Renting in LA and more from Westside Rentals

0P0jniu2v2OniVLlBAGL0V4AToyr.jpgYou may remember a week or two ago when I wrote about Westside Rentals and their F-rating at the Better Business Bureau. The entry brought a bunch of useful information out in the comments and based on how hard it can be to find a rental in LA, I thought a quick summarization might be in order. Here’s the rental resources that the readers threw down. Per always, feel free to leave more in the comments.

Housing Maps – Ever wished instead of listings you could look at available apartments on a map? Housing Maps mashes Craigslist listingsinto a Google Maps interface. Mostly, it’s the most helpful thing ever.
Rentslicer – Wanna know how much everything costs ever averaged and tabulated into neighborhoods? Rentslicer is full of more information than you can probably use.
The Rental Girl – The Rental Girl offers to hook you up with a great place in the greater Silver Lake/Echo Park/”cool” Easty neighborhoods.
Craigslist – C’mon, it’s craigsist.
Rentometer – Put in your rent and see if you’re getting a deal or not as it compares your rent to your neighbors.
Westside Rentals – $60 for two months of exclusive (and non-exclusive) listings.
4 Rent In LA – I know little of this site but someone linked to it in the comments on the last post. Maybe you’re feeling lucky/adventurous?

Of course, there’s no link for just driving around the neighborhood and finding that perfect spot.

I also dropped a line to Westside Rentals asking them if they cared to comment on their poor rating at the Better Business Bureau and ended up on the phone with Westside Rentals CEO Anthony Yannatta. Read on for my impressions of the conversation we had.

Photo from this listing on craigslist. It’s in Atwater Village. Come be my neighbor!

Westside Rentals CEO Anthony Yannatta took some time to talk to me about Westside Rentals’ F rating at the BBB. He told me that all of the complaints listed at the BBB had been dealt with yet Westside Rentals hasn’t had any possibility to appeal or improve its rating. Yannatta gave me plenty of other facts and figures about how Westside Rentals is the biggest and the best, dropping plenty of statistics about their workforce, the level of traffic through their site (huge for a regional player), and their many corporate clients. While I have no doubt these are all impressive things, I kind of felt that I was getting a sales-pitch instead of an honest accounting of why anyone would have issues with Westside Rentals. Anthony was “too busy” to prepare an actual statement which didn’t strike me as particularly helpful to WSR’s image and ultimately may be the reason that people (at least in my circles) tend to dislike Westside Rentals. He did offer to have me into the office and to experience the Westside Rentals operation firsthand, so maybe you’ll see that in a follow-up post a little later in the year. In the meantime, if you’re looking for an apartment in LA, good luck. Hopefully with everything laid out here, it’ll be a fair easier search than it might’ve been before.

7 thoughts on “Renting in LA and more from Westside Rentals”

  1. Well as I’ve said before, I didn’t really have a problem with what we got when we used wsr last year to find our apartment. I think that the outside-of-the-pay-wall presentation is pretty bad, and I’m sure that there are a lot of people who thought (perhaps were mislead into believing?) that if they paid $60 they’d be given access to super-secret listings of $600/month 2BR apartments on the beach which allow dogs and come with a free jetpack to make that commute to work much easier, but I found the outside-the-pay-wall stuff just obtuse and unusable. Inside, the paywall the site was nicely interactive, generated custom maps and let you save notes on listings (although it sometimes lost those notes, I later discovered). And there are an awful lot of neighborhoods (Santa Monica is especially bad in this regard) where driving around the neighborhood will just show you lots of WSR yard signs which is why we ended up signing up in the first place.

  2. While fairly new to LA (2001), had been living in a beautiful condo in silver lake for about 6 months and came home to find strangers looking in our windows. ‘What are you doing,’ I asked. They said the apartment was up on westside rentals and even showed me the printout. I had to call my landlord to see if he was passively evicting us and he said he hadn’t had anything up on WSR for well over a year.

  3. My experience was frustrating w/ WSR. You couldn’t search by address, so if you saw a sign, it was next to impossible to find the listing. When I called, even the rep at WSR couldn’t find it on 2 occassions.

    During a few open houses, people were offering more than what was listed, which threw me out of the running since I’m on a tight budget.

    The only thing that was helpful was averaging the rental amounts of the areas I looked in. Thanks for the other sites above. I’ll be looking again as soon as my lease is up. Praying that I can find something that is more affordable, or I’m going to have to find a roommate, which I’m trying to avoid at all costs.

  4. I hated dealing with WSR. I had to find a place in 2001, and religiously checked WSR every day at 4pm for the new listings, would quickly rush over and try to fill out an application, but find myself sixth or seventh in line.

    I ended up finding a cheap 2br in a kind of crummy neighborhood in the Cadillac neighborhood. The biggest problem was the expensive rental market, but WSR’s poor interface and $60 didn’t make me feel any better.

  5. It is $60 for one person, but $70 for a couple. Why pay $10 extra? Allegedly because it gives you the right to fill online applications for two persons instead of one. But the problem is that the online application system does not work. I tried to apply once using the system, and did not hear back from the landlord. One week later, they replied that the apartment was rented. I complained that the additional $10 fee was not justified and asked for a refund, unsuccessfully. I did not report this to the BBB, maybe I should have…

    Also, no landlord is using the “free credit report” system provided by WestSide Rentals. I had to pay a credit report fee for each application I submitted.

    Finally, their claimed discounts are just special offers that you can get anywhere else. They obviously get paid by advertisers (DirecTV and others) to advertise these non-exclusive offers.

    Bottom line: WestSide rentals will benefit from a monopoly situation as long as Craigslist does not provide enough lists. In the mean time, what they call services are just ways for them to use their monopoly situation and charge members as much as they can. What I don’t understand is why landlords don’t use Craigslist instead (or in addition), to end this monopoly.

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