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See the Cal Rentals website for lots of advice about house hunting tips, rental ranges, neighborhoods, etc.
I have a friend who is trying to find housing in Berkeley that accepts Section 8 and unfortunately, it is no easy task. Are there any organizations (other than the Berkeley Housing Authority) that may be able to assist him? Also, are there any landlords out there that can explain why so many ads for apartments indicate 'no Section 8'? Is there a way he can 'sell' himself to potential landlords? He is a quiet single guy in his 20's that does not smoke, use drugs, or alcohol -- an ideal tenant. Thanks for any recommendations and insights. R.
As for why it is so hard to find I can shed a little light. I recently used to work for a local Housing Authority (not Berkeley). Landlords are not required to accept section-8. Most of those who offer it have sub-par, but technically passable housing that they may have a hard time filling, and once filled, may not be filled by tenants that are good about paying rent consistently. So their motivation for allowing section-8 is to keep their units filled and know they will receive at least part of their rent consistently from the government. A small number of landlords are actually saints who enroll in section 8 because they want to house a particular person who has it. However, the cost of enrolling in Section-8 is great. It is a big hassle, especially in Berkeley. There are housing unit inspections once a year that need to be scheduled. And if there is some problem, like if the rent is not coming on time from the agency, it can be a tremendous hassle dealing with this particular kind of government agency. Signing up for section-8 does not guarantee that the tenant will pay their portion of the rent either.
The good news is that a tenant can 'port' elsewhere with their section-8, usually after living in the city/county that grants it for one year (depending on the agency's policies). So if your friend wants to live in a sub-par unit in Berkeley for a year or so, he can then go elsewhere. Alameda County Housing Authority is easier to deal with, so I'd recommend him trying in the future to find housing under their jurisdiction. I don't recommend Oakland or Richmond Housing Authority.
Hope this helps. former Housing Authority worker
The reason landlords will post 'No Section 8' is because they are not contracted with the local housing authority to accept section 8 tenants and payments.
Under Section 8, the local housing agency will send the landlord a check for a portion or all of the rent, and the tenant is responsible for any remainder.
As a landlord, to accept a section 8 tenant, you have to register and sign an agreement with the local housing agency for them to send any checks. And you have to have the property inspected to make sure it meets Section 8 stands. It's NOT a simple matter to just say, 'oh, ok, you're section 8, I'll rent to you.' If you aren't contracted for Section 8, you can't accept section 8 tenants.
Your friend can try to find landlords directly who say they take Section 8, but I think he will end up back at the Berkeley Housing Authority anyway, because they administer the contracts, payments, waitlist, etc. Former Section 8 Landlord
Probably, making sure that you have good, solid references from real landlords (not just the city or program administrator) would go a long way in convincing a landlord. Also, I would be curious if the same sentiment holds true of other nearby cities, such as Albany or El Cerrito, which might be reasonable alternatives.
(Oh yeah, sorry, but I have tenants in my rental unit who I ADORE, and am in no hurry to see a vacancy.) An open-minded Berkeley landlord
I currently looking to rent a dog-friendly apartment. I currently live in the Albany/El Cerrito border but am only allowed to have a cat. My husband and I would love to adopt a dog this summer but finding an apartment seems almost impossible. Does anyone know of any management offices/landlords/owners that allow pets in their units? Thanks! -Cathy
We are a family of 5 from Minneapolis, MN moving to Berkeley in July. We are looking for leads in two areas and would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE any input from the group. We will be looking for a single family home or duplex in Berkeley (for the schools - unless I can get a teaching job in Berkekey)3BR/2BA. We have excellent credit & are community builders. We have been looking on Craigslist, but aren't getting calls returned. Any leads? Should we try an agent? Maggies
Hello, Berkely parents! I am six months pregnant and trying to find a larger place to live in Berkeley or Oakland. When I discovered I was pregnant four months ago, I began looking for a place, and have been looking ever since. I have submitted several applications, some with credit-check fees; no landlords have cashed the checks, nobody has checked my credit, and nobody has called my references--nonetheless, I have been refused every place for which I've applied. I have impeccable references, good credit (I just bought a car and was congratulated on my score by the dealer!), am a former homeowner, and have never, ever had a problem finding a rental, even in the East Bay.
I suspect discrimination and in once case, was told directly by a landlord that she would not rent to me because I'm pregnant (she felt the stairs leading to the door were too dangerous for a child). I know this is illegal, and I've contacted fair housing, but the immediate problem is that I am in desperate need of a place. I am starting to despair that I will find anything at all, and I feel as if waiting for legal recourse will prove too long a wait.
My question is this--is it illegal for me to send a non- pregnant friend to apartment showings pretending to be me? Also, is it illegal to not fill in the blanks on applications that ask how many children I have, or to lie and say none (rationalizing that I don't have a child yet--I have a fetus)? Before I was showing, I (stupidly) was very open and excited about my pregnancy, and now that I realize my situation, I can't conceal it. I'm also wondering if anybody knows a neighborhood that might be easier for a pregnant woman to rent in, and/or landlords who welcome infants? Thank you for any suggestions. Desperate to Nest
I just had an opening that I listed on a Wednesday, showed Sunday once, and rented that Monday. I received more than thirty applications -- and those in reaction to a listing that specified every short-coming about the apartment that I know of. I ended up deciding on the people I picked because 1) they were students, 2) they had a cat and it's okay with me, 3) one of them smokes and it's a free-standing unit and doesn't matter to me, and 4) they don't drive an SUV. Any of about another four sets of tenants would have been fine. You will never know why the places that you applied for have chosen someone else.
Is it illegal to have your friend pretend to be you? I'm not a lawyer, so I can't tell you for sure, but I would think probably. And certainly if you apply as one person when you know you will be two that is a misrepresentation. I'm assuming you are thinking that if you fool them into offering ''you'' a place, you will then turn up, and they will not be able to retract the offer. Might work, might not. If they did retract the offer, they might get away with it if you had misrepresented yourself. And if it did work, how comfortable would you be with a landlord who starts off angry with you?
Where to find a place? The last time I did this -- apartment hunt while pregnant -- I ended up renting a place over by Piedmont Avenue, from an older lady who had some flats she rented. That is, a real person rather than MegaRentals. If I were looking now, I'd check places that have lots of neighborhood children -- lower Gilman, Albany, El Cerrito. You need to find people who understand that the world contains children. Good luck on this. a landlord
But I would NOT recommend sending someone else posing as you...this is not legal. This is fraud. You can always say you are not in town or sick to go out that day, but will send a friend to see the house. Remember to tell the friend not to mention your pregnancy. adit
I don't think sending a friend would work. If she says she's looking ''for a friend'' she'll probably not be taken seriously. she'd need to lie about why you can't make it. If she says she's you, there will be big issues at move-in.
My guess is they're skeptical you can't make rent once baby comes. keep trying
You may need to secure the assistance of a good friend or family to help you locate housing--and, I do not mean people who are looking help you to file a claim against a landlord--that is not a good friend. Other options: you can offer to pay six months of rent in advance, to show your good faith and ability to pay rent. Or, you may need to consider moving into an area or apt. where the landlord cannot afford to be too particular about his tenants because he has so few applicants. Good luck! -Anon
Some friends of ours are trying to move here from out of the area. They have been looking for a 3+ or 4 bedroom house and have been having a lot of trouble finding something. They'd prefer Rockridge or Elmwood, but would be also be happy to look at places near Piedmont, Grand, or Lakeshore Avenues. Craigslist has been a bit barren lately. Is there a seasonal aspect to house vacancies? Are there other resources or listings that they should be checking? Thanks for any suggestions. sandra
We live in NYC and are moving to the East Bay in July. I'm looking for some advice on securing a rental. I've been checking Craigslist, but I see there are listing services that charge a fee (MetroRent and Cal Rentals, for ex.). Are these good services or a scam? I'm planning on coming out for a week and a half, over memorial day weekend and the following weekend. Should I assume I should be able to find just the right place during that time?
In case anyone has any specific suggestions: what we're looking for is a fairly nice place with a yard (house, townhouse, or apt with yard access), 2+ bedrooms, dining room, decent kitchen w/ gas stove, in a neighborhood like Rockridge, Temescal, or similar; and we're thinking $1600-2100/mo... Your thoughts? Thank you! cammie
Should I disown my children to get rental housing?
I don't mean literally, of course. What I mean is to conveniently leave them off my application, out of discussion, etc., or at least not bring them up until I have to declare point blank who else might be living in the house? Can I wait until after a lease is signed to explain that they exist?
I don't want to get off on the wrong foot with a potential landlord, but I've been pretty frustrated so far trying to rent housing for months without success. In at least a couple of cases, I think it's clear that we lost out to other applicants because we have two small children. Yes, I know that there is a potential legal violation here, but pursuing legal options isn't going to get me what I want, which is a new place to live.
Up until now I assumed that our being a family was a selling point, as it means we are not likely to throw lots of loud alcohol fueled parties, that we intend to stay put for awhile, and that we're at the grownup point in life where we take care of our living space, have careers, etc. Have I miscalculated? Are the kids a dealbreaker? Craigslist Stalker
As tempting as it is, I would NOT leave the kids off until the last minute. This seems very dishonest and would perhaps violate your application. I'm tempted to consult a lawyer, though, because it seems like there must be some way to indicate that you will have four people living in the house, but not state their age. If you must state their age and relationship to you, then it seems like the only reason this information is relavent is if they are discriminating against children/families.
But then again, do you really want to rent from someone who doesn't want kids living on their property? Is this the kind of person you want to hand over all that money to? hate to rent in the Bay
I am trying to find a place to rent for a visiting scholar, but so far I did not have any luck. The problem is that he has two children. I've been using UC Housing Office rental listings, and found a few suitable apartments. However as soon as a landlord or a manager finds out that the potential tenant has a family, the deal is off. I know that it is illegal to discriminate against tenants with children, but I don't know where to find more information on specific laws, etc. I called Housing Office, they provided me with some telephone numbers (Berkeley Community Law Center, Rent Board, etc.), but neither place had ANY needed information. Is there anything I can do? The scholar can not buy a house for his 6 month stay in Berkeley. Any information will be appreciated. Tatiana
I'm wondering if there is a resource for those looking for dog friendly housing. I am currently renting a 3 bedroom 2 1/2 bathroom townhouse in Upper Rockridge. While I love the neighborhood and the unit, my landlord will not allow us to get a dog, which I would really like to do this Christmas. From looking on craigslist, I've learned that most places don't allow dogs, and those that do are either (1) not particularly well kept or (2) way too expensive. Is there a website, list or e- mail group that provides leads on pet friendly housing? I am only interested in single family housing and I'd like to confine my search to North Oakland, Oakland Hills, Berkeley, Albany, and/or Alameda. Thanks Alicia
I am an apartment manager who inherited a no-pet policy. After a few years I realized I was missing out on good prospective tenants just because of a cat or dog. I changed my mind & changed the policy, using Open Door's ''landlord info packet'' of forms and suggestions of how to implement a pet policy.
If you really don't want to move, you might make an offer to your landlord offering to pay increased security deposit & perhaps a small monthly rental fee for a pet, & in general negotiate an amicable solution. The Open Door web site is full of good advice & concrete suggestions. If you are good tenants the landlord wouldn't want to lose, do your homework and present a responsible pet plan that addresses the landlord's concerns, you might both end up happy.
It's important that landlords unerstand that allowing one pet doesn't mean they have opened the floodgates to all pets! My pet policy is strictly approval on a case-by-case basis. For liability reasons I won't allow certain breeds: pit bulls, rottweillers, dobermans, german shepherds, for example. I also insist on the pet being spayed/neutered, vaccinated etc. The tenant signs a Pet Addendum to the lease that details other requirements (covering issues of ''doing business'', barking, leash control, etc.) Good luck!
Pet-friendly apartment manager
I am looking for a in-law kind of place to rent around Montclair, Piedmont area. We can't quite afford to rent a house but maybe able to rent someone's in-law. I have been looking Craigslist but is there any other place I should look to find such things?
I'm new to the rental market. Where do I look for the most comprehensive rental listings for Berkeley? Do you really get your money's worth signing up for a listing service, or is there one paper that carries most of them? Thanks very much. -anon
How does one find a rental in the east bay these days? I am a Berkeley native, and in the past have mainly found housing through word of mouth, but have also looked using the Express and Homefinders. I will be moving back next month and have been looking at Craigslist and BPN. Does Homefinders still make sense given the popularity of the internet? Also, I now have 2 kids, so hope to avoid lists of rentals geared mainly toward students. Any suggestions on additional/good routes to finding a house/apt, and does having kids change the process? Thanks jessica Sorry, Homefinders recently went out of business, thanks to Craigslist and the sluggish rental market. UC Berkeley's housing office has a listing service that might cater more to the faculty/staff population, but you might have to be a UC affiliate to use it. David
I wanted to address the inquiries from several people who have been house-hunting lately, and also give a shamelss plug for my office, since Homefinders was mentioned recently. I wanted to point out that the University services (Community Living) are much less expensive, we update the emailed listings more frequently, and we usually hear that our customers get a better reception from our landlords. We're a smaller operation, because we are exclusively for UC, but many times that can work in one's favor. (642-3642 for students; 642-0706 for faculty/staff/visiting and post doc scholars.)
Students should contact the Community Living office at UC Berkeley for housing assistance. We are the University's rental listing service, and we have rental listings that landlords (and other students looking for housemates) have advertised with us because they are targeting students for their prospective tenants. We have an email service that's very reasonable compared with the local commercial rental listing services.
We can be reached either by email at the above address (homeinfo at uclink4.berkeley.edu) or by phone 510-642-3642. We make an effort to return all email messages or phone messages within 24 hours or by the next business day. We are located at 2405 Bowditch Street at the corner of Channing Way. Phone hours are M - F, 8 - 5, office hours are M - F, 10 - 4 and Saturdays through August 21, 10 - 2. www.housing.berkeley.edu/housing/community/
We also have a service for faculty, staff and visiting scholars.
We know it's exceptionally difficult to find housing during the summer, and those who need affordable housing and/or are having to house children are having a particularly rough time. We hope that students will seek to consult with one of the Community Living counselors for realistic advice and written materials on how to expedite a housing search.
Looking for Housing
Last updated: June 1999
From: Becky White Community Living Office
There are some things one can do to expedite the process:
1) The suggestion of having a Tenant Resume is excellent. House-hunters are welcome to request a student Tenant Resume from Community Living, which can be readily adapted for non-students. I am not happy about the idea of putting one's picture on the Tenant Resume, since that could invite discrimination (age, race, whatever), but frankly--given the difficulty of the rental market--if you feel it would work in your favor, you should do it.
2) Plan to BE in Berkeley to conduct your housing search. Earlier in the summer, Community Living was suggesting that people as "near" as LA could get the listing updates during the week by email and make appointments to view places over the weekend. Now, however, there are so many people here now and actively looking that one must be here to compete. Almost every rental, even shared housing, receives 50 - 150 calls the first day it is advertised. It is important to jump on anything new.
3) Re-evaluate how much you can spend on rent. Everything has gone up by at least $200 - $400 in the past year. If a rental has artificially low rent due to rent control, a kind landlord, or whatever, expect it to be mobbed. A couple of weeks ago, we had a listing for a one bedroom apartment at Oxford and Hearst around $700 and over 400 people went to the open house. It is not unusual for a one bedroom to rent in the $950 - $1,100 range, so this was a true bargain and people knew it.
4) Get a letter of reference from your current landlord. Ask the landlord to mention that you have kept the place up nicely and always paid your rent on time. If possible, ask the landlord to mention that your child(ren) is/are quiet and well-behaved or your pet is quiet and always picked-up after.
5) When you go to look at places, try to make a little conversation with the owner or manager to help establish rapport. Admire some nice feature about the place, and indicate your willingness to keep up that feature if the place were offered to you.
6) Never come across as a fussy person. When looking at places, never make a disparaging remark about the paint job, the carpeting, the leaky faucet. You have NO power as a prospective tenant, and there are simply too many people looking for housing for the landlord to consider anyone he believes might be extra work for him later. Once you have a rental agreement, then you have the power of a business relationship to support your requests for repairs.
7) Consider as wide a commute range as you can tolerate. We get 3 and 4 bedroom houses listed under $1,500 in Pinole, Hercules and Vallejo that languish, whereas a 3 bedroom house in Berkeley can hardly be had for under $2,000. Get the local papers for these more far-away areas and examine the classifieds.
8) It is a STATE law, not a "funny" Berkeley law, that landlords may not deny you housing because you have kids. But, it's very hard to prove because at present most landlords have sufficient singles and adult couples who are wealthy enough to rent almost any kind of place and in most cases that's a legitimate reason to rent to someone else. If a landlord is actually stupid enough to tell you that you can't see a place because you have a child, report that person to Fair Housing: 1-800-884-1684. Also, know that the excuse that a place is "too small" is really not legitimate by Fair Housing standards. Guidelines state that a one bedroom place should, in most cases, be able to house a family of three, and a two bedroom place a family of five.
In addition to receiving listings from Community Living, students may find it wise to branch out and use one or more other housing resources. Such resources might include:
HomeFinders. Telephone: 510-549-6450. www.homefindersbulletin.com Berkeley Connection. Telephone: 510-845-7821. www.berkeleyconnection.com e-housing: Telephone: 510-549-2000. www.ehousing.com Rental Solutions: 510-649-3880. www.rentalsolutions.com (Not a listing service. For a fee, they may secure the housing for you.) Smooth Transitions: 510-620-0887. smooth.transitions at cwix.com (Not a listing service. For a fee, they may secure the housing for you.)
Students who are interested in housing east of the Berkeley Hills in east Contra Costa County may be interested in the classified ads from the Contra Costa Times: www.hotcoco.com/classifieds/index.htm When searching for rental houses and apartments, try plugging in the names of the towns you are interested in, such as Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Concord, etc.
Best regards to all house-hunters this summer,
Feel free to call me about specifics--643-6544.
Faculty and Community Housing
To the undergrad who islooking for housing. First, my sympathy. Apartment hunting for student-parents is very difficult--probably more than it should be.
Our family spent 18 months on the waiting list for family housing in the village. And it was only after we had lived there a couple of years that we learned that frequent inquiries about the "status" of one's name on the list served to make a difference in how quickly one moves up on the list. (We had just meekly waiting for our turn!) At least I know this policy was in effect at some point because a friend of ours was told thsi by the village office. So, my advice is to begin calling into the Village housing office on a weekly basis like clockwork. Be certain to let them know if you are willing to take a one-bedroom apt. until a two-bedroom one becomes available.
I also spent some time working for a graduate dean on campus. Often, she would receive pleas for help from grad students in your shoes who were desperate to find housing. Usually one call from her and the Village was able to accommodate the student. I think they may keep a few apartments on hand for just such emergencies. This was a graduate dean, and I am not sure if there is an undergraduate counterpart, but maybe the dean of your college could intervene for you. I'd start with a respectful phone call to the dean's secretary/assistant and then be prepared to follow up with a letter explaining your dilemma and the steps you have taken so far. If you feel you can't approach the dean, try the chairman of the department you will be entering.
This may not be the most useful advice for solving the immediate problem, but anything that gets you into the village faster will save you money in the long run and will be worth the effort. I only hope I have not passed on any heresay.
One last note--if you make it into the village but find you have a really crappy apartment--don't hesitate to put your name on a different, internal waiting list for a newer apartment. The rent will be higher, but the apartment will be a bit nicer. It just depends on what you need.
Hello. I wanted to report back that I responded personally to the undergraduate student who was having trouble looking for a rental with her child. I also wanted to let UCB parents know that, if you are using Community Living to look for housing, I am always willing to see if we can strategize together on housing searches--there may be some extra thing that can be done to expedite the process. And yes, it is correct that it is illegal to deny someone housing because s/he has kids. Fair Housing may have a thing or two to say to that landlord!! It's a tough market out there and I am always willing to help.
Faculty & Community Housing
Housing & Dining Services
Unfortunately, finding housing in this area can be very trying. I suggest you sign up for Homefinders or another service which posts new listings every day - you can then immediately call/check it out. Sometimes, by the time a newspaper ad is printed the apartment could be rented or the landlord is so swarmed that he/she doesn't return calls. As you might have observed by now, some people go to open houses with special resumes. (I know this sounds crazy, but it works!) The resumes could outline who you are, your occupation, rental history, references, and personal interests! Some people include a xerox of a photo at the top. I created a resume quickly when I saw that my husband and I weren't even in the running without it. We also did anything we could to create a personal tie with the landlord. On landlord message machines, I always left desirable info about myself - professional couple, etc. At the end of it all, we found a place after a week of full-time searching (8 hrs/day). Good luck!
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