Frequently Asked Questions When Renting a Los Angeles Home

If you are moving to Los Angeles, or maybe selling your home and moving to a Los Angeles rental, you may not be familiar with the process.  So here are answers to some questions you may have.

Q:  How do I find a rental property in Los Angeles?

A:  There are many ways to find a rental.  You can join Westside Rentals, where you pay a small fee, or look at some of the online sites like Craigslist, which will generally show the same properties as Westside Rentals.  However, you need to be careful of the scams on Craigslist.  But, if you are looking for properties over $3,000, you may find that using a Los Angeles real estate agent will make things easier, especially if you are not familiar with the city.

Q:  Should I use several agents to help me find a rental property?

A:  No. If you are using an agent they will be showing you properties listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to which each agent has access and for which they are compensated by the landlord.

Q:  Are there rental agents available to show properties in Los Angeles?

A:  No. There are no specific agents who specialize in rentals. Rentals have recently become a necessary part of our business of late due to the recent market downturn and shortage of sales inventory. However, not every agent will help you with rentals.

Q:  How do I find a home near a good school?

A:  Here you will need to do your own research to find the right school.  Two houses next to each other may be zoned for different schools.  The main school districts in Los Angeles will be the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, the Beverly Hills Unified School District, and the Culver City Unified School District.

Q:  How soon should I start looking for a property?

A:   Usually no longer than a month before you need to move unless you are willing to pay for some time before you move in, as a landlord is not likely to want to hold the place open for more than a week or two.

Q:  When I find a property, what do I have to do?

A:  You will fill out an application form.  If there are more than one of you, then sometimes both parties will need to fill out an application, especially if it is a roommate situation.  Sometimes, even if you are married, both parties may have to sign also.  Together with the application, you will be asked to provide a full credit report.  You can run this yourself on such sites as, or (the same company).  This will need to be a full report on all three bureaus, not just the scores.  You may also need to provide proof of funds (W2, 1099, bank statements, etc.).  This will apply to both parties on an application.

Q:  What happens next?

A:  The landlord and their agent will review the application, and if acceptable, draw up the lease.

Q:  What if my credit is not good?

A:  Many landlords are leery of bad credit, and they may ask you to pay more up front, or ask you for a guarantor or co-signor who will be on the lease.

Q:  How much do I have to pay up front?

A:  Generally, you will be required to pay the first month and two months security deposit.  Sometimes it will be just first and security, but that is rarer.

Q:  Will the property be clean when I move in?

A:  The landlord is required to deliver the property in a clean condition.  They will often replace carpets and paint.

Q:  What is included in the rent?

A:  Usually water is included, and if you are renting a single family home, it may include the gardener and pool maintenance if applicable, but not always.  Utilities are almost always a tenant’s responsibility.

Q:  What if I find problems when I move in?

A:  If you are using the services of a Los Angeles Realtor® they and the listing agent will have you fill out a Move-In Move-Out (MIMO) form which will document any defects you find, and give the landlord a heads up to address needed repairs. But the landlord is resp0nsible to maintain the property throughout your lease.

Q;  Can I rent a place for less than a year?

A:  If you are using a Realtor®’s services, generally no, especially in a condo building, as the homeowner rules will not allow it.  Also, many landlords don’t like to deal with the hassle of tenants constantly moving in and out.  There are exceptions to this, especially in the higher priced single family rentals.

Q:  Can I do a lease option?

A:   Almost always no.  It is not common in this market.  But you can ask for first right of refusal if the landlord decides to sell while you are still a tenant.

Q:  If I move into a condo building are there any fees involved?

A:  Most condo buildings require a move-in and move-out fee which is non-refundable.  And some require a refundable deposit on top in case any damage is done. This is rare but there are condo buildings that also require a security deposit on top of the landlord’s.

Hopefully if you are thinking of renting a Los Angeles home the above addresses most of your questions.  If not, feel free to contact me.  I will he happy to answer any more.

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