Tips for Finding Rental Agencies
There are two basic types of rental agencies:
- Those that sell lists of rentals, often making use of a computer to update listings.
- Those agencies such as real estate/property management firms that, among other things, are in the business of finding tenants for their clients’ properties.
Rental Agencies That Publish and Charge a Fee for Lists of Rentals
These firms provide the listing landlord with a free listing. This type of agency advertises regularly and heavily in the classified ads of the newspaper.
You pay for lists indicating the type of dwelling available, the number of bedrooms and baths, and other pertinent information. The address usually is not given but the phone number of the person to contact is provided. Many of the property owners who manage their rentals will either advertise in the newspaper or list their rentals in a “computer” list.
Some of these firms charge a one-time fee that qualifies you to use their service forever; others charge for a three- to six-month list subscription. The lists are updated regularly and the user is urged to pick up a new list as soon as it is published. Some agencies will refund part of the fee paid if available housing, of the type sought, is not found within a certain period of time. The criteria used is availability rather than suitability—if you are looking for a two-bedroom apartment for under $450 and find one, but turn it down because you don’t like the location, you may disqualify yourself from receiving a partial refund.
Real Estate Management/Property Management Agencies
These firms provide a service to the owners of rental properties, finding them tenants, collecting rents, etc.
It is a good idea to call these agencies first, and find out whether they have listings of the type you are seeking. If they do, they may ask you to go into the office to fill out an application form. You will be shown the rental unit and, if you are interested in renting it, your credit and references will be checked.
When you find a rental through a property management service, you will usually have all subsequent contact with it, not the property owner. You will pay rent, report needed repairs, and give notice to the property manager.