So you’ve found the perfect apartment – great! Now what?
As vacancy rates continue to drop and the rental application process becomes even more competitive, the stakes are higher than ever.
Here are three tips for making a great impression on your landlord, enabling your application to stand out from the rest.
1. Impress them with your organization.
There’s nothing a landlord hates more than an incomplete application. While it’s important to submit your application as quickly as possible, sending a half-baked one wastes everyone’s time and doesn’t do you (or your future landlord) any favors. Instead, compile all of your documents beforehand so when you find the right apartment, you’re ready to apply.
About a month before I’m ready move, I start putting together the documents I need to submit an application. In the instances where I’ve had a roommate or guarantor, I ask them to send me their documents as well. Check out my post on the standard application requirements here. (Note: While landlords will ask for slightly different items, this is a fairly comprehensive list and will cover most of what’s asked of you).
I make at least two copies of each document and put them in a folder. When I’m on the hunt, I bring the folder with me so if I see something I like, I’m ready to strike.
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2. Throw in a little something extra.
In the application process, sometimes more is more. If you can provide your future landlord with a little more information and insight into what you would be like as a tenant, it behooves you to do so. One of the best items to include in your application package is a letter (or two) of recommendation from a prior landlord.
For the past several years, I’ve gotten in the habit of requesting letters of recommendation from the landlord whose apartment I’m vacating. The letter doesn’t need to be anything fancy – just something on their letterhead stating that you were a tenant of theirs and that you were responsible and paid your rent on time. I’ve started collecting a few of these and I include them in my applications to provide more color on my rental history and hopefully give my future landlord peace of mind.
3. Be the perfect tenant – before you even move in.
Putting your best foot forward throughout the entire rental process means that after you’ve submitted your application, you are wise to be patient. It sometimes takes a few days for landlords to make their decision, so don’t bombard them with phone calls – they will get back to you.
After you’ve received the (hopefully) good news, your landlord (or broker if you're using one) will call you about next steps, which will include the lease signing date, how to pick up your new keys, and details on the checks that you will need to bring with you at lease signing. Make sure you bring exactly what you need to make it official.
Caren Maio is the CEO & Co-Founder of Nestio.com, a website that makes it easy for renters to collect and organize rental listings from any site. She currently lives downtown in a boutique elevator building that has ten coffee shops in a three-block radius (a feature she claims sealed the deal--but the washer-dryer didn't hurt either).
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