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White Walls

Renting a Home in the Bay Area

Image by FilterGrade

Renting in the greater San Francisco Bay Area can be very challenging. Unlike many other areas in the United States, real estate agents in general, do not assist renters because they are not compensated. To make matters worse, there is no single, comprehensive source for rental apartments and individually-owned properties, like condominiums and homes.


Some areas have current rental lists to subscribe to, other areas do not. One region uses the realtors’ multiple listing services for information on rentals, while another area might only use local property managers and the tenant pays a fee.


How did this happen? Each area has developed its own unique way of doing business over the years. It’s our business to know what that is! Then, we can assist transferring families in searching out suitable communities and rental homes to call home.


Our goal is to provide objective area and community information early in the relocation process, eliminating the stressful “unknown.” Check out these great resources. This will give you some good information prior to your move and provide you with the tools to start your research of your new community.


If authorized by your employer, we can coordinate an area/community tour with a rental agent.


There is a fee for our rental service. If you are being transferred by your corporation, your company may contract directly with us or you may be eligible to be reimbursed by your employer for our fee. It is always best to check with the appropriate person at your company for an approval.

Rental Application Process

Once you have located a rental, you will be asked to fill out an application form and provide a credit report or pay a fee to cover the cost of a credit report. The application will ask for information about your qualifications to rent; such as your current or prospective employer, salary information and job history. In addition, the prospective landlord will be interested in your credit history and your references. If you have anything negative on your credit report, advise the landlord up front. if possible, provide a written explanation for this as part of the application process.

For international transferees without united states credit, landlords will still want to run a credit report to confirm that you do not have bad credit. You may be asked to provide letters of reference from your previous landlords and/or banks or credit establishments. If possible, provide these items before the landlord requests them. Remember, you will be competing with other applicants and the easier you make the process for the landlord, the better your chances of getting the housing you want.

It is typical to leave a deposit to hold the unit until the landlord has completed the credit check process. California landlords ideally want your monthly income to be 3 times the monthly rent. By law, landlords can request a security deposit up to twice the amount of the monthly rent, although more typical is one month's rent.

Renting with Pets

While California is quite pet friendly, not all landlords will accept pets, and those that do may have weight limitations or breed restrictions. You may also be asked for an additional pet deposit and/or higher rent.

If you do plan to have a pet living with you, mention it right away to potential landlords. Cute photos and even a pet resume with any positive information that may put landlords at ease are highly recommended!

A Puppy Playing with a Toy

Put Yourself Above the Competition

Because of the current market conditions, tenants are competing for rental properties. Apartments are usually rented on a “first come, first serve” basis, while individual owners of townhouses, condominiums and homes will choose their tenants based on their own criteria. Relocation Dimensions’ escorted area tours put you a cut above.

It is very important to present yourself in a professional manner in order to make a good impression on your prospective landlord. When searching for your rental it is a good idea to prepare a complete package of documents for submission to any potential landlord. The package should include the following:

  • Completed application form

  • Copy of your current driver’s license or passport information page (if international transferee)

  • Offer letter from your employer, stating your date of employment and monthly salary

  • Current credit report (if you have one)

  • Copy of recent pay stub (delete personal id numbers)

  • Copy of tenant reference letter from previous landlord

  • If you have pets, include a pet resume and a picture of your pet

Useful Resources

These are our selections of helpful and useful sites to assist you in the process of finding your new home.

Decorated Bright Room

 Free listing service for apartments, condos and single family homes

Suburban Street

Features extensive listings

presented in a clear,

easy-to-read format

Image by Maarten van den Heuvel

Represents the nation’s

most comprehensive online

rental marketplace.

Roommate Services (Some may charge a fee)

To order a copy of your credit report:

Additional Rental Information

New apartment

A guide to tenants and landlord’s rights and responsibilities

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