How to Make Your Rental Application Stand Out

After scrolling through tons of property listings and seeing rental homes in person, you've narrowed down your options to one choice. The location is perfect, the walkability score is high, and the rental rate is within your budget. Most importantly, the property itself is ideal, with all the amenities you're looking for.

Realistically, you know that a lot of renters are also vying to rent the same unit. In this case, what do you do? Make your rental application shine!

Instead of betting on the hope that you'll land it, be more proactive. After all, it's often said that hope is not a strategy. Here are things you can do to make sure that the property you've set your eyes on will be where you're moving to:

1. Improve your credit score

When landlords perform a tenant screening, they naturally look at the credit score. They can gauge your spending habits and financial responsibility from this alone. As landlords are protective of their income returns, they focus on renters that are financially capable.

How is your credit score? You can request copies of your credit report before sending out your rental application. It's best to review and find out first if you can improve it.

Check out some tips to pass the credit score evaluation:

Fix errors

Upon reviewing these documents, if you spot any errors that resulted in a lower credit score, you can have it adjusted. Talk to the creditor and inform the credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, Experian) to correct the mistake. This procedure will increase your credit score, and your rental application will be considered.

Pay off credit card debt

If you have outstanding bills to pay and some credit card debt, strive to pay them off. This will immensely help your credit report. Using credit cards can become a habit. However, as long as you pay everything by the due date, it shouldn't be one of the reasons for getting rejected in your rental application.

2. Prepare the required documents

Assume that the rental property you've got your eye on is also on everyone's radar. What do you do? Submit early. Make sure that you bring the pertinent documents that landlords require.

It always pays to jumpstart your rental application ahead of everyone else. A bonus tip is to be ready with your checkbook to pay for the security deposit. This lets the landlord know you're a serious applicant.

Proof of identity

Landlords require government-issued IDs, so have them on-hand. Bring your passport, driver's license or social security card.

Employment and income proof

Provide proof of employment. This can be a certificate of employment letter from your employer or recent pay stubs.

Be ready with your bank statements as well as your last year's filed tax form.

Rental history documents

Bring a resume that shows your former rented properties, along with contact information for easy verification of the landlord.

Completed rental application form

Print the application form and fill it out to submit right away. This way, you will look prepared and be perceived as a serious contender.

3. Submit a well-crafted cover letter

To have a higher chance of being accepted, include a cover letter with your rental application. This is an added initiative and will be appreciated by the landlord. It doesn't have to be verbose. Just make sure it includes the following:

Track record

Mention your excellent tenant record. You can state qualities that make you an outstanding prospect. For example, you've never defaulted on a rental payment, and you're good at taking care of a property.

Reason for moving

Provide a good reason why you chose to move from your former rental space. It can be a good way for a landlord to develop a strategy to keep you as a long-term renter.

Reason for interest

The landlord will evaluate the reason for your interest. They will also measure and develop a marketing plan based on the features you liked.

4. Have solid references

Be ready to provide at least 3 references to make your rental application stand out. People who can vouch for your character and your desirability as a tenant will make it easy for the landlord to decide. Here are some references to include:

Previous/current landlords

These are the best references and likely to be believed the most by the prospective landlord.

Your tenancy record with them will speak for itself.

Employers, colleagues

If it's your first time renting, you can ask the people in your workplace to provide a reference letter. They should also be okay with being interviewed by the prospective landlord.

Respectable community leaders/ school leaders

Other sources of references are authority figures in your community and school. They can vouch for your reputation to your prospective landlord.

5. Additional tips

When interacting with the prospective landlord, make sure you are honest from the get-go. Misleading information can cost you your acceptance. If there are any discrepancies, make sure to attach an explanation along with the document. You can also communicate in person to clear things up early. Other things to note are:

Transparency regarding pet ownership

Some landlords have a closed-door policy on pets, so never force this issue. If the landlord has a flexible policy, prepare the additional requirements such as your pet's vaccine record. A landlord who initially won't allow pets may also be given an incentive by handing in a higher security deposit.

Have a presentable appearance

First impressions always count. So, dress up properly. Be early to your appointment. Be respectful and ask questions to know beforehand whether you fit each other's expectations.

Ask what type of renter they're looking for. Learn how many have expressed interest in renting that particular unit. Know when the property is available to be occupied.

Check the rental unit in person

As a potential renter, you should base your decision on the actual viewing of the unit. A lot may not meet your expectations if you merely based it on a property listing's photos, videos or description. So make sure to apply for a rental property that you have evaluated physically.

In a Nutshell: How to Make Your Rental Application Stand Out

When you have your eye on a rental property, do all that you can to present yourself as the owner's first choice renter. Utilize these tips and pieces of advice to ensure you can reside in the rental of your choosing. As a property manager, Gifford Properties & Management also helps potential tenants and we have the knowledge to get you where you want to be. Contact us today if you have any further inquiries.

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Andrew Gifford and his team of professionals are easily the best realtors and property managers that I have ever worked with. They provide first rate service in an extremely timely manner. Whether you are a landlord, tenant, or prospective real estate buyer, I highly recommend the services of Andrew Gifford and his real estate team for all your property needs!

Jeff Tillman