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Got Rent?

[whitespace] How to Find a Rental in the Valley of the Landlord's Delight

Apartment-hunting in a tight market requires determination and drive, so be prepared to commit a lot of time and energy to finding a good home. Here are some tips from the trenches.

  • Investigate all possible neighborhoods personally--don't assume an area is unlivable until you've walked around it a few times during the day and night.

  • Use every resource available to you, such as newspapers, bulletin boards, online groups, Web pages, etc. Check all of these resources constantly. Also tell everyone you know that you're apartment-hunting.

  • Use the Bay Rentals/Homerenters/Cal Rentals agencies only if you can afford it. They do have rentals not listed in the newspapers, but the quality of the listings is questionable.

  • Be accessible. Indicate what phone number is best to reach you at, and make sure you answer that phone or check the answering machine constantly. Indicate how else you can be contacted (like a beeper or cell phone). When you leave messages, state precisely when to return the call.

  • Print a "renter's résumé" that lists information usually on a rental application. As with a job résumé, proofread it carefully and make sure it's up-to-date. Include all the same information about other adults in the household.

  • Be available to see places whenever possible. Rearrange your work and home schedules as necessary.

  • Be on time or early to any appointment or open house. Dress nicely, and don't have your car stereo blasting when you drive up.

  • Call back frequently if you're interested in a place.

  • Keep a written tracking system so you know who you've called, where you got the information and what the place looks like.

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From the March 5-11, 1998 issue of Metro.

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