Welp, we had one whole year to recover before 2021 came back with a vengeance. Buyers are experiencing a severe case of déjà vu, while sellers are breathing a big sigh of relief, unless they are buyers as well.
Prospective tenants, those looking to feather their first nest or move into something temporary before settling down long-term, are being hit by the backside of the real estate market storm. On a similar scale, they’re finding that available rentals are once again scarce and rents have jumped to mortgage-payment levels.
Supply and demand
The leasing market is a mirror image of its bigger real estate brother: in order to have rental homes available, existing tenants must move out, either to buy a home of their own or move to a larger unit.
But the prices of entry-level condos and townhomes have not gone down from 2021 levels, and with increased mortgage rates, they are even more expensive to afford. Moving to larger rental homes is a fruitless endeavor, as those are now scarce and their rents have risen along with all other real estate costs.
Credit score, pets and other landmines
A particular segment of the rental market is being hit especially hard: those tenants with less-than-ideal credit scores or parents of one or more fuzzbutts (puppers and fluffers). Landlords receive multiple applications for every vacancy, and are able to legally be selective when approving their future tenants.
Sadly, there is not much advice that can be offered to those looking for a rental, especially in desirable locations such as near business centers, universities or transportation hubs. An important warning I share with those searching desperately is beware of unscrupulous landlords who offer homes outside of real estate agencies, often ignoring required safety inspections and flaunting other rules established to protect tenants.
Know your rights as a tenant
Whether you are working with an agent to find a rental or responding to ads on your own, download this Truth in Renting booklet issued by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. It contains a wealth of important information for tenants, most of which protect your rights. By law, landlords are required to provide a copy of this booklet to every tenants. Sadly, many do not.