Some smaller complexes, like this one at 516 K Street, can be found by checking Property Management listings or the Community Housing Listing service.

Renting a house or apartment is an alternative to home ownership due to financial or time constraints. Obviously most students moving out of the dorms are likely looking to rent their residence.

Residential rental vacancy rates in Davis are typically below the 5 percent generally considered healthy for a city. The result has been escalating prices and an imbalance of power in favor of landlords.


Pre-search planning

Benefits of living in Davis

Living in Davis Living outside of Davis
makes it convenient to get to/from campus (if you're a student or work on campus) exposes you to more diverse populations
helps save money on transportation, e.g. gas, parking, vehicle wear gives you more options outside a 12-month lease
is safer than commuting after a late night additional shopping options
provides lots of fun stuff to do & better social opportunities with like-minded people offers cheaper rents in areas like Sacramento and Woodland
makes hooking up with friends way more convenient usually provides abundant parking
gives you the protection of the Davis Model Lease, used by most landlords & originally drafted by the UC Davis Student Housing Office years ago - this annual lease runs September-September is quieter and more laid back

Average Rental Prices

The Davis Apartment Vacancy and Rental Rate Survey is conducted annually by the UCD Student Housing Department since 1975. You may read the 2011,2009 and 2008 survey press releases.


Because so many apartments in Davis are student-focused, it can be tough for parents to find good, family-friendly rentals. The University runs two student family housing complexes: Orchard Park and Solano Park. Many of the apartment complexes farther away from the university have slightly lower student densities. You can ask the management when you're checking a place out to get a sense of the number of families there. Do you know of family-friendly apartments in town? Start a list here!

Living with Others

See Roommate Guide. If you're a student and getting ready to leave the residence halls, consider whether you want to live with housemates, roommates or by yourself. If you choose to live with housemates, start by figuring out how many people you can bear to live with, whether you want to live in a single-sex environment, and what the group dynamics might be. If you choose to live by yourself, start figuring out if you can actually afford to live by yourself (and not have roommates to split the bills).

House, Apartment, or Room?

Living in a House versus an Apartment

  • Living in a house can be great because you have a nice noise buffer zone, but you'll also have to worry about yard maintenance if it isn't included in your rent.
  • You may not have cable/DSL in a house, while most apartments offer both as well as laundry facilities.
  • Many apartment complexes also offer amenities such as a pool/spa, community room, weight room.
  • Living in private homes with live in landlords has its benefits, but sometimes the negatives outweigh the positives. Live in landlords usually have washer and dryers, include all bills in the rent so you can accurately budget, etc. However, they tend to be anal about who comes over, what time you come home, how much electricity is used, etc. because they have a vested interest in the property. (Note: I would not choose this option again in the future. It's almost like having parents again, and you don't have the same power since you aren't equally responsible for the place, like when you share a lease equally with another roommate.)

Renting a House/Apartment versus a Room Thanks to the hard work of its residents, J Street Co-op boasts a beautiful garden!

Essentially, if you choose to rent an entire house or apartment rather than renting a room in an existing household, you get to choose who you want to live with. But this option also takes more coordination because you have to first figure out who you're compatible with and get everybody on board, then figure out what everybody wants out of a place to live [e.g. apartment or house, location, satellite or cable, etc.]. Once you find some places, you'll have to get everybody coordinated to be able to look at the place, or one person can do the initial look-see and trim it down for the others to check out later.

Choosing to rent a room in an existing household can be far easier on the front end, but you may find yourself working harder to fit into a group with previously established relationships and ways of doing things. If things aren't going well, this can become a problem and you can potentially find yourself odd-man out. Another plus to renting a room within a house is that you'll probably only have to furnish your own room... this can be a minus if you already have a lot of furniture that you want to keep, though.

If you're considering living in a co-operative household, the interview process can be fairly in-depth, because these are typically more mature individuals who have had plenty of bad roommate experiences. At some co-ops, you may be expected to meet all members of the household so you all have an opportunity to assess the potential fit. Other co-ops have an open membership process, where you can sign up on a first-come/first-serve basis. In any case, it is usually a good idea to attend dinner or go for a co-op tour; that way you'll learn a lot about the rules and ways of the household before moving in. Be prepared to ask lots of questions and potentially answer lots of questions about your willingness to participate in co-op living.

Short Term v. Annual Leases

  • Most rental units in Davis require you to sign an annual lease that runs September-September. With this type of agreement, expect your up-front costs to include first and last month's rent as well as cleaning and/or security deposits. Ask your landlord for the Davis Model Lease or the Month-to-Month Rental Agreement approved by the City / UCD Student Liaison Commission; both of these documents were drafted to protect the interests of both renter and landlord.
  • Some landlords/property managers may offer month-to-month leases, but these are rare. Typically, these types of agreements are available only for privately owned/managed homes [as opposed to something managed by a property company or an apartment complex]. Again, expect your up-front costs to include first and last month's rent as well as cleaning and/or security deposits. These types of leases can be terminated by either party with a thirty-day notice. However, if you rent a unit for more than one year under a month-month agreement, you must then give (and be given) sixty days notice.

Searching for Housing

Since housing in Davis is so heavily impacted by the university and its academic year schedule, some people start looking for housing around November/December for the following fall, and property management companies generally start releasing new listings after March, when they're reasonably able to query current tenants on future plans. Owner-managed properties and cooperative housing seem to hit the market a bit later - April through summer. (Look at results of the current vacancy survey conducted by Student Housing to get an idea of what the rental housing market is like.)

Organizing Your Search

  1. Find out if you're eligible for low-income housing, utilities, cable, etc. It may take awhile to get approved, so make these calls early!

  2. Use index cards to write down potential houses/apartments, contact info, & things you want/need, e.g. (upstairs v. downstairs unit, dishwasher, washer/dryer, pets, etc. Use one card per location and include as much info as possible on the front; use the back for additional notes when you check out the place.

  3. Talk to friends who have lived in Davis and redline the crappy places; keep these notes so you'll remember which places to avoid like the plague.

  4. With your cards on the table, start calling each place, run down your list of requirements, note the price, availability, and attitude of the person answering the phone. Schedule appointments as you go.

  5. When you look at a place, take notes on your index card and pick up any floor plan brochures available at each apartment complex - don't assume you'll remember the details of each place later.



See Apartments for a list of local complexes.

Property Managers

Be very wary of property managers, who typically take a portion of the rent in exchange for finding tenants and taking care of any tenant problems/repairs. Make sure to read the lease they have you sign if it's not the Davis Model Lease. (See Property Management for all management groups, and check out Slum Lords for places with bad reputations)

University Services

  • Student Housing's Conference Housing unit offers furnished, short term apartment rentals in the Primero Grove complex year 'round under the auspices of their University Guest Resident program. These apartments are only available to official guests of the university; you must be sponsored by a campus department. EFFECTIVE JULY 31, 2010, the UGR Program has been discontinued.
  • UC Davis' Conference and Event Services unit offers three fully furnished, non-smoking Visiting Scholar Apartments on the third floor of their Third & A building [a one-bedroom unit and two two-bedroom units] for stays of up to three months. Rental preference will be given to visiting scholars with an appropriate University sponsor [campus administrators, department heads, or individual faculty members]. If a unit is available and no eligible visiting scholar has requested the space, reservations will open to other University-affiliated & sponsored guests one month in advance. Reservations must be made by a university sponsor who will be required to sign the rental agreement. If this fits your needs, contact Conference & Event Services [(530)752-2675] as soon as possible. These apartments are often booked up to one year in advance. Amenities include:

    Telephone configured for local dialing (calling card needed for long distance) High Speed Internet Access and University network connectivity
    Microwave oven Some dry goods
    Ironing board and iron Linen and housekeeping service once a week
    All utilities included Fully equipped kitchen
    Cable TV Access to laundry
  • Pacifico Housing offers three-month summer contract and nine-month academic contracts for UC-Davis students. Student on Pell Grants automatically qualify for space. If rooms are available, visiting students and scholars may sign short-term rental agreements for the period of their stay. Contact [email protected] for more information.

Additional Resources

Housing Standards

  • Be sure to rent from a place that meets excellent housing standards, and to avoid those that do not.

Apartment Move-in Condition

Searching for Tenants

Creating an ad

Take the time to provide some information in your listing to make it easier on buyers. Give your name and phone number (and list appropriate times to call you) - most buyers would rather call directly than send an email and wait for you to call them back. Provide information about the place - if you just put up a 10-second ad on Craigslist begging people to email you without giving any hints about the place, many will simply gloss over or make a mental note to check back later and never do.

Always give the address or at least general location of the place right in the ad, and if it is an apartment complex then be sure to name which one it is. This is perhaps the most important step, as many buyers will research the place themselves if they see an ad for a room available.

Post or provide links to pictures of the place, especially of the floor plan. You can usually find these images for apartments online by looking at the place's website.

Make sure you give your gender, and whether or not you are open to living co-ed or need a specific sex.

Consider things from the buyers perspective. Give them stuff they want to know right up-front. Tell them if they get their own room, and if there's an option for them to share it with one of their friends (or one of your current roommates, or another roommate). Tell them a bit about yourself and what they might expect when they live with you - if you're up-front about how you're a quiet recluse or sociable party-friendly person then you're much more likely to find a good match for a roommate.

Places to post ads

Remember, you can post your ad as many places you want - go nuts. As a courtesy, however, remember to take them down once you fill the place - it'll also save you from unneeded phone calls in the morning.

Setting a price

Make yourself familiar with what other people are charging. Browse ads yourself for a bit to eye the competition. In general, the sooner school is about to start the lower prices get, since quite a few people get desperate and have empty rooms. Two people sharing a room tend to pay slightly more than a person taking the room for himself, so you may want to list two prices, the own room price and the sharing price. Short term leases generally go for significantly more per month than yearly ones, although the difference is less dramatic in high demand places that sell like hotcakes where the risk of being unable to fill the place is lower.

Leveraging Your Money

Affordable Housing Program

Sojourner Truth Garden is a small complex renovated and managed specifically to meet the needs of low income residents.

The City of Davis acknowledges that there are many persons of low, moderate or fixed incomes who wish to live in Davis, but find it difficult to enter the Davis housing market. The City of Davis has addressed this issue through its Affordable Housing Program.

Pacific Gas & Electric, our local energy provider, offers two financial assistance programs that may interest student tenants in particular. Both of these programs have sub-category programs for tenants metered/billed by a landlord versus customers with their own accounts. Because PG&E references the latter sub-category as applicable to, "single-family" customers, it's not clear whether PG&E requires all household members to be related. Please note that PG&E offers other programs for households such as non-profit living groups, in addition to savings for both homeowners and tenants on the purchase of energy-saving appliances, home improvements, and even lighting products.

    • The CARE program (California Alternate Rates for Energy) is a discount program for low-income households and housing facilities. CARE provides a 20 percent discount on monthly bills. CARE applications and additional information are available on the PG&E website.
    • The FERA program (Family Electric Rate Assistance) is a rate reduction program for large households of three or more people with low- to middle-income. FERA allows you to save on your electric bill by charging Tier 2 rates (101%-130% of baseline) for Tier 3 usage (131%-200% of baseline). Baseline is the maximum energy usage that can be billed at the lowest price for a particular rate schedule, e.g. residential rate schedule; the baseline varies by season, climate zone and your heat source. FERA applications and additional information are available on the PG&E website.
  • An average two-bedroom apartment may cost about the same as a really nice one-bedroom apartment, allowing you the option to either use the second room as a study space or sublease it during difficult times.
  • If you're able to pick up a cheap summer sublet, there may be an option to pick up the lease in September
  • If you're searching mid-quarter, people may be desperate to get out of leases, so rent and deposit can be negotiated
  • Depending upon the rental market, some complexes and property management/listing sites such as may offer limited specials.

Housing Disputes

The California Department of Consumer Affairs puts out a comprehensive guide about residential tenants' and landlords' rights and responsibilities. See also Tenant Rights and Renter Small Claims Stories.

Communication and mediation should always be your first course of action in any business dispute. This is looked upon very favorably by courts and other agencies... it indicates your maturity and ability to come to peaceful resolution on your own. The City of Davis operates a Community Mediation Service [(530) 757-5623] which provides a free, informal and confidential forum for the resolution of a wide variety of disputes and problems including neighborhood difficulties, tenant/landlord disputes, customer/merchant issues and roommate and co-worker conflicts. The Better Business Bureau may also be able to help mediate business disputes before problems escalate, and landlords may be sufficiently concerned about their BBB rating to address issues in this arena.

If you have attempted resolution and still wish to lodge a formal complaint, contact our local Fair Housing Commission [530/757-5623] and the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing [800/233-3212]. Even minor complaints should be documented - while justice may not be immediate, future tenants with problems can point to your complaints as a history of misconduct. Keep in mind that this is essentially legal action, and complainants should be prepared to follow through with the case should it be referred to the District Attorney's office. Based upon anecdotal evidence some believe that students are routinely discriminated against, but no official cases were filed between 2003-2005; if you have a legitimate complaint, filing your grievance may validate this claim.

It is illegal for a landlord or property manager to treat a woman less favorably in the rental or sale of housing, or to require that she submit to sexual comments or actions in order to maintain her residency.(6) (Gov. Code, § 12955(d); Brown v. Smith (1997) 55 Cal.App.4th 767.) A landlord, or property manager maybe liable for sexually harassing a tenant. (Civ. Code, §§ 51.9 and 52; see also,Brown v. Smith, supra.) The Women's Center advocates for women's rights and may be able to provide specific assistance to those who believe themselves to have suffered gender discrimination.

Renewing Your Lease

Some time before the end of your rental period, you will be asked to sign a lease renewal. You also may choose not to sign a renewal, or declare that you do not intend to renew your lease. Landlords prefer to get a signed renewal as early as possible, because it reduces their chances of having an unfilled apartment, and because it reduces their marketing time and expenses. Some landlords will put pressure on residents to renew by stating that their apartment will go on the market for other potential residents if they do not commit to an early lease renewal (often as early as January or February.) In reality, unless a tenant has been problematic, most landlords would probably prefer if the current resident stays in their apartment rather than finding a new resident, since that minimizes the landlord's marketing, and apartment turnover costs. Residents benefit from committing to a lease renewal as late as possible, because it leaves them more time to find a new apartment if their old one proves not to meet their needs during their lease term (issues that affect your decision to stay may come up throughout the year.) Residents also benefit from renewing later in the rental period because once they have signed a lease for the next year, the landlord has much less incentive to be responsive, since the residents are then committed to staying in the same apartment. It is to your advantage not to commit to renewing your lease until you are absolutely sure that you want to stay in your current apartment.

This early renewal requirement forces tenants to commit to a rental up to 1.5 years into the future. Unfortunately, the month-to-month rental market in Davis is very limited, and these few short-term rental options do not know about their availability until 30-60 days in advance of move-in. As such, tenants unwilling to sign another year-long lease must lose their current rental without being able to secure new housing in Davis. The Davis Tenants for a Flexible Rental Market is a facebook page that tenants can 'like' to encourage city policy reforms to make the housing market more flexible for Davis residents, postdocs, or students whose schedule does not operate on the school-year calendar.

Issues that may arise while you are a resident

  • Mold may be present in your apartment, or may grow due to excessive moisture (such as from leaks or improper ventilation. This presents a health risk, and must be addressed immediately.
  • Noise, such as that from neighbors or from sources within your apartment, may present an issue depending on volume, frequency, and your sensitivity to it.

Survey of Renter Issues

The City of Davis' City-UCD-Student Liaison Commission, Associated Students of UC Davis and Tandem Properties conducted a survey of renter issues in Davis. Tandem Properties donated a random drawing prize of 1-Insignia 42" 1080p LCD HDTV. You can read the results here.

Moving Out

Getting your security deposit back

The California Department of Consumer Affairs offers a brochure that thoroughly outlines state law regarding security deposit refunds and those issues that most frequently become a problem. Please consult the Security Deposit Survey to hear how other wiki users dealt with getting their security deposit, and remember to:

  1. Document — keep your records and take clear, well-lit photos of the premises prior to moving in and before moving out. Use the move-in photos as reference for how well you need to clean when you move out. Give the landlord copies of the photos or do something else as proof you took those pictures upon move-in rather than at a later time. If you need something done during your tenancy, be sure to send your request in writing and keep a copy for yourself... paper trails are the only type documentation sure to hold up in court.

  2. Prepare — most landlords are happy to perform repairs during your tenure in the apartment. Get things repaired early, so that they won't become an issue near moving time.

  3. Clean — tenants are legally entitled to a pre-inspection within two weeks of relinquishing tenancy; at this time the landlord must give you an itemized list of things to clean/repair.

  4. Be persistent, courteous, and professional

Change of address

  1. Change it with USPS — do this in person if you use an address other than your Davis residence for credit card statements. To verify your information, you enter your CC(?) number and it checks to see if the billing address syncs with the 'old' or 'new' address you try to put the forward on. Be aware the Postal Service sells your new information to marketers and will likely increase your junk mail.

  2. Change it with UC Davis through SISWEB.

  3. Contact credit card companies, banks, etc.

Time your move

  1. Make arrangements for a moving vehicle, e.g. U-Haul, friend's truck, etc.

  2. Reserve a storage unit if necessary

  3. Check to see if your landlord offers any early-move-out incentives (some do!).

  4. If you're moving your own stuff between August 30 and September 1, then you're not taking advantage of all the free stuff others are giving away. Come on! Get with it! You want free stuff, don't you!?