If I’m Renting a Place, How Can I Make My Application The Most Appealing to the Landlord?

As you search for your next rental unit and schedule to see inside units and stop by open houses, you are going to find a few that you really like. For those that you decide you would like to rent, you are going to fill out rental application to give to the landlord. This is so they can review your financial position, possibly pull a credit report, and make a decision on whether or not they will rent the unit to you.

That application, and the information on it, is one of the most important items that will determine whether you will be selected to rent the property. The way to increase your chances of being selected is to be ready to fill out the rental application while you are right there with the landlord. This way, you’ve shown a very strong interest in the property, you’ve had a nice conversation with the decision maker, and can convince them that you’ll be a great tenant. So when the landlord leaves that day, they’ll be ready to move forward and rent to you, subject to confirming all the information on your application.

To fill out the application, you need to know what information will be requested. This is just a general list, and different landlords could request different information.

Here’s the information you might expect to have to provide:

  • Basic identification: This includes your name, Social Security Number, driver’s license number, spouse/roommate names, present address, landlord, landlord address and phone number, reason for moving, current rent, prior address, and your current landlord's contact information.
  • Employment information: This includes your salary, dates worked for at your current company, position, supervisor name and phone number, prior employment information, and your spouse/roommate's employment information.
  • Bank account and asset information: This includes your debt, credit card, car payment, and any other bill information, any bankruptcies, evictions, foreclosures, and criminal felonies you may have faced, and the same information for your spouse/roommates.
  • Emergency contact: This should be provided for all tenants.
  • All Information on children or others who will live in the unit.
  • Pet information, if any.
  • Vehicle information: This includes automobiles, trucks, and motorcycles.
  • Personal references: You will need a few of these.

    Those are the items that most applications will request. Now, many people will do a sloppy job of filling out the application, not write legibly, or not fill out the entire application. Those usually get thrown in the trash. So write everything crisp and clear so it is easy to follow and understand.

    You also want to be honest about any credit, rental, or job history issues and you may want to discuss those with the landlord right then. That way, they can understand your situation. You should know that most landlords put a lot of weight and faith in people who are honest about their situations. If you lie, they’re going to find out from your credit report and/or references, and then it becomes a trust issue – they’ll wonder what else you may have lied about on your application, leading to a greater chance that they won't pick you as a new tenant.

    It is also good to have a check or money for the credit application and credit report fee, probably $20 – $40 per person. If you really love the place, and you have trust that the person meeting you is the owner/landlord, you might also want to bring a check for the security deposit – agree with them in writing that they are not to cash it until a lease is signed with you. And make sure to make an agreement for them to return the check quickly if no agreement is finalized between you and the owner.

    And of course, always dress nice, act professionally, follow up quickly with the landlord on questions, phone calls, or emails. Being responsible also goes a long way!

    Due to your smart shopping, you’ll probably find yourself the one getting the keys! Good luck!