The off-campus housing search can be challenging in the San Francisco rental market. Here are some helpful resources to look for your new home.
Know Your Rights
This is the California guide to residential tenants’ rights and responsibilities.
Create a Resume
Show landlords that you have a strong history of responsibility by creating your resume. Here is a sample resume to use to create your own.
Questions to ask about a rental property
•How much is the deposit? Is it negotiable?
•Are any utilities included? How much do they usually cost?
•Has there been a recent rent increase?
•How many tenants are allowed in the unit?
•Is subletting permissible as long as you, the landlord, are notified?
•How long do tenants usually rent here?
•What appliances are included? Are there washer/dryer hookups(if washer/dryer is not included)?
•Does the unit have off-street parking? How many parking spaces? Are parking permits required for street parking? Is there a garage?
•Is the unit furnished?
•Is there a back yard?
•Is there public transportation nearby? How far?
•Are the tenants responsible for the upkeep of landscaping?
Have a pet you want to live with?
Finding a place that is pet-friendly in San Francisco is difficult, but not impossible. To enhance your chances with a potential landlord, consider creating a pet resume.
Try to address the following areas in your pet resume:
•Mention anything about your pet’s age, activity level, and/or breed traits that help make your dog or cat a “good tenant.” Tell the landlord something positive about your animal’s personality and how much you care about your pet.
•Give examples of your pet’s good behavior and your responsibility. Has your dog been to obedience school or had special training? If your dog has lived in apartments before and is accustomed to it, say so. If you have more than one pet, let the landlord know how well they get along and keep each other company while you are away. If your cat uses a scratching post, say so and also note that your cat is litter box trained.
•Explain how you keep your pet clean and free of fleas. Mention that you always clean up after your dog, and/or dispose of cat litter properly.
•Let the landlord know your dog or cat is spayed or neutered. Also note that your animal is up-to-date on their vaccinations, and mention the name of your pet’s veterinarian.
•Offer to sign a pet agreement and pay a pet deposit.
•You can certify your dog through the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen program which will test and verify that your dog has good manners at home and in the community.
Inspecting a Rental Property
Here’s a simple checklist to guide you in checking out a space you’re interested in renting.
Always be prepared for any disasters
When living in San Francisco, or anywhere in California, we must always be prepared for earthquakes. Here is a list of items you need to be prepared for any major disaster or earthquake.
Beware of Scams
The internet is full of scams for housing. Here are some tips to help avoid some of those scams.
How to Detect a Rental Scam
•Rental amount is unusually low in comparison to the average rates for the area
•Landlord is unable to show you the rental; claims to be out of town, state, or country
•There is a sense of urgency
•There are requests made of advanced payments through wiring, cashier’s check, money order, escrow service, Western Union, or MoneyGram
•Landlord does not ask for rental application or reference check
•A third party is involved
•Ad and/or correspondence has misspellings
•Excessive use of capitalization
How to Avoid a Rental Scam
•Never wire money, nor pay money in advance of seeing the rental
•Always meet the landlord or property manager in person before signing rental documents or sending money
•Never give out bank account information
•Contact the county assessor’s office to look up property ownership: http://www.sfassessor.org/
•Do a web search of the landlord’s name