The Rental Girl’s “Top 10 Tips” are a series of blog posts we have written to address common questions we receive from renters throughout our work week.
1. First and foremost, when to start looking: Start inquiring on rentals about a month and a half before you need to move
Don’t over do it. Many renters feel like they need months to find a rental. In L.A., the average vacancy is filled in less than a month. Tenants only need to give 30 days notice (per the average contract) to move out. If you are looking months in advance, there is no magic 8 ball that can look into the future and possibly know all the vacancies that will be available by the time you are ready to move. Furthermore, millions of people move each year. L.A. is a busy rental market. Vacancy rate is less than 5%. Rentals move quickly. If it’s taken you over a month to locate a property, you may need to broaden your criteria: area, price range and/or amenities. We have written more about when to start looking for a rental here.
2. Second of all, narrow down your search. Pick an area, a neighborhood. And while you’re at it, narrow down your budget and amenity must haves
This is especially true if you are moving here from out of town (and if that is the case, make sure you read our post specifically for out-of-towners). You also need to know what your budget is and what amenities you absolutely have to have and which ones you can live without. Read our post about Choosing a Rental here for more info.
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When leaving a message for a landlord or The Rental Girl try to leave as much information as possible while being brief at the same time. Keep in mind a landlord may have several properties for lease, so please start with your name, the property address you are calling about, when you are looking to move, when you are available to see the home and last repeat your call back number twice. Remember the message you are leaving is the first impression the landlord is going to have about you. You want to be positive and point out the positives about you in your message. The landlord could be bombarded with messages, for the property, and may only be returning the calls from people who have described themselves like the ideal tenants in their message. If you have great credit, looking to move right away and anything else you think may standout about you be sure to include it in the message.
Knocking On The Tenants Door/Landlords Door- A Big No No!
If the landlord has not returned your call within a couple of hours of leaving a message please do not go knocking on his door or the tenants door to get your foot in the door for a viewing of the property-Especially if there is a sign on the property that says DO NOT DISTURB TENANT! There is a fine line between follow-up and pestering. Please do not leave several messages in one day for the landlord. Be positive and know your message will be returned once it’s heard. If it has been more than 24 hours and you would like to follow up with the message you left, remember to be polite and try not to sound irritated because your call has not been returned. Start your second message by saying how excited you are about the property and if the property has been rented you would appreciate a call back so you can take it off your list of prospects. Before you make that second call to the landlord you should do your own investigating. Do a drive by of the neighborhood during the day then do back in the evening. If you rely on public transportation you will want to make sure it’s location is walkable to stops.
When the landlord does return your call please be respectful, even if it takes him 24 hours to get back to you. Be ready with your list of questions to ask so you can decide if you are still interested in making an appointment to see the property. Be sure to read the landlords ad carefully so you are not asking questions that were clearly posted.