On the plus side, rents are going down

John Ford posts fourth-quarter apartment-rent numbers for Boston.

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Rent may be cheaper for

Rent may be cheaper for those renting right now (when the odd time of year makes it easier to get concessions).

To everyone else, who are already in a lease agreement, I'd be interested to know if your landlord has reduced rates. Mine certainly hasn't.

Boston rents are seasonal, but...

... the article claims the numbers are year over year, so 4Q07 v. 4Q08, and 4Q excludes the Sept 1 starts which comprise most of the market and that cost the most per month.

Btw the best time to look and then rent is probably Sept/Oct/Nov since by then the inventory of renters is pretty much used up and LL's have to reduce their unrented places to more appropriate-for-normal-people levels from student-driven levels that control Sept 1 rental rates.

Problem with that is most,

Problem with that is most, if not all of the rental property's at that point are absolute shit holes. Apartments that even the college population said no thanks to.

A better time is May/June/July.

I'm a renter, so I'm glad that prices are finally going back to where they should be. There's no reason why landlords should be able to get away with renting a Oak Square studio for $1300/mo. They've been inflated quite a bit for some time now due to more and more students with the bottomless piggy bank that was their parents easy credit.

With the credit markets in shambles, and housing hit hard, my guess is junior won't be seeing any equity from his parents refinancing of their mortgages, nor easy access to the family credit card.

Those are good things.

Ignoring a few variables

Most students are being pulled back onto campuses (BU and BC both have concerted efforts to have a "dorm room for every student"). That should help reduce demand and increase supply.

However, at the same time, people who owned but were foreclosed and people who can't meet the current increased criteria to own in this credit crunch are all turned from potential owners to likely renters. This dumps more people back into the rental market.

I'm guessing between the two...it's a wash and rental prices won't go too far one way or the other.

Many banks are jerks and

Many banks are jerks and keep foreclosed homes emtpy, and kick out the current tenants (not all but many) so Id also be interested to see how many perfectly good rental units (triple deckers, duplexes etc) that were on the rental market 2 years ago are now sitting empty, boarded up.

a deal is a deal

A lease is a contract. You can try to bargain, but the landlord doesn't have to let you out of it or renegotiate the rent. If you threaten to leave, the landlord still doesn't have to let you out of it. Think about when it will turn over, and make it clear that you will leave if there is no concession on the rent - but be sure you can find cheaper or better before you do!

We always cut our leases in off months because the competition is less and the cost is lower - avoid September and January if you at all can.

+4 for months they fight to re-sync to Sept 1

it's absurd and i can't see that it provably helps landlords, but I've seen many insist on writing leases of 8 to 11, and 13 to 16 months (12 +- 4) to force the lessee to re-sync to Sept 1 at the end of the term.

This is a really bad habit in Boston that doesn't just screw things up for renters, but that puts landlords in an all-or-nothing situation as well... not to mention the ridiculous civil chaos created at 8/31-9/01 as the entirety of the rental population tries to play musical chairs all at once.

Still, things are much better than when i arrived during the boom. The rental vacancy rate is much more than the 0.1% that it was when I arrived, meaning there is some room for discussion/vague attempts at rational negotiations with property owners. ( I hate to use the professional-sounding term "landlord" with most of the amateur nitwits who own and rent property in the Boston area).

I think Boston/Cambridge people forget that in the normal world, even in other college towns, property rental is a continuous activity, not a once a year thing after which the landlord goes back to his sofa with his beer to watch sports on TV. It's skewed there by the population's willingness to accept bad habits as fact (e.g. "well, they're just bad drivers and that's the way it is") and the concentration of college students who can frankly just throw money at housing to get the issue out of the way, because they're just passing through and money/housing are not their top priorities.

you over-exaggerate

If you threaten to leave, the landlord still doesn't have to let you out of it.

Correct, but you're also only responsible for the rent on the place until the landlord re-fills it- and they can't just sit on their hands. If they want money out of you for unpaid rent and you take it to housing court, they have to prove they've been trying to fill the occupancy.

Now you exaggerate

You are responsible for the balance of the lease. If the lease expires before the landlord finds a new tenant, you don't have to pay those extra months beyond the end of the lease period.

A lease is an agreement to pay x dollars per month over y months. You can move out anytime, but you owe x dollars per month over y months regardless unless the landlord agrees to change it. You are not responsible to pay x dollars per month over y+z months if the landlord doesn't fill the place.

I broke a lease once and the landlord had no problem with it ... but only because rents had gone up substantially in the 9 months I was there and the landlord could get a better rent for it than I would have paid and not go looking for a tenant in December.

Well yeah, but now your not

Well yeah, but now your not only spending all that money and time to move, but now were in court! Just add that to the list of expenses and of course it becomes clear its not worth moving out of the apartment before the lease is up unless rent is above X number of dollars, and that X just keeps getting bigger.

Im assuming your landlord is

Im assuming your landlord is going by an antiquated system (you know from two years ago!) where you raise the rent by a certain percent every year and everyone just says "alright alright, its not like I can afford any other alternatives anyway." Stand your ground, you may have to leave to find a new place, but good luck to em in finding a new tenant to pay that new price.

My landlord was smart and locked up in at a reasonable price this past year, even if she raises it a little I will stick around. I have no intentions of going anywhere as long as the price stays steady. In the long run she will save money due to not having the apartment vacant for a month or more.

And that's exactly the

And that's exactly the catch-22 I'm in. I could find a equivalent place cheaper or a better place at the same price. Yet, the cost to hire movers, a day or two off during a busy time at work, and the sheer aggravation of moving (never mind the August 31/September 1 shit-show) means I'll also stay put.

Landlords know, and exploit, the institutionalized move-date to their benefit.

Maybe I'll apply to the Feds for a renters bailout.