Can't find an apartment in LA
May 8, 2017 6:09 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend moved to LA to advance his career over a month ago and is staying on friends' couches/AirBnBs, but has been unable to find his own apartment because of bad credit. He's becoming increasingly hopeless and considering leaving LA and giving up this career opportunity. Can you help?

His budget is around $1200 and he doesn't need much, but would strongly prefer not to have a roommate if possible. He works in Long Beach but is flexible about where he lives.

He has no late bill payments, evictions, or criminal charges on his record. His score is low (561 per Experian) because his mom took out a card in his name and a hospital failed to pay a bill with charity care that they had told him they would. He's worked on addressing those and has so far gotten nowhere- but even if he could, he really needs a place ASAP.

He made a packet of information that he gives to landlords including the following:
*A letter of reference from his employer that notes his guaranteed income for 12 months
*A letter from him explaining his credit score, giving contact info for past landlords who have agreed to be references, and stating that he's willing to do extra things to demonstrate his reliability (e.g., adding a cosigner)
*Pay stubs to show his income
*A monthly sales report from his online store demonstrating that this is an extra source of income
*Bank statements showing his balance

He's very up front with landlords about his score. They're all telling him to apply and then rejecting him. He's offered to pay a double deposit, pay 3 months rent ahead, or add a cosigner, but none of it is working. He's been looking for privately-owned companies and sublets, but those seem few and far between.

Any ideas?
posted by quiet coyote to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
A roommate situation may be the best he can do with those credit issues. Could he go for a 3-6 month lease with somebody on Craigslist and then try again once the credit situation has been resolved? My girlfriend found a room for rent in a condo in Tustin (too far from Long Beach to be viable, but hey) for $800/mo; I imagine similar things are available closer to Long Beach. It might suck but if it gets him through until the credit report is sorted, it's one option?
posted by Alterscape at 6:35 PM on May 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

Is he looking at renting directly from owners? They may be more willing to accept his supplementary information. A quick look around Craigslist shows a few guesthouses/back houses around that price point. I'll PM you with links.
posted by bonifate at 6:47 PM on May 8, 2017

Response by poster: Whoops, I said "privately-owned companies" when I meant "privately-owned units." He's definitely interested in that kind of thing, bonifate.

Also, I was just chatting with him and he's mostly looking in Long Beach at this point, as he's concerned that having to pay for gas for the commute would put him over on an already-tight budget.
posted by quiet coyote at 7:01 PM on May 8, 2017

Yeah, among all the other issues, getting in and out of Long Beach from other parts of LA is problematically painful.

This is probably going to require a roommate or -ish situation for at least a while. I would check Craigslist for room-for-rent in a house, "back house", mother-in-law or garage apartments. At least deal with something, even less-than-perfect, for 4-6 months to buy some time to find a better situation.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:29 PM on May 8, 2017 [8 favorites]

Is friend using Westside Rentals? I haven't rented in LA in many years, but my experience was that the only way to find privately-owned units (the kind that bonafite mentions) is through them. Craigslist, etc are pretty useless or just mega-corps who will reject you out of hand.

Word of mouth, westside rentals, and driving around town looking for "For Rent" signs are the way to find people who will be flex. When I was renting in LA I was in a similar situation to your friend. I found a place by offering the packet your friend already has, and being willing to pay upfront.

Also, don't suggest cash, if friend thinks that might help - it does NOT. I have had friends who were and are landlords and "I'll pay you 3 months upfront in cash" is code for "I am a drug dealer or some other sort of nefarious person and I will make you regret renting to me" to them - whether or not it is true.
posted by pazazygeek at 7:34 PM on May 8, 2017 [6 favorites]

I know several people in LA who rented studios for 1k with worse credit. They had co-signers.
posted by Lil Bit of Pepper at 7:36 PM on May 8, 2017

How much is he depending on his online business for income?
If I were a landlord, I would probably only count his paycheck income when considering whether he could make rent.
posted by calgirl at 8:04 PM on May 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

How much of a dive in a dodgy neighbourhood can he tolerate? An old friend moved to LA, no job offer in hand (risky, but he fairly quickly got the one he went out there for, phew, but he wasn't in a position to fly back and forth between Ontario and California for every interview). He's living in a bachelor in a lousy area, complete with bedbugs, for $800/mo. All the gates, bugs, and stolen newspapers are a bit tedious for him -- but he managed to get it with *no* US credit history; can ditto is a blank page there. He had no-cosigner. A dive could be a good stepping-stone?
posted by kmennie at 2:21 AM on May 9, 2017

he's concerned that having to pay for gas for the commute

Is his job anywhere near the Blue Line? He could look a little farther north along the track for cheaper accommodations.
posted by vignettist at 9:03 AM on May 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Renting in LA has become a lot more strict than it used to be. The rental market is tight. I recently moved and had never experienced the level of scrutiny/paperwork that I had in past moves here. Is his monthly paycheck at least 2.5 times the monthly rent? If not, he probably needs to find a roommate situation. Some places I looked at required 3X. It sucks because now even shitty studios cost over $1000 in a lot of the city.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 7:45 PM on May 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh, yeah, mandymanwasregistered's comment reminds me of my friend who is getting divorced and just moved to her own apartment. She owns (with her estranged husband) two rental properties and she wasn't allowed to count any of that income on her applications. And she found the 2.5x rent requirement everywhere she went too (mostly Westside).
posted by vignettist at 8:53 AM on May 10, 2017

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