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San Francisco is a great place to live, it is a beautiful and vibrant place with plenty to do and see. With the massive migration of highly skilled workers here to pursue new opportunities, renting an apartment in San Francisco might be quite difficult.

According to the San Francisco Rental Update, the city has the highest rental rate in the United State with a bedroom going for as much as $3,240 in June 2017.

Here are 8 quick tips for renting an apartment in San Francisco.

Quick Tip 1: Understanding Rent Control Laws

Although living in San Francisco might be quite expensive, if you get to live in the rent-controlled apartments built before 1979 then you are protected by the Rent Control. The rent control states that Landlords can only increase rent with inflation so that there wouldn’t be any spikes in your rent.

In some cities, landlords are allowed to put off annual increases for a set number of years and impose the accumulated increase all at once. Say, for example, the cap is set a five percent per year, but a landlord waits two years to impose the cap—they can legally raise the rent by 10 percent the second year.

Keep in mind though, banked increases are usually capped to a set number of increases and a set number of years to keep the accumulated increase from getting out of hand.

For example renting an apartment in Berkeley, rent increases are limited to one each year and the amount is mandated by Berkeley’s Annual General Adjustment.

Rent controlled properties are those initially occupied prior to 1979. Most San Francisco single-family homes and condos are exempt. For 2017, the annual allowable rent increase is 2.2 percent for the year.

Learn more about rent control with our San Francisco Bay Area Rent Control Cheat Sheet available for download (FREE E-BOOK)


Quick Tip 2: Smart Apartment Hunting

Due to the limited resources and increasing demands, renting an apartment in San Francisco can be a real pain. It means hours or days of struggling and some bad news. The easier way to find an apartment is to use an apartment guide. This will help in getting openings for an apartment a lot faster. Due to the fact that apartments don’t stay long on the market because of the demand, it is important you are always prepared to get that dream house or apartment.  Whether you are a first-time renter or you are between houses, you will need these tips to increase your chances of getting an apartment fast.

Before you start hunting for an apartment it is important to create a budget. You need to be certain that the apartment you are getting is within your means. Creating a budget involves arriving at the amount you can afford per month for rent and setting the limit for your apartment. Once you have the budget, then great, you can have a way of sorting apartments while going through apartment listings. Creating your budget also helps with the decision of getting a roommate or not.

quick-tips-for-renting-an-apartment-san-franciscoInstantly schedule a showing for a property in the San Francisco Bay Area, with NO APPLICATION FEES.

Quick Tip 3: Get A Roommate

You might need to get a roommate if the apartment or house you want to get is way above your budget. You should be open to having a roommate if the expense of renting an apartment in San Francisco is going to be taking a greater part of your monthly allowance.

Roommates not only help to reduce the weight of the expense but it may also assure landlords or homeowners and you might have a higher chance of getting the apartment.

Quick Tip 4: Know the Neighborhoods in San Francisco

You have to choose the neighborhood you want to live wisely. Before choosing an apartment, you have to consider the location of the apartment, the quality of the apartment and the price. Factor in parking, safety, weather, commute, and affluence of the neighborhood

Here is a list of popular San Francisco neighborhoods you should consider investigating further:

  • Haight-Ashbury
  • Hayes Valley
  • The Mission
  • Noe Valley
  • Upper Market
  • SOMA
  • Richmond
  • Chinatown
  • The Castro District
  • North Beach
  • Union Street
  • Pacific Heights

We cover in depth the history and atmosphere of a select number these areas in our San Francisco neighborhood guide.

You need also be prepared to compromise on prices. While it is important to stick to the budget you have, you might need to compromise on it if it comes to getting an apartment in a good environment with good quality. Due to the competitions, you have to be prepared to give a good offer to convince the landlord to rent out to you.

Quick Tip 5: Time of Year to Start Apartment Hunting

The timing of hunting for an apartment in San Francisco is quite important to get a good choice of apartment. It might be quite difficult to get a good apartment for a reasonable price at some period in the year because of the increase in the demand in those seasons.

The summer months of May, June, July, August, and September traditionally have a larger inventory and higher rental prices for rental properties on the market.

The winter months of November, December, January, and February traditionally have a lower inventory and lower rental prices for rental properties on the market. This is due to the lack of renters moving from place to place. Understanding the patterns in rental prices can save you a large amount of money in the long run.


Quick Tip 6: Condition of the Home

Ensure that you visit the apartments, you pick from the online search. It is important to check out the conditions of the apartment you want to rent as there are some things you cannot get from looking at the pictures online.

Issues such as smell, some leakages can only be observed when you visit the location, it is important to check if the apartment meets the safety standards.

Quick Tip 7: Competing with other renters and tenants

You have to be the tenant homeowners want to rent out to. Due to the competition, property managers and homeowners don’t rent out on a first-come-first-serve note but they want to rent out to the most qualified and responsible tenants. So you have to present yourself as that tenant that homeowners want to rent out to.

Here are a few ways to impress a landlord when applying for a rental home:

  • Be early to your showing. First impressions matter.
  • Bring necessary documents including proof of employment and income, W2s, 2-3 months of pay stubs and bank statements, a valid form of government issued ID, check and pen for a holding deposit or application fee.
  • Ask the right questions
  • Follow up

Continue reading more about ways to impress a landlord.

Quick Tip 8: Renter’s Insurance

It is also quite important to know about rent control and about renter insurance. If possible make the provision to get renter insurance, this will increase your chances of getting the apartment as homeowners are assured with renter insurance.

Hunting for an apartment in San Francisco might be as stressful as it gets, but it sure worth it. The city is full of opportunities. The key to getting an apartment with a reasonable price amidst the stiff competition is preparation. Throughout your apartment hunt, be sure to understand what landlords are looking for to give yourself a competitive edge. If you put your best foot forward, you will most likely end up with more apartment application approvals than rejection.

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