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#BostonHacks: Renting in Boston

It’s officially moving season! With September 1st right around the corner, many Boston renters are entering crunch time to find their next, perfect apartment. Here at Boston Insurance, we understand how daunting the rental market in Boston can be, which is why we’ve put together a few tips and tricks to make sure you get what you need and deserve when it comes to your next apartment.

Before you sign on the dotted line.

Inspect the property. Do not sign a lease without looking at the property at least once. Open cabinets, turn on lights and water, check the stove and oven. Does the water get hot? Do the doors and windows all open and close properly? Are there signs of pests or rodents? Do you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the apartment? These are all things to check when visiting an apartment for the first time.

Know your rights as a renter. When renting an apartment in Boston, it is common to have to put down first month’s rent, last month’s rent, a security deposit, and a broker’s fee if you work with a real estate agent. Landlords can also legally charge a fee to buy and install new locks, if you request that. They cannot, however, charge you a fee to hold the apartment, an application fee, a credit check fee, or a finder’s fee for renting their own apartment (unless the owner of the property is also a real estate agent). In terms of required safety features, your unit must have two exits that lead outside per the city of Boston’s fire code. Your landlord must also provide smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in each bedroom and main area of the apartment.

What’s included? Each apartment will include different amenities and utilities. Know what is included in the rent and consider the additional expenses of what’s not included when making your budget. For example, heat and hot water may or may not be included in your monthly rent. Consider other expenses like parking and cable as well.

What are you agreeing to?

A tenancy-at-will is a written or verbal agreement which allows you to move from the property or for the landlord to end your tenancy after written notice. In many cases, only 30 days notice is needed.  Please check your agreement carefully to make sure you understand the required notice period.

A lease is typically a tenancy agreement for a set period of time. In Boston, a 12-month lease agreement is quite common. A lease binds the parties for the term of the lease. Without some other justification, the landlord is obliged to rent premises to the tenant and the tenant is obliged to pay rent for the term of the lease. Read any lease agreement completely before signing it and keep a copy for your records.

Shop around.

Don’t feel pressured by brokers to say yes to the first apartment you see. Look at apartments all around Boston and in different neighborhoods. Find out what things you’re flexible on, like in-unit laundry, and what your must-haves are. For example, if you have a car, you should consider how easy or difficult parking will be when deciding on an apartment. If you’ll be relying on public transportation, consider proximity to bus and train stations. Remember, if you wouldn’t want to walk that distance in the dead of winter, the apartment is probably not for you.


Moving Tips

Boston is home to over 35 colleges, which means there are always a lot of students looking for short term housing. Most leases in town are on the September 1st cycle to accommodate these students. This also means everyone is moving in and out over the same two-day period — which can make things more than a little hectic. To make sure your move goes smoothly, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Get parking permits. If you thought parking in Boston was bad before, try parking your truck. But, if you plan ahead you can reserve a parking spot through the city! The city of Boston allows you to reserve a spot for your move-in day online — but you can’t do it the day of!

Don’t go on Storrow Drive with a truck. We repeat: DO NOT TAKE YOUR TRUCK ON STORROW DRIVE. Moving trucks do not fit under the bridges on Storrow Drive. You will get stuck (also known as ‘storrowed’). You will back up traffic. It will not be fun.

Ask for an early move-in date. To avoid the chaos on September 1st, you can ask your landlord if it’s possible to move in early. If the apartment is vacant, you may be able to move-in one to two days earlier than when your lease begins.  

Allston Christmas. Tis the season to make someone else’s free junk your newly found treasure. As tenants move out, they often find that they can’t or don’t want to move certain items with them, meaning they end up on the sidewalks, free to anyone who wants them. This tradition began in Allston, which is why it is commonly known around town as Allston Christmas, but you can find unwanted items on curbs all around Boston on September 1st. If you want to score some free stuff, just remember you should never take mattresses or furniture with upholstery, no matter how much you think you’re saving.


Renters Insurance

We know that you just handed over first, last, security and maybe even a broker’s fee and the last thing you want to do is spend more money. But without renters insurance, you are putting yourself at risk for paying even more if something were to happen down the line. Renters insurance is not only affordable, it also gives you the peace of mind knowing your things are protected. Renters insurance policies also provide liability protection in case of an accident. It’s important to understand that your landlord’s insurance for the property does not protect your personal property inside your apartment. Without renters insurance, your options for recovery will be limited.

Renters insurance coverage includes:


  • Personal property. This protects the value of your belongings from a covered loss, such as a fire or theft.
  • Liability. If your friends come over and someone accidentally gets hurt, this coverage can cover resulting legal or medical bills.
  • Additional living expenses. In the event that you can’t remain in your apartment due to a covered loss like a fire, this coverage can help pay for temporary housing while damages are repaired.


Getting your first apartment is an exciting time, and we think these helpful tips can make moving in a breeze. But don’t forget to protect your new place and everything in it with renters insurance! If you have questions about a new or existing renters insurance policy, Boston Insurance is happy to help. Visit our website to find out more.

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