The response to my first post about this has been incredible. Property management companies like Greystar, River Pointe Apartments, and Park Place Property Management were all called out by name, and I’ll be writing about them here too.
In fact, there was a comment from someone else who had lived at Edgewater as well. Here is what he said:
There were two comments about Park Place Property Management, and this is what one of them said:
I got messages, comments, shares, and calls all saying the same thing: The rental market in Boise right now is brutal, and large companies and property managers are taking advantage of people and sticking it to them anyway they can to make money without showing compassion or human decency.
This isn’t universal, but it is widespread enough to indicate that it’s a problem, and one that needs to be addressed somehow. Here are some tips. Some potential solutions will follow in another post coming soon. For now, here is part 2 of our series on the Boise rental market.
The Boise Rental Market
Is this just my rant over what happened at my apartment complex? Not really. It tells us something about the rental market in Boise in general. Here are the lessons I learned, and I hope you can learn from too. There is also a bit of advice to landlords mixed in, not that in this market they have to take it.
Moving in Boise
Unless you are buying, moving in Boise is a nightmare. A house that goes up for rent has a half-dozen applications in as many hours, and if you’re not first or you don’t know someone who knows someone, getting a place that is reasonably priced is nothing but luck. You can at least find an apartment, but it is going to cost you in a deposit and rent that is way too high for what you get in most cases.
Even then you have to move fast. Open apartments don’t stay open long even if the apartment complex has an iffy reputation. Application fees are non-refundable, and if you are in a hurry to move, you will pay a few of them before you find a place. They are not cheap either: most are at least $40, and some are as much as $80 per resident. That means you and your wife pay $80 to $160 just to apply even if you are turned down or someone else scoops up the rental before you do.
Advice:Call early. If a property has more than four applicants, don’t bother to pay to apply. One of them is likely to get it, and you will still be out your application fee.
Looking at Property
When you look at an apartment complex, look at the back of the complex before you look at the office. Look at the buildings the furthest from the front. At Edgewater, all of the buildings were supposed to be power washed at least once a year. Somehow, our building, at the back of the complex, always got skipped. I am sure there was a reason for this, but I can’t imagine what legitimate one it would be.
However, the buildings toward the front of the complex are immaculate, the fountain in front of the office redone, and the office itself was remodeled twice during my stay. The pool area and the gym were remodeled as well, while our building languished in need of cleaning, better landscaping, and neglected walkways where bikes lay forgotten by children and parents alike.
Advice: go to the back, all the way back, before you even file an application. Look at the cars and the people in the complex, and that will give you an idea of how the residents keep their apartments. If cars are in poor shape and need of repair, likely the resident cares about the same or less for their apartment and common areas too. Look at landscaping and maintenance there, not in the office area. This alone tells you all you need to know about the complex. I wish I had done this at Edgewater, but I was desperate for a place.
Don’t be Desperate
Okay. Easier said than done. However, even if finding a place is urgent, a last-minute decision will almost always land you somewhere like Edgewater, where you have regrets, but you don’t really have a way out.
Keep looking and beware of large property management companies. It is likely their employees care more about the company and their policies than the residents of the property. A fear of getting in trouble with the parent company makes them steer clear of empathy and compassion. You might get lucky, but this is your housing you are talking about. How much gambling do you want to do with that? If it were me, I would for sure steer clear of LC Communities, but there are several others I could add to that list too.
Take Note of Terms of Notice
Another odd policy of LC Communities and Edgewater Apartments besides no grace period for rent due dates is that you have to give 60 days’ notice to vacate. Did I mention how tight the Boise rental market is? Unless you get lucky or know someone, you are going to pay double rent that last month because it is unlikely you will find a place in Boise that comes open in 60 days.
Landlords can rent a place within a couple of weeks of vacancy and probably won’t wait for your lease to be up. The furthest out you see most places available is 30 days, so you have one of two choices. You can gamble, give your notice and then hope you can find a place in time to move, or you can rent a place starting sooner than your lease is up, and pay double rent, part of that rent for a place you are not living in.
This is what I chose to do. I have seen people gamble and end up not finding a place in time. A storage unit and a couple of weeks in a hotel did not appeal to me, so I paid for it. Even though I left early, was there an offer from LC communities or Edgewater to waive the last 20+ days of my lease? Nope. So I paid and left.
Advice: Pay attention to these terms and be careful about signing a lease that requires more than a 30-day notice. Don’t even get me started on the cost of breaking a lease early.
Landlords: You are renting to human beings who have real needs, whose circumstances change. Set up reasonable terms in your leases, grace periods, and try to treat even those you turn down with respect. Tell them if their application is not likely to be accepted rather than just collecting fees with no intention of renting to the individual or returning their application fee.
Buy if You Can, But That isn’t Easy Either
Look, it is a sellers’ market in Boise right now. Houses that are worthwhile are not on the market long, and those who are desperate to buy or in a time crunch often settle for a property that is not ideal.
Down payments and financing are critical, so arrange them ahead of time if you can. Get a good realtor: the busier they are the better. Find one who isn’t busy and there is probably a reason for that unless they are relatively new to the profession. Get recommendations from friends and colleagues, and don’t hire family.
Know what you want and hold out for it. Try not to be in a hurry and desperate. Like with renting, you will end up with something you don’t want or problems you did not foresee. Still, no matter what the issues, they will pale in comparison to the nightmares you can encounter trying to rent.
The cost of housing is rising in Boise. It is a sellers’ market and a landlord and property manager’s dream. There are tons of applicants, waiting lists and more. You can promise resort style living and not deliver with no real consequence. In fact, I am confident that even with this article, Edgewater Apartments will continue to rent plenty of places, there will continue to be waiting lists, and I will likely not even get a response from LC Communities. Why? My reach won’t hurt them. My articles won’t turn people away.
They won’t pay attention because they don’t have to. Even if my message reaches you and you are looking at these apartments, you’ll probably rent there anyway if you need a place bad enough and you don’t feel like you have other choices.
Until the rental situation in Boise turns around, until profit is tempered with compassion, and customer service is forced to return to the rental industry, your resort living may be like a cruise ship with malfunctioning plumbing: it might turn into a two-year nightmare that it takes a lot of time and money to wake up from.
Also published on Medium.