You’ve done your best to find a rental home which suits all your needs, and you think you’ve found the right one––or maybe you have a few top picks. Now it’s time to put together an application which will help you stand head and shoulders above the crowd. You might think that a rental application is just a collection of information, but really, it’s more than that. This is your chance to give your landlord a positive and well-rounded impression of who you are as a renter. We have a list of tips which will help you achieve this aim.
Get your documents together
The whole process will be easier if you organize your documents before you put your application together. That way, you won’t be left scrambling to find something at the last minute. Here are the most common documents you’ll need to apply for a house for rent:
- Pay stubs or bank statements
- Driver’s license, state ID, passport, or green card
- Social security number
- If you have a car: vehicle registration and insurance
- If you have a pet: Pet registration, or emotional support/service animal registration, if necessary
Check your credit score
This is a big one. You can check your credit score once annually on AnnualCreditReport. If you know your credit score isn’t good or you have no credit score, you’ll want to be proactive and honest about that. Explain why, whether it’s divorce or credit fraud––sometimes it can make a difference. Talk to a trusted friend or family member about being your guarantor or co-signer. You can also offer to pay a few months’ rent in advance, or to pay a larger security deposit. It’s all about what makes the most sense for you.
Your potential landlord might Google you as a precaution, to see if you’re a trustworthy person to have in their rental home. Sweep your social media pages to make sure there’s nothing which might put off a landlord. Things like pictures of alcohol, drugs, or lots of parties might make a landlord less willing to rent to you. Try Googling yourself and see what comes up.
Write a good cover letter
Few people like writing cover letters, but it can be worth the extra effort. Writing in your own voice about why you like the rental house or apartment being offered and how you’ll be a good tenant will help you to stand out. It also gives you a chance to explain any parts of your application which you feel you need to clarify.
Make sure to give plenty of warning about your pets
Landlords often don’t like pets. Damage, odor, dangers…the list of reasons goes on. This means that if you have a pet, it’s important that you explain the situation ahead of time. If you have pet registration and pet training certificates, having those around can help to show your landlord that your pet is obedient and won’t cause any damage. Some landlords have breed restrictions, too. One way to negotiate is to show your landlord that you’ll pet-proof your rental home.
Pick people who have a high opinion of you for your reference letters
Choose your referees wisely. Pick people who know you well and like you. Former landlords are always a good choice, because they’ll be able to testify better than anyone that you’re a good tenant in a rental home. Your boss or former boss is also a good idea, if you’re a good employee––they can testify that you’re organized, amicable, that you’ll be on time with payments, and other good traits in a tenant. You want to choose people who have a professional relationship with you. Avoid picking friends or family members; they might be seen as biased.
Don’t underestimate the power of a good attitude
This one might seem obvious, but it bears repeating. Remain kind and courteous throughout all of the interactions you have with your landlord. The two of you will interact fairly often, so why would your landlord pick someone they didn’t like? If you visit the apartment in person and meet the landlord, it’s a good ideam dress nicely. Even if you’re just on Zoom, wearing a nice top communicates that you care.
Be communicative throughout the application process
As the application process moves along, make sure you’re in touch with your potential landlord. If they request additional documents, send them as soon as you can, and get confirmation that they received the documents. If there’s a big change in your life which will affect something like your source of income, be open and honest about that. You want a potential landlord to feel that they can trust you. Being proactive and honest means that you won’t have to cover anything up later.
Flexibility is key
Negotiating with your landlord is a key skill when you’re trying to snag the perfect rental home. Think about where you have wiggle room, and be willing to make concessions. Maybe you can pay a few months in advance. Maybe you can move in sooner. Or you can sign a longer lease, or you’re willing to end your lease early during peak rental months. These things might give you an edge over other people in the rental application process.
If you don’t hear from your potential landlord, be sure to follow up about your application. The last thing you want is for an email gone astray to prevent you from getting your dream rental home! This doesn’t mean calling and emailing the landlord every day, but if it’s been a few weeks, it’s worth checking in. You might ask your landlord when they expect to make their decision, so you know when you should reach out.
We hope these tips and tricks help with your rental application. The search for a rental home can be such a difficult one, but we have faith in you!
Check out our other posts on the Dwellsy’s blog, including our explanation of the difference between landlords and property managers.
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