Spring is the season to rent in New Orleans. And rentals are more competitive than ever this spring. Supply and demand dictate that. And if you’re a pet owner, be ready to settle, as in, in my experience 2/3rds of Crescent City landlords do not rent to you and Fluffy or Fido. And forget smoking inside, incense burning, or band practice. From the novice to the pro, see below for five tips to make you a savvier lessee.
(1) New to New Orleans? Be ready to visit before signing sight unseen. Since Katrina, most listing broker policies dictate a potential lessee actually see the space before they’ll rent to you. Even if you grew up nearby or used to live around the corner or whatever, it ain’t happening. Between New Orleans’ ample blight and generalities regarding any given living space, it’s a try-it-before-you-buy-it sort of scenario. Keep in mind, I said listings though. Mom and pop rentals may still do this. But I had a military doctor stationed in Japan moving shortly email me this week, and I had to be the bearer of bad news as he likely isn’t making 2 trips from Japan to sign a lease. Worse, he has not one but two cats. Which brings me to – – –
(2) Pets are not always welcome. 3 weeks ago, I had a Houstonian-soon-to-be-New Orleanian with a great new job at Touro coming to see spaces on a Sunday. Earlier in the week I emailed her 5 listings. By Sunday, one was still available. She has an 18-pound pooch, and this was all there was that would take a little dog. You think I’m joking? I’m not. You think New Orleans is a big metropolitan area and surely there must be other dog-friendly spaces? It’s not, and there aren’t. And stop calling me Shirley. You can always commute from Metairie, Kenner, or [insert funny sounding regional town here – – – aaaannndddd Boutte].
(3) You like it? Fill out the app. Don’t wait on what ifs. We aren’t bursting at the seams with inventory, pet friendly or otherwise. For example, you don’t like it that the washer / dryer hookups are in the master bedroom? Well, maybe just be happy it has washer / dryer hookups, and call it a day. This ain’t you, the interwebs, and an add-to-cart scenario. It’s a rental; you aren’t buying it. But with interest rates where they, and rental rates where they are, if I were you I’d be looking long and hard at possible acquisitions. No matter, if you like the space enough, snatch it up before some else does.
(4) Your background, your credit, and you. A prospective tenant with bad credit is not necessarily a bad tenant choice; conversely one with good credit may not be an ideal renter either. You will be viewed as a whole-package candidate. Filling out 3 references is not optional. Fill out the whole app, and sell yourself, warts and all. And have cash, a checkbook, or access to cashier’s checks depending on what the app process entails as generally they vary. Having a stable job for many years may trump being self-employed for a short while, but generally how your app will be measured by a landlord may be in who your competition is. I see it happen every day.
(5) The rent is too damn high. No question, you’re likely not going to be thrilled with how much the rent is. Consider you get what you pay for, usually. Between higher taxes, higher insurance, and half of Hollywood living here now, our rental market is unquestionably bonkers. But like I said, there’s always Boutte.
Good luck in your search. If something seems hinky to you, feel free to shoot me an inquiry email, but I would submit your gut is usually right. After all, whenever something sounds too good to be true, well, you know…
Jean-Paul Villere is the owner of Villere Realty and the Du Mois gallery on Freret Street and father of four girls. In addition to his Wednesday column at UptownMessenger.com, he also writes an occasional real-estate blog at villererealty.com and shares his family’s adventures via pedicab on Facebook and Twitter.