The rental market is becoming increasingly competitive and tenants must do everything they can. Every extra way you distinguish yourself from the competition will increase your chances of being approved for a rental house.
This article is a list of the tips I have gathered from my experiences in the competitive Australian rental market after many, many rejections and a few successes.
Attend the Inspection
This first thing seems obvious but a lot of people apply for houses that they haven't actually inspected hoping to maximise their chances. In reality attending the inspection for every house you are applying for is the best way of increasing your chances of being approved for a rental house.
In some countries (Australia for example) applicants who haven't inspected the house won't even be considered and in others it can greatly hurt your chances. Attending the inspection simply shows that you are serious about renting the house - a must for any good tenant.
Write a Cover Letter With Your Application
Making the effort to write a cover letter will give you a great advantage over other tenants who do not. Just like when applying for a job your cover letter should explain honestly why you are a great applicant.
If you don't drink or smoke and have other positive attributes that make you a better candidate then this is your chance to let the real estate agents/landlords know.
Include Evidence of Your Earnings
If you have a job, have recently had a job, are self-employed or have any other forms of income ensure that you include evidence of this income with your application. This could be in the form of photocopied payslips, a copy of your bank statement or the contact details of your accountant.
Doing this simply shows that you have the income to reliably pay rent on time and will greatly increase your chances of being approved for a rental house.
Have Relevant Personal References
Most real estate agents or landlords will ask for a minimum of two personal references for each tenant applying for the rental house. Nearly everyone will be able to supply two personal references but you can really improve your chances by choosing references who will be able to say something about your nature as a tenant.
If you have previously house-sat (looked after) someones house they would make an excellent personal reference - provided you didn't trash their house of course! Otherwise a previous neighbour would make a good reference as they can confirm that you are not noisy at night and are responsible tenants.
Don't choose obvious friends or family members as your references, though. Doing so is sure to get you overlooked.
Have Work Lined Up in the Area
If you don't already have a job in the area where you are looking for a rental house try to have a job already lined up - and provide evidence of this with your application. You could provide a letter from your potential employer or evidence that you are being transferred to a site in the area. Doing this just further confirms your financial stability making you appear even more attractive as an applicant.
Have Previous Rental History
Unfortunately applicants who have previous rental history will get preference over applicants without. This makes it very hard for new renters to get approved for a house.
If you don't have previous rental history you may have to settle on a house that isn't very good or one that only has a 6 month lease so that you can build an initial rental history. Once you have done this it will become much easier to get a rental house in the future.
Have a Financial Backup
Having a guarantee that you will be able to pay rent even if you lose your job is a great way to increase your chances of being approved for a rental house. This is especially important if you don't have previous rental history as it mitigates the risk for the landlord.
To show that you have financial backup you could have your parents or someone else act as a guarantor or you could provide evidence of some other asset such as stocks or an investment account.
Offer Additional Rent
If you want to push yourself even further and can afford to pay a bit more rent than the listed amount consider offering to a higher rental rate. You should first check that this is legal in your country/state and if it is not mentioned go for it! Simply let your landlord know that you think the property is 'undervalued' and that you are willing to pay an additional 'x' over the listed rent. You could even consider offering 6-12 months rent up-front if you have the cash available!
Don't feel bad - it's a buyers market and you have to use everything at your disposal to get an advantage.
A Bunch of Bonus Tips (Aren't I Generous?):
- Always be polite to real estate agents even if you are rejected - you may end up applying for another house with the same agent.
- If you are rejected politely ask what other things you can do or include in your application to help you get approved next time. Most agents will be more than happy to help you improve your application.
- Don't be afraid to drop in to the estate agents (or give them a call) and ask the status of your application, it may help to show you are keen. However, don't bother them every six hours - wasting their time is not the best way to get noticed.
- If you are having trouble getting a place try adjusting your budget either up or down. There may be less competition in the next price bracket.
- If you have rented with a real estate agent before try calling them, reminding them of your history with them and asking if they have anything available.
- Be proactive in organising inspection times, sometimes they may not be advertised or you may even be able to arrange a private inspection.
- Always be honest and polite!
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