Ampersand Property Management

Ampersand Property Management provides and manages rentals in the Billings area.

What if You Can’t Pay Rent on Time?

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Good news: the laws have changed, and people who miss payments are no longer flogged, chained to the wall, or hung from their arms. Hurrah for progress!

can't pay rent

Almost everyone pays rent late at some point. Car trouble strikes, your work hours get cut, or you just plain forgot that the first was coming up and you didn’t mail a check. People have different reactions to this event, but one of the more common responses is to hide. Somehow it seems that if we just pretend that nothing’s wrong, then it’ll work out.

Unfortunately, it never does just work out. You get emails and calls from the landlord, then comes the eviction notice.

Not awesome.

There’s a better way. Maybe not awesome either, but better. You’ve got to do the hard thing and email or call your landlord. Let him know as soon as you know that you won’t be able to pay. Most people will sincerely appreciate that you take your payment obligations seriously, and they’ll do what they can to work with you.

You don’t have to go into a lot of detail necessarily, but explain the situation briefly and let the landlord know when you will be able to pay. Do everything in your power to stick to your payment plan – excuses get old and flimsy fast, and the more you have, the less accommodating your landlord will be. Be honest if you don’t know when you’ll be able to afford the rent again. You may need to give notice and move if your situation is permanent, but it’s much better to face that upfront and get a good recommendation from your current landlord than ignore the situation and hurt your chances of finding another place.

If your situation isn’t that serious, call or email your landlord and send your check in – by the first – with a note requesting that the check not be deposited until a later date. Include your late fee in the amount. I promise it will make your landlord happy to have the check to hold – even if he can’t deposit it until the 15th.

Paying rent late isn’t the end of the world, so own up to it if you have to and deal with the situation honestly and promptly.

 

The Cost of Moving

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The Cost of Moving

Shopping for a new rental is a lot of things: exciting, stressful, filled with possibility…and expensive. Some of the costs are obvious (you’ll need to pay a month’s rent before moving in), but some things don’t come as readily to mind. Before you pack up, take the following into consideration.

All the best in your search for a rental, and may your move be classier than this.

 

Security deposit. The landlord will require some amount of money to hold in security. It’s often about the cost of one month’s rent. When you move out, the landlord will use this money to make repairs for damages you’ve caused. Usually this is small stuff like sheetrock repair from holes where you hung art on the walls or replacing broken blinds. Any money left over will be returned to you after you move out.

Utilities. If the landlord has you take over utilities in your own name, you may have to put down a deposit depending on your credit history. Call each utility company to check whether they’ll require a deposit. This can add up quickly if you’re required to put down a $200 security deposit each for gas, water, and electricity. While you’re checking into utilities, take the time to find out about transfer costs for your Internet, cable, and phone services.

Hauling stuff. Even if you have a truck and plan on moving your belongings yourself, the several trips will cost you in gas. If you don’t have a big vehicle, check out the costs of renting a vehicle from UHaul or another company.

Other costs. Ask the landlord about any other costs you may be charged. Some require the last month’s rent as well as the first (that’s not legal in Montana, but if you’re moving out of state it may be). If you’ll be required to maintain the yard, you’ll eventually need a lawnmower, weed killer, a rake, and a snow shovel. Some charge an extra deposit if you have pets or if you’re using storage facilities on the property. Take into account whether you’ll need new or different furniture, window coverings, or other household accessories. And don’t forget food. Stocking a new pantry can add quite a bit to your costs.

Finding out the costs upfront ensures that you’ll know with confidence that you’ll be able to pay the next month’s rent after you move, which is always a popular way to kick off your relationship with a new landlord.

How to Determine Reasonable Rent

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The market determines rental amount.

How do you know how much rent you should pay? You don’t want to live in a slum, but you don’t want to overpay–how do you know when you’re getting a bargain and when you’re getting ripped off?

As of the time of this writing, the quick and dirty way of figuring rent in Billings, Montana is by multiplying the number of bedrooms by $300. Of course that will vary based on a variety of factors — location, condition, proximity to amenities, and the vagaries of the rental market.

You can read a breakdown of different Billings neighborhoods here, if you’re interested in finding out how location will affect your rental price.

A newer, nicer, cleaner, updated house will rent for more than an older home that hasn’t been updated in decades. If you love vintage wallpaper, you might look for an older home to rent. Just be forewarned that you’ll have to put up with ancient appliances and hardware in addition to decor, so what you make up in rent each month, you might pay in headaches with repair issues.

Nothing in Billings is too far from shopping and entertainment, so that doesn’t affect the Magic City as much as other locations. Some country rentals with land may actually command higher rental prices despite how far they are from shopping.

The rental market condition also affects how much rent you’ll pay. If there aren’t many people wanting to rent, prices will be lower. If lots of people want to rent, rents go up because demand is higher. This fluctuates with the number of rental properties available and the number of people who choose to buy versus rent.

In general, a spacious four or five bedroom home with two living areas and multiple bathrooms will go anywhere $1400 and up.

An older three or four bedroom home can go anywhere from $1000 to $1450.

Smaller homes in less desirable neighborhoods will go from $500 to $1000.

There’s a starting point if you’re wondering how much rent is fair to pay in Billings, Montana. At times it will be higher or lower, but this’ll give you an idea of what’s reasonable and ridiculous. Best of luck in your search for a home! Check out our Rental Properties page to see if we’ve got anything available that will suit your needs. If we don’t have anything open, sign up for our renters’ list so you’ll be the first to get emails about what Ampersand Property Management has newly available.

Choosing a Property Manager

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Rent in Billings, MT

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Where to rent in Billings, Montana? You’ve got options. West end, East side, South side, Heights. . . . ¬†Choosing among those options might be difficult, particularly if you’re not familiar with the area.

Billings, MT neighborhoods

Which neighborhood should you choose?

Ampersand Property Management is here to help you with your decision. You may have some deciding factor like proximity to work that determines where you want to rent. But it’s not like there’s a super-long commute anywhere in Billings, so you might choose based on other factors. No matter where you rent, you’ll have pretty good access to parks, schools, and the airport. Here’s a quick, generalized rundown of the neighborhoods to help you:

West end: This end of town is growing, and many of the homes are newer, so rents on this side of Billings are higher. Homes on the West end are close to shopping and entertainment — the mall, movie theaters, restaurants — which makes them popular. The neighborhoods for the most part are exclusively residential, so walkability is low. Bottom line: Everything from kind-of-updated 50s ranch-style to swank, brand-new homes with a higher price tag.

East side: This is the area of town close to downtown. Some might call it downtown or midtown. Homes in this area tend to be older and probably have higher walkability than homes on the West end (though most of Billings isn’t really all that walkable). Rent varies depending on the property. Some are on the lower end — more so than on the West side — but there are also some higher-priced rentals mixed in. Size and quality will be the determining factors there. Bottom line: Mostly older homes with some charm factor (hardwood floors, front porches, brick fireplaces), mixed bag for condition and price.

South side: Typically considered low-rent with a higher crime rate, but there are nice homes available here. Most of the homes are older, but there is some growth here, and quite a bit of revitalization. Some parts are close to downtown, so you can find rentals with good walkability. Bottom line: Mixed age and condition that could yield a bargain for the budget-conscious.

Heights: The Heights neighborhood encompasses quite a bit of real estate with a little bit of everything as far as price range, size, and condition. It’s farther from some of the main shopping and entertainment opportunities that Billings offers (there are plans to add new roads to better connect it with various other sections of city), which in some cases may mean you can get more house for your money. Bottom line: Varied rental opportunities with a potentially longer commute.

Best of luck in your search for a Billings rental! ¬†We’re always happy to help in any way we can, so shoot us an email at AmpersandPropertyManagement@gmail.com if we might be of assistance.