A new web-based rental service called Bungalow has moved into San Diego, offering young professionals a chance to live in a large house in a prime neighborhood for less than what they'd pay for a studio apartment.
Bungalow is already in 6 other cities, and now manages three homes in San Diego. One is in Bankers Hill, the other two in Point Loma.
Andrew Collins, Bungalow's CEO and Co-Founder, says he created the company after being disappointed with the rental experience he had out of college. He wanted to find a way to let people live a better lifestyle when they started their careers.
The company searches rental listings for large, luxurious homes. They then contact the owner and arrange a three-year lease. Bungalow then rents each individual room in the home.
Residents can furnish their own rooms. Meanwhile, the common areas are furnished. And several amenities like cable, internet, housekeeping and landscaping are all included. The company also organizes and pays for group outings to let residents get acquainted with each other and with their neighborhood.
Collins says Bungalow's rooms typically rent for 20-30 percent less than a comparable apartment.
"What Bungalow does is we actually really help these individuals plug into and engage in the community and become unbelievable residents for San Diego," says CEO Andrew Collins.
Rents in San Diego have skyrocketed in recent years. According to a report by Market Pointe Realty Advisors, the average rent in San Diego is nearly $1,900 per month. The website ApartmentList.com says the median price for a one bedroom in San Diego is $1,550 per month. A two bedroom's median price is $2,020.
But Bungalow's neighbors aren't thrilled. In Loma Portal, where Bungalow manages a six bedroom house, people who have lived there for years say they worry about parking issues. They also fear that the website turns single-family homes into mini-apartment complexes, which could disrupt the feel of the community.
"I know it’s hard to get rentals here that are affordable, but I think this is going one step beyond that," says Glynns Mueller, who also didn't like the idea of a commercial property moving into her neighborhood. "I’d like to see it stay residential."
Neighbors also say they worry it could turn into an Air-BNB style rental, with a rotating group of people moving in and out.
Collins says that won't happen. He told 10News that Bungalow's average lease is 10 months, and the site has an 80% renewal rate.
He also says everyone that moves in goes through extensive background checks, including a criminal background check, credit check and references.
"These are highly educated, great people with demanding jobs that are in their late 20’s and early 30’s," says Collins. "They are in there for the long haul."
People like Elizabeth Meunier, who rents a room in the Bankers Hill Bungalow. She says she spent weeks looking for an affordable apartment, but couldn't find anything. Then she found Bungalow.
"As soon as I saw photos, it was like it was too good to be true," says Meunier.
She now shares the apartment with three other people. Meunier says she could never have afforded a place like that without Bungalow.
"To be able to have the opportunity to live in a beautiful secure and safe neighborhood is just a game changer for me," she says.