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Finding Rental Housing in the Bay Area
Questions & Advice
Hello, We're new on the BPN ! We're a french family and we'll move in Berkeley this summer. My husband will work for his company in SF. We've got 2 children : Ava, 4 years & Raphaël, 2 years in June. I'm journalist and I've decided to go back to school to learn psychology! We're looking for an house in Berkeley, Albany, Kensington, and the area : 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, garden and not too far from south Berkeley (our daughter'll go in EB, Bilingual French School on Heinz avenue). Can you advice us on realtors that you could know and who could help us to find where we'll live ? It seems to be difficult... If you know anyone, please, let us know and we'll write / phone to explain our demand ! Every piece of information or advice is welcomed!! Thank you very much for your help ! We're so far away ! Charlotte & her family
We are moving to Berkeley from the east coast this summer 2015 and will have to do our rental housing search remotely from the east coast (we may be able to come out for one short visit but the timing may not be right for us to find a place starting July1st - August 1st 2015). It will be too difficult for us to find a place remotely on our own, are there any good broker/realtors who focus on the rental market? We plan to buy eventually, so maybe that's an incentive for someone to work with us. When should we start looking to find a place (3-4 bedroom house ideally, flexible on locations in Rockridge and various Berkeley neighborhoods) starting anywhere between July 1st-August 1st? We are hoping a good rental realtor/broker can narrow down some places based on our search criteria, visit the units for us (and maybe video record a tour), and help finalize a lease without us being there in person. Thanks very much!
I think you will find very few 3-4 bedroom homes in Rockridge or Berkeley for rent. Once you have decided on location,date and size, you are unlikely to fulfill any other criteria you may have. You may need to be more flexible in all three of those areas. Would you consider renting a month early or living in outlying areas? In addition, very few landlords/ladies are willing to rent to someone that they have not met. So if you want to rent something without seeing it in person, your choices are going to be very limited.
Most people give 30 days notice, so trying to rent something longer than 30 days in advance is frustrating. But start looking now, so you get an idea of the rental market. A few owners require 60 or even 90 day notice, so something may be advertized in spring for summer occupancy. Good luck! Anon
We are moving to the east bay from Los Angeles in the fall and we would like the move in date to be September 1st for a one bedroom with separate office/dining room or a small 2 bedroom rental that is $1600 or less per month. Ideally, we would like to live as close to Berkeley as possible. Albany, El Cerrito, Oakland, and Emeryville are all places that we would consider. We are freelance musicians and we most of our income teaching children and some adults. We have great credit and in our current location in Los Angeles, we have always paid our rent on time for the last seven years. What is the best way to look for a place when I currently live in Los Angeles and would have to do almost everything long distance via emails or phone? Are there apartment rental realtors who would work with me in June for a September move in date? Thank you for your time.
Based on your price range I'm not sure a realtor/broker would be much help--we did not consider using one as it would have added more expense to the process. A $1600/mo 2BR rental in a decent area is going to be hard to find and will not sit on the market long. I would strongly recommend you invest in a trip up here within a couple weeks before you want to move and pound the pavement or have someone you trust do it for you. It's not unheard of for people (locals) to apply and provide deposits for an apartment sight unseen, just to have first right of refusal at the showing. If things continue to be this competitive, don't expect to have time to 'sleep on it' to make a decision. Make a list of essential criteria and as soon as you find something that is good enough, take it.
I can't speak for areas beyond Oakland/Berkeley as that's where we looked; it might be easier as you look farther out. All I can say is that it was a huge time commitment and incredibly frustrating--makes me want to never move again unless it is to return back east. Perhaps you can find a short-term rental via BPN or Craigslist so you can get up here, then find a permanent place? Liz
Any Vallejo residents out there? We are considering a move north and we are renters. We're seeking some pointers about the Vallejo/ Crocket area, and hoping to get some leads on a decent, even great apartment complex in or around the area. We are nature lovers and envision living near open space near/ on the bay, as we very much enjoy that now in Alameda. We do not have young children, but we do have a Labrador. any other comparable/ more affordable town options on the outskirts? Thanks so much!! Downsizing
[Editor note: see Living in Vallejo for an additional response.]
hello, we are moving to the bay area from Portland. I am looking for some suggestions of great family friendly neighborhoods, with parks, maybe a public pool, good schools etc. we have a 3 year old in Pre school so I am looking for a rental to start for maybe a year or two. We are looking at a max of $2500 a month for a rental. Hoping for a 3 bedroom with a nice yard. I have been looking in Berkeley, Alameda, and am open to Oakland but do not know the best neighborhoods to look in. We would really prefer a small house over an apartment. We will be moving in the next couple of months. Any help is appreciated ! Cindy
I hope someone here has some better news for you regarding Alameda or Oakland. JP
At a max budget of 2500/month, you will be unable to find a single, detached house (even small ones) with a yard anywhere in Berkeley or even Temescal, a popular neighborhood for young families in North Oakland. There are some neighborhoods near Temescal where you might find something at this price, but prepare for a culture shock. (Still early in gentrifying transition.) Berkeley does indeed have tons of parks and families (so does north Oakland), but you'll need to accept more of a duplex/triplex situation at that budget. West Berkeley and South Berkeley is probably where you'll have success in that price range.
You may also find some gems in Emeryville, though the housing there is mostly condos/town homes.
Also check El Cerrito - I know of some families there who have house and yard for around that price.
It's good to keep an eye on craigslist for what is being offered at your price range, but be aware that nothing stays on the market longer than a day or two after the open house... Unless it has something wrong with it and isn't priced correctly. Your best bet is to get serious with your search when you're truly ready to hand over the deposit and sign the lease. Welcome to eb
Hi! I am moving to Berkeley this summer with my husband and 2 year old. We are looking to rent a house in the area, but are having a hard time doing this from a distance. We are coming into town for a visit in a couple of weeks and need a good agent who can line up some rental properties we could go look at, and generally help us with this stressful task. Recommendations will be much appreciated! Inbal
Dear BPN, We moved to Berkeley 1 year ago and regrettably our landlords decided to sell the house so we're finding ourselves moving again within 60 days. We're looking at moving from north Berkeley to Oakland or Alameda. We have 2 young kids and would love a house with a yard in a safe neighborhood.
I'm using Craigslist, Zillow, Trulia, and Padmapper. It might be the time of year but there doesn't seem to be much out there! I'm about to panic. What's the deal? Is there another online site I should be searching through. Are there realty companies that deal with lots of rentals? Surely the age of driving the neighborhoods looking for ''for rent'' signs is over, right?
Feel like I'm missing something!! Thanks for any advice Happy New Year!
You may want to try to find an agent who will help you, as they may have inside information (property that they manage that they will know will be available weeks before it hits the market). This is hard to do, since the commissions on rentals are much lower, but there are still agents out there who are willing to help. Friend? Family?
As a back-up plan, you may want to look for furnished and/or short-term rentals to buy you time to find the home you want. transaction coordinator for a realtor
You might be able to stay a couple of extra months if you just ask. Or maybe you could offer more money. Another possibility is to tell him/her that is okay to get the house ready for sale while you are living there. Make sure that you find out what they want to do and that you can truly live with the construction and commotion before you offer.
I suggest that you start a conversation with the owner of your rental. Good luck! Anon
We considered virtually every listing from South Berkeley to San Leandro. Three times a day, I looked at Craigslist and the property management companies in Alameda to see what new rentals were available. Anything that didn't send up warning signals was researched as much as possible with google maps to check out the house, yard, neighbors, and neighborhood. Other places I researched were the crime maps (pretty discouraging in general) and the house sales/value history. If all was ok, I'd send an email expressing interest and describing my family. Most prospective landlords that we met went out of their way to mention that they appreciated this information. I also spent mornings and afternoons driving to look at listings.
When we went to open houses or to meet prospective landlords, we had all of our documentation with us so that applications could be filled out quickly. We were also decisive at the meeting, deciding quickly on whether to put in an application or not. That way it was clear to the prospective landlord during the face to face meeting that we were very interested.
We only put in two applications and were accepted for both. To make it clear, during our entire time looking we only found TWO places that fit our finances and our minimum requirements (which were small yard, 2 bedrooms, outdoor cat friendly, reasonably safe.) The housing market is insane here!
I would really recommend not mentioning your children in an initial email or voice mail message if you are trying to find a place in Berkeley. Never once did I receive a reply from anyone in Berkeley, even when I would see the same listing reposted! I didn't have the same problem other places - Alameda, Oakland, and San Leandro were all welcoming.
If we had not found this house, we were planning to put our things in storage and move to an apartment on a month-to-month basis until we found something.
Best of luck in finding your new home! Fellow Mover
Hi, my husband's company is relocating to the Bay area and he will be working in the SOMA district of SF. We have done some research and have discovered Albany, Berkeley and Alameda as possible locations to rent an approximately 1700sf home for under 3.5K/month. We like these areas because they appear to be walkable, safe, have historic charm and are of course family-friendly. We also aren't sure we'll be able to continue private schooling since it's more expensive in SF, so the elementary schools and middle schools need to be good. Are we missing any other neighborhoods? Would appreciate any advice. Thank you! Mom in So Cal Moving into Bay Area
For rentals, you will have a hard time finding a place in your price range by good schools in general, but especially that allow pets (or they may require a big security deposit). With the exception of the educational program, you have listed all the qualities that pretty much everyone wants- and there are a lot of people in the Bay Area with high incomes/tons of money in the bank that can outbid you on anything matching what you have described. Like it or not, you will need to move to somewhere like Oklahoma to be able to buy real estate away from crime in good public school districts. Sounds OK to me
Hi, my husband and I are new to the area. We are looking trying to find a long-term home to rent in the Rockridge area but would be open to anything in a family-friendly neighborhood in Berkeley or Oakland. We have been looking on craigslist and livelovely.com for over a month and have not found the place that works for us. Any suggestions on where to look? Or any insider recommendations on specific living spaces that are up for rent?
Here is what we are looking for: 2-3 bedroom (we have a small child), family-friendly area, washer/dryer in unit, preferably a yard or park very close by, reasonably large kitchen (I cook a lot), walking distance to the BART station and grocery store/shops, price range up to $3000/mo, preferably a single family home. Anything with one or two of these ideals missing would be worthy of consideration to us. Thank you! new to the area!
With that said, welcome to an area where many wealthy people live and where a tech boom is occurring. We just rental-home hunted last spring and, unfortunately, 3k/month as your ceiling will not find you all the things you are looking for, especially if you want a single family house with a yard in Rockridge. Also, prices skyrocketed in the past 1.5 years, so anyone who hasn't home hunted in that period of time will have outdated concepts of where the affordability is.
For the sake of experimentation, try making 3k your bottom limit and 4k your ceiling when you search craigslist and see if the homes you were hoping for start popping up. For around 2400-3k, the neighborhoods you probably need to be checking (if you want a single family and yard) are the ''mills college,'' and transitioning neighborhoods like West Oakland and some parts of North Oakland (though you're probably priced out of golden gate and temescal unless you're okay with duplex/condo-style living...). Also, you could find something in the El Cerrito/Richmond/El Sobrante region (house and yard) or if you look south, in San Leandro.
Sorry to bear the bad news about the out-control home prices out here. I still remember the sticker shock we felt coming from a very affordable region of the country and couldn't wrap my mind around the idea that we couldn't have a sweet little house in Rockridge to ourselves for 1500/month. (For those who are familiar with the area, they're hopefully all laughing along with me at that notion...). So, unless you find some wonderful homeowner who sees your post and just wants you to come live in their Rockridge home for the price you said, you will have to make some choices right now about what your top priorities are, because you will have to sacrifice a lot of what is on your list. If being in Rockridge and near a BART are your priorities, then it's time to think in the mindset of downsizing and being okay with triplex-style or apartment style living. If house and yard are your biggest priority, you'll need to let go of the notion of living in Rockridge and perhaps search for a house near the El Cerrito BART station. I wish you the best of luck home-hunting with small children when new to the area... I remember What it is like
Is it unrealistic for a family of 4 to try to rent a house in Berkeley with the intent to stay a few years?
We are considering moving to Berkeley from Oakland as our kids are about to start middle school. We love the neighborhood we live in in Oakland, as renters, but since I work in Berkeley and it's just easier to use public transportation and bike in Berkeley (thinking of moving into West Berkeley), we thought that plus schools might be a good reason to make the change. Are we crazy to try and do that?
We realize the rents are much higher and are financially prepared for that, but are kind of worried that maybe this is not a great idea. I've heard even if you do find a house to rent, there's lots of applicants and I've even heard that landlords prefer not to rent to families because they stay a long time. Sounds a little odd to me, but I don't know if it's because if people move out then landlords can raise the rent more easily or something?
We've just lived in Oakland for so long and I thought it would be nice for a change. My husband could use the N. Berkeley BART casual carpool to Civic Center and I had visions of my kids riding bikes to middle school on their own while I walk or ride to work too.
Is it really too hard to even try to find a rental in Berkeley that's not in the hills? Considering Berkeley
I am a landlord and I do rent my 2nd house out almost always to families if they appear to be the most responsible of the applicants. I want the most rent my house can get (after all, that's why I bought it - it's an investment) but even more than that, I want the rent to not be late, I want the house to be cared for with love, I want people who are going to be good neighbors.
So. The best way to get into a house, whether you are a family or not, is to walk into the open house with an application already filled out (you can find good generic ones online), including references, financial statements listing your bank accounts, and a brief description of your wonderful family. Don't forget your checkbook. Sometimes a landlord will just feel like you're the right people and offer you the place during the open house. If you aren't able to write a check for the deposit and first month's rent right at that moment, you are likely to lose the house to someone else.
I know this all sounds like it's easier to adopt a baby than rent a house here, but that's just how it is during periods when the tech industry is doing well. The over-flow from the astronomical rents in SF affects the market here.
My family is planning to relocate from New York to Berkeley this winter, and we have our hearts set on renting a 2-3 bedroom house in North Berkeley/Albany area, until we are ready to buy. I just want to make sure that it is, in fact, possible to rent a nice house with a yard in a nice area in the $2500-3500/month range. I have been looking on Craigslist and seeing houses in this range, mostly two bedrooms, but I know that Craigslist can be misleading! I would greatly appreciate any feedback on this so I know that my vision of what we're going to encounter there -- real-estate wise -- is accurate! I'm imagining that for about $3,000/month we'll be able to rent a 1,000+ sf house with a patio/yard close to a walkable part of town. True? Thanks so much for any feedback you can offer! J
We found that most of the nice and reasonably priced places available were from sabbatical travelers, so only for a year. That ruled out a lot for us. We got our place by posting a housing wanted ad on BPN, and some kind soul (who also wanted to avoid Craiglist) reached out to us. I'd suggest you pound the pavement and contact everyone you know who might know someone.
Albany 3 br was exceedingly difficult. It seemed 2 br was more likely.
Your price range sounds right, though I don't know exactly what your standards are for quality of house, yard, exact location, etc. I can tell you that you won't have a lot of bargaining power though so what is listed is what it will go for (or more sometimes!). We found a 3 br in a good part of N Berkeley with close to what you describe: '$3,000/month we'll be able to rent a 1,000+ sf house with a patio/yard close to a walkable part of town.' Not everything about it is perfect for us, though it more than meets our needs. The prices of N Berkeley and the Bay in general still boggle my mind, but I feel what we pay is fair (though definitely not cheap!).
You could consider looking at 'cottages' or in law units of nice places, though these are mostly 2 brs and seem to go more on the academic calendar.
One final piece of advice: have a good story about your family and have an application package ready to go! Credit history, landlord refs, even job resumes...people like to see you've got your act together. North Berkeley renter--we do exist!
If you can live with a 2BR you will have better luck, but it will still probably be closer to 3,500 than 3,000. Longtime Berkeley Resident
I am a 32 year old single mom with a small child looking for a place to live in Berkeley. I can afford around $1800 for a one bedroom place with a yard to garden and play. I am having such a hard time finding a place. i can hardly even get a response from craigslist ads, let alone an offer to rent. I have perfect credit, great references and a good job. What is the deal?! How did you find your rental? Any creative suggestions for how to go about finding a place? Is using a rental agency the way to go? I'm a long time farmer/professional gardener and have every intention of creating a beautiful garden wherever we go, gardening is so trendy right now, how can I use this to get a leg up, so to speak? Any and all thoughts and ideas are appreciated! Thank you! M
* post on BPN. And then post again! [Please make sure you post in the Marketplace newsletter, in the Housing section.]
* I think that right now the rental market is so super tight that $1800 may be low in Berkeley.
* Keep trying, stalk Craigslist, use any connections you may have in your current neighborhood, at Cal perhaps, anywhere! Let anyone and everyone know you are looking. Post on Facebook.
* Bring your kid to meet the managers.
* Bring copies of references, bank statements, credit reports, etc AND a check when you check out places.
* Be ready to sign on the dot if you like it and give a check right then (but don't get scammed!).
* Consider looking in areas beyond where you are now. Well, nothing beats Berkeley.
And, don't give up! You will find something! Survived the rental market search and so will you
We've been unsuccessfully searching for a 3 bedroom rental home in Oakland (as well as parts of San Leandro & Alameda) for some time now. It seems there is just very little out there, and what is out there is just pretty sad or we don't get them. I've scoured the internet and it seems like Craig's List is the primary place to find rentals. Is this true or are we missing something?
We are current homeowners (selling our place bec. we have a 2nd child on the way), have long-held full-time jobs, great credit, etc. We have a (well-behaved) cat so that's unfortunately a hindrance, but we're not giving him up! This process is starting to really weigh on us, and with a baby due in Sept. we feel like we're in the midst of countdown. We've started to open our search to ground floor apartments and large 2 bedrooms but there's just nothing. Any advise, suggestions? Unhappy House Hunter
We're a family of 4: Mama, Papa & children aged 2 & 5, and we're planning on moving from Alameda to Berkeley in June. Our question?: What's the best way to find a house to rent in Berkeley? I hear landlords think thrice about renting to families, so I'd like to pull from as many resources as possible. If anyone is familiar with sources other than Craigslist - we would be so appreciative to learn what they may be. Thank you!
1) Begin now. Most rentals are advertised for immediate occcupancy, but I have started to see a few June 1 listings pop up.
2) Prepare yourself for sticker-shock. At present, Berkeley rents are way higher for a lesser-quality rental than Alameda.
3) Be super-prepared. Have a Tenant Resume for each adult in your household, and if possible get a letter of recommendation from your current landlord stating that you have paid your rent on time and have kept your current rental in good condition. (The easiest way to get this done is to prepare the letter yourself and ask the landlord if he/she would be willing to sign it.)
4) I regret that CraigsList has become the alpha and omega of rental listing sources. Watch out for scams! If you are a member of the California Alumni Assn, or if one of you is employed at Cal, you can subscribe to the Faculty/Staff rental listing services and sometimes there are different listings there. Also, you can do an online search for Berkeley Property Management companies and most of them have websites with their rental listings that you can peruse. It may or may not be useful to pay for the listing service called Apartmenthunterz.com.
5) Check for new rentals every day, several times a day, and call or email immediately when you see something that looks remotely acceptable.
6) Know what you are willing to compromise on. The only way I know to do this is to get out and see a bunch of rentals. You will learn what is normal for the market and what constitutes a good deal - and jump on the good ones as fast as you can by writing a holding deposit on the spot and filling out an application along with attaching your Tenant Resume.
Hope this helps - it's tough out there! Becky
Can anyone recommend a good source or program for finding rent-to-own homes in Berkeley? We aren't quite ready to buy but would like to explore a lease w/option to purchase if we could find one that was a good fit for our family. I've searched the archives but there seems to be nothing on this subject, and all the websites I found through google want me to pay money to get a list of information. Renter-to-Owner
Looking for some direction/help please. We are lreocating from NYC to the Berkeley area this Feb/ March with our two grammar school aged children. We have done the big stuff- got them into a great school-St Theresa's. Now need to find somewhere to live-UGH- proving to be a daunting task ! We are looking to rent for the time being. We are looking for 3 bedrooms in a safe nice area. It is hard enough on the kids moving across country; to move into something that is terrible would just be a disaster but I am not having any luck and am looking for some help. I seem to live on Craigslist and so far-nothing. Does anyone have any suggestions out there please ? Signed, frantic in New York-Elyse.
Due to a probable future short sale of our home, our family is going to be looking for a rental in Oakland within the next 12 months. We do have a little bit of flexibility on the timing (though not tons of course), so I was wondering if anyone has recommendations on the best/easiest month(s) to rent (i.e. times of year when availability is higher and competition is lower). I know that school plays into this - are gazillions of people looking to rent in mid-summer, then? Would we be better off trying to rent in the Spring? Or late Fall, or other? Thanks much. Wondering in Oakland
We are looking for help from a rental agent for finding a Berkeley apartment. Ideally, this person will listen to what we need, and alert me when things become available. Nora
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
Greetings, We live in SF, but our kids are in school in Berkeley. We had intended to move 2 1/2 years ago, but then the credit crisis hit and thus, we are still here. I am going crazy driving over the bridge 4x a day. My body shakes even when I am out of the car. I have been scouring Craigslist and any possible website to find a ''nice'' simple single family home to rent in the East Bay, but to no avail. I have sent out a blast email to friends to see if they know of any leads. Again, nothing seems to be turning up. Do you have any suggestions on how to find a clean, well kept single family home to rent in the Berkeley, Rockridge, Piedmont neighoborhoods? I am desparately seeking a home. I figure that beyond Craigslist, there must be another system: word of mouth? I so appreciate any help! thanks a million!
Hi BPN, We are currently living outside of the bay area, but are most likely returning for a job in the next few months. We are very excited. One huge challenge is that we are a 6 person family (2 adults, 4 kids) and we have poor credit. We are working to improve our credit, but basically had a rough go through the whole financial crisis, under-employment, etc. We are responsible, but just had some challenges. We have excellent rental history, good references. Any advice? nervous about being judged....
Also, stay away from rent controlled areas such a Berkeley. Since it is so difficult to get rid of unsuitable tenants in a rent-controlled apartment, landladies are less likely to take a chance on you.
A third idea to offer a lot of money upfront. If you can give them several month's or even a year's rent upfront, it will make them feel more comfortable with renting to you.
And last of all, be honest. Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Really. Speaking as a rental agent, I find it is very difficult to rent to people when their stories do not ring true or when I uncover problems when doing the credit check and calling references. So, keep working on improving your credit score and good luck! anon
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
My husband and I and our three young sons are moving to the Berkeley
area from Washington state. Does anyone have any advice as to whether
it is better to rent/lease a home for awhile before buying or just
plunge into the market. It is so much more expensive in a mortgage
payment, almost twice as much, as renting a comparable home. Any
experiences with this?
mom on the move
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!
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
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