If you've tried to get a rental in the past in an especially competitive market, I'm sure you can relate to how difficult it can be to get the rental you want. You make an appointment to see a place, fall in love with it, and desperately want it - only to find out that the place has 6 other applicants! How can you make yourself stand out from the crowd? What exactly can you do to have the landlord select you for their rental above all of the others who have applied?
Make sure the place you want is something you can afford. If you know you can afford $1100 a month, why would you apply for an apartment that is $1500? Don't waste your time (and the time of property managers) going to look at properties you know you can't afford. Not sure of how much you can afford? Take a look at, "How much can I afford in monthly rent?" before you start going out and looking for rentals.
Have a rock solid rental history. I can't say this enough - when property managers consider renters, we seriously look at a person's previous rental history. We take the time to find out if you've paid your rent on time all the time, if you've taken care of the property you've rented, and if you've been a good neighbor for others where you lived. One of the ways to have your application dropped down to the bottom of the applicant list is for a prospective property manager to find out that you haven't been a good tenant in the past for others. Property managers not only run rental history reports, but we oftentimes (always for me) we take the time to contact your previous landlords to get a good idea of how you are as a renter.
Make it a priority to have good credit. It can be very easy to fall into the trap of overbuying because you have available credit. You can find yourself in debt that makes it difficult if not impossible for you to keep up with making all of your payments on time. Before it happens, stop! Really think about what you put on credit - is it something you want or something you absolutely need? Check out, "How can I save money now that I'm renting," to see tips on making smart decisions before shopping and putting things you don't need on credit. Bad credit doesn't eliminate you from being able to rent, but it sure doesn't help you, especially in a situation like I described where there are multiple people in the running for the same place. Spend some time reading through, "Can I rent if I have bad credit?" if you're in that situation. If you know your credit needs to be improved, take a look at, "What can I do to improve my credit before switching rentals?"
Know for sure that you'll successfully pass a background check if you're hoping to have a new landlord pick you for a rental. If there's an eviction in your past, it will be spotted during a background check. If your history shows things like slow pays, judgments, collections, liens, bankruptcy, criminal records (violence, assault, battery, drugs, firearms, felonies, sexual offenses), these things will become known to your prospective landlord who is considering you for their rental. If there's no one else interested in a property, you might be able to convince a manager to rent to you. But if the market is competitive, your application drops to the bottom of the list, quickly. If you have an eviction in your history, there may be things you can do to get a prospective landlord to consider you - read through, "Can I rent with an eviction on my record?" for ideas of what you might try to do to get someone to consider you as a tenant. A cosigner might help to improve your chances, so take a look at, "Do I need a cosigner to rent?"
Make it a point to impress the property manager when you come to see a place. Remember, you're not just trying to see if you like a place. If the place is where you want to live, you are trying to make sure that the property manager likes you! This means that you need to act professionally, be on time for any appointments you make, and dress to impress. Try to do everything you can to be seen as being the best possible renter that a property manager could want.
Come prepared to file an application if you want the rental. Be sure you have your proof of identification like a photo driver's license with you. Have your proof of earnings with you as well including several recent pay stubs and two years of tax returns. Bring money or a check with you so you can pay the application filing fee. The more you can do to show you really want the place, the better.
Be certain that your information can be verified. As part of the application process, most property managers will be verifying what you say. We want to make sure that you are employed where you say you are, you make the amount you claim to make, and you've included your full rental history (and not skipped over a place you lived where things didn't go well). Read through, "Why is my employer contacted during the rental application process?" and "Why are my previous landlords contacted during the rental application process?" to understand the types of information a property manager needs to make their decision
Make sure you have enough money saved up if you are approved. Most property managers will ask for the first month's rent up front in addition to the security deposit. I'm hearing that some require the last month's rent up front as well. This is usually collected at the time of the execution of the lease which can occur very soon after you find out you are the selected person for the rental. Take a look at, "What's the deal with security deposits when you rent?" and "Who holds my security deposit?" for more information on why they are required and where they are held.
Be honest about your situation. On the rental application our prospective tenants sign, it states, "Applicant agrees that false, misleading, or misrepresented information may result in the applicant being rejected, will void a lease / rental agreement if any, and be grounds for immediate eviction with loss of all deposits and any other penalties as provided by the terms of the lease if any." If that doesn't tell you that you need to be honest, I don't know what does! Property managers are very good at figuring out the situation of a person applying for a rental - they take and review rental applications all the time.
Bring something to the table that no one else brings. In an exceptionally competitive rental market, is there something you can do to make yourself stand out from the crowd? If you have a good amount of money saved up, you might think about offering to prepay more than what is required in up front rent (especially if you are considered as being risky because of your credit score or past payment history). If you are renting a house, you could offer to take care of the outside of the property (cutting grass, trimming). If you have experience in working as a carpenter or handyman, you might think about offering to take care of minor issues that arise in the place you are renting. Think about offering something that others may not to make yourself stand out as the best possible choice as a tenant.
The rental application process can be frustrating, especially after you apply for the place you really want and have to wait to hear if you've been selected as the renter. Do everything you can to have the landlord pick you as the renter they want for their rental property. Follow our blog at www.leesburg4rent.com/blog for more tips about renting.
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