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Understanding Your Rights Housing Programs Renting Process Community Resources Property Entry Form Property Search

Renting Process
For RentBefore you begin looking for an apartment, room, or house to rent, you should determine how much money you can afford to pay per month for rent. Generally, housing experts recommend that you use 25% to 30% of your income towards your rent cost. It is also important to determine the size of the dwelling you will need, for example, an efficiency, one bedroom, two bedroom, etc. Other factors to consider are whether it is important for you to live near your work, family, doctor, school, etc. Furthermore, you will need to think about whether it is important that your housing be located near a bus line, grocery store, hospital, bank, or other businesses. This will depend on your specific needs, transportation capabilities, etc.

You can research apartments using apartment guides, magazines, or directories. The apartment guides and magazines are free and can be found in most grocery stores. Apartment locators are alternative tools for narrowing down your housing choices. Apartment locators are usually a free service to the consumer and are paid by the apartment complex based on referrals. However, it is still a good idea to ask an apartment locator whether you will have to pay a fee for their services. Oftentimes, in order to locate housing based on your needs, apartment locators ask you for minimum search criteria such as preferred location, number of bedrooms needed, and price range. To find an apartment locator in your area, look in the telephone book’s yellow pages under “apartment locator.” Another way to conduct a housing search is via the Internet. Some locating services on the Internet offer incentives for using their services.

If you are low-income, you may want to look at apartment complexes and/or landlords that participate in housing assistance programs. The local Housing Authority may offer different types of housing assistance programs, such as public housing and Section 8 vouchers. Public housing was established to provide rental housing for eligible low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. If you qualify, your rent would be based on your family’s anticipated gross annual income less deductions, if any. Section 8 vouchers are a housing assistance program whereby the tenant pays a percentage of their income (usually 30%, depending on your family size and other factors) for rental housing. The Housing Authority pays the remainder of the rent directly to the landlord. Section 8 vouchers stay with the tenant and allow him/her to find and choose which affordable, privately-owned rental housing he/she wants to rent. However, not all apartment complexes or landlords participate in the Section 8 voucher program. In order to apply for public housing or the Section 8 voucher program, you must contact your local housing authority. You can apply for public housing or the Section 8 voucher program at the San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA) located at 818 S. Flores, San Antonio, Texas or call SAHA at (210) 242-3880 for the Public Housing Admissions & Occupancy Department or (210) 277-3500 for the Section 8 Customer Service Center. If you are disabled, you can apply for SAHA’s Section 8 voucher program by calling the Center On Independent Living at (210) 599-7711, extension 111. The Bexar County Housing Authority (BCHA) also issues Section 8 vouchers for persons interested in renting housing in areas outside of San Antonio’s city limits that are not served by the San Antonio Housing Authority. You can apply for the Section 8 voucher program by contacting the Bexar County Housing Authority at (210) 225-0071.

In addition, apartment complexes that provide project-based housing assistance or receive low-income housing tax credits offer housing at lower than conventional market rate rents. Housing providers that provide project-based housing assistance require eligible tenants to pay a set amount of rent, usually 30% of your income depending on family size and other factors. However, because the apartment complex receives the funding and not the individual tenant, tenants that choose this type of assistance give up the right to that assistance upon moving from the apartment complex. Complexes that receive low-income housing tax credits set aside a percentage of their units for eligible low-income tenants and lease these units at below market rate rents. The Directory has listings for properties that provide project-based housing assistance or receive low-income housing tax credits. If you are interested in renting an apartment at a complex that participates in either of these housing programs, please contact that particular apartment complex to determine if you qualify for their lower rate rents.

Once you have determined which apartment complexes you wish to inquire about, it is a good idea to call the complex and ask whether there are any vacancies and confirm rent prices and square footage. In addition, if you are disabled and have an impairment that affects your mobility, hearing, or vision, you might want to find out whether the complex has any apartments that meet your accessibility needs. If the complex does not have any accessible units, you may request permission to make reasonable modifications, at your expense, to the apartment in order to make it accessible to you, due to your disability. Please note that, in some cases, landlords may be required to pay for the modifications. This depends on when the complex was built for first occupancy or whether it receives federal funding.

Once you have determined whether an apartment complex meets your individual needs, you should schedule an appointment to view their units. It is important to confirm that the unit and/or apartment complex does in fact have the features that you need and/or desire. Once you have selected an apartment, it is almost always necessary to fill out an application and pay an application fee. This fee covers the cost of verifying information such as rental history, income, criminal background, and credit. Many apartment complexes check all of these criteria in order to assess your likelihood of fulfilling a lease agreement. After you have submitted a completed application to the landlord, the landlord has seven days to notify you of whether your application has been accepted or denied. This notification can be by telephone or in writing. If the landlord has not given you notice within seven days after the date you turned in your application, you can assume that your application has been denied.

Assuming your application has been accepted and you still want to reside at the complex, you will then have to sign a lease agreement and, in most cases, pay a security deposit. The lease agreement is a contract between you (the tenant) and the landlord that states what your responsibilities are under the lease, such as the date by which you must pay the rent, the rent amount due, the length of your tenancy, etc. In addition, the lease agreement details the consequences of breaking your lease agreement. It is very important for you to read and understand the entire lease agreement and agree with the lease terms before signing the lease. The security deposit is an advance of money that is intended to secure your performance under the lease. Upon the successful completion of your lease term and your move-out of the apartment, the landlord is required to refund your security deposit within 30 days after the date you move out of the unit. However, before returning the security deposit, the landlord can deduct from the security deposit any damages or charges that the tenant is legally liable for under the lease, with the exception of normal wear or tear.
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Understanding Your Rights | Housing Programs | Renting Process
Community Resources | Property Entry Form | Property Search

Fair Housing Council of Greater San Antonio
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