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The demand for affordable apartments continues to rise as many families prefer to rent apartment units than to buy their own houses.The long waiting lists in the housing agencies in many states show how serious the housing problem has become.

Low income families have to wait before they could receive housing assistance from the government. As of 2010, the New York City had 127,825 on its waiting list, Houston, Texas had 19,000 applications being processed, and Washington, D.C. had 28,000 families on the waiting list.

A survey of renters revealed that their top reasons for wanting to rent are: 1) the long wait for housing assistance; 2) flexibility to move from one place to another; 3) free maintenance; and 4) affordability.

Image credit: Path to housing by Xochicalco.© CAN Stock photos

Majority of those who prefer to rent cheap apartments are low income families who avail of government subsidy for their rent. The Section 8 program, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), provides housing or rent assistance to extremely low and very low-income individuals, families, senior citizens, and persons with disabilities. Its objective is to provide affordable, decent and safe housing for eligible families, while increasing a family’s residential mobility and choice.

In hunting for a place to move into, be sure to make an ocularinspection of the apartment or house before you move in. Point out anything that needs to be fixed or replaced. If you’re moving for the first time, remember these pointers to avoid any difficulties:

1. What does the rent contract include? Please read the contract and understand all the provisions;
2. What repairs are covered under the contract?
3. What appliances are included in the rent fees?
4. Get the full name and contact numbers/ email address of your landlord/lady.
5. Get the full names and contact numbers of the utility personnel, such as the plumber, electrician, gym/pool, guard;
6. Look around for the nearest utility service providers, etc.

01 Jul 2006, Manhattan, New York, New York, USA --- Two Bridges Housing Project in Lower Manhattan --- Image by © Michael Yamashita © Corbis. All Rights Reserved.

Inspect the apartment and take note of the following before you sign the rent contract:

1. Are there enough safety features, including smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors inside the apartment and in the common areas?
2. Are there no leaks in the water pipes, faucets, toilets?
3. Is the water pressure good? Is the water temperature comfortable?
4. Is there water heater for the unit? Or is it shared by multiple units?
5. Is the laundry area exclusive for the residents or are outsiders allowed?
6. Are there no insects or rodents inside the closets, drawers and kitchen cabinets?
7. Are the ceilings clean? There is no evidence of water damage?
8. Are the locks sturdy?
9. Are the outlets working?
10. Are the surroundings decent and safe?


Image Credit: Corbis.
Family Unloading Moving Truck --- Image by © Randy Faris/Corbis

Be thorough in assessing the entire place to find out if it is livable, comfortable, and most importantly, a place you and your family will be happy with.