Life in the Capital, Where We Live

Your Rent Should Not Go Up This Year

Photo courtesy of
‘For rent’
courtesy of ‘quinn.anya’

If you’ve gotten off the metro in any of the suburbs you’ve probably seen big apartment advertisements offering large giveaways. If that wasn’t enough confirmation for you that the rental market is a soft, perhaps a report on apartments in our region from Marcus & Millichap will help.[pdf, free reg required] There’s some interesting info in that report and if you’re coming up on a lease renewal maybe we can help you use it to get yourself a better deal.

Part of why you see those snazzy banners with equally big offers is that the hardest-hit market is the “class A” asking rents, the higher priced places like Crystal City and along the Connecticut Ave corridor. Not all of the top-price spots have been hit though – some places like Dupont are bucking the trend for now because of their desirability. However overall vacancies are up and it’s unlikely that any region is going to be totally free of a hit; the M&M report says there’s just as many properties coming onto the market this year as last,  meaning more spots to fill.

More interesting is that many of the lower-priced rentals actually have ticked up marginally, perhaps because of people who are more down on their luck and looking for cheaper options. However they also are seeing vacancies rise, so this might be a brief lag about to be followed by more drops.

Let’s dig a little deeper and talk about how it might help you.

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Where We Live

Renting in the District

Photo courtesy of
‘070309 207’
courtesy of ‘dougtone’

If you don’t love your current place of residence you can at least take some comfort in knowing that others are worse off then you. There’s a question on a high-visibility advice site right now that I don’t want to link because I’d hate to draw the wrong attention to the asker. Suffice to say the situation is one where, as a tenant, this person and his or her roommates are dealing with an odd landlord who only wants to accept their over $2000 a month rent in cash and who seems to be running some sort of welfare/child support scam.

Their situation is a little rarefied, but I see other questions there from renters that make it clear there’s a lot of bad information floating around. Let’s try to drop some knowledge here, shall we?

If you take nothing else away from this article, save this link: D.C.’s Office of the Tenant Advocate and this resource: Tenant Survival Guide[pdf].

The OTA is an organization that’s existed in the DC government for about three years now and has been an independent agency for the last two. Their whole reason to exist is to be a resource for you as a tenant. The tenant survival guide was prepared in conjunction with Georgetown University’s Harrison Institute for Public Law, who have the Tenant Survival Guide on their website, just slightly more nicely formatted[pdf]. Between the OTA site and the guide you’ll find everything you need inside or linked from there.

That accomplished, let’s take a few minutes to talk some common myths so you don’t turn a minor problem into a big one. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Inauguration: Rental Woes

by NCinDC

by NCinDC

For the last three weeks my roommates and I have been trying to rent our 3 bedroom apartment for inauguration week.  Our marketing plan has employed two tactics: 1) emailing friends from all over about the rental opportunity and asking them to advertise it (via an attached poster) to anyone who might be interested.  And 2) posting to DC’s craigslist.

We’ve had a 0% return on investment.  Not one lead, bite or even nibble.

Yesterday, I checked craigslist and found that the entire sublet section was over run with inauguration rental opportunities.  If anyone is looking for a non-inauguration subletting opportunity, good luck, because you’re going to have to sort through a list of every DC, MD and VA residence.

Are there success stories out there?  If so, how did you do it?  Or are these $30,000 stories, the stuff of urban legends?