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Be the Tenant that Landlords are Looking For

Finding the right apartment can be hard, but sometimes actually getting to move there can be harder. In highly desirable areas like New York City and other major cities, the apartment rental market is exceedingly competitive. Landlords can afford to be more than picky when it comes to choosing who will get to live in their property, and renters must find a way to stand out. Anticipating your application to be approved can be quite nerve-racking, but if you follow these six steps you might get a fruit basket along with that YES.

1. Know the score
Every landlord will want to know your credit card score. This number will give them an idea of your sense of fiscal responsibility. Get the information ahead of time, especially if your credit history might be less than perfect. Ideally, you will be able to explain the blemishes before your prospective landlord finds out about them and also provide a good reason why the circumstances that caused them have changed and how. Don’t take any blemish lightly or try to brush it off, even if it’s “just a student loan”. A debt is a debt, and your future landlord expects a comprehensive explanation that will show him you are serious when it comes to paying yours.
The federal government allows you to check your credit score for free with each of the three bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion), one time per year on annualcreditreport.com.

2. The Big Book of Rental
We suggest you go the extra mile by creating a neat folder with all the information and documents you may be asked for in the house hunting process. You will most likely still need to fill out the application, but it will be that much easier if you have gathered the information beforehand.

This book will include your personal information, and that of your roommates, spouse or guarantors, if you have any; copies of valid ID for each applicant; current employment information; a carefully documented rental history comprised of your former addresses, length of residence, reason for vacating the property and contact information of former landlords; a few letters of recommendation from former landlords; your credit card report, as explained previously and other financial documents, i.e. bank statements, pay stubs, net worth statement and recent years’ tax returns.

This might take some time and effort but it will help you impress the socks of your future landlord with your tidiness, organizational skills, openness, and efficiency, as you will ultimately be saving both of you a lot of time.

3. First impressions
Look sharp and be on time! This cannot be stressed enough. All the documents in the world will simply not do if you keep your prospective landlord waiting and show up wearing sweats and flip flops. Business casual is the way to go, and make sure your clothes are clean and if needed, pressed.

Be respectful and polite, turn your phone off and make your mom proud!

4. Common ground
It’s good to remember that landlords are people too. An apartment viewing is a social encounter of sorts, so try to build rapport with the person showing you the apartment. Finding common ground is a good way to connect with a new person, so try to find a point of interest you both share. Maybe you are both familiar with the neighborhood and could strike a conversation about it. Maybe you’ll have to resort to something more generic like the weather or the news. In any case, it doesn’t hurt to try adding some friendly vibes to the mix, as long as you’re keeping a polite and deferential air.

5. Know what you want
Don’t waste anybody’s time. It’s very important to know ahead of time what features you are looking for in an apartment, which of these are negotiable and which are the real deal breakers. Maybe storage space is an absolute must but you can be more flexible about the size of the kitchen. Perhaps you absolutely need a west-facing window in your bedroom but can do without a washer and dryer. Figure out exactly what you need and be prepared to negotiate when the time comes.

6. Ask away, but don’t get carried away
It shows confidence and carefulness when a prospective tenant isn’t afraid to ask questions about the property. This doesn’t mean you need to discuss every little detail about the apartment, the neighbors or the lease. Landlords can be seriously put off by a tenant who seems fussy, and you don’t want to be labeled as a potential complainer. Just keep in mind that it is natural to have some questions (check out these) before committing to a new home and don’t be shy to ask them, in a respectful manner.

Have you had any success impressing the heck out of future landlords? Do tell us in the comments!