Renter’s Insurance 101

If you’re apartment hunting or getting ready to sign a lease, you have probably discovered that landlords require you to carry renter’s insurance and it’s usually non-negotiable. Renter’s insurance covers the contents of your apartment in the event of fire, water damage, vandalism, theft, etc., along with personal liability and medical expenses if someone is injured while in your apartment. Renter’s insurance does not cover the actual building or other parts of the property — that is the responsibility of the property management company. Just keep in mind that the insurance coverage for the overall property does not cover the personal contents of your apartment or storage unit (if you have one.) It’s also important to understand that if you have roommates, each occupant of your apartment needs a separate renters insurance policy.

Specifics of coverage will vary depending on your insurance company, your zip code, your deductible, and other factors. Renters insurance is a lot less expensive than homeowners’ insurance and you can usually get a good deal if you bundle your renter’s insurance with your auto insurance policy. There may be some restrictions or higher costs if you live in specific areas. For example, if your apartment is located in a flood plain or area that is prone to earthquakes, these incidents might be exempt from coverage or you may have to pay a lot more.

Keep in mind that filing a claim and getting reimbursed can take some time. That’s why it’s important that you keep an inventory of your belongings. Take photos or make a video on your phone to document what you own and make sure to keep your receipts or other documentation of what you paid for your belongings. That will make it much easier to prove what you lost when filing a claim.

While renters insurance may seem like a hassle or something that “you’ll never need,” don’t fool yourself. Anything can happen. As well, it will make it much easier for you to rent an apartment, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’re covered if the unexpected occurs.

FIND A NEW APARTMENT IN A VISION COMMUNITY

At Vision Communities, we are committed to providing apartment communities that you’ll be proud of. If you are looking for a new adventure, be sure to put a VC community on your list to tour. We have floor plans for you to view virtually or in person. Our spacious, studio, 1 bedroom2 bedroom, and 3 bedroom apartment layouts provide cozy space. Check out our luxurious apartment floorplans in one of our communities and enjoy life at the VC. 

Schedule a tour today and see why Vision Communities is a great place to live. 

Tips for Composting in Your Apartment

Green living is now a way of life for many apartment dwellers and one activity you can practice is composting. Composting is a natural way to transform everyday table scraps into a nutrient-rich soil additive that you can use on house plants as well as outdoor container plants. There are many methods of indoor composting, but the simplest method is aerobic composting, where the organic manner is broken down by microorganisms that rely on oxygen. The aerobic method doesn’t attract bugs or emit nasty smells.

You can put waste like vegetable peels and scraps into your compost bin; what needs to stay out are dairy products, fats, and meat. These substances don’t compost well and will cause unpleasant odors. On the topic of odors, if you’re composting correctly, then you should only smell a slight earthy scent. The contents of a compost bin are broken down into two categories: green waste and brown waste. Green waste is well, anything “green,” which includes grass clippings, and most food waste. Brown waste is matter like dead leaves, twigs, sticks, etc. Alternately layer the green and brown waste and then add enough water to the pile so it is damp, but not saturated. Then, you need to aerate (or turn) the compost about two times a week.

There are numerous compost bins and other tools available online, as well as detailed discussions about different types of composting (such as using worms) with instructions. The best area for composting in an apartment is underneath the kitchen sink. Compost needs to be kept warm and would be unsuccessful if kept outdoors on a balcony in extreme Central Ohio weather. Once your compost is a rich, dark brown organic substance, you can use it. You can use it for your own plants or donate it. Some communities have compost piles to add to, or you could offer your compost to your local farmer’s market. Composting is an unusual hobby that requires some maintenance and patience but is also environmentally friendly and beneficial to our overall food source. So try your hand at urban composting!

FIND A NEW APARTMENT IN A VISION COMMUNITY

At Vision Communities, our goal is to create comfortable apartment communities that are sustainably built. If you are looking for a new apartment and have a green thumb, give composting a shot at your new VC apartment. Put your security deposit to use on a new Vision Community apartment. We have floor plans for you to view virtually or in person. Our spacious, studio, 1 bedroom2 bedroom, and 3 bedroom apartment layouts provide cozy space. Check out our luxurious apartment floorplans in one of our communities and enjoy life at the VC. 

Schedule a tour today and see why Vision Communities is a great place to live. 

How to Not Lose Your Deposit When You Move

Probably the biggest concern of renters when moving out of an apartment is if they will get their security deposit back. You pay your security deposit when you move in and the amount is typically the first (and last) month’s rent, along with any other charges, such as an application fee, credit check, and extra deposit if you have a pet. The purpose of the deposit is to hold the money in case it needs to be used to make any repairs to the unit after a tenant has vacated.

Getting your security deposit back shouldn’t be an issue if you follow the language in your lease and have done your best to be a responsible tenant and keep the apartment in good shape while you lived there. However, some landlords can be extremely picky or downright dishonest and explore every angle to avoid returning your security deposit.

Here are some tips to increase the odds that you’ll be paid back:

  1. Read the terms of your lease. Your lease should spell out the expectations for moving out, including giving notice, cleaning, returning keys, etc. Follow them to the letter.
  2. Clean. Clean. Clean. That means everything, including the nooks and crannies of appliances and the bathrooms. If you need to, patch any holes in the walls from hanging pictures. Don’t assume that the maintenance crew will fix these when renovating the apartment. Little oversights can ding your deposit.
  3. Refer to your copy of your move-in checklist. If your property manager used a checklist when you moved in, you should have a copy of it. Use this as your punch list when cleaning and doing minor repairs. Normal wear and tear is expected and doesn’t count against your deposit. However, major damage, especially from pets, will cost you. If possible, accompany the apartment manager when they do the final walk-through.
  4. Remove EVERYTHING. If you aren’t taking something with you to your next apartment, dispose of it. Sell it, donate it, re-gift it, or throw it away. What you do NOT want to do is overload all the dumpsters in the complex on moving day. Not only will you piss off other residents but you can expect the landlord to deduct the cost of large-item disposal from your security deposit.

When you return your keys, make sure to leave your forwarding address with your landlord, so they can mail back your security deposit. When you leave, assume positive intent that you will get your money back. However, if there are issues with the property management company and they string you along or refuse to return your deposit. make sure you have all of your documentation and consult an attorney. You can attempt to recoup your deposit through small claims court.

FIND A NEW APARTMENT IN A VISION COMMUNITY

Put your security deposit to use on a new Vision Community apartment. We have floor plans for you to view virtually or in person. Our spacious, studio, 1 bedroom2 bedroom, and 3 bedroom apartment layouts provide cozy space. Check out our luxurious apartment floorplans in one of our communities and enjoy life at the VC. 

Schedule a tour today and see why Vision Communities is a great place to live. 

Pros and Cons of Virtual Leasing

During the height of the pandemic, it was challenging for both renters and landlords to lease new apartments. Lockdowns, quarantines, and other deterrents prevented the typical apartment tour, so property managers had to get creative. Thus, virtual leasing was born. With virtual leasing, prospective tenants can see an apartment online to get a feel if it would be a good fit or not. To streamline the process even further, many property management companies across the country also adopted online leasing applications.

While virtual leasing definitely solved the problem of not blindly renting an apartment, it offers other advantages, such as saving time, but it is also not without its drawbacks. Here are some pros and cons of virtual leasing.

Pros

Saving time. Now you can curl up on the sofa in your PJs at any time and tour apartments in any neighborhood you choose. No more having to drive around and search for locations or make appointments for a showing.

Getting the complete picture. Instead of static photos, virtual tours are often 360. You get a panoramic view of the apartment, the grounds, and amenities such as a pool and clubhouse. But what you won’t see in most virtual tours are the less-attractive aspects of the property, such as the parking lot, dumpsters/trash disposal area, and mailboxes.

Look anywhere you like. With a virtual tour, you can explore other areas of town or even apartments in different states entirely. This is particularly useful if you received an out-of-town job offer or simply need a change of scenery. The online search can significantly narrow your options before you schedule an in-person trip.

Cons

Not seeing the finer details. Most photos and videos used in virtual tours are of a brand-new unit that’s move-in ready or staged. The goal is to entice you to sign a lease ASAP. What you won’t see are details such as the condition of the doors, locks, and windows, and building security. You also don’t see a complete picture of the property.

Not seeing the neighborhood. Unless you are familiar with the area you want to move to, virtual tours are pretty limited about the area outside the apartment complex. For example, is there a parking lot for residents or is it going to be a constant headache to find on-street parking? How safe is the neighborhood? What types of stores are close by?

Not meeting the apartment manager. Anybody can be charming over the phone or via chat. With virtual leasing, you don’t get to meet the property manager face to face. That may not necessarily always be a bad thing but being able to put a face with a name is more beneficial over the long term. Most humans still prefer the personal touch.

If you are looking for a new apartment, virtual leasing is a good starting point. You can find some options then schedule an appointment for an in-person tour now that most pandemic restrictions have been lifted. It’s better to see the place in person as you don’t want to get locked into an online lease — sight unseen — and be stuck in an apartment or location you hate. Combine the pros of virtual leasing with on-site visits to find your perfect new home.

FIND A NEW APARTMENT IN A VISION COMMUNITY

At Vision Communities, we have floor plans for you to view virtually or in person. Our spacious, studio, 1 bedroom2 bedroom, and 3 bedroom apartment layouts provide cozy space. Check out our luxurious apartment floorplans in one of our communities and enjoy life at the VC. 

Schedule a tour today and see why Vision Communities is a great place to live. 

Questions to ask before renting an apartment

What to Know Before Renting an Apartment

Important questions to ask when renting an apartment

If you have recently graduated and are ready to start a new job and get your own place, now is a great time to be looking at apartments. The same can be said if you want to buy a house or have sold your home and are waiting to move into a new one. Currently, it’s a seller’s market in the housing industry and mortgage rates are predicted to increase, so if home ownership is your goal, it might be best to wait it out.  An apartment offers many amenities that you won’t find in a house, like a swimming pool or fully equipped fitness center. And if you’re new to the area, apartment living is a great way to meet people and get acclimated to your new community.

One of the benefits of living in an apartment is that you aren’t locked into a long-term mortgage. Most leases renew annually and some property management companies offer month-to-month leases. You will be required to put down a security deposit, which will vary by property, and it should be returned to you when you moved out, provided that the apartment didn’t incur any major damage while you were living there. There may also be a pet deposit and if you are just starting out, you may need to pay deposits in order to establish utilities in your name.

Here are seven important questions to ask when renting an apartment:

  1. How much is the security deposit? Most apartment deposits amount to one month’s rent and you may also be asked to pay an application fee. Make sure you understand that upfront and be sure to get clarification on how you get your deposit returned when you move out.
  2. Is there a pet deposit? Many apartments now require pet deposits and some also charge a small monthly rental fee for the pet. The deposit and monthly rent are usually based on the weight of the animal, and most communities have restrictions on how many pets a resident can own. Some cities and apartment communities also have breed restrictions, so be sure that your pet is on the approved list.
  3. What are the terms of the lease? You want to be very clear on this one because it is expensive to break a lease. Are you bound to one year or can you go month-to-month? How much notice are you required to give if you intend to move out?
  4. What utilities are covered in the rent? In some communities, your rent also includes water and trash removal. Be certain to check as you don’t want to be surprised by unexpected utility bills. As an incentive, some properties offer free internet/cable services like Google Fiber. If that is the case, make sure to find out how and when the rates increase, how soon you will be notified, and if you have the option to decline this service.
  5. How are maintenance requests handled? This is important to know in advance so you will not have unrealistic expectations. Find out if there is a dedicated maintenance staff for your property and when they are available. Also, ask if there is after-hours emergency maintenance and what constitutes an “emergency.” Do residents submit maintenance requests online or do they need to call their property manager? Some properties allow residents to perform simple DIY repairs themselves and deduct the cost of any supplies from their rent.
  6. Do residents have dedicated parking spaces? This can be a huge headache for apartment residents — where to park. Are there reserved parking spots or is it a free-for-all? Some complexes charge more for reserved parking spots or carports. In addition, find out where guests are supposed to park. Guests parking in residents’ “usual” spots can get ugly quickly.
  7. What is security like? Every property is different. Some have locked outside security doors, while others have passcodes or gates at the entrance to the complex. High-rise apartments might have a concierge or on-site security guards. Check all of the windows and doors to make sure they close and lock properly. In addition, check for working smoke/CO monitors in the unit and for fire extinguishers in the hallways.

These are some tips to get you started on your apartment search. Your main goal in finding a new place to live is that it is safe, comfortable and fits your lifestyle. By gathering basic information upfront, you will understand your obligations as a resident and the responsibilities of the property management company, so your apartment life will be harmonious and stress-free.

At Vision Communities, we welcome you to explore our floor plans and find the right one for you and your furry friend. Our facilities are top-notch and based on some of our resident reviews, we think you’ll love the atmosphere, amenities, and our property management staff, all designed to give you a place you are proud to call home. There are so many amenities and things to do in and around our Central Ohio communities

Schedule an appointment to check out our spacious floor plans, and our friendly property management staff will be happy to show you around. 

Learn where to find good roommates on the Vision Communities blog.

Tips for Finding Reliable Roommates

How to find a great roommate

Whether you need help in sharing living expenses or just enjoy companionship, finding the right roommate(s) can be tough. Gone are the days when you had instant roommates that blossomed into lifetime friendships from living in campus housing at school or roomed with a group of friends from high school. Even though things are getting a little better with the pandemic and economy, it’s important that you choose reliable, compatible roommates, especially if the relationship is for the long haul. You don’t want somebody who is looking for a place to hang out temporarily until their situation improves and leaves you hanging with unpaid rent or even worse, isn’t taking covid precautions seriously.

So, how to you find reliable roommates?

  1. Make a list. Before you start asking around, make a list of what you are seeking in a roommate. This could include financial stability, smoking, lifestyle (e.g., are they are a night owl, while you turn in at 10 p.m.), pets, food preferences, etc. This doesn’t mean that if you’re a meat and potatoes person that you can’t live with a vegan or vice versa, especially if food shopping and meal prep are done separately. You need to assess what’s important, then prioritize it. If you are a classical music fan but can tolerate EDM, then don’t sweat the small stuff. And last but certainly not least, ask them about their reaction to covid. Have they been vaccinated? Do they plan to get vaccinated? Have they had covid? Do they work in a high-risk job?
  2. Ask family and friends. Word-of-mouth is the best recommendation. Ask around and see if your family and friends know anybody who is looking for a roommate. Maybe they know a person who just left a live-in relationship or is new in town. People you trust and who know you can attest to the person’s character, stability, etc.
  3. Ask at work or school. If you are finishing up school, there are resources for matching roommates. You just need to check out the student resources online or on campus, if you are able to attend any classes in person. You can also ask coworkers. The only downside is if the roommate situation doesn’t work out, it could create an awkward situation with your coworker. 
  4. Social media. If you have a close-knit group of friends on your social media platforms, then ask them. You never know who is a friend of a friend … One advantage to using social media is that it creates a bit of distance. You can subtly gather information, and if it doesn’t sound like a good fit, you can back out before making any type of connection or commitment. Many communities have area specific pages, so if you are feeling adventurous, put some feelers out and see who responds.
  5. Online clearinghouses. There are many websites to match roommates, like Roomster. You just sign up and fill out questionnaires and pay a fee. Similar to a dating app, your specs will be matched against other candidates to see who would be compatible with you. 

 

Your home is where you want to feel, safe, secure, and comfortable. Having the right roommate(s) can make your apartment a peaceful relaxing environment and the wrong ones can create an uncomfortable living arrangement. By identifying qualities you seek in a roommate, doing your homework and asking the right screening questions, hopefully, you will find great people to share your apartment and forge lifelong friendships.

At Vision Communities, we welcome you to explore our floor plans and find the right one for you and your new roommate. Our facilities are top-notch and based on our resident reviews, we think you’ll love the atmosphere, amenities, and our property management staff, all designed to give you a place you are proud to call home. There are so many amenities and things to do in our Central Ohio communities, that you have an outlet when you and your roomate need some space. 

Schedule an appointment to check out our spacious floor plans, and our friendly property management staff will be happy to show you around. 

tips for working from your apartment

Apartment Living + Social Distancing

Depending on where you live, you’re probably into your third or fourth week of social distancing due to COVID-19.  Cabin fever has long since set in, especially if you work from home. Compounding the situation is sharing space with family or roommates within the confines of your apartment, which seems to grow smaller and smaller each day. So, how do you protect your health — and your sanity — during these trying times?

  1. Communicate. Talk to your apartment-mates about expectations during the pandemic. For example, set some ground rules about work space, online meetings & quiet spaces. Come to an agreement on visitors during the quarantine, and most importantly, agree on safety protocols for any housemate that needs to leave the apartment. The best way to stay on the same page is to communicate with one another and get ahead of any living space challenges.
  2. General cleaning. During the stay-at-home order, it’s essential to keep your apartment as clean and disinfected as possible. Wipe down the door handles and light switches every day (more with frequent use). Kitchen counters and the sink should be cleaned daily, as well as the easily-overlooked areas like the refrigerator and freezer doors and the microwave. Each roommate should clean up the bathroom after every use — sink, faucets, bathtub and shower. Also make sure that the floor, toilet bowl, toilet seat and handle are frequently cleaned. Lastly, minimizing clutter will also go a long way towards helping everybody feel calmer and less hemmed in.
  3. Grocery shopping. If everybody usually does their own thing, now might be the time to consolidate. Each resident can make a list of what they need and combine them into one shopping trip. This is a good opportunity to purchase larger quantities of commonly-used staples and you can save some money by doing so.  Designate one (or two) roommates to do the shopping or have your groceries delivered. Yes, it costs more, but most supermarkets reduce the delivery fee based on the dollar amount purchased. It’s easy to order online, pay and tip (generously, please!) the shopper.
  4. Escape. If you work at home or just need some space, you probably spend a lot of time in your bedroom. That can get old. If your apartment has a balcony or patio, steal some quiet time outdoors. Just getting away and breathing some fresh air can do wonders for the psyche. If your apartment community has green space, go for a walk, just make sure to maintain social distance from other walkers. If you have a dog, take it for a nice long walk. A change of scenery, even if just for an hour or so, can help put some distance between you and your roommates.

Apartment Common Areas

  1. Elevators. If you live on an upper floor, try to take the stairs instead of the elevator. If you must use the elevator, try to time your trips to when fewer people will be riding. Wear a mask and gloves for pressing the buttons.
  2. GYM Facility.  Many apartment communities offer gym and workout facilities. If you are keeping up with your workout routine, thoroughly wipe down any equipment before and after you use it. 
  3. Mailbox. You have to get your mail to pay your bills, so use common sense and appropriate caution when going to a common mail area. Wipe down your mailbox before and after opening it and when you get your mail to your apartment, avoid placing it on kitchen counters. 

Vision Communities is committed to taking care of our apartment communities with COVID-19 in mind. We have increased our efforts to keep common areas clean and sanitized to keep COVID-19 risks low for our residents. We encourage our residents to follow CDC and Ohio Department of Health guidelines to practice social distancing and reduce human to human contact as much as possible.

At Vision Communities, we pride ourselves in the communities that we build. We’ll take care of the maintenance of the facilities and your apartment, but the cleaning and assembly are up to you! With apartment communities near ClintonvilleDowntown Columbus, and Westerville, Vision Communities has the floor plan and amenities that you are looking for. To learn more, browse our Central Ohio communities and find the right floor plan for you and your family.