Tenant Tips

A Cheat Sheet for Portland Renters

Here's how to live that tenant life.

By Marty Patail June 30, 2017 Published in the Newcomer's Guide: 2017 issue of Portland Monthly

Newcomers guide 2017 rental tips blo4sj

"The market is crazy," says Kim Sparks, a real estate agent turned rental specialist for Urban Nest.

Image: Jen Wick

Scouring Craigslist ads and churching out Zillow searches for the perfect pad can be overwhelming and frustrating. So we talked to Kim Sparks, a real estate agent turned rental specialist for Urban Nest, who’s helped Portlanders and newcomers alike find their next studio, apartment, or family house for the past five years. Sparks gave us five keys to making sure you land in the right spot.

DON’T JUST LOOK DOWNTOWN Unlike other cities, our center is not the only walkable part of the city. “Portland is not laid out like other cities, where you have concentric rings around downtown and the further away you go, the less urban it is,” Sparks says. “People often don’t understand that you can have a walkable city life 45 blocks away from downtown.”

SPEED IS CRUCIAL Have all your ducks in a row before you go view a property, and be ready to submit an application on the spot. (Keep in mind that all tenants over 18 should be present to cosign.) “The market is crazy. It mirrors our buyer’s market,” says Sparks. “You’ve got to be first. You’ve got to be ready to go and pull the trigger.”

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS Oregon rental law states that rental applications must be processed in the order they are received, meaning landlords can’t pick and choose between rival applications or discriminate based on other factors. Says Sparks: “When you deal with an established property management company, you usually know the laws are being followed.”

BEWARE OF THE PRICE Yep, Portland’s median rent rose between 3 and 5 percent last year, depending on whom you ask. “The most unrealistic expectation that people have is what it costs to live in Portland,” Sparks says. “We got a lot of East Coasters who are paying more here than they are in Brooklyn, because they’ve been on rent control. The biggest shock is sticker shock, still.”

RENT BEFORE YOU OWN The market may be hot, but renting is still one of the best ways to get to know the city before putting down roots. “Unless you know Portland really well, and you know exactly where you want to live,” Sparks says she tells clients, “I would highly suggest you rent for six months at least. It’s a big commitment.”

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