A move-in special apartment is an apartment that is offered for rent with a discount or promotion, typically in the form of a free month of rent or a waived gym or amenity fee. Other types of move-in promotions can include discounted security deposits and waived application fees. The discount is marketed as a move-in special, hence the monicker, move-in special apartments.
Landlords use move-in specials as a tool to attract more renters and get empty apartments rented quickly. Typically, a move-in special is offered during the beginning of your lease. Move-in specials can help make the apartment more affordable by lowering the up-front costs associated with signing a new lease.
You'll typically find move-in specials on apartments in new developments as they are used to help rent inventory out quickly. Landlords also use move-in specials if they're having trouble attracting renters, so they'll also be offered when demand for apartments is low. If your local rental market has too much available inventory or if you're considering renting an apartment in a new development, you'll likely come across lots of listings with move-in specials.
- Free Rent
- No or Low Security Deposit
- Waived Rental Application Fees
- Free Amenities or Utilites
- Free Parking
Move-in specials can come in various shapes and sizes, but the general idea behind them to make the proposition of renting the apartment more attractive to prospective tenants. Here are five of the most common move-in specials:
1. Free Rent
One of the best move-in specials you can find is free rent. Typically, this will be in the form of the first or second month free, but some landlords may prefer to prorate it.
Depending on market conditions, the amount of free rent you can get can vary. For example, sometimes you might only get $500 off your first month's rent, but if the market is slow, you might even get two or three months free.
Something to keep in mind with free rent move-in specials is that they do not typically get renewed. That means you will be paying significantly more in annual rent if you decide to renew your lease.
2. No or Low Security Deposit
Another common move-in special is a security deposit related concession. Typically, this comes in the form of a severely reduced security deposit or even no security deposit. If the move-in special is a low security deposit, it might be as low as $250, but it will more commonly be $500 or $1,000 if it's a more expensive luxury apartment.
Recently, some landlords have also started to offer security deposit alternatives. Essentially, what you do is pay a monthly insurance fee that covers any damage you may do to the apartment. While this isn't a move-in special per se, it's another nice perk you can be on the lookout for.
3. Waived Rental Application Fees
Waived application fees are another typical move-in concession that landlords offer. While it won't be a huge saving, it can still save you up to a hundred bucks.
4. Free Amenities or Utilities
If you're considering renting a place in a large apartment complex, you will likely come across properties that offer free amenities as a move-in special. This can be a significant saving as amenity fees can cost over $100 per month.
Sometimes, you'll even see free utilities as a move-in concession. Typically this comes in the form of free cable or internet, but some landlords may even offer to cover other utilities like electric if they really want to get you to sign.
5. Free Parking
One of the best move-in specials you can come across, especially if you're in a major city, is free parking. You'll typically only see this concession offered in new developments that have large parking garages. If you do score a free parking move-in special, you can end up saving thousands of dollars throughout your lease.
The best way to find apartments with move-in specials is to look for rentals in new developments. The newer and larger the property, the more likely it is to offer an assortment of incredible move-in specials. For example, a newly opened property might offer two months of free rent until it's 50% rented, before dropping the move-in special to one month free, and finally getting rid of it completely.
Other ways to score a move-in special are to rent in an area with a lot of supply or during the low season. In most markets, the low season is in the wintertime, and that's when you'll see the biggest rent concessions.
One thing to be aware of when viewing rental listings that offer free rent is net-effective pricing. Some landlords will use the net-effective rent when marketing apartments while also listing that there's a free rent special. For example, an apartment might be listed at $2,900/ month net-effective with the first month free. In that case, your actual rent will be closer to $3,150, but the landlord is factoring in the move-in special so that they can advertise the apartment for the lower net-effective price.
As great as concessions and other move-in specials are, it's important to keep in mind that they're temporary. Landlords use move-in specials to help get you into the apartment. They know full well that you likely won't want to move again in the future, and do not typically offer to renew any concessions if you renew your lease. So while move-in specials are great if you're only looking for a 1-year lease, be sure that you can afford the apartment long-term if you're looking for more permanent housing.