In your renting history, you’ve come to rely on a few choice websites to help you find a place to settle down a while. But despite having read hundreds of housing rental ads, you still fall for the same 'ole jargon. Words like quaint, cozy and quiet pull you in like a moth to a flame. And like that moth, you get burned. You have to wonder why you never sign a lease for longer than a year.
Don’t waste any more time visiting rental properties that look like they’ve been featured in a Maysles documentary. Instead, learn what leasing agents really mean when they post an ad describing the rental as “charming.” Once you know how to decode those ads, you can find yourself a suitable pad and set yourself up with a great leasing agreement and better spend your time comparing renters insurance and decorating the new space.
Here are a number of terms and phrases agents use to trap prospective renters. Don’t fall for their clever wordsmithing!
Converted Bedroom: A studio apartment with an added privacy screen or two.
Garden Unit: There’s a patch of grass beside the front door step.
Outdoor Space: There is a park nearby or a communal courtyard where rowdy college students party on Saturday nights.
Walk-Up: The apartment is located up several floors of steep stairs with a wonky handrail.
Juliet Balcony: A sham balcony. A Juliet balcony allows you just enough space for a standing single person. A Juliet balcony is not a functional space.
New to Market: This apartment has either just had a lease agreement fall through or the agent “forgot” to update the ad and is stuck trying to sign on a tenant for a rental no one wants.
Unique: The rental is U-G-L-Y, ugly.
MINT: The rental is in excellent shape.
Intimate: To quote Aladdin’s Genie, “Tiny little living space.”
Sun-Filled: The apartment gets blasted with sunlight that makes the space feel 10X hotter than it is outside.
Estate Condition: The rental has had little maintenance or renovations in recent years and the landlord does not intend to make more.
Original Condition: The rental has had no maintenance or renovations in at least a decade. There’s a reason why the oven has blackened smoke marks.
Parking Adjacent: The rental property doesn’t offer parking, so you’ll have to park down the street in a questionable neighborhood.
South-Facing Windows: There is no view. Scratch that, there is a view, but it’s of a parking garage or the façade of the building opposite yours.
Finished Studio: Located in one of two spots, a basement or above a garage. Often means you’ll most likely be renting from a family that needs extra cash flow.
As you skim through rental ads, look for the choice descriptors above, it’ll help you save time and keep you from visiting a rental that you wouldn’t live in for a million dollars.