Main Content

The essentials on renting an apartment in San Francisco

Renting an apartment is the next best thing if you’re not keen on buying residential real estate in San Francisco. Read on to learn more about the experience and how you can find an apartment that fits your lifestyle and needs perfectly.

The hunt for the best apartment

Here are a couple of things to note as you begin the search for the perfect apartment.

  • Budgeting is important. San Francisco may be an expensive real estate market, but that doesn’t mean you need to shell more money than you intend. According to the rental website Zumper, the median monthly rent price for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is about $3,690. Make that the base for your budget, then add incidentals, such as an advanced payment and security deposit.

  • Decide where you want to live early on. It will narrow down the apartment search. List your top three or five and move on to the next place on your list if you can’t find an apartment in the first one. If you’re not quite sure which part of San Francisco you want to live, click here.

  • It’s best to walk around than search online. Sure, many apartments for rent are listed online, but walking around neighborhoods will also help you find gems, especially in places like the Tendernob and Nob Hill. After this, count rental websites and Craigslist as only secondary sources.

  • Be ready. Build a file with your personal and financial information and keep it ready just in case you come across an apartment you like. San Francisco’s rental market is competitive and fast-paced. That place you loved the other day might already be taken when you decide to apply.

  • Deposits required. As you sign your lease, you’ll be required to pay a deposit, which will be held in escrow. The amount depends on you, so only part with what you can afford. Also know that non-refundable deposits are not a thing. 

What are rent-controlled units?

Rent-controlled real estate is something you might come across as you scour San Francisco’s housing market. These properties basically have limits on how much they can raise the rent every year.

For 2019, the annual allowable increase was set to 2.6 percent. California also recently passed a statewide bill that sets caps to annual rent increases (5 percent).

The following properties are covered in the ordinance:

  • Dwellings with a certificate of occupancy issued after June 13, 1979

  • Residential hotels 

  • Subsidized housing

  • Dormitories

  • Monasteries and nunneries

  • Hospitals

  • Single-family homes (expect those that were moved in after January 1, 1996)

You can read more about rent control in San Francisco here. This resource is from the San Francisco Tenants Union.

Other useful resources

Sometimes, something goes awry with your apartment. Here are a couple of additional reading that will help you for when that time comes:

You can also approach the San Francisco Tenants Union and the San Francisco Rent Board if you’d like to learn more about your rights as a tenant.

Find apartments with a realtor in San Francisco

Get in touch with Ray Amouzandeh today at 415.494.7009 or SFHomez(at)gmail(dotted)com to start your search for the perfect apartment in San Francisco.