According to the Tri-City Herald, the apartment vacancy rate in Tri-Cities is at an all-time low, sitting at just under 2%. What does that mean to someone who's trying to find a place to live? A highly competitive market, higher rent, and I would imagine, extreme anxiety! For every vacancy, there are an estimated 18 people vying for an apartment or rental home.

I have been watching a friend, who's going through a divorce, come up empty-handed for weeks. He's had to resort to living with friends, looking for rooms to rent, and booking hotel rooms - luckily he can afford it.

My son, who is moving for a new job has experienced the same situation in Spokane. Every apartment complex he called had a waitlist a mile long. And, when he did find an open apartment, he had to pay the application fee for each place - totaling over $160 - with no guarantee of landing the apartment. One landlord had the decency to refund him $40 after he didn't get the place.

The application fee covers the landlord's expense for background "screenings". How do you know if the landlord is actually using the money to screen? Check out the Fair Screening Rights for Tenants from the Northwest Justice Project. This site gives a step-by-step guide of what your rights are as an applicant.

Don't get me wrong, Landlords are not at fault here - it's just the state of the market. My understanding is, investors will only build more apartments if they foresee a long-term need, and from what I hear, there are many units under construction in the Tri-Cities, but that won't help the person who needs a roof over their head NOW.

What are the options if you can't find an apartment?

1. Move back in with family or your parents.
2. See if you can crash at a friend's place while you search.
3. Check out rooms for rent on Craigslist (lots of scams here - be careful).
4. Check out temporary or sublet on Craigslist (another favorite for scammers).
5. Consider a monthly AirBnB as a temporary solution. You can find places for $1200 or less and they typically include everything.
6. Utilize all your contacts - at work, friends, social media - everything. Get the word out that you're looking. Put together a team of people to help you.

If you're hunting for a place, I wish you the best of luck - don't give up!  After three weeks of searching, my son found a basement with a separate entrance for $950 a month.


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