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  • Writer's pictureHeather Janssen

News Article: Rental Rush: The Struggle to Secure a Rental Property in the Pandemic

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Rental demand is high and the struggle is real for renters trying to find homes in the Sacramento region.

When you can’t buy, you rent. But what happens if you can’t really rent either?

As families fight for a new rental property, many say they’re constantly beat out by competition.

Inside her Carmichael rental, Carol Villegas, a mom of three, sat mostly packed and ready to move.

“The only reason we have to move is because the owner has to sell it,” Villegas said.

But still, after months of searching, she doesn’t have a plan in place. Every time she comes close, someone else beats her to it.

“Just thinking about not having a place to go with my kids, it’s scary,” she said. It’s kind of insane, really.”

Multiple tries at finding a home have left her with multiple failed attempts. Another woman by the name of Shauna, who declined to share her last name, also felt frustrated and burned by the process.

“There’s nights I can’t sleep,” Shauna said. “There’s days I cry and I feel like there is no hope for us to find something.”

The hunt for a new rental home is not easy. New listings pop up on websites like Zillow daily, but they’re riddled with hundreds of applicants. Homes fly off the market fast.

“I don’t even think it’s about who’s best qualified or the families involved. It’s all about numbers,” Shauna said.

Aside from the Bay Area exodus, economists like Sacramento State professor, Sanjay Varshney, said the pandemic is partially to blame. More people have needed to rent during these hard times.

“Supply is staying fixed. Demand went up extremely high. As a result, you’re seeing a very high expensive rental market,” Varshney said.

The prices, he said, have doubled in some places. Though he expects rental properties may become more available, and hopefully more affordable, post-pandemic.

“We just can’t sustain that kind of momentum,” he said – speaking on the Sacramento region rental market. He said it's rare for both the housing and rental markets to be hot and high in demand.

But many, like Villegas, can’t wait. She's willing to do just about anything to lock down shelter amid the surge.

“I’ve offered two places to pay two extra months rent, on top of the security deposit, and we’re still not getting anything,” Villegas said.

The problem has led to dings on some people's credit reports - only to be passed up for someone else in the end. else. Many people reported noticing credit scores taking a dive as a result, and making it even more difficult to one day have a fighting chance at securing a rental.

Others say they’ve lost hundreds of dollars in application fees and never receive refunds.

Months later, the solution to the problem remains to be seen as the cost of living only continues to soar.

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