Renting an Apartment Through Zumper (Pros and Cons)


As rents in San Francisco have started to decline for the first time in at least the fifteen years that I’ve lived here, I’ve begun to look into options for renting a new apartment. I’m not necessarily going to move, but I’m considering it. And because I’m the type of person who likes to get as much information as possible, I’ve been exploring a variety of rental options. I’ve looked at rentals available through Craigslist, Zillow, PadMapper, and more. And I’ve eyed a newer player to the market: eight-year-old startup company Zumper. (Incidentally, Zumper recently bought PadMapper.)

What is Zumper?

Zumper is a website, and app, that allows you to easily look for apartment and house rentals online. Moreover, it allows you to quickly apply, submit your credit report, and essentially get the apartment all online. That certainly seems like a bonus in COVID-19 times. Plus, in San Francisco, where the rental market is competitive, it seems like it could give you an edge up if you’re quick to apply. Once you get the place, you can even pay your rent online.

The Things I Like About the Site

Here are the things I immediately like about the site:

  • It is an easy website to navigate. It’s user-friendly and visually appealing.
  • I appreciate their filtering system. I can easily narrow down the options to pet-friendly places in my budget and the neighborhoods where I want to live.
  • There is a lot of information. You can easily see rent trends and bus lines for the area, for example.
  • It’s simple to request a tour, including a video tour, or other information directly through the Zumper site.

Potential Problems with Zumper

In reading about Zumper, I discovered that the startup apartment rental company has run into some controversy. Although they allow you to filter their apartments to include low-income housing, many say that they screen out low-income renters. They deny the allegations.

Zumper If You Have an Apartment to Rent Out

If you’re the landlord, then perhaps you don’t have any problem with the company screening out low-income renters. But that’s not all that you might like about this company. One big incentive to list with the site is that Zumper will guarantee your rental income.

Basically, you as the landlord agree to complete the entire deal through Zumper. This includes using their option to digitally sign the leases online. Then, you also agree to give 2% of the rent to Zumper. If your tenant doesn’t pay, and you can prove as much to Zumper, then they will guarantee the rent for the duration of the lease. That’s certainly appealing to landlords, particularly in this economically precarious time.

But, beware of the fine print. Zumper only covers the rent if:

  • Rent is less than 110% of the median market rate.
  • Tenants have a credit score of 650+.
  • Tenants have an income 3x or more than the monthly rent.
  • There is no eviction history for the tenant.
  • The failure to pay isn’t related to COVID-19 or other similar future issues.

That last one might eliminate the incentive for some landlords to give up 2% of their rent to Zumper.

What do you think? Is Zumper a good choice for renting an apartment, either as a tenant or as a landlord?

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