With the price of the average home in Los Angeles teetering around $640,000, a significant number of the local population find themselves priced out of the market. If you happen to be one of them, then know you have plenty of company. More than half Los Angelenos rent, giving the Los Angelos metropolitan area the fourth-highest share of renters in the country. Therefore, we have set forward everything you need to know to help you navigate the Los Angelos renting process in the comprehensive guide below:
How to Find an apartment in Los Angeles
1. Decide how much you’re willing to pay
For starters, you should know that the average price of a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles stands at $1,369. That price inches up to $1,759 for a two-bedroom apartment. And what is even more disheartening, you’ll probably be required to put up a security deposit, first and last month rent, and an application fee, which can add $25-50 to the cost. But, be aware, even though you’re able to come up with those initial costs, you may still be required to provide proof of income amounting to three times the rent.
2. Finding a neighborhood that is right for you
Ideally, you’d want to find a neighborhood that is close to your job. Everybody has probably heard about Los Angeles’s notorious traffic. Well, whatever you’ve heard, it is no exaggeration. In fact, it can take up to two hours to get from one side of Los Angeles to the other by bus or car at rush-hour. So, the shorter you’re able to make your commutes, the better off you’ll be. Also, it might be a good idea to time your apartment hunting to coincide with the fall and/or winter months, as the competition should be less intense.
3. You can set your own expectations if you can afford it
Competition for apartments in Los Angeles might not be as stiff as it is in New York, but when you get to a certain price range, look for that competition to become more intense. Part of the reason is that, across the Los Angeles metropolitan area, the vacancy rate is pretty low right now. According to the latest Census Bureau data, that number stands at around 3.9% at the writing of this article. So, with apartments in such short supply, don’t be surprised if you end up in a bidding war. But, if you can afford to pay more for your ideal apartment, then that’s what you might have to do.
4. Conduct your own research to find that perfect apartment
The good news in this scheme of things is, it might not be necessary for you to hire a realtor to find an apartment. In fact, this is has proven true in most cases. Most Los Angeles renters simply go online and conduct their research. Or, they go from neighborhood to neighborhood in search of the perfect apartment on foot. And, since most landlords would prefer to rent to locals, chances are you’ll find a friendly landlord who just happens to have one that he hasn’t listed yet. If not, you can always revert to your online search. Some of the more reliable listing sites for the Los Angeles area are:
- Apartments List
- Westside Rentals
5. Ask to see the apartment first
Once you have a particular apartment in your sights, call or email to set up a time for viewing the apartment. More than likely you’ll be dealing directly with the owner, manager, or company representing the property. This is to ensure that the listing you located online isn’t a scam. However, don’t be too surprised if you don’t see a fridge or stove in the apartment. Not all landlords in Los Angeles supply appliances like stoves and refrigerators. Sometimes, the tenant has to furnish is own.
6. Pet owners will have more difficulty finding an apartment in LA
Unfortunately, some landlords just don’t allow pets on the property. Those that do usually impose a lot of restrictions, like the size and breed of the pet. Also, if you are a pet owner, and the facility does allow them, be prepared to pay a pet deposit.
7. Don’t waste time when you find the right apartment
When you do find that ideal apartment, submit your application right away. The reason for this is because the market in LA is so competitive, and the window for actually landing it is very narrow. So, be sure to have all the pertinent information at hand when you apply – bank statements, employment info, employment info, references – and a good credit score.
What is Rent Control?
In a large high-rent district like Los Angeles, rent-controlled units are a gold mine for renters. Rent-controlled (or rent stabilization) units have restrictions on the amount rent can be raised in a given year. At present, landlords can only raise the rent by 4% a year in Los Angeles. So renters pay much less for rent than they otherwise would have. Other municipalities in Los Angeles County have rent-controlled units, but the rules vary from one to another.
Rent controlled units also offer protections for tenants who are wrongfully evicted.
How to find a rent-controlled unit in Los Angeles:
To find a rent-controlled unit in Los Angeles, you must submit your address to ZIMAS, the city’s official property database. If under the “housing” tab the box next to the “Housing Stabilization Unit” is checked “Yes,” then it is a rent-controlled unit.
Living in a Rental Unit
Now that you’ve found that ideal apartment, and have gotten all settled in, what’s next on the agenda? Well, it would be a good idea to learn your rights as a renter. Topmost of which is your right to a clean and habitable environment.
If you have a problem with your unit, be sure to tell your landlord in person, followed by a detailed letter outlining the problem. However, it is not a good idea to withhold rent payments as leverage for getting the problem fixed. Instead, file a complaint with the Housing and Community Investigation Department.