To get a grasp on how renting in Atlanta has changed, we've asked renters from across the city to chime in about their experiences in recent years. In this last installment of "Perspectives on Renting," we hear from Atlantans (and one Perimeter-area resident) who are dealing with various levels of rent hikes and other headaches in their own way. Some responses have been changed for clarity and length. In fairness to apartment managers and private lessors — and as the final emailer states — we should note that not every landlord in Atlanta is a heartless gouging tyrant. Renting can still be a pleasant experience, and for many, a sensible alternative to owning. Especially if your pockets are bulging with disposable income.
A Hot Mess OTP:
We live in one of the apartment complexes listed here. When our monthly rent went up by $100, a 12 percent increase, I naturally wanted to know why.
The community manager stated it was in anticipation of the new Whole Foods, the "gentrification" of the area ... and to cover the costs of multiple weekly parties and get-togethers that no one attends. No capital improvements to be expected! The rental office tries to sell people on a gym that hasn't been updated in the eight years the complex has been open; the carpet reeks, the equipment is crumbling (or stolen), and the temperature is equivalent to the outdoors.
I've noticed there are tons of move-outs (and high vacancy), and those who stick around turn to drastic cost-saving measures. We dropped cable; others have apparently stopped using AC, as I have never seen so many wide-open windows in 90-degree heat.
Aggravated in Old Fourth Ward:
Here is my experience since moving to the Old Forth Ward in Atlanta four years ago.
1. We move into a one-bedroom unit for a reasonable $850 for a six-month sublease.
2. People tell us we are living in the ghetto.
3. We decide to move up to a two-bedroom and get a view, for what we also think is a reasonable $1,050 for a 12-month lease.
4. People still tell us we are living in the ghetto.
5. Our rent then goes up 17 percent after that year, but we like the place, so we stay.
6. Rent goes up another 22 percent — unless we sign an 18-month lease, then only a 15-percent increase.
7. Our lease comes due the end of September, and to renew it, they want another 21 percent increase and only offer us a 16-month lease.
8. We are looking at places like East Point to rent a house for approximately half the price.
9. People tell us we are still living in the ghetto. So I guess we got priced out of the ghetto.
The real problem with renting right now is the way that companies and especially individual owners are abusing renters because of the low inventory. When we tried to leave before the last lease, we had an owner want to take our nonrefundable $50 for the application fee and put it with the other 49 people he had and then decide who he liked best. (Editor's note: BASTARDS!)
I only put applications in to people who say, first come, first served. I am not going to watch an owner make $2,500 on application fees, and then he isn't even going to go in the order he received the apps to begin with. The other thing is that there is no time for planning with the market being what it is right now. We are trying to look for a place a month out and landlords are saying, "Nope, you have to move in right away." This is leaving us waiting until the last minute, which means we will probably end up with something that we don't want.
If landlords were smart, they would give a month or more of flexibility because if you get tenants in there who really like the place, they will probably stay. If they get someone like us, who is being rushed down to the last second, we are liable to end up in a place that we hate and will be moving out the next year.
— T. B.
I've rented in Atlanta since returning home to start graduate school in 2012. Since then I've moved twice, always ITP, and my rent has gone from $950 to $1500.
I've always tried to rent from private landlords, but this time we were stuck with an apartment complex managed by a company. (A certain management company and Westside apartments) are the absolute worst, and I can't wait to move out! It's definitely not worth my money or my sanity, but you do what you have to do.
Since prices just keep getting higher, I'm stuck between trying to decide if I want to commit to a mortgage, even though I may only be in Atlanta for four or five more years (PhD program), keep dishing out over a grand a month to rent, or worse, move OTP!
— Lia Scott
(Editor's note: Names of the management company and complex have been redacted because "absolute worst" could not be verified, and we don't want to anyone get evicted).
Generally Shoddy Situation:
In my previous apartment in North Druid Hills, management turned over about once every six weeks. Their advertised hardwoods and stainless steel were all fake. There were dogs off leash and one incredibly dangerous dog that I witnessed attack three other dogs, with no action taken against the resident. There were two maintenance people to service roughly 500+ apartments, so needless to say if you needed maintenance done, it wasn't going to happen for weeks.
I had two water leaks, one of which was serious enough to displace me for a week. I was not allowed to move into a vacant apartment and the repairs done in my unit were shoddy — criminal, really. I was able to get out of my lease after consulting with a lawyer. Oh and their offered rent increase for renewal was 10 percent. I got the hell out of there.
Few Worries in Inman Park:
I live in the Mariposa Lofts in Inman Park. When I started renting my one-bed here in December 2012, the rent was $1,385. Now, it's $1,508 — both of these prices before the $25/month valet trash fee (can't opt out). They haven't done much in the ensuing two-and-a-half years — recently painted the exterior poop-brown instead of the terra cotta it was —but the increase, overall, doesn't seem all that ridiculous to me. In fact, it seems low compared to what they could probably get.
If I weren't far too lazy to move, I'd have given them some grief and looked at newer places in the neighborhood, but I'm settled and moving is hellacious. And, I like it here. I just wish there were more condos in the area — I would buy in a heartbeat.