At street level: The highs and lows of renting in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco: Land of dreams, of landlords, and tenants with stories to tell.

"Yeah, there are three of us, and one has built a loft in a closet," said Alex Steup of San Francisco.

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We asked what the rent was. "$1,200."

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"I pay $1,800 a month and I live in a dining room."

For those of us with low rent expectation, here come the high rent realities.

"So this is a front parlor," Christian Elbeck told us as he showed us around his latest property for rent from Relisto. We asked if you could turn it into a bedroom.

"Yes, we could," Elbeck said.

And they probably will at 2603 California Street. This was once a five-bedroom family mansion with lots of style. Now, it represents a popular trend for rentals. The owner will lease this place for $15,950 to a master tenant who will then sublease five bedrooms, or more at a 30-percent mark-up, on a month-to-month basis.

We asked Elbeck if the master tenant can raise the rent.

"Yes, he can. Remember, he will do short-term rentals and they can market it to the next tech exec coming in," Elbeck said.

The former mansion has a media room, a master suite and three levels. The smallest room?

"I would say it's close to 115 square feet," Christian estimated.

We had to know-- how much would that cost in rent?

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"I would say close to $2,000 a month."

Elbeck has been in the business 32 years so we asked him if he ever thought something like this would happen.

"No. But the business climate has changed and this is likely to sustain itself."

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