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FAQ

Learn the in-and-outs of Leasing around UT.

Finding Housing

A Housing Scout agent assists you in the following ways:
  • They have access to all of the properties instead of just one company’s
  • They communicate with the management company/property to facilitate the application process
  • They are experts on leasing in Austin and can answer all of your or your parents’ questions
  • They make apartment hunting less stressful as you have someone on your side throughout the process
  • They have inside information regarding landlords’ reputations
  • They assist you with properly filling out the application paperwork
  • And, most importantly, you do not have to pay your agent for their help!

Housing Scout agents are paid a commission by the landlord that you sign a lease with. These are pre-negotiated amounts that allow your agent to show you 99% of the properties in Austin. This does not increase the rent that you’ll have to pay nor does it increase your application related fees. You get to benefit from your agent’s hard work as they search for properties, help you tour them, answer your questions, and as they help you apply for your favorite property for absolutely no charge!

Generally speaking, we like to recommend that you begin your apartment search as soon as possible. If you are looking for a house or a property in West Campus, it is especially important that you start your search early—September, October, November. By December, many of the properties in West Campus and North Campus have already been pre-leased. So if finding the perfect apartment in West Campus is a priority, we recommend you begin soon.

If you are still looking for an apartment in July/August, it’s not too late! Contact one of our agents at (512) 900-7963 and we will find you a place to live. We get daily deals from property managers around the city, and we can find you a great place to live.

Despite what you may have heard, it is possible to live in a house in Austin—even in West Campus. Austin is a city with many diverse and self-described “weird” neighborhoods that have a range of living spaces ranging from large Victorian-style houses to small efficiencies, and anything you could imagine in-between.

While it is possible to live in a house, there are fewer of them than there are apartments, condominiums, and other smaller living arrangements. Many of the units around Austin are suited for 1 or 2 people, so that should not be entirely surprising. If you are interested in living in a house, I recommend finding at least three others and start your search early! Houses are often the first things to go during the leasing season. (Which really heats up around October and November.)

If you are interested in renting a house this upcoming year, call us at Housing Scout. (512) 900-7963. Tell one of our agents that you specifically want a house, and they will make it happen for you.

SMART Housing

The S.M.A.R.T. (Safe, Mixed-income, Accessible, Reasonably-priced, Transit-oriented) Housing Policy Initiative is an economic development program designed to stimulate construction of housing for low and moderate income residents in the Austin area. These multi-unit construction projects must meet the City’s Green Building standards and follow city-implemented rent controls, based on the medium income of the surrounding neighborhood. In exchange, the City of Austin provides apartment complexes with monetary compensation. This means reduced rent for qualifying residents. The SMART Housing Policy is long and complicated (42 pages to be exact). We have refined it down to the main key points for your convenience. When you are ready to look at West Campus apartments or other properties in Austin that offer SMART Housing, give us a click or call!

There are two main ways to qualify for SMART Housing. If you are on need-based financial aid, you automatically qualify. Otherwise, you will need to prove that your income is below a certain median income for the area in which the particular property is located.

If you are currently receiving need-based financial aid, you may automatically qualify. You would need to look at your current Financial Aid Award Letter for Fall 2018 and Spring 2019, then compare your grants/scholarships/loans to the approved need-based Financial Aid list. If you have any items that appear on the list, no matter the amount, then you automatically qualify for S.M.A.R.T. Housing.

If you’re a student at the University of Texas at Austin and do not currently receive need-based financial aid, you must qualify for SMART Housing through income verification. This method of qualification is a bit complicated, so we recommend contacting one of our leasing agents. If your parents are your only source of income, you will not be approved. Please be prepared to provide your W2 or last 3 pay stubs.

Only a limited number of West campus apartments and other complexes around Austin offer SMART Housing. This is because the City of Austin only grants this program to builders that comply with their construction guidelines. In addition, SMART Housing availability changes on a regular basis, making it tough to figure out the best SMART Housing deal. Typically, the most affordable SMART Housing units are leased by mid-October. We recommend contacting one of our leasing agents to find the current availability.

There is a common misconception that SMART Housing units are not as nice as non-qualifying units, because they are less expensive. This is not true. They are just as nice or more so than their non-qualifying counterparts. Due to City of Austin mandates, these units must meet strict construction standards.

The Leasing Process

Every leasing company does business slightly differently. So typically, we handle the paperwork on a case-by-case basis. Always make sure to have your Housing Scout Agent present with you when you are filling out paperwork to ensure everything goes off without a hitch.

To give you an idea, when you are pre-leasing in Austin around West Campus you will be expected to sign onto a waitlist and pay an application fee before you even have the lease. And then, when you sign the lease, you will be expected to provide a security deposit that is equal to one month’s rent. There are always move-in deals and special rates, so be sure to contact us at (512) 900-7963 for the best rates in town. We are committed to showing you everything!

Guarantors

Many college students and young adults rely on their parents for financial (and sometimes emotional) support throughout their early years renting or owning property. Parents often have concerns and questions about their involvement in their child’s housing choices.

When a young resident decides to lease an apartment or house, it is common practice for their parent(s) or other relatives to sign on as a guarantor for the lease, guaranteeing that the rent will get paid. This also helps residents avoid the need for a double security deposit. We have compiled the most common questions about guarantors for your convenience.

In order to qualify for an apartment, you generally need to have a monthly income that is at least three times the monthly rent amount. This must be proven with pay stubs. If you are self-employed, you can provide recent bank statements. If you are unable to show this amount of income, you will need to find a guarantor for your lease.

Every apartment complex and landlord is different. Most do not require using a relative as a guarantor, but the more strict landlords might require a family relation.

If you are an international resident and do not have enough income to qualify without a guarantor, you will not be able to use a guarantor that is out of the country. Alternatively, you must provide documentation from a company or state entity ensuring your financial security. For students, this document is called an I-20. In addition, you will need to provide a copy of your I-94 and passport.

When someone guarantees your lease, they are verifying that they are liable for the entire rent amount for the entire duration of the lease. This also means they are liable for damage caused by the tenants. Be sure your guarantor understands that they are responsible for paying the rent if you are unable to do so.

Even if every roommate has their own guarantor, each and every guarantor is responsible for the entire rent amount.This is actually a good thing because the risk is spread between all the guarantors.

If you do not qualify based on income and are unable to find a guarantor, our leasing agents will be able to help. We help people with all sorts of financial trouble find a suitable place to live.

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