Oh, if only I had a dime for every phone call I get from a hopeful tenants asking if I can help them get a rental Berkeley! The fact is, I can’t help — that is, as a Realtor I don’t have access to a centralized database of homes for rent, the way I do with homes for sale.
Customs vary widely from region to region, but in the East Bay there is really no such thing as a “rental agent.” There is so much demand for housing here that landlords don’t have any need to pay a fee to an agent to help find a tenant, and therefore, that service niche does not exist.
However, just as with buying a home in a competitive market, there are plenty of ways to set yourself apart, and there is no need to throw your chances to fate. With some effort and perseverance, you will succeed.
To successfully secure a rental in Berkeley, do this:
1. Prepare a “Tenant Resume” to set yourself apart from all of the other tenants filling out rental applications. Your resume should include things like your employment, income, children and pets — anything you normally find on a rental application, plus anything else a landlord will want to know or that will make you stand out as a responsible tenant. It’s also effective to attach your credit report, instead of waiting to be asked for it.
2. Watch Craig’s List — constantly. When something comes up, pounce immediately. Yes, you will be competing with lots of other would-be tenants, but many of them are remarkably slow on the uptake. Make it a habit to check several times a day, make use of all available contact info, and don’t be shy.
3. Search for listings through the Cal housing office. You need to be (or know somebody who is) student, staff or alumnus to gain access to their online postings. But many landlords post only through Cal, so it is a very valuable resource.
4. Contact local property managers. When you see something on Craig’s List that is being handled by a property manager, send them your tenant resume and check in with them frequently to stay on their radar. Be a squeaky wheel.
Just as with finding the right home to buy, finding the right rental (or any rental) in the East Bay is not easy. It can feel overwhelming to have to compete with many other applicants. But if you prepare and present yourself well, persistently utilize the resources above, and be bold, you will make it!