If you have lived in Colorado Springs for a few years, it may come as no surprise that the average cost of rent has risen 27.41% since 2015. But is renting a townhouse the right housing option for you?
Though a booming job and housing market offers certain benefits to the Colorado Springs community, the increase in housing costs makes renting a single-family home less realistic for many, including young professionals and single-income households.
As you examine your budget and weigh housing options, you may find yourself wondering if a townhouse or condo is a better option for your lifestyle and financial situation.
On average, renting a townhouse is 16-17% less expensive than renting a single-family home, while offering some of the same amenities. townhouses do require some sacrifices in terms of autonomy and privacy, however, so make sure it is a good fit for you before signing a lease
In addition to their affordability, townhouses require less upkeep than a traditional single-family home. If you dread lawn maintenance and repainting your home’s exterior every 5-10 years, buying or renting a townhouse may be a great investment.
The HOA in these communities are responsible for all exterior maintenance, including snow removal in the winter. Shoveling your driveway and walk after a Colorado snowstorm is essential for avoiding slick and hazardous surfaces, but it can also be a chilly and physically taxing chore.
Townhouses also offer advantages over a traditional apartment unit or condo. Though not as private as a single-family home, townhouses typically have private entrances, eliminating the shared hallways of an apartment complex.
Most townhouses are narrow two-story structures, meaning that you would have neighbors on either side of you, but none above or below. This layout decreases the likelihood that you will hear your neighbors through shared walls and vice versa.
In most communities, each townhouse has its own in-unit laundry, rather than the communal laundry areas popular in apartment complexes. This feature, in addition to the small private yards that exist in most townhouse communities, results in a more house-like feel than most multi-family structures. For a more detailed comparison of apartments or condos and townhouses, read “Condos vs. Townhouses—What’s the difference?”
Despite the more private nature of a townhouse, you will still be living in relatively close proximity to your neighbors and utilizing many of the same common areas, so it may be worth thinking about whether you would enjoy the social element of a townhouse community.
If you prefer to keep to yourself and can afford a single-family home, that may be a better option.
Living in a townhouse does require adhering to the covenants and by-laws of that community which are enforced by the HOA. These rules vary greatly from community to community, but may include noise restrictions, rules about parking, and regulations regarding the external appearance of the townhouse.
Though these rules are designed to preserve the appearance and desirability of the community, some individuals may find the covenants restrictive.
If you are considering renting in a particular community, ask the landlord, previous tenant, or the HOA for a copy of the community’s governing documents.
Many HOAs enforce quiet hours at night, and some may also have ordinances regarding acceptable noise levels during the day.
Though you may have a one-car garage attached to your townhouse, many communities use carports or street parking. Parking regulations will determine where you can park and what types of vehicles are allowed. The HOA may also enforce a parking lot speed limit.
In addition to leash laws and restrictions on the number of pets per unit, HOAs often enforce breed or weight restrictions. The most common restrictions are placed on dogs over 50 pounds or “potentially dangerous” breeds, such as Pit Bull or Staffordshire Terriers, Dobermans, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds.
Other common rules deal with uniformity within the community. The HOA may have regulations regarding size and type of holiday decorations, as well as deadlines for removing the decorations. They may also prohibit landscaping or gardening in the front yard.
When you lease in an HOA community, you assume the owner’s responsibility for adhering to the community’s regulations. Most leases will pass the penalties for violations onto the tenant.
The only exception being if the owner (rather than the tenant) was responsible for the violation. These penalties typically include warnings or fines, but multiple violations can result in eviction for violating the terms of the lease, so make sure that you are willing to abide by the rules of the community before buying or renting.
Though an HOA fee may seem like an additional unnecessary expenditure, it covers several of the bills that you would normally be responsible for, such as trash removal, exterior maintenance (discussed earlier), and insurance coverage for the building’s exterior.
Your HOA fees may cover additional amenities, such as a community clubhouse, pool, or gym, potentially saving you money on a gym membership or fitness subscription in addition to offering more opportunities to build community with your neighbors.
If you are an avid gardener, value seclusion, or like the freedom to leave your Christmas lights up through March, a townhouse may not be right for you. For the right individual or family, however, these inconveniences are made up for by the affordability, community, and lack of exterior maintenance townhouses offer.
If the amenities and lifestyle of townhouse living appeal to you, check out our townhouse listings online. Before signing your lease, remember to talk to prospective neighbors and check out the community’s governing documents to make sure it is a good fit for you. Springs Homes would love to help you find the perfect community, so please contact us if you have any questions or want to schedule a showing.
If you haven't heard of pet liability insurance before you are not alone. Pet owners who live in an apartment community may be of particular interest to this form of insurance. A pet has the potential to injure another occupant on the property and you certainly will want to have some sort of personal protection.
A vast majority of apartments will require future applicants to purchase a renter's insurance plan, and this may be the easiest avenue to acquire liability insurance for your pet as well.
Renter's insurance main purpose is to protect you from unforeseen loss while you are renting an apartment or home.
You will have to decide if you prefer replacement cost or cash value in the case that your items are stolen or damaged.
Remember that many communities will require that you have a policy upon move-in. If you don't want to take out a policy, your application will be denied. Most landlords will have some sort of property insurance.
You should check with them to see if any of your belongings are covered under their policy.
There are many scenarios whereby pet liability insurance can protect you from unforeseen loss. This will give you some protection to cover any costs related to injury or damage caused by your pet.
Here are a couple of examples to consider
Your dog bites a guest who acquires treatment from an urgent care facility or even a hospital emergency room. These can be quite costly. Luckily your pet liability insurance will cover the costs for you. The company will get involved and negotiate with the injured individual directly. Whatever the outcome is, it won't have a major financial impact upon you.
Dogs with claws can leave deep scratch marks on wood floors or urinate on carpet causing heavy stains. Either way, this damage can result in the entire carpet in the apartment home requiring replacement. The insurance again will cover the costs associated with any repairs being made to the residence.
Don't assume that your regular renter's insurance policy will also include your pet. You will want to speak with an agent who can answer any particular questions you have about a pet liability insurance policy
As with all insurance policies, there are items that will not be covered. This means that it's on you to replace or repair items damaged by your pet.
All types of insurance policies will have a maximum amount that is paid out per incident or for the lifetime of your policy. You can choose the parameters of your policy, but anything over will require that you come out of pocket to fulfill those expenses.
Certain dog breeds will have a greater likelihood of biting or scratching. You should take some time and research on how much of a policy you actually need. You might be surprised at the expense you need to care for a dog bite. An insurance agent can help you pick out a policy that makes sense for you/
According to this law firm, the average cost for dog claims were slightly over 37 thousand dollars per incident.
Policies will have deductibles. This means every time you file a claim, you will have to pay for an initial amount before the insurance policy will kick in.
While landlords are usually free to allow, or ban pets from their rentals, and are well within their rights to do so, there’s one very important exception to this rule that landlords should know about: assistance animals. It is critical for landlords to understand the emotional support animal laws and how it pertains to their rental property.
When it comes to the issue of service animals and emotional support animals (ESAs), landlords should note that these animals are exempt from no-pets policies. The reason is simple: these animals are not considered to be pets, but rather necessary aids for someone who has a disability. Because they don’t fall under the category of pets, landlords should make every effort to accommodate a reasonable request from a tenant who has a disability and allow these animals in their units. Landlords should also waive any pet rent or additional security deposits that they would normally require for pets.
When leasing their homes, some homeowners may feel concerned –that there’s room to exploit this system and attempt to smuggle pets in under the guise of service animals or emotional support animals; there’s no need for alarm. While a landlord is required to make reasonable accommodations for requests from people with disabilities, they also have rights to screen requests to ensure legitimacy.
If you’re a landlord –and wondering how you should treat requests for service animals or emotional support animals, read on. In this guide we’ll explore the difference between pets, service dogs, and emotional support animals; and see what your obligations –and rights are as a landlord.
First, let's look at the three different categories of animals; and see the difference between pets, service animals, and emotional support animals.
The tasks a service dog can perform are not limited to this list; however, the work or task a service dog does must be directly related to the person’s disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that service dogs are exempt from ‘no-pets’ policies, and may accompany a person with a disability into places that members of the public normally go, including state and local government buildings, businesses and non-profits that are open to the public, and on public transportation. Both the ADA and the Fair Housing Act require landlords to make similar accommodation for these animals, to allow them in units that have no-pets policies in place. This is something that falls under the category of reasonable accommodation, which requires landlords to make every reasonable attempt to accommodate people with disabilities. These animals are also exempt from pet deposits and pet rent, or any other pet-related fees. These animals are also excluded from any restrictions on breed and size.
When a landlord or housing provider receives a request for a service dog or ESA, they should ask two questions.
A landlord is allowed to verify a tenant or applicant’s need for service dogs or emotional support animal by requiring a letter from the tenant’s doctor or licensed mental health therapist, stating their need for the animal.
However, there are two things that a landlord should avoid doing during the verification process:
The ADA states that the only two questions that may be asked are the following:
A request for a service dog or ESA is classified as a reasonable accommodation for a person with a disability. A reasonable accommodation is a change, exception, or adjustment to a rule, policy or practice used in running a community. In most cases, a landlord should be able to make accommodation for a person with a disability and allow them to have a service animal or ESA.
On the other hand, a person with a disability who makes a request for any modifications to the unit or common areas, on the other hand, is considered a reasonable modification. In these cases, the resident is usually responsible for paying for related costs. In practice, though, management may agree to some type of cost sharing with the resident as part of the interactive process expected under the Fair Housing Act.
There are a few exceptions to the Fair Housing Act, and some properties may be considered exempt from providing reasonable accommodation.
While landlords are not able to charge a tenant who has a service animal or ESA a pet deposit or pet rent, the tenant can be held responsible for any damage that their animal causes in the unit. Additionally, a landlord can issue a warning and even evict a tenant who has a service animal or ESA if that animal poses a threat to others, disturbs the peace, or causes considerable damage. An assistant animal may not be a nuisance for other tenants.
It’s important to note that some states have laws that provide broader protection than the ADA. For example, some states may offer protections to trainers of personal assistance animals as well. However, in some cases, a state may have disability discrimination laws that exclude psychiatric service dogs from protection. However, this doesn’t mean that the ADA doesn’t apply in these states. As long as federal law applies the ADA trumps more restrictive state laws.
Just as landlords must make reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities, tenants must also ensure that they abide by the law as well. Any person who misrepresents the right to an assistance animal would commit a class 2 petty offense.
In most cases, a tenant should first make the request for the animal to the landlord, before obtaining the animal. [Sample letter] While the law doesn’t require it, it’s good practice for this request to be in writing. The request should explain how the reasonable accommodation helps or mitigates symptoms of the disability. The tenant does not need to disclose the disability, but he or she will need to provide documentation from a doctor or other licensed health professional stating that the animal provides emotional support that alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of an existing disability.
While landlords are allowed to restrict or ban pets from their rentals, when it comes to service animals and ESAs, in most cases, a landlord should make every attempt to accommodate reasonable requests from tenants who have a disability. For emotional support animal requests, or requests for a service animal where the disability may not be obvious, a landlord can require a letter from the tenant’s physician or psychiatrist. If this document is produced, then in most cases, a landlord should allow the animal.
For tenants, all requests for a service animal or ESA should be made to the landlord prior to obtaining the animal. Ideally, this request should be made in writing. If the landlord requires more information on your need for the animal, this can usually be provided in the form of a letter from your doctor or licensed therapist.
Finally, if you’re a landlord who’s wondering how to handle a specific request for a service animal or ESA in your rental consider speaking with an experienced local attorney. A good attorney will be able to inform you of the best course of action for your situation, allowing you to ensure that you stay in compliance with federal, state, and local laws.
Colorado Landlords: for more information on Colorado state law, have a look at some of the landlord-tenant laws that apply to residential units.
Tenants who are looking for help making a service animal or emotional support animal law request, here is a sample request letter that you can modify and use to make a request to your landlord.