'Bedroom inflation' is a term I created to describe the practice of inflating the number of bedrooms in rental ads on Craigslist in order to make apartments seem bigger than they really are.

Landlords know that the single most important factor in determining how much rent tenants will pay for an apartment is the number of bedrooms. Back in the days when tenants found apartments through rental agencies, landlords couldn't get away with bedroom inflation. Landlords who deliberately overstated the number of bedrooms in their listings got blacklisted. The rental agencies are now gone. Today, everybody goes to Craigslist to find apartments. Unfortunately, Craigslist does not verify the information in their listings, and landlords know it. As a result, a lot of rental ads on Craigslist inflate the number of bedrooms.

Here are some tell-tale clues that a landlord is inflating the number of bedrooms in his listing:

  • "This is a 3 bedroom apartment, or 2 bedrooms with a living room." In other words, the landlord is counting the living room as a bedroom in order to make his 2 bedroom apartment look like a 3 bedroom apartment. Some landlords count dining rooms, attics, unfinished basements, garages, and even storage sheds as bedrooms.

  • "Could be 2 bedrooms." This means that there are less than 2 bedrooms. It could be 1 bedroom with an area someplace in the apartment that someone could sleep in. It could mean that the apartment has 1 bedroom and space for a sofabed in the living room. The one thing you can be sure of is that 'could be' means 'isn't.'

  • If it sounds too god to be true, it probably isn't. When the rent seems like a giveaway, it usually turns out that the landlord has inflated the number of bedrooms.

    Bedroom inflation is a form of bait-and-switch advertising. The purpose of bedroom inflation is to get people to come and see an apartment who would not have come if they had known the truth. I don't play this game. My ads always accurately describe my apartments. I think bedroom inflation is unethical, and from a purely practical standpoint, it's ineffective. A prospective tenant will find out that he has been conned as soon as he inspects the apartment and sees that there aren't as many bedrooms as advertised. That just makes people angry. The goal of a rational landlord with a vacant apartment is to rent the place. The goal is not to get people to come over, see the apartment, and then walk out in a huff.

    Mark Tarses

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