Westside Rentals vs. Craigslist Apartment Challenge

Picture courtesy of isayx3 of Flickr

Picture courtesy of isayx3 of Flickr

Recently, the folks over at WestsideRentals.com reached out to me about using their apartment service the next time I was in the market for a place. Luckily, I happened to be in search of a new place this past April. My lease was up at the beginning of the month and I was looking for something new and closer to the beach. I saw their offer as the perfect opportunity to add a great resource to my arsenal when looking for an apartment. I decided to give it a shot and see what all the hype was about.

What is Westside Rentals?

Most of you may have no clue what Westside Rentals is, especially if you’ve never set foot in LA. But, if you’ve lived in LA for at least a month or so, I’m pretty sure you have seen their signs before…

WSR

They’re practically everywhere.

So, what is it?

Westside Rentals is a paid apartment search service that helps residents of Southern California find–you guessed it–apartments! They’re known to have quality apartment listings exclusive to their site, that are not listed in any other search service like a Craigslist.

My Typical Apartment Search Process

After being in LA for 5 years, my apartment search process is pretty simple. I typically sit down at the nearest coffee shop, power up my laptop, and hop on to Craigslist.

Once there, I narrow my search down to apartments that meet my “must haves” in a place:

I then make a list of 10 potential apartments and start making phone calls to schedule an appointment. This process usually takes me about 3 to 4 weeks to find a solid apartment that fits my needs.

Why does it take 3 to 4 weeks to find an apartment?

True indeed, that may sound like a long time, but finding an apartment in 3 to 4 weeks on Craigslist is actually not bad considering the circumstances.

Craigslist is an open platform where anyone and I do mean anyone can post an apartment for rent. The potential to be scammed is greatly increased because of this.

Take this listing for instance…

bhills

It’s a 1BR, 1 Bath, apartment in Beverly Hills for only $650 a month?!

Now, if you’re an idiot, this is the best deal ever and you’ll be wiring your $1300 deposit to Kazakhstan first thing tomorrow morning. But, if you have an ounce of common sense, you can spot this scam from a mile away.

This was an easy one to spot, but some listings are much more clever with their wording.

The Westside Rentals vs. Craigslist Challenge Begins…

I logged on to Westside Rentals to try it out. My goal was to find a 2 to 3 bedroom condo near the water, preferably in the Venice or Marina del Rey area.

After entering my desired location and price range, immediately 3 listings appeared that met my criteria.

wsr

These listings really caught my attention. I hadn’t seen them posted on Craigslist and the price and area of these listings were a decent bargain. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that 2 out of the 3 landlords offered free credit checks (credit checks typically cost about $25 or more).

I was able to set up appointments quickly to view the condos I was interested in. I made my first scheduled appointment to see a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom Marina/Ocean view condo for $4,000 a month.

I know that sounds quite expensive, but split between 3 roommates it’s about $1,330 a month. Not bad for a Marina/Ocean View.

I decided to take a look at the condo in Marina del Rey first. I met with the landlord on a Saturday afternoon. Honestly, after seeing the breathtaking view, I didn’t need to look any further. This was the place for me. I’m not a firm believer in “love at first sight,” but this is the closest I’ve ever come to it.

The condo was situated directly off the Marina with views of the ocean. I watched as sailboats and yachts cruised the Marina, with the occasional seal or dolphin rearing its head above the water.

What else could I ask for?!

Obviously, I filled out the application immediately. The landlord was gracious and asked about my credit situation before processing my application (which is typical). I was completely upfront with her about my credit situation. It was decent (damn student loans :-/), but I’ve always had great rental history (no late payments or previous evictions), which is very important in LA.

Something to remember: Most landlords are reasonable people and will work with you if you’re upfront and have references that will vouch for your rental history.

Later that week, the landlord followed up with me and approved my application. I was able to move in 2 weeks later and set up my new apartment. And this is the result…

Just get me near the sea. It’s earth’s most potent remedy.~Aimee Dolich

The Truth About Craigslist and Westside Rentals

There’s no getting around it, Craigslist and Westside Rentals are both great services that offer thousands of listings of available apartments. If you’re short on money or extremely frugal, I would definitely go with Craigslist because it’s a free service.

With that being said, understand there is a lot of BS floating around on Craigslist, which can potentially prolong your apartment search.

On the other hand, if you have $60 to fork over for your apartment search, I would highly recommend purchasing a 2 month membership from Westside Rentals.

They simply offer a more extensive range of credible listings than Craigslist. Once you’ve been in LA for a year or so, you’ll notice that most of the higher quality apartments are not listed on Craigslist and are exclusively listed on Westside Rentals.

Why is that?

It seems landlords feel that Westside Rentals offers a better tenant base than Craigslist. Think about it, if you were a bad tenant, would you really pay $60 to find an apartment? I doubt it.

The Verdict: Honestly, you can probably get all the info you would receive from Westside Rentals, without paying the $60–by driving around and finding “For Rent” signs yourself or simply using a free service similar to Craigslist. But, I’m sure after a few days of perusing newspaper ads, driving endless circles around LA, and avoiding scammers on Craigslist, you’d understand why I would pay $60 for someone else to do the “leg work” for me.

Now, if only someone could come up with a service that would let me bypass LA traffic for $60!!

Justin

Justin Resarieo is a creative entrepreneur and graduate of The University of Alabama. He has lived in LA for 6 years and enjoys the weather, creativity, and opportunity the city offers.

6 Comments

  • Reply April 15, 2016

    lahope

    I have to agree with Richard. I am an owner too, and I also get my best tenants on WR. I never use Craigslist anymore. For my last two vacancies I’ve also been listing on RadPad, and literally get dozens of responses, but inevitably I go with the applicant from WR.

  • Reply May 31, 2016

    Emma

    I’ve nearly been scammed on west side rentals. They obviously aren’t checking their landlords very well because you will find quite a few listings that say the landlord is out of town but you can view it provided you pay the deposit by cheq or wire. Totally a scam. I was hoping at $60 this would have been weeded out but it obviously hasn’t.

  • Reply July 24, 2016

    Sam

    I’m a landlord who has used westside rentals in the past and have had some good results but also some bad experiences. The bad: they omit listings that landlords post, either on purpose or through negligence. So tenants don’t get to know everything that Westside Rentals knows is available. I had three really nice, very reasonably priced apartments in a great area and none of them showed up on their listings for a period of over one month. I put up an ad on Craigslist and got two of the apartments rented immediately and have lots of appointments for the third.
    I called last week to ask why the third apartment was still not on their lists or website and was told that because I made a minor edit (added a photo) the property had to go through a review process and would be on the list when that had been completed. The guy I spoke to as really, really rude. Acted like he was doing me a favor when in fact it is the listings landlords provide that keep them in business.
    Three days later and my listing is still not up! I suspect it is because they also offer leasing services for landlords in which they take a month’s rent. By omitting listings of apartments that are better than the ones they are leasing, they cut out any competition. Just a thought.
    Craigslist puts the ads up almost instantaneously and doesn’t charge tenants anything. Still waiting for Westside to post the last remaining apartment ad but think it will probably be rented through Craigslist before it ever shows up on Westside.

    • Reply October 31, 2016

      Alice

      I have two rentals and have used WSR since I found their website. Have had pretty good tenants most of the time. As a landlord it never amazes me how most tenant leave my rentals. It sad to say not very clean. Unfortunately, tenant don’t really care and have caused me a lot of money in repairs. My last tenants were great and left my place very clean except normal wear and tear. The last time I rented my condo I listed it on WSR & and unfortunately someone talked me into posting on CL. I rented to a couple with two teenagers who saw the ad on CL.. From the second month they were in they failed to pay on time. It was a nightmare and finally I evicted them. They were the piglets from hell. They left furniture and trash. All my carpet was ruined. Bathroom tubs were black. Toilets were flithy. My stove and microwave was ruined. SO NO I WILL NEVER LIST MY PROPERTIES ANYWHERE BUT WITH WSR!!!!

  • Reply October 15, 2016

    K. Moore

    I was thinking about buying a membership to WSR, but needed more info before forking over my $60 – like, will the paid site filter for pets allowed, what other filters and/or information would be provided on the paid site that is not on the guest site? I emailed the NB location with my questions at the end of Sept 2016. After a week, I sent it again stating that I’d be concerned about paying for something that doesn’t seem to have any customer service follow-up. Still no reply. Think about that.

  • Reply November 13, 2016

    Guest

    I am a landlord and let me tell you, I think this glowing Westside Rentals review is a total scam – there are far better new (and free!) services for landlords and tenants these days, such as LiveLovely and Padmapper. If I were to merely rely on WSR I would never get enough people to see my units, they simply don’t have enough members. Maybe back in the 90’s they did, but certainly not anymore.

    Craig’s List is kinda passe too – the internet savvy crowd moved on a few years ago.

    Westside Rentals pray on people from out of town who don’t know any better. But the truth is there is absolutely no reason to pay $60 for a membership when all those listings are available for free on the web, and WSR has a long standing tradition of posting their own amazing but fabricated listings to suck you in and get you to pay for membership. Totally unethical company.

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