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…


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…


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.


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 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.


  • Reply July 29, 2013


    Thank you for the article. I am in the process of making the move to LA this fall and I appreciate the tips!

    – Angel Izard

  • Reply February 5, 2014

    Jeanne Kort

    Great review of Westside Rentals services. This is the reason that I am once again offering my historic Venice Canals unit for lease exclusively thru WSR. This is the 5th or 6th time I’ve used their services and have always been very pleased.

  • Reply July 19, 2014


    Great post. Thanks for sharing the info and your experience. I moved to LA 3yrs ago, and finding a place was a…well, you know…a far shot from fun.
    I was only moving from Vegas. Not too far, a 4hr drive maybe. I had a few prospects lined up and scheduled to meet with them one day. (Yeah, “one day”. I’m chuckling at myself too, in hindsight.) Drove out to LA, and didn’t meet any of them. None showed up or followed through.
    That was my introduction and first taste of the search. It worked out in the end, barely. Now I’m in the market for a move again. And even though I’m already local (and a little less naive) now, I think Westside rentals is worth a shot this time.

  • Reply December 19, 2014


    Just a tip. Some of the larger employers in the LA area will have discounts for West Side Rentals. So be sure to check before you pay. Finding a place on the west side has been a pain and I’ve lived in the LA area my whole life. The landlords overall from my experience seem very unresponsive. Just have all your info ready to go because if a good place becomes available they tend to go very fast. You’ll want to submit an application on the spot.

    If you want to see how “walkable” the area will be, check out http://www.walkscore.com. I used a combo of WSR, Craigslist, & WalkScore to narrow down where I wanted to live.

    Wish everyone luck finding a place!

  • Reply March 2, 2015

    Honesty Counts


    Several Friends of mine used to work at Westsiderentals.
    They didn’t like working there because it was an unethical place to work, however the bonus incentives were irresistible.

    For example:

    Westsiderentals payed their employees 25 dollar bonuses to get their friends and/or clients to write them good reviews on yelp. The employee received 25 dollars and their friend or client would receive a 25 dollar Amazon Gift Card for writing the review. The only way to qualify for the “yelp bonus” is if the review included the employee’s name in it, so they knew who to pay the bonus to.

    For instance, if you see a review that says “i went in………..and so and so was so helpful……….” then so and so would get the bonus and the person who wrote the review would get a “bonus” also. The majority of the time, the person who wrote the review is a friend of the person they wrote the review about.

    This is just one of many unethical things westsiderentals does.


  • Reply May 6, 2015


    We own several houses on the Westside. As a landlord, I can tell you that we get the best tenants from WSR. We always assume that anyone, who spends money to facilitate a home search, is serious. This eliminates 90% of the kooks and looky-loos from Craig’s List. In fact, we stopped advertising on CR ten years ago and never looked back. WSR only.

  • Reply August 16, 2015


    I wouldn’t be surprised if the above comment was a WSR employee… they are ruthlessly taking advantage of people and their site is terrible. It’s the most useless scam artist website I have ever used. All of these supposed property managers swooning over WSR in the comments section claiming they “only rent to people who use WSR” yeah right! If you had a property surely you’d rent to anyone who looks good? Damn any elitist landlord who calls people who use CL “kooks and looky-loos”. DONT BELIEVE THE HYPE!!! No one should have to shell out completely unnecessary money to a bunch of scammers to “prove” their worth. That’s what credit and background checks and bank statements are for.

  • Reply April 15, 2016


    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


    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


    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 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.

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