Here are some tips to help you find a short rental within budget:
• Try to avoid taxes: In the District, in most cases, short-term furnished apartments are subject to a 14.5 percent hotel tax on top of the rent. If you rent for 91 days or more, you can avoid that tax.
• Go local instead of national: Local corporate apartment providers will have better prices than national corporate apartment providers. They will also be a very reliable source of knowledge of the area and will be able to let you know which options will have things you are looking for, such as nearby shopping and restaurants, which is very handy if you are unfamiliar with the area.
• Rethink furnished: You can save a lot of money by renting an unfurnished apartment. You will need to find apartments that will rent for a lease term of less than one year. Apartments that rent for lease terms less than one year will do so at a higher cost than a longer lease term typically. You will have to set up your utilities and Internet provider in most cases, but it might be worth the effort if you are working within a budget.
You can rent furniture from a furniture rental company on average for about $150 to $350 a month. If you only need a short-term rental for one or two months, you have to compare the costs to see if going this route makes financial sense. If you are staying longer than three months, bringing pots, pans and linens or buying them can save you on average about $150 a month on a housewares package. If you need a short-term lease for three months or longer, going this route might be worth the trouble and could save you on average about $1,000 a month.
• Go the distance: As always, renting an apartment farther away from the center of the city will typically give you lower-priced options.
• Avoid corporate apartment owners: There are some individual owners who will rent furnished apartments for a shorter term. These are rarer as the majority of condos and co-ops will not allow a lease term that is less than one year. Owners of basement apartments or single-family homes don’t have to abide by condo rules so those options can present affordable short-term rental options.
• Avoid scams: Subleasing is not typically allowed in apartments or condos. So if you find a sublet apartment, make sure the leaseholder has permission to sublease it to you. Be very cautious. Scammers have been particularly adept at targeting people seeking short-term furnished rentals.
People from out of the area, who don’t know what furnished apartments cost, are easy targets. Get your short-term housing from a reliable source or contact a real estate professional for help. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Nancy Simmons Starrs is founder and president of Apartment Detectives, a D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia apartment-search service.