A “For Rent” sign outside a house in downtown Columbia. (Photos by Lauren Larsen/Carolina News and Reporter)

Finding a house or apartment to rent can be a challenge, but a statewide housing agency’s relaunched website hopes to help make the process a little easier.

The South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority’s website relaunched in late March. The changes made the site easier to use by connecting renter’s desired requirements to available properties.

The website isn’t entirely new, it feels like it because it offers so many more functions and capabilities than the previous site, said Matt McColl, marketing and public information director at SC housing.

“This is, I think, a very important tool that helps individuals and families across the state to find housing, especially in a time when the rental market is experiencing such high demand,” McColl said.

In Columbia, local contractor Cindy Dryden, said she thinks less people will use their properties as rentals because the tax bracket for rental properties has gone up exponentially. She also said it is becoming more difficult to find rental properties that are affordable.

“I think prices have increased due to inflation, due to the influx of people moving to the area, due to the huge need for student housing and then take into consideration that there was a moratorium for COVID, so eviction spiked something insane,” Dryden said.

For many, pricing has become more important than location now, because the city is growing so fast, Dryden said. 

The website also helps independent landlords, property owners and property management companies to upload information on the site on properties they have for rent.  

“It’s the one place where those parties come together and they are able to promote their properties and tenants are able to view those properties to see what’s available,” McColl said.

When looking for a rental, local Melissa Landa said she was looking for something comfortable for a family for the time being.   

“I don’t think anyone really plans to stay long term in their rental,” Landa said. “So I think it’s just kind of this will do for now, type of setting.”

Although she had a negative renting experience, she found her rental through Facebook, where she thinks many people look to for housing advice.

Landa said she thinks SC Housing’s relaunched website is a good idea but maybe won’t be used to its full potential.

“I think that most people just tend to flock towards Facebook just because it’s easier,” Landa said. “And because people can kind of get their opinion on the area.”

Dryden said she likes the idea of SC Housing’s relaunched website because renters often have to deal with sites like zillow and realtor.com where they can’t always find who represents the property.

“It’s kind of like you have to weave through … to get to the actual property and find out who represents it,” Dryden said. 

The website has had positive feedback from all parties that can benefit from it.

“I think that this is one tool in a much greater spectrum of what is out there to help people find affordable housing in South Carolina,” McColl said.

Properties available to rent shown on SC Housing’s agency website

House keys on a keychain