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Triplex Apartments: An Overview + How to Find Them

August 19, 2022
Interested in exploring triplex apartments in your area? Use this overview to learn about the pros and cons, how to find one, and what to expect when renting.

If you've ever toured a duplex apartment, you can probably guess what a triplex apartment is. These triple units are desirable for renters looking for more space at an affordable price point. Here's everything you need to know about triplex apartments, from the basics to how to find one in your area.

What are Triplex Apartments?

A triplex apartment is a building with three separate residential units within one structure. The apartments share one or two common walls, but each has its own exterior doors, bathroom, living room, and address.

There's some debate on how triplex complexes are configured and what they look like. For example, a triplex building could have three apartments stacked on each other and share a staircase to access the upper floor apartment. Or they may line up next to each other in a row with exterior doors facing the street.

Sometimes private homes or brownstones are renovated into a triplex building with three separate apartments inside.

Each type of triplex building shares unique characteristics and aesthetics that come down to your personal preference. For example, a multi-family home may offer large, covered porches off each triplex unit. Meanwhile, a triplex with units sitting in a long line next to each other could come with garages attached.

Pros of Renting a Triplex Apartment

Triplex apartments come with several advantages, including more space to spread out. In addition, triplexes are usually less expensive and are often in more affordable neighborhoods. With fewer tenants in the building, you also have more privacy and are less likely to run into neighbors every time you leave your unit.

Triplexes may offer a shared yard for cooking out or entertaining friends. Some landlords even divide the outdoor space with fences into three separate areas to give each tenant more privacy. It's also possible to find three garages or covered parking areas in a triplex.

Cons of Renting a Triplex Apartment

Now let's talk about the cons of renting a triplex. First, you're more likely to have neighbor noise through walls and floors if you live in an older or multi-family home.

It's also common for landlords to live in one of the apartments of a triplex. On the upside, there's someone there to take care of issues and repairs. The major disadvantage is that your landlord is around, meaning less privacy for you.

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How Much are Triplex Apartments?

Rents for a triplex apartment vary greatly depending on the location and neighborhood. However, triplexes are typically cheaper than traditional apartments by several hundred dollars a month.

There are some exceptions to consider. An old brownstone in Boston or New York City converted into three apartments may be more expensive than a typical one. These historic buildings are often detailed and ornate, with charming stoops and many curb appeal.

What's the Best Time to Find a Triplex Apartment?

The best time to find a triplex is usually during winter. You will encounter less competition and find more inventory in your market. Renting an apartment in summer and spring is in high demand. You're more likely to discover apartment hunters on the prowl and higher rental prices.

Other apartment costs to consider when looking for a new place to live are application fees. The more competition you face for a rental, the more applications you probably need to submit to find a place for you. Now that you know the seasonality of renting, you can adjust your budget for application fees accordingly.

How to Find a Triplex Apartment?

Ready to take the next step to find a triplex apartment? Here's how to find the right place and budget for your lifestyle.

Determine Your Budget

Your budget will shape your entire search for a triplex apartment. Let's start by looking at your income to determine how much rent you can comfortably afford. We figure out a baseline number with the help of the 30% rule. The idea is you only spend 30% or less of your gross monthly income on rent. This figure is the same as your pre-taxed, monthly take-home pay.

If you're not a numbers person, there's an easy way to figure out your own 30% rule calculation. Take your gross annual salary and divide by 40 to get an idea of your yearly salary, depending on your rent. Or, if you already know what you want to spend on an apartment, you can multiply that by 40.

Here's a breakdown of how to use the 30% rule in different scenarios:

If a one-bedroom apartment in your city costs an average of $1,500, multiply that number by 40. Your income should be at least $60,000 a year.

If your annual salary is $50,000 annually, you can divide that number by 40 to get $1,250. Aim to spend no more than $1,250 to live comfortably.

If your salary fluctuates and you're a contractor, calculate your rent by your monthly salary. Let's say you earn at least $4,000 a month. 30% of $4,000 is $1,200 and your ideal rent.

Keep in mind the 30% rule is not fail-proof. You’ll likely need to spend less on rent if you have student loans or other debt. However, if you live in an expensive rental market like New York City, you may need to spend more than 30% to find a place to live. On the other hand, if you love to travel or aggressively saving is vital to you, you should aim lower than 30% to live a comfortable lifestyle that aligns with your values.

Consider Your Commute Time

Commute time may not factor into your budget but can make or break your quality of life. For example, finding a cheaper apartment over an hour from downtown may be a dealbreaker for you, especially in cities with notorious rush hours. Or you may decide you want to pay more to live near work to walk and bike.

Try using WalkScore to figure out the scores for walking, biking, and transit in different cities and neighborhoods you’re considering. Some areas are more walkable than others, or you may find only a handful of neighborhoods offer reliable public transportation.

If you live on the city's outskirts and plan to rely on public transportation, do a dry run of your commute time. Look at the costs involved, how long it takes you door-to-door, and how long delays usually take.

Prepare for Apartment Tours

Factor in time for apartment tours into your search. A tour provides the opportunity to see everything up close, make sure the triplex is accurately described, and look for any red flags. For example, the triplex unit may have moldy spots on the ceiling or signs of disrepair. The apartment tour is the time to ask lots of questions and determine if it's the right place for you.

We put together a list of 20 questions to ask when renting an apartment. Bring it with you to ask prospective landlords during your triplex apartment tour.

Take your time, even if the landlord is trying to get you to hurry. Point out any damage and ensure the landlord or property management notates all issues before signing a lease. Otherwise, you could be blamed for the problems and lose part of your security deposit to cover the costs.

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Applying for a Triplex Apartment

When your apartment tour is complete, the landlord will decide whether or not to offer an apartment application. Before you get started, familiarize yourself with how the application process works. You'll know what to expect and come as prepared as possible.

Bring a government-issued ID, proof of income like pay stubs, bank statements, money for your application fee, and any rental references. Landlords prefer references from other landlords or property managers, but you can still rent an apartment with them. After all, everyone rents an apartment for the first time at some point in their journey. Instead, bring references from your employer, supervisor, or someone you work with that can speak to your reliability and trustworthiness.

If you can't find any references, landlords will typically ask for a guarantor to sign a lease with you. Guarantors are legally responsible for paying your rent if you can't. It's common for family members, like parents, to guarantee a lease.

Protect Yourself from Rental Scams

As you look for an apartment for rent, stay hyper-vigilant against rental scams and fraud. A rental fraud report by Apartment List found that 43.1% of renters in the country have encountered an apartment listing they have suspected was fraudulent. Unfortunately, 6.4% of these renters incurred a financial loss from at least one rental scam.

Some common rental scams include fraudulent listings, bait and switch, and collecting endless application fees without renting the apartment. It's best to follow your gut and look out for suspicious situations or too good to be good deals to protect yourself from fraud.

Here are some tips for avoiding rental scams.

Using Apartment List to Find Triplex Apartments

Searching for triplex apartments comes with many pros, from affordability to space. However, finding the perfect place for you can still take time and resources.

Here's where Apartment List comes in! Get started answering a few simple questions to find your ideal apartment. Next, we'll use your information to help match you to apartments based on your specified criteria from your responses. Then, we mix and match your personalized results, making it easy to discover places with the perfect combination of price, location, and amenities.

Triplex Apartments FAQs

What is the meaning of triplex apartment?

A triplex apartment is a three-unit residential sturcture. While each unit is separate, they each typically share one or two common walls with one another.

What is a duplex vs triplex?

A duplex describes a property containing two units within the structure, whereas triplex apartments feature three units total.

Is a triplex a commercial property?

No. Duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes are labelled as residential properties (4 units or less).

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Susan Finch
Susan is an accomplished freelance writer whose passion for rental real estate, travel, and digital marketing has been the driving force behind her nearly 15-year career. Throughout her professional journey, Susan has become a seasoned veteran in creating compelling and informative content focused on the tenant/landlord relationship. Read More

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