Credit: Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Rentals in Santa Barbara County are the worst. Due to my sister being disabled and my father being a diabetic, I live with my family to help my mother out. Recently, we given given a termination of tenancy by our landlord of 12 years.

We knew that it was going to be difficult to find a place to call home, but never knew how difficult it would turn out to be. Within the two-and-a-half months of searching, we put in seven to ten applications. That may not seem a lot, but, with our income, there were not many options out there. See, many of these landlords base income on the 0.3 method. Which to me does not make full sense at all.

If a four-bedroom rental is $5,000 and two people make $2,900 a month and the other two each make $2,600, in total that equals to over $8,000. That tells me rent is affordable. With money left over. Now, I understand everyone has bills, and maybe these landlords see that side, but isn’t that one reason they charge up to $50 to do a credit check? All these charges, some of which are not refundable, is digging into the pockets of those who “can’t afford” to live in a $5,000 rental.

Here is my story. I work 12-hour graveyard shifts. During the few times I have been able to view a house, my mom would be working. You can’t imagine the stares I had gotten from the people who were renting the houses. I always thought maybe it’s because I had taken a friend to join me. I’ll admit we do look young. Funny part is, those places never called me back even after putting in an application. I would soon find out the house was rented out.

Then, we would come to a house that we would view in one day, pay a fee after putting in an application, and then find out the house was rented out a day and a half later. C’mon people. The one and only viewing, and you found someone to rent to in a day and a half? Keep in mind some of these houses didn’t accept an application unless you viewed the property first.

Another issue, in order to rent a $5,000/month house or for the realtors to “consider” you, your income has to be three times that, or $15,000. That would mean, for a four-bedroom rental, four people must make $3,750 each. Five people must make $3,000 each, six people must make $2,500, and so on. This for a four-bedroom place.

After two months of this struggle, we asked our landlord’s lawyers for an extension. The lawyer said “move to Lompoc.” We did consider that, but when we told her we have a disabled family member, she replied, “What do you want me to do about it?” Wow — you are so professional. We obviously need a house that is wheelchair accessible. Many houses were two-story rentals, and besides that, my father can’t do much stair climbing. That was another fork in the road. We did get an extension, and our searching continued.

We had a few days of no new posts, but we continued to reach out to rentals. Some never replied back. We also looked at places in the Ventura/Oxnard area. No luck there either. All of a sudden, rental posts started showing up left to right. Most of which became available in May. Unfortunately, that was a little too late for us.

We have never been late paying rent.
None of us smoke.
We’ve never had issues with our neighbors.
We do have pets, which keep my sister calm. Due to her autism, she has reoccurring moments of lashing out, but the little ones keep her smiling.
Our credit score is great.
And, yes, we can afford a $5,000 rental. It may not be $15,000/month but it is close to it.

We even considered bringing in a family friend for more income, and yet a rental is still unavailable for us. Are we doing something wrong?

Can we get assistance? Apparently not, we make too much money. My family makes too much money. The five of us, including my friend, make too much money, yet not enough to be considered for a $5,000 rental, be considered for a call back, or be invited for a credit check by email. What am I missing?

Why do we want to stay in the Goleta/Santa Barbara area? My sister is going to a great school — one that teaches her based on all her abilities/disabilities. Which is hard to find.

So, here we are coming to the end of the road. The extension is soon over, and we still haven’t found a place to live. It’s a scary thing when you don’t know where you’re going to end up. Especially when it involves your family, in which mine mean the world to me.


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