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Renting in Columbus: Why it’s so hard to find housing

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 7:24 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - People are finding it harder and harder to find places to rent in Columbus. So much so that the few people who are able to secure rental property are signing for them sight unseen.

A local property manager tells News Leader 9 there are many reasons for the rental shortage including higher-priced rentals and people left with bad credit after trying to catch up on unpaid bills.

Homes and apartments for rent are a hot commodity in Columbus and people looking to find a place to rent say the process is daunting.

“I got to a point where I would just walk into an apartment complex and ask, ‘You got any rooms? No, no okay, thank you’,” said Chris Grooms.

Grooms moved to Columbus for a new job and says after not having any luck with searching for an apartment over the phone, he moved to Columbus with nothing but hope that he could find an apartment. “Since I had to move here quick, my first guess was just to get a hotel room, so I got one for a week.”

Property Manager Jamille Rooks says while there are a few different reasons for this shortage, a common problem, now that the pandemic has slowed, is finding qualified people to rent to. “I’ve seen credit scores dropping for tenants who are applying for background checks.”

Rooks says some utility and cell phone companies let customers defer payments during the pandemic. “Now, those collections are showing up on credit reports.”

She says a lot of people are renting houses for as much as $2,500 a month and they’re going fast. “I posted four homes. All four of those homes rented within two days sight unseen.”

Rooks says renters should settle or pay off any bills that they put on hold before applying for housing. “Try to pay those collections accounts because if you show they are paid, we will work with you on that.”

Some people say they’ve resorted to staying at extended-stay hotels until they could find a permanent place to live.

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