Last Updated on September 3, 2022

It can be difficult to land a rental apartment that meets all of your needs, especially with competition for rental properties on the rise. You may struggle with your credit score, lack a rental history or face other challenges that make it difficult to find a rental home.

To make your rental application stand out, you’ll need to do more than provide all the right documents. You may also need to ensure you have a flawless online reputation and write a cover letter highlighting what makes you a good renter.

And you’ll need to be upfront and communicative with your potential landlord or property manager throughout the process. Here are our best rent application tips to help you stand out in today’s hot rental market. 

Preparing your rent application

There are several ways you can make your rental application more attractive. Start with the basics, but do whatever you can to go above and beyond.

Get your documents together

An incomplete rental application can delay the process or result in other renters winning the apartment. Make sure to submit all the documents required by your potential landlord, including:

  • Application form with contact information such as your email and phone number
  • Guarantor information, if applicable
  • Pay stubs or bank statements
  • Driver’s license, state ID, passport, or green card
  • Social security number
  • Vehicle registration and insurance
  • Pet registration, or emotional support/service animal registration, if necessary
  • Renters insurance, if you have it
  • Payments for background checks and security deposits

Check your credit score

It can be difficult to rent an apartment with bad credit, so you’ll want to know your credit score upfront. 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 you have derogatory marks on your credit report, whether it’s divorce or credit fraud––sometimes, it can make a difference. 

If you’re still finding that property managers are denying your application, 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 pay a larger security deposit

Finally, you can discuss these options with your landlord to find out what makes the most sense for you.

Make sure your social media is spotless

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 that 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

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 that you feel you need to clarify.

For example, if it’s your first time renting an apartment, you might explain that you’re a fresh college graduate. If you have an eviction on your record, you’ll need to explain the situation and what you learned from it. 

key to rental home

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 essential that you explain the situation ahead of time. If you have pet registration and training certificates, having those around can help 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

Choose the right references

Include references from people who know you and like you. This could include asking a past landlord for a reference letter to your prospective landlord.

Your current landlord or previous 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 current employer or former boss can also identify traits that make you a good tenant. 

They can confirm that you’re organized, amicable and punctual, for example. 

Keep the right attitude and communicate throughout the process

You’ll want to be professional and positive when you engage with a potential landlord. Follow up promptly when they request additional documents, dress nicely to communicate that you care, and be as flexible as possible about move-in date and upfront payments.

Follow up

If you don’t hear from your potential landlord, follow up about your application. The last thing you want is for an email gone astray to prevent you from getting tenancy in your dream rental home!

How to appeal to landlords

Beyond submitting a filled-out rental application with good references, it’s important to make a good first impression with your potential landlord and keep in touch throughout the process.

Be punctual and come prepared

Think of your first meeting with a potential landlord as a job interview. Dress nicely and put your best foot forward. Bring all your documents with you to showings, as you might be able to fill out the rental application on the spot. 

Offer your talents

If you’re handy, good with yard work, or like to clean, these are good qualities to mention to your landlord. They’re especially great skills to have if you have to negotiate your lease. This way, your landlord knows that you might have something to offer on top of being a great tenant for their rental apartment. It’s an excellent way to set yourself apart from the pack, because other people won’t necessarily have these qualities.

Be honest and discuss concerns up front

If you know you have weaknesses as a renter, try to address them upfront. For example, speak to your landlord about why you have bad credit or no credit history, or attach a letter to your rental application explaining your situation. The important thing is that you bring up things like this at the beginning, rather than hiding them till the end.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

Show your landlord that you’re eager to be a good renter by being communicative. Your prompt responses will showcase your attentiveness. Checking in throughout the process will also ensure your rental application doesn’t fall through the cracks. 

Find your dream apartment with Dwellsy

You don’t need to pay a real estate agent to find a rental home in your area. Narrowing down your options is as easy as applying a few filters with Dwellsy’s rental property search tool. Contact us today about your rental search, and when you find your dream rental home on Dwellsy, remember to make your rental application stand out.

Check out our other posts on Dwellsy’s blog, including our explanation of the difference between landlords and property managers.

Find your new rental home on Dwellsy and don’t forget to make your rental application stand out.

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