The vacancy rate in rental units is down lower than it has been in the Boston area since the end of 2002.
"Boston-area rents are hitting new heights - with the median price recently reaching $1,665 a month" (source). Perspective-tenants are scrambling to find affordable places for September 1st. We hear stories of some landlords taking advantage of the desperation and hiking up rents, and of others requiring extreme items from possible renters in order to consider them.
Here are some tips to navigating this tough rental market:
1. Work with a rental agent.
While it means sometimes paying a fee (typically one month's rent), working with one agent who can scour MLS and exclusive rental listings that are not on Craigslist will very be helpful to you. Plus good rental agents have relationships with landlords, and if you have them to back you up as a good fit for the unit, then you stand a much better chance of getting it! A good rental agent can also help you understand your lease, etc. and walk you through the complicated process of renting an apartment in Boston.
2. If you do want to do it on your own...
Search the listings by owner on Craigslist. If you can get a floor in a single family, you could save a lot of money, and a lot of headaches if your landlord shares a wall with you. If Craigslist comes up short, go to the area you're wanting to live in and look for "for rent" signs in the windows. Just because it's not online, doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't exist.
It's hard out there, but perseverance and sacrifices are necessary if you want to find the perfect rental unit for September! Good Luck!