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Dear Eastsider: In search of a $1,200 a-month apartment

Photo by lumin0sity/Flickr

If you think trying to buy a place to live in Echo Park or Silver Lake is tough these days, just try looking for a suitable one-bedroom apartment renting for $1,200.  That’s the challenge facing Helen, a 36-year-old environmental planner who is looking to move out of a too-small Silver Lake apartment. She asks if there is a way for an “ideal tenant to bypass Craigslist” and the cattle-calls of renters that respond to such listings. Said Helen:

I have 2 primarily indoor older cats that are well-behaved and I have excellent credit, can provide the results of the credit check for your convenience, and can easily provide personal references. I’m looking for quiet, private, laundry on site, lots of natural light and in the $1200 ballpark. Ultimately I am interested in a 1-bedroom place–guest house, bungalow, duplex/triplex, small building preferable.

Does such a place exist in Atwater Village, Eagle Rock, Echo Park, Los Feliz or Silver Lake, the neighborhoods Helen is looking at? If you got an apartment or a lead, send an email to [email protected] Click on the link below for more details on Helen’s apartment search.

I‘m looking to rent in Silver Lake/Echo Park/Atwater Village/Los Feliz/Eagle Rock or (very near) surrounding areas. Apartment hunting is the bane of my existence. Does anyone have any leads? Can I bypass the normal routes?  

 I am a 36-year old gainfully employed female. I am quiet, responsible, and respectful of property. I have lived at my current residence in Silver Lake for 6+ years and am on a month to month lease now. I love my place but it’s fairly small (no storage space at all really) and the landlord does not keep up the property. I’m anxious to move out, but really want to take my time to find something suitable/amazing–I know it’s out there but am having a hard time finding anything.
 I have 2 primarily indoor older cats that are well-behaved and I have excellent credit, can provide the results of the credit check for your convenience, and can easily provide personal references. I’m looking for quiet, private, laundry on site, lots of natural light and in the $1200 ballpark. Ultimately I am interested in a 1-bedroom place–guest house, bungalow, duplex/triplex, small building preferable.


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43 comments

  1. This is a little unrealistic but not impossible. It’s just that Helen needs to be looking for months, not weeks. Possibly outside these premiere rental areas – East Hollywood, Highland Park, Lincoln Heights, you get the idea.

    Most of my friends renting for less than $1500 for a one bedroom are making similiar decisions and opening up their shopping period to a much broader term.

  2. Not Another Neighbor

    Echo Park south of the 101.

  3. Ditto on Echo Park south of the 101 or Chinatown off Beaudry, North of Sunset.

  4. She might consider subscribing to Westside Rentals, which costs money for prospective tenants but is free for landlords/property owners. She could also consider placing an ad in the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA) magazine; I haven’t seen such an ad yet, but she’d be targeting the right folks. (Personally, I think she should stay where she is. I don’t think renters – at least, those folks who are hoping to buy their own place some day – should be 100% comfortable in their rental. A little discomfort or dissatisfaction keeps renters striving to buy their own place.)

  5. OPINIONATED OLD LADY SEZ

    WISH THERE WAS SOMETHING AVAILABLE IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD. YOU SOUND LIKE A GREAT NEIGHBOR. ONE SUGGESTION: WHEN YOU MOVE INTO ANY OF THE AREAS YOU ASK ABOUT, KEEP YOUR CATS INSIDE! TOO MANY NEWCOMERS (AND A FEW REGULARS WHO DON’T SEEM TO LEARN) LOSE CATS TO COYOTES. IT ONLY TAKES A MINUTE!

  6. “Ideal tenant” != “2cats” + Whining about your landlord’s property upkeep…

    You might be great, but you are not an “ideal” tenant. FYI.

    • Because she has 2 primarily indoor cats and also endures a landlord not doing their bare minimum duties as a landowner implies she is not ideal?

      You seem like fun of the GET OFF MY LAWN variety.

      • I second that. You’re assuming I’m whining when you don’t know how unpleasant and off the wall my landlord is.

        • Yet you chose to live there… did he seem normal at first then become a creep? That would suck.

          • SHE became a nightmare upon moving in–once I had already signed the lease and she had cashed my check. I have chosen to stay because the apartment, in some ways, is like a slice of (rustic, falling apart) heaving nuzzled in the hillside above Silver Lake Blvd. It is peaceful, I have privacy, I don’t have to contend with parking hassles, my pets have been given a slice of outdoor heaven, and the location couldn’t be more ideal for me for work and life. Her nuttiness and lack of professionalism have gone in waves that I ride. I’m ready to swim elsewhere. It’s really quite simple.

          • Helen – it sounds like we have the same landlord. Were you to live BELOW Sunset, my radar would be off the charts blips and beeps. Good luck (to us both) in securing wonderful, affordable new homes! I will definitely keep you in my thoughts.

  7. Totally in the same boat!

    Plus every place I look at in this price range has multiple applicants, with all of us paying $25-35 dollars for a credit check. I guess its roommatesville for the near term…

    • I concur Rick: It’s getting mighty crowded in this here boat.

      • I got my own free credit check and photocopied it to attach to applications! Worked years ago, not so sure now, but I’m giving it a shot. Good luck to you too!

        • Most landlords will not accept your credit report alone. The screening process includes a few more elements than just the report. Plus there is that old photo shop element!

  8. I am.renting a studio with private front yard and parking space utilities included for 1150/month. It’s on the corner of Silverlake blvd and vendome st. In Silverlake. Let me know if you are interested! Cats are welcome 🙂

  9. I recently found my gorgeous 1-br in Silver Lake for under $1100… It IS possible! The apartment listings aggregate site http://livelovely.com really simplified the search process.

  10. Plus I have a dog…

  11. If she’s been renting for six years her unit is way under market. She should fix up some stuff herself and save money.

  12. I pay $1195 for a nice bungalow sort of living situation right near the sunset junction. I looked for maybe 2 months before finding the place. The next block over there are many older bungalows renting for $1095 that sometimes come up for rent. I used a few iPhone apps with real time alerts based on filters, which is how I got to be first to submit many applications. I’m an ideal tenant: no pets, stable assets, good rental history, good credit, etc, so I got the apartment over some other candidates. There was a detached house in Laurel Canyon for $1300 I put an application in on, didnt get because of competition but still there are nice houses to be found in the 1200-1400 range if you’re willing to put the sweat equity in.

  13. There is hope! Two weeks ago, my friend moved into a beautiful and spacious one bedroom in Los Feliz (Edgemont and Franklin) with parking and laundry for $1200 She worked hard to find it though. Lots of driving around, phone calls, emails, looking at places, craigslist etc. It took her a solid 2 1/2 weeks of searching, but she found the place. They are out there….good luck!

  14. Echo Park Resident

    My husband and I pay $1,200/month for our very (very) tiny one bedroom guest house in Echo Park. We also had some friends who were paying about the same amount for their one bedroom bungalow on La Veta Terrace/Bellevue. So it’s not totally impossible I guess, but maybe not the norm. GOOD LUCK TO YOU, HELEN!

  15. Landlords are not fans of any animals. I wouldnt rent to someone with animals b/c there is too much of a risk for lingering odors. However, if I cld only find renters with animals, I wld charge a hefty security deposit.

    • Just don’t call it a “pet deposit,” which isn’t allowed.

    • Landlord here and have to disagree. Almost all of my tenants have had pets (mostly dogs) and I personally think it shows a level of maturity and responsibility to care for a pet. Although I do request that I meet the pet first.

  16. As an Echo Park resident living in one, I know that 1 bedrooms north of Sunset that rent for under 1300 usually come with problems…like an inattentive, unresponsive landlord who still hasn’t fixed the mailboxes since I moved in nearly 2 years ago (none of them lock). As someone who frequents the List of Craig, Truila, The Rental Girls and sites a lot – I’d say that Chinatown and Atwater are your best bets. Chinatown & south of the 101 can provide a lot of bang for your buck but not as desirable areas for sure, especially for a single female. To me Atwater seems a bit out of the way for me, especially because I commute downtown so 10 min from the EP works just fine, but it honestly will provide you with more decently priced properties and they have tons of bunglaows and backhouses. Good luck!

  17. Rule number one, don’t be super picky. Unless you plan on living there for the rest or life, free yourself up for some internal negotiating.

    Secondly, skip the web. It’s flooded with nonsense. Drive around the neighborhoods you want to live in and look for signs. That’s how I found my true 1br apt in EP for less than $1000 with amazing views. Yeah, there’s a couple things that I absolutely hate about my place but they’re easily overlooked when I hear about how much my friends pay for their smaller places. Plus I’ve found that a good portion of the people who advertise with signs instead of the web are usually the better landlords with better deals.

  18. I pay $1595 for a bright, open, pet friendly two bedroom with two covered parking spaces, a deck and view of the Hollywood sign/Observatory. Just off Benton/Sunset. Awesome places with helpful landlords do exist!!! Seriously. (been here three years and someone will have to pry this place from my cold dead hands)

  19. One more suggestion: Place an ad on Craigslist in the “Housing Wanted” section and describe what you’re looking for. I placed such an ad in 2008 when I was searching for a roommate – and it worked – and that’s also how I found a tenant for my place (he had placed an ad describing what he wanted, and I responded). Worth a try.

  20. OPINIONATED OLD LADY SEZ

    “SUPERVISED” CATS? NOT SURE HOW THAT WORKS BUT I APPLAUD YOU. UNFORTUNATELY, THE COYOTES ARE NOT SUPERVISED AND REGULARLY DINE ON NEIGHBORHOOD CATS & SMALL DOGS. ACTUALLY TRIED FOR A COUPLE OF CHILDREN AS WELL BUT FORTUNATELY WITH NO SUCCESS. BEST WISHES TO YOU AND YOUR CATS. IF I HAD A RENTAL I WOULD GIVE YOU “FIRST DIBBIES.”

    • Thank You!

      I only hoped to get some feedback here and maybe some leads–I’m getting both PLUS support. Really nice!

      (And, the cats are basically indoor. I just like to let them out to munch on some grass now and then.)

  21. I’ve lived in four different rentals in the “eastside” since ’96 and I’ve never paid more than $750 for any of them. I don’t know how anyone can pay what they’re paying these days. Well, I can, but I’d have to live off of cat food. Welcome to the new “eastside”.

  22. All of you with these incredibly low rents are incredibly lucky. You’ve managed to find landlords who don’t keep their rents current with market value. Hate me if you will, but owning income property is a business and I make sure to keep my rents current. At the same time, if any of my tenants needs anything at all – I’m there. I’m no slum lord. Sometimes you get what you pay for.

    • Jay, there’s something in the city of Los Angeles called rent control that has limited landlords to 3% annual increases for the last several years, in addition to tying our hands in other ways. My tenant has lived in his unit for 15 years and his rent is drastically under market rate. There’s little I can do about it unless I decide to pay him around $9000, plus $450 to LAHD. Even then, I’d have to move into the unit myself, and after 24 months, if I re-rent it, I have to offer the apartment at the same rate that the former tenant paid (plus the annual 3% increases).

      • NineDoubleOhSixxxer

        That’s a tough one James, sorry to hear it. And it’s something that many property owners are concerned about. I’m an artist and it was not easy buying my owner occupied income property in Echo Park. It took a year of fighting for it, Conan style! Rather than echo what Jay has said about it being a business, I’ll add that it’s absolutely necessary for me to keep my rentals units at market value so that I can manage the mortgage and constant upkeep on the property. When property values increase on the Eastside for buyers…that inevitably gets pass onto the renters.

  23. Screw you property owners and your “market value” bs now that your “eastside” has brought in the gays, trust fund hipsters, developers eyeballing your “eastside” for it’s market potential.

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