General Question

monsoon's avatar

How long does it take to rent an apartment?

Asked by monsoon (2483 points ) December 5th, 2010

First time renting an apartment, so bare with me.

I will want to move out in about six months. Should I wait until I’m actually ready to move out to apply, or should I apply a few weeks, or even a few months in advance?

Particularly if the apartment I want is a nice one, and in the Bay Area, so it’s very possible I won’t even get it?

And any other advice about this while you’re here?

Thanks.

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7 Answers

jaytkay's avatar

Don’t hesitate, look until you find one you love and sign a lease. Typically nice places do not lower their prices, they just stay empty until someone bitesl

Check the water pressure.

Check the neighborhood, EveryBlock will give you an idea of the crime relative to nearby places
http://sf.everyblock.com/

Get the utility cost history from the gas & electric companies (if you will be paying gas and/or electric)

Talk to current tenants, ask how they like the landlord and building

mrrich724's avatar

Usually, finding one you want takes the longest time. Once you identify the one you are looking for, it takes about a week, most of which is them doing background check/references. This assumes the place you want to rent has availability.

Also, if you know which one you want, you can go in a month early and tell them when you expect to move in. They can then show you what they have, and get everything finalized, so when that month passes, everything is RTG for move-in date.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

It depends quite a lot on if you’re moving into… how do I put this… a standardized place with an actual staff and an office and all the apartments look the same, or if you’re moving into a house that has a guy or gal as a landlord, but nothing is “standard” about it. The first kind will usually have apartments when you’re ready to move in, the second don’t particularly care to wait for several months while you finish up the rest of your other lease since that’s several months where they don’t have that income.
Make sure to be really on top of your search. There are nice apartments to be had for decent prices (ok, less than totally outrageous prices), but they’re all taken quickly. You’ll notice them if you, say, check Craigslist every morning and afternoon, but not you only check Craigslist a couple times total.

zenvelo's avatar

I live in the East Bay, I checked craigslist a lot, especially at the beginning of the month when people have just given a 30 day notice and the landlord is hoping to rent it out right away. If you’re thinking 6 months from now, try areas where a lot of students rent apartments, like near USF/UCSF or in Berkeley (you didn’t say where you were thinking of living.)

and drive/walk around the neighborhood that interests you. Sometimes you’ll see signs for apts. that aren’t on craigslist.

YARNLADY's avatar

Once you decide to move out, and you can afford the first and last month rent plus a deposit, it will only take a week or two to find the apartment you want. Having the money in advance is the most important part.

If you are looking at the bottom of the price range, it will take a lot longer.

perspicacious's avatar

I had never rented housing before until a couple years ago I rented an apartment in northern California to be near an ill family member for a few months. It took several weeks actually. A management company handled the rental and I couldn’t believe I couldn’t just give them my info and say what do I quality for. Oh no. I had to actually apply separately for each location I was interested in. Very time consuming and idiotic in my opinion. I’m from a real estate family and am an attorney and the whole process was too burdensome. I am from the SE though. I now know that part of the reason for it being the way it was is because of the area and was not representative of a complete California mental defect.

Seelix's avatar

@zenvelo mentioned a 30 day notice, but in Canada we have to give 60 days’ notice. Whenever I’ve looked for a new apartment (I’m in apartment #5 now) I’ve always started looking 2 months before my move date. If you’re moving out of your parents’ place, you won’t have to give official notice, but keep in mind that when you’re moving out of an apartment you will have to give at least 30 days’ notice.

If you’re thinking of moving in May or June, you should be okay. It’s harder to find apartments for August 1st or September 1st, because of students coming into town, but May should be great (at least here, finals are sometime in April meaning that a lot of students vacate their apartments at the end of the month).

That being said, you likely won’t have a hard time finding a place. And I’m not sure what things are like where you’re from, but I’ve never not gotten an apartment that I applied for. As long as you don’t look like a crackhead and can pay the first and last up front, that should be enough.

Also, please follow the advice of others who’ve posted with respect to the building management, utilities etc. I’ve been fairly lucky myself, but I know people who’ve gotten into bad rental situations which could’ve been avoided had they done a little research!
Good luck!

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