He will be splitting rent with me, which allows me to save some money.

However, when the time comes to find another apartment, we're not sure what to do. I imagine if I try to find a one-bedroom, they will raise the price because there will be two people living there. Would they accept that he would only be on the lease temporarily? (March to May?) Is there a way to ask for that and hopefully not get a price raise? Logically, I should find an apartment that I can afford even after he moves out, but I'm afraid they're going to raise the price with two people.

I'm looking at apartments now on Craigslist, and sometimes I find a good match with my price range. But my lease doesn't end til March, and I feel like I may be torturing myself. I could break the lease to ensure I get the more affordable apartment I see online, but I would have to pay rent to my current landlord for leaving early.

The other option is roommates, but I'm not sure how lucky we will get with finding a shared space that would allow a couple (and honestly, we may go crazy sharing a bedroom but not having more space to ourselves like a one bedroom.) I could find a roommate and he could find one as well, but we would really like to continue to live together before he leaves for school. (And I really love living alone or with a partner, so random roommates are my last option.)

The last situation is continuing going month to month with my current lease until he leaves, and THEN finding a new apartment by myself, not having to worry about the temporary living situation. Do landlords typically increase rent for month to month?

I'm having anxiety attacks over this! And I feel like I shouldn't but probably I should?

To sum, my questions are:

1) How far in advance should I be looking at apartments before my lease ends in March? Is looking now useless?
2) How do I approach a new apartment situation when I have someone who will move in with me temporarily? Ideally I would live on my own in that apartment after he leaves, not find another roommate. Especially if it's a one bedroom.
3) Which of these living situation options sound most feasible/logical/less stressful?
posted by buttonedup to Home & Garden (15 answers total)
However, when the time comes to find another apartment, we're not sure what to do. I imagine if I try to find a one-bedroom, they will raise the price because there will be two people living there. Would they accept that he would only be on the lease temporarily? (March to May?) Is there a way to ask for that and hopefully not get a price raise? Logically, I should find an apartment that I can afford even after he moves out, but I'm afraid they're going to raise the price with two people.

There is zero reason you even need to mention this to your landlord (whether you stay or go). Three months? Lots of people I know in long-term relationships have their partners staying at their places for weeks or months at a time without them being on the lease. I lived with my boyfriend for three months when we were LDR and I had an internship in his city, and I just... started sleeping there. No legal documents were involved.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:19 AM on November 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Lots of people I know in long-term relationships have their partners staying at their places for weeks or months at a time without them being on the lease.

Ah, yes, that's what we're technically doing now with my current lease. But my current lease and I'm sure the next one will prohibit long term visitors, and I'm very paranoid that I'll be kicked out because of that. After reading a post on here about the same situation, it seems it's best to be honest? Were you there for three months and the landlord never suspected anything? Or was there not a clause about long term visitors?
posted by buttonedup at 7:23 AM on November 28, 2017

A lot of this depends on what city you're in.

Also, it seems like you can reduce a lot of hassle by staying in your current apartment until your boyfriend moves out.
posted by metasarah at 7:25 AM on November 28, 2017 [5 favorites]

Yeah, it really seems like it would be easiest by far to just stay where you are until your boyfriend moves out, especially if it's only a few months and your landlord is willing to let you go month-to-month - then you do not need to worry about your sort-of-having-a-second-tenant problem. Have you tried asking your landlord for more details about their plans? Like, if you went month-to-month, how much notice would they have to give you when it was time to move out? They might not mind having you there through May at all, especially if, say, you were willing to be flexible about stuff like open houses, painting, etc.

In most cities you can find *someplace* to live with one-two months notice. Some cities it's ridiculous to start looking more than six weeks or so in advance (so stressful!), and others you have a lot more options if you look 4-6 months in advance (also stressful for different reasons!). And different types of apartments may be available on different schedules (larger buildings may tend to turn over at one time of year while apartments in 2-4 family houses might available on a more irregular schedule, for example).

Talk to some humans in your area who have rented apartments in the last few years. Ask them how they did it, and how far in advance they looked. Keep an eye on craigslist and see if most of the apartments listed are 1-2 months out or 4-6 months out or they're all available December 1st or whatever.

Overall though this sounds more like an anxiety problem than a logistical problem. You can handle this! Eventually you will end up in an acceptable apartment that you can afford.
posted by mskyle at 7:41 AM on November 28, 2017

I've moved a lot and never had the rent be different if one person vs two were living there. Is this a regional thing that you know of where you are or are you just worrying about it because you think it could happen?

Caveat: I have rented from property management companies or apartment complexes where the rent is just the rent. The only cost difference was paying for two application/background check fees.
posted by magnetsphere at 7:41 AM on November 28, 2017 [5 favorites]

I've also never heard of paying more rent for more people, but I have been given a limit of how many people could live in a place (e.g., some places would not rent a two-bedroom apartment to me when I had two children).
posted by FencingGal at 8:08 AM on November 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

I agree that knowing your location is key, but having rented in multiple cities, my personal experience has been:

--This is way too early to start looking. Although different places I've lived have had different rental timelines, I think 4 months seems too early for all of them. If you don't know other renters to be able to tell that way, the timelines listed on Craigslist, etc. will give you a good clue as to how far you need to plan ahead. If you're seeing a lot of "available now" or "available December 1", you know you don't need to plan ahead very much. If you're seeing tons of "available February 1", you know you need to plan ahead a bit more. Basically, wait until you are seeing a good amount of "available March 1" and you'll know that's the time to look!
--I have never experienced a higher rental cost for living with my husband, either before or after we were married. The only exception to that was living with roommates where the whole house split utilities -- in those cases, couples would typically pay the same amount for their room but a larger share of utilities. If you're living in an apartment complex where you pay all your own utilities, of course your utility bill may be higher with two people living there (since you'll use more water, etc.). If you're living in an apartment complex where utilities are included, I could see a case for *slightly* higher rent to compensate for increased utility use. But honestly unless it's the norm in your area, I would not anticipate you should pay anything more than a very nominal utility-related increase by having two people live in a one-bedroom. In my experience, the reason landlords are wary of long-term visitors is not that you're cheating them out of extra rent, but that long-term visitors can gain tenant rights, and so they want those people to have had background/credit checks and be on the lease officially in case problems later arise. So, you might pay an extra application/credit check fee, but that would be a one-time thing rather than an ongoing cost.

But honestly, if your current landlords will let you stay on month-to-month until your partner leaves town, that honestly sounds like the easiest option! I've had different experiences with rent increases with going month-to-month...usually if it was a term of the lease (i.e. 1 year lease then going to month-to-month), there was no particular extra charge (although rent might go up if they would have raised it anyway). If it was an option (i.e. 1 year lease and then I had the option to sign another year lease or go month-to-month), there was a charge but it was pretty minimal, I think the most is maybe $150/month? Since they're not giving you the option to renew the lease, I would think they likely won't do a big charge for month-to-month...but, why not just ASK and then you have all the info and don't need to stress about it!
posted by rainbowbrite at 8:17 AM on November 28, 2017

It's not like some hotels, where adding people increases the price (even this isn't seen much in the USA). There shouldn't be any difference in price. The difference is that the landlord will want your partner's name on the lease if he's there for more than a specific length of time. What this time is varies from lease to lease, but a couple of months will probably trigger it. If you do this, it can make it harder to find a place in a competitive environment. If you don't do this, the landlord can kick you out if they find out you have an undeclared room-mate. I would let people know what's going on up front and assume they'll let you what you need to do. Don't give up your current lease until you have a new lease that meets your needs. The backup of going month-to-month for a few months gives you a lot of flexibility.
posted by ubiquity at 8:23 AM on November 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've never heard of someone charging more rent for two people than for one, unless maybe in a shared-housing situation, where you'd have two people using shared facilities as opposed to just one. Is this common in your community?
posted by praemunire at 8:23 AM on November 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Leases prohibit long term guests to prevent them from becoming tenants due to being there long enough without approval of the landlord. some landlords enforce this part of the lease, others don't.

If you want to make sure your partner is legal for those 3 months find out what clauses are on your lease and what the rent laws are by you.
posted by TheAdamist at 8:36 AM on November 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sorry, my location is Baltimore.

Is this common in your community?

Not that I know of... But I had just automatically assumed (or perhaps heard from other friends) that landlords will raise rent if there's more than one person living there. Like a one bedroom for $1000 would be $1500 if they found out a second person would live there. I guess I'm wrong in that assumption, yay!

The more I read here, perhaps the least stressful option would be to continue month to month with my current lease until partner moves out. I will have to ask the landlord if it is ok to add my partner to the lease (but maybe I will ask this after I find out if they will increase the rent month to month, because I am still afraid they will somehow double the rent with two people living here.) or I guess keep him a secret for a few more months.

The landlord could refuse to add my partner to the lease, right? I'm hoping this won't be the case but I want to prepare for that just in case.

Thank you all for your help and answers. Anxiety sucks.
posted by buttonedup at 8:45 AM on November 28, 2017

Typically in the U.S., if you lease an entire apartment the rent doesn't go up depending on whether there are one or two people living in it. There are exceptions, like sometimes student housing (even private, off campus) or if there's a rent subsidy involved.

If it's a big management company, they probably won't change the price for the same apartment based on how many people are living there. If it's a small landlord, probably the same thing. I can imagine a landlord who rents out a unit in their own home caring about something like that, so you would have to ask questions before applying for the apartment if you go looking for a new place.

If a lease include a prohibition on long-term visitors, you should try to find out whether such prohibitions are enforceable. (Many residential leases contain unenforceable terms.) That will depend on the law of your state and city. Some localities give a tenant a pretty robust right to sublet or have roommates--so you could call your partner a roommate, write one check to the landlord, and the landlord would have no say. I would try researching this on the internet, and as a backup call a local legal aid service or a clinic at a local law school.

There will also be laws in your locality about how much notice your landlord must give you to increase rent on a month-to-month lease, and how much notice to move out. It's a good idea to try to understand these laws before talking to your landlord. That way, you know your rights. You might already have the right to have your partner move in. If you don't many landlords are chill about that kind of thing, especially if you approach it the right way. Good luck!
posted by unreadyhero at 9:07 AM on November 28, 2017

Charging more for more than one person is definitely a thing in some places. My husband (then-boyfriend) and I went to look at a place in Pittsburgh, and as soon as the woman saw there were two of us, she jacked up the monthly rent (by I think $50 or $100). We left immediately. Some landlords also seem to charge more for more people if the landlord is the one who's paying utilities, I've seen that in listings, but these are probably all small-time landlords. I doubt a big complex would care.
posted by jabes at 9:35 AM on November 28, 2017

It’s highly likely that it will take more than three months for your landlord to sell your place given inertia and the time involved in listing it, accepting an offer, waiting for the buyer to obtain financing, and then scheduling the closing. The trade off for you will be tolerating the responsibilities and uncertainties of living in a place that’s on the market, e.g., being tidy to accommodate showings and not knowing how long you have, vs the worries you express in your question. I think you’re safe waiting it out while simultaneously seeking the place that’s best for you so you’re not forced into making a quick suboptimal decision. Don’t worry about your partner.
posted by carmicha at 10:10 AM on November 28, 2017

I've been a landlord (in a small 3-unit house with a lot of shared common space), and when renting to couples, I used to raise the (very inexpensive) rent by about $50-100 on a $1000 apartment, to compensate for more utilities and more common-space usage. I'd expect a rent difference in this ballpark- say around 5-15%- which is probably a manageable amount for most couples. But the 50% rent increase you're imagining (say, from $1000-1500) would be bananas- so it probably won't be suggested, and if it is, don't rent there.

You can always offer what YOU think is fair: "My partner will be here for 90 days, and then is leaving the country for several years. We are happy to pay an extra $50/month for those 3 months, if you feel it will compensate for the two-person utilities usage."
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:04 PM on November 28, 2017

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