Bad Credit and Renting an Apartment

Renting an Apartment With Bad Credit

Renting an Apartment if You Have Bad Credit

Columbus is a fast growing real estate rental market, which means finding an apartment can be challenging and a bad credit score can only complicate the search. Landlords are looking for long-term tenants who will pay their bills and fill their vacancies, so a tenant with a bad credit score may be a red flag for a landlord that pulls a credit report. There are many reasons why your credit score is low, like high credit card debt, falling behind on medical bills, not paying bills on time, etc, and unfortunately, when a prospective landlord pulls your credit, they tend to focus on the score rather than the details. 

If you have a bad credit score, it won’t automatically disqualify you from renting, but it can certainly may make it more difficult. The three major credit services — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — consider “bad” credit as falling below about 620, although that can vary. The first step to repairing your credit is knowing your score and making a habit of paying your bills on time, including your rent payment.

Here are some tips to help sway the odds in your favor:

  1. Offer to pay more upfront. Most apartment rentals require a deposit of some sort (i.e. the first or first and last months’ rent) in advance. If your case, offer to pay more, such as 2-3 months’ rent in advance, to demonstrate to the landlord that you are serious and can be trusted as a potential tenant.
  2. Get a co-signer. This can be a risky venture. A relationship with a co-signer, whether it is a family member or friend, has to be built on trust. Your co-signer will be responsible for paying the full amount of your rent if you are unable to or if you break your lease. Needless to say, if this arrangement goes south, it can seriously jeopardize your relationship as your default could adversely affect your cosigner’s credit rating.
  3. Get a roommate. If you can find a roommate with good credit, you might be able to pull this off. Have your roommate apply for the lease and let the management company run their credit report. Then, when the rent comes due, the roommate pays in full and you reimburse them for your share. 
  4. Plead your situation. You can try to explain your poor credit to the landlord. Oftentimes, they will overlook bad credit that is due to a true hardship, such as a medical emergency, as opposed to somebody who is carrying large credit card balances. 
  5. Find an apartment that doesn’t require a credit check. This one might be pretty difficult as most leasing companies automatically run a credit check on all potential renters. You might have better luck if you rent from an individual owner instead of a corporation.
  6. Show good-faith effort. You can present your potential landlord with pay stubs and a letter from your employer that confirms that you have a steady job and can make the rent. Also, if you have been a successful renter at other properties, get letters of reference from your former landlords. You can also submit any documentation you may have that shows that you are working on repairing your credit (e.g., working with a consumer credit counseling association).

The bottom line is that your potential landlord isn’t approving or rejecting lease applications solely on credit scores.  They want some type of reassurance that you are a good long-term tenant risk, you can and will pay your rent on time, and have a history of fiscal responsibility. Hopefully, these tips will help you secure a new apartment and you will be on your way to increasing your credit score.

Living with a COVID positive roommate

Tips for Dealing with a COVID Positive Roommate

What to Do if a Roommate Tests Positive for COVID-19

Despite everybody’s best efforts, it happened. One of your roommates has tested positive for COVID-19. The first thing to do is not panic. By employing safety measures and following the rules for your city, state or county can help you and the rest of your household stay safe.  First of all, there are two terms related to COVID-19 exposure that frequently get confused because there is some overlap. Isolation is when a person has been infected and is sick and must stay away from others in the residence.  Quarantine is for anybody who believes they have been exposed or have been in contact with someone who may be infected or have been exposed.  So, if one of your roommates has COVID, then you need to quarantine, while they need to isolate.

CDC guidelines recommend that quarantine periods last for at least 14 days after you believe you have been exposed, and the caveat is that if no symptoms appear. If you start showing symptoms, then go get tested. If you test positive and become ill, you should remain in isolation for at least 10 days after the symptoms first appeared and 24 hours after there is no incidence of fever — without taking OTC medication.

The person who has tested positive should stay isolated from their other roommates as much as possible, which usually means that they need to stay in their bedroom. It doesn’t matter if they feel just fine; they are still highly contagious. If you must have contact with your sick roommate, both of you must wear masks. Limit interaction and maintain a distance of at least six feet, if at all possible.

While this may be difficult in an apartment, reserve one bathroom solely for the sick person to use. If your apartment only has one bathroom, then it needs to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after the person with COVID uses it. Do not share towels, drinking cups, eating utensils or dishware. Take food and snacks to your ailing roommate on a tray and leave it outside their bedroom door. Clean, clean and clean all common surfaces in the apartment to prevent spread of the virus.

Keep track of your sick roommate’s symptoms and watch for them in household members who have been exposed and haven’t gotten sick (yet). The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include: fever, dry cough, extreme fatigue and loss of taste and smell. More severe symptoms include shortness of breath, confusion and bluish tint to the face and lips, in which case, you should call 911.  There are many symptom checkers online that will assess symptoms and recommend whether you need testing or to contact your doctor. Many doctors are now offering telehealth visits so you can avoid going to the doctor’s office and increasing risk for yourself and others.

In the meantime, while everybody in your apartment is in some stage of COVID, do the best that you can. Reach out for support online. You can connect with family and friends or community sites where you can share your feelings and get advice. Take advantage of food delivery by restaurants and grocery stores. 

Remember, you can’t help others if you aren’t feeling well yourself. Wear a mask, social distance and take good care of yourself — mentally and physically. 

During this season of COVID-19, the property management teams at Vision Communities are committed to keeping our residence healthy and safe. We have instituted social distancing and masks guidelines throughout the Vision communities, and we are looking forward to launching a full calendar of events for our residents when things return to normal.

If you are looking for an apartment in the Columbus area or in Akron/Canton, contact our team for availability.

The Abbot is a One Bedroom Floorplan

Floorplan Friday: The Abbot

A One Bedroom Oasis

The Abbot is a 717 sq. ft. one-bedroom apartment that feels much, much larger.  This unit offers the ultimate in privacy as it is located at the end of the building and only shares one common wall with other residents. The living room/dining room/kitchen area is contemporary open plan, which creates a roomy, breezy feel.  The kitchen includes all stainless-steel Energy Star-rated appliances: refrigerator, range, and dishwasher. And don’t worry, there’s also a microwave! The focal point of this area is the large work island with a double sink and extra seating. This is great for entertaining or to use as a breakfast bar.

The spacious bedroom has an oversized window to let in plenty of extra light. It also has a huge walk-in closet. If that isn’t big enough, there’s another closet in the living area for additional storage. The en suite has a full-sized bathtub and shower and all water fixtures throughout the apartment are low-consumption to conserve energy. Depending on which floor you choose, you will have either a patio or balcony, so you can enjoy being outdoors without leaving your apartment.

This apartment is part of the District at Linworth community.  We’re located just minutes from Downtown Columbus, so work and play are just a short commute. We also have plenty of recreation and social opportunities on the property — with safety first in mind. One of those features is a fenced-in dog park. Your pets are welcome to live and play at the District!

If you are interested in leasing the Abbot, hop online and take a virtual tour. You can also submit your rental application online or shoot us any questions. We look forward to welcoming you to our community!

Amenities available at our Worthington Apartment Community:

  • Heated pool with sun deck
  • Fenced-in dog park
  • Bike repair station
  • Energy-efficient appliances and HVAC
  • Social events
  • Online rent payment
  • 24/7 emergency maintenance
  • Package acceptance
  • Full-size washers and dryers in units
  • Outdoor recreation areas
  • Smoke free
  • On-site management
The Buckeye is a 2BR apartment

Floorplan Friday: The Buckeye

A 2BR layout with lots of space

If you are looking for a 2BR, 2BA apartment with plenty of privacy, look no further than The Buckeye. This spacious 1,081-sq. ft. apartment is part of the Timbers community in Westerville. The two bedrooms are separated by the main living space, so everybody has their own personal retreat.  Each bathroom has an en suite with a full shower and bath and all water fixtures through the apartment are low-consumption.  Two huge walk-in closets have plenty of room for clothes and storage items. The main living space as a contemporary open floor plan that flows into the kitchen area and the kitchen has reclaimed wood cabinets, granite countertops and Energy Star-rated stainless steel appliances. The crown jewel of the kitchen is huge work island with a sink and seating for three — ideal for a breakfast bar or for entertaining.  The last touch of energy conservation is the oversized windows that let plenty of natural light flood in.

The Timbers is one of the few apartment communities where residents get to enjoy the great outdoors. Located near Alum Creek, there are plenty of trails for walking, biking and hiking. Bring your dog along as Timbers is a pet-friendly community.  Pet are welcome here and dog stations are located throughout the property.

We are now open for in-person tours of the Buckeye and other apartments, but request that masks are worn while on the property. You can set up an appointment and even submit your initial application online. We look forward to serving you and hope that you will make the Timbers your new home!

Amenities Include:

  • Swimming pool
  • Garage
  • Business center
  • Hardwood floors
  • Energy-efficient stainless-steel appliances
  • Dog stations
  • 24-hour emergency maintenance
  • Electronic rent payments and maintenance requests
  • Package acceptance
  • Clubhouse
  • Starbucks coffee bar
  • Fitness center
Soundproof Decorating Tips

Decorating That Doubles as Soundproofing

One of the few drawbacks about apartment living is that it can be noisy, whether it’s from a crying baby, barking dog or neighbors who are playing their music too loud. On the flip side, despite your best efforts to keep noise levels down, other residents can also hear you.  So without alienating your neighbors, there are some easy decorating tips you can try that will spruce up your living area and double as soundproofing. As a plus, many of these ideas will also help you keep your apartment warm during the rapidly approaching winter months.

Window Treatments

Heavy lined drapes will provide a wall of protection against outdoor sounds as well as provide a layer of insulation. You will need to choose a heavy fabric like velvet or a thick polyester blend; lightweight cotton or linen just won’t work. If you won’t want to spring for brand new drapes, you can trim and hang a shower curtain behind your drapes. The plastic or vinyl will provide some noise reduction. Another idea is to choose pleated drapes as the folds will offer some depth and dimension to block sound. Many of the Vision Communities 1BR, 2BR and 3BR apartment layouts feature lots of natural light, so be sure to plan out your window treatments for the floorplan you choose.

Area Rugs

Your apartment is probably already carpeted, but adding area rugs will help block noise, especially if you live above another apartment. Get creative and choose rugs that reflect your personality — patterned, solid, Oriental, or a blast from the past with shag! Having a cozy rug underfoot will be enjoyed during the winter when you need to ward off the chill. You can add throw rugs to every room of your apartment to add a touch of color and minimize sound.

Wall Hangings

Hanging canvas prints or interesting textiles on your walls will add a decorate touch and provide a barrier to sound. Beautiful tribal patterns or geometric prints bring drama to the room and can serve as a focal point. Nostalgic folk art and quilts are popular right now; the layers of the quilt will insulate against sound. If you don’t have any heirloom quilts, you can seek them out at state/county fairs or online. While you’re at it, buy extras to cuddle in during the colder months. Some creative people hang moving blankets over their windows or on the walls to block sound. If your decorate leans towards the eclectic side, this might be a good solution.

Weatherstripping and Door Stoppers

Gaps between the window and frame can leak sound as well as let in cold air. This is an issue that your apartment should address, if not, it is an easy DIY project. You can find weatherstripping at the hardware store; simply cut it and press it into place. You can also apply weatherstripping to the bottom of your front door and to balcony or patio doors. This will keep the noise in and cold air out. You can also opt for a soft door blocker. You’ve seen these. They are made of fabric and you push them up against the bottom of your door. They come in all prints and patterns; some are whimsical in the shape of animals or insects and some have clever sayings on them. Have fun with your sound proofing!

Creating a Place to Come Home to

At Vision Community, we want you to live your best life and enjoy your experience in our apartment communities. With all of the noise of life, we want you to feel comfortable in your Vision Communities home. These tips are just a few ways to make your space your own and create a quiet place that you can retreat to each evening.  If you are in the process of hunting for an apartment, consider the Vision Community floor plans and communities located in Central Ohio.


Staying Healthy this Winter

Tips for Staying Healthy This Winter

Winter has already made its debut in some areas of the country, and there is no time like the present to start planning how you are going to protect yourself and stay healthy. Leading health experts have predicted that the U.S. is going to be in for a tough winter; with the pandemic still peaking in some parts of the country, plus a projected brutal flu season in store. Your exposure may be reduced if you are working at home, but you are still susceptible to the colds and viruses that make the rounds from October through March.  Here are some tips to protect yourself from the ravages of winter and the illnesses that accompany them.

Get a flu shot

This is a no-brainer. Symptoms of the common cold, the flu and COVID all have similarities, and if you want to know the difference, there are plenty of resources online you can refer to. You can get a flu shot practically anywhere and many pharmacies offer a drive-thru option. Most insurance companies will cover the full cost of a flu shot. If you are uninsured, check out your local health department.

Eat properly

Cold weather and the stress of uncertainly trigger our cravings for comfort foods. The holidays are also a time to load up on carbs, sugar and booze. While it’s important to be good to yourself right now and have some fun, strive to maintain a healthy balance. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains and if necessary, take a multivitamin supplement. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially with indoor heating.

Get plenty of sleep

The uncertain times we are in right now can increase stress, anxiety and sleepless nights. Try to maintain a bedtime routine by turning in at the same time every night. Also, avoid reading or watching upsetting news before you go to sleep; your brain will continue to process the information while you are trying to get some shut-eye. Warm milk or soothing herbal teas can help relax you before bed, as well as a warm (not hot) bath. If all of these remedies fair, talk to your doctor about possibly taking a short-term sleeping medication.

Practice good hygiene and take care of yourself

Now more than ever, it’s important to wash your hands as frequently as possible and carry hand sanitizer with you. Wipe down your cellphone, shared surfaces like doorknobs, and the interior of your car. Have a supply of clean masks and keep a spare in your car. Be good to yourself. Meditate, treat yourself to a luxurious body lotion, your favorite snack, a Zoom call with family or friends. If everything gets overwhelming, there are many mental health resources you can tap into for support. You are not alone!

If you follow these simple tips and practice good self-care, you greatly increase your chances of not getting sick during the winter. Continue to follow the guidelines for social distancing, mask-wearing and practicing good hygiene to protect yourself and those around you.

Vision Communities Commitment to Health & Safety

At Vision Communities, we are working hard to keep our apartment communities healthy and safe. To learn more about how we are managing around COVID-19, contact our office with questions.   

types of apartment deposits

How Much Rent You Can Afford?

Renting your first apartment or relocating to a new city are very exciting milestones. Your head is probably full of plans about living near the city’s nightlife or furnishing your new place with the very latest from Pottery Barn. Hold those thoughts … at least just for a minute. There will be plenty of time for all the fun stuff, but first, you need to take a hard look at your finances and see what type of apartment you can afford. Here are some practical guidelines when planning your budget.

  1. Think 50/30/20. This ratio is a bit more realistic than the outdated 30 percent rule, as it takes into account all of your monthly expenses, not just rent. Fifty percent of your net income should go to essentials such as rent, food, transportation and utilities. Thirty percent is for your fun stuff like subscriptions, entertainment, memberships, clothes, etc. The remaining 20 percent should go towards savings and paying down debt such as student loans or credit cards.
  2. Watch for extra deposits and fees. Moving into a new apartment is more than just paying rent. In the beginning, be prepared to pay an application fee and for the leasing company to run a credit check. The good news is that these are pretty nominal, usually ranging from $20-$35. There will also be a security deposit and if this is the first time establishing utilities in your name, you may need to pay deposits for those. These days, more apartment complexes require a pet deposit and a small monthly pet rental fee.

If you are relocating, there will be moving expenses, if your company won’t cover them. Lastly, most apartments raise rental rates at least once a year. These can vary from $15-$250+. Usually, they cover increased property taxes and maintenance fees, but amounts at the higher end could be expected if the apartments underwent some major upgrades or renovations. Don’t be caught by surprise, so plan accordingly.

  1. Location. Location. Location. If you are moving for a new job or just uprooting in general, think carefully about the cost of living in the area you’re moving to. A tiny studio apartment in New York City is going to be 2-3 (or more) times more expensive than a two-bedroom in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Rental rates can also vary widely within the same city. An apartment on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri, will cost 2-3 times as much a larger place 1 mile away in Midtown.
  2. What are you paying for? Many rental rates factor in any amenities such as a swimming pool, on-site health club, coffee bar, dog park, community clubhouse, covered parking and more. Think carefully about which of these extras you will actually use. If you belong to a gym, you can cancel your membership and work out at the apartment complex, which should save you some money or at least break even.

Washers and dryers save money on laundromats (and those annoying quarters!) and time as you can do your laundry at home. If social events aren’t of interest to you, steer clear of places that focus heavily on resident activities. Your commute to work should be another consideration. You might pay a lot more to live closer to your job or if you like public transportation, how close is the apartment to a bus stop or train station? Working from home may require a second bedroom.

There is a lot to consider when renting an apartment, but hopefully these tips will help prepare you for planning your budget for the big move. Once you are settled in a place you can comfortably afford, it’s time to get into the fun stuff like outfitting the apartment with furnishings and other decorative and personal items that make your new home uniquely yours!

Tips for safely heating your apartment

Safe Ways to Heat Your Apartment

Fall and winter aren’t that far off, so now is a good time to start preparing your apartment for the colder months ahead. Ohio winters are harsh and even if your apartment has a good central heating system, oftentimes, it’s not enough to keep the frigid temperatures at bay. Soothe yourself with warm sweaters, cozy blankets and hot beverages, but if you need some extra ways to keep your apartment warm during the winter, here are some easy and inexpensive tips.

  1. Curtains. You can find insulated curtains anywhere. Many of the big box stores sell them and you can also order them online. Curtain panels are available in all colors and sizes and are reasonably priced. Another idea is to use shower curtains. They are even cheaper and you can use the liners as an additional layer of insulation. Keep the drapes open during the day on windows that face the south and west to let in as much sunlight as possible
  2. Draft “Snakes.” These are narrow fabric tubes that are filled with materials such as batting or small pellets to make them flexible enough to mold against windowsills or in the area between the bottom of the door and the floor. You can find these in many styles — whimsical animal shapes, emblazoned with funny sayings, etc. Add some inexpensive fun décor to your apartment while shutting out drafts.
  3. Rugs and carpets. If your apartment has hardwood or linoleum floors, throw rugs or small carpets can add a pop up color as well as extra warmth. You can find carpet samples or area rugs practically anywhere and in prices to fit any budget.
  4. Weather stripping. You can find easy-to-apply weather stripping at any hardware or home improvement store. It comes in many varieties to conform to the needs of your apartment. You can apply the weather stripping to windows and doors and remove it in the spring.
  5. Plastic film. Your hardware or home improvement stores are also good places to find plastic film to apply to your windows and balcony or patio doors. The film comes in all sizes and it easy to apply using tape and a blow dryer. The film not only keeps in heat in the winter but can help keep your apartment cool during warmer months.
  6. Programmable thermostat. If your apartment doesn’t have a programmable thermostat, ask your property manager about installing one. Some utility companies will even give them away for free or at a greatly reduced cost.
  7. Fireplace. If your apartment has a wood-burning or gas fireplace, it will really help keep the place warm. Just use it prudently and close the damper when not in use.
  8. Space heaters. Space heaters can be a great way to supplement heat during cold months, but they also are the cause of the majority of wintertime house fires. Use space heaters cautiously. Never place a space heater near combustible materials like paper, blankets, furniture or drapes. Keep children and pets away from the space heater; never leave your space heater unattended and turn it off when you aren’t going to be home.

Hopefully, you can take some of these ideas and use them during the winter if your apartment feels drafty and cold. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to achieve extra warmth and you can use your ingenuity to add a creative, cozy touch to your apartment during the long winter months.

Sydney is a Studio apartment floor plan

Friday Floorplan: The Sydney

The Sydney at The Ave

The Sydney is a compact studio apartment that packs a lot of living into 539 square feet. From the moment you set foot inside, you will be completely charmed by this cozy living space. The living and dining area has plenty of room for furnishings and you can add a sofa sleeper, Murphy bed or full-sized bed — your choice.  The kitchen features cabinets made of reclaimed two-toned wood products, granite countertops and Energy Star-rated stainless steel appliances, which include a refrigerator, stove, garbage disposal and dishwasher. All of these finishes give the kitchen a sleek, modern feel.

The bathroom includes a full-sized tub and shower and low-consumption water features, which underscore The AVE’s commitment to green living. The Sydney isn’t short on storage as it has a large closet that is perfect for clothes and other items. Oversized windows let in plenty of natural light that make the space feel larger. All that is missing are you personal touches — and you. Visit The AVE online for a virtual tour and to submit a contact-free rental application. We look forward to meeting you!

Amenities (availability contingent on local COVID restrictions):

  • Free 24/7 Starbucks coffee bar
  • Fenced dog park
  • On-site car wash
  • Outdoor fire pit
  • 24-hour fitness center with complimentary classes
  • Pool table and volleyball court
  • On-site professional management
  • Online submission of rent and maintenance requests
  • Package acceptance
  • Planned community events that focus on philanthropy and social well-being
  • Easy commute via SR 71
  • Walk to neighborhood shops and restaurants

Contact The AVE property staff to learn about floorplan availability and to take a community tour. You can easily check for vacancies and apply online. If you are looking for an affordable studio apartment, consider The Sydney. 

At Vision Communities, we are committed to creating the best apartment communities for you and your family. We feature multiple, pet-friendly apartment layouts, in desirable communities such as ClintonvilleWesterville, and Worthington. For more information about our communities, contact our team to get started.

The Oak: 2 Bedroom Apartment

Floorplan Friday: The Oak

The Oak at Timbers

A 2 bedroom floorplan in Westerville

The Oak is a roomy, two-bedroom, two-story space that combines the ambiance of a townhouse with the amenities of a luxury apartment. Two large bedrooms with en suites are located on the top floor with plenty of privacy and each bedroom has a huge walk-in closet. The washer and dryer are also on the second floor to make doing the laundry much more convenient.

Downstairs is an open-plan living area that flows into the kitchen, which makes The Oak ideal for entertaining. The kitchen is every cook’s dream, featuring granite counters and energy-efficient stainless steel appliances. The crowning gem is a huge work island that includes a sink and extra seating. The dining area is roomy and will accommodate a dining room table and chairs. And lastly, a powder room is tucked just off the kitchen next to the stairwell. One impressive feature of The Oak is the huge balcony that runs the whole length of the apartment. There is plenty of room for furniture, plants and anything else you need for outside living and entertaining.

The Oak is part of Timbers apartment community, located in Westerville, but with easy access to the highways, this community features a short commute to downtown Columbus. Timbers also features access to shopping (Polaris) or outdoor entertainment. This beautiful property is well-appointed and surrounded by the natural beauty of woodlands. There is also plenty to do with recreational activities, a fitness center and plenty of places to walk your dog. The amenities are second to none!

Amenities Include:

  • Swimming pool
  • Garage
  • Business center
  • Hardwood floors
  • Energy-efficient stainless-steel appliances
  • Dog stations
  • 24-hour emergency maintenance
  • Electronic rent payments and maintenance requests
  • Package acceptance
  • Clubhouse
  • Starbucks coffee bar
  • Fitness center


Contact the Timbers property staff to learn about floorplan availability and to take a community tour. You can easily check for vacancies and apply online. If you are looking for a new 2 bedroom apartment, consider The Oak. 

At Vision Communities, we are committed to creating the best apartment communities for you and your family. We feature multiple, pet-friendly apartment layouts, in desirable communities such as ClintonvilleWesterville, and Worthington. For more information about our communities, contact our team to get started.