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How to fill out a rental application is something people need to read. I was a property manager for almost ten years. The property manager is the person who will read, assess and process your application in most cases on behalf of the owner. Trust me, I have seen hundreds, if not thousands of rental applications over the years; the good, the bad and the smelly. Literally.
With that in mind I’ve put together a post to help you fill out your rental application to be accurate, tidy and positively reflect who you are. A simple how to fill out a rental application guide. It won’t guarantee success but these tips will put you in the best possible position to secure the rental you want, first time! Now make sure you use your power for good, not evil.
If I had a dollar for every time, an application form was handed in with stains, smudges or a child’s drawing all over it I would have retired years ago. If you are submitting via the handwritten method make sure, your application is neat and tidy by grabbing more than one copy in case there’s a problem. More and more agencies take applications online, and this becomes less of an issue. But until it goes entirely paperless, keep your application tidy.
When I was presented with an application that contained all the items I needed, I immediately gave it a bit of a mental tick. Do you have your previous rental ledger/rent receipts, letters of recommendations, pay slips and proof of recent address? Great! That is one foot ever so slightly in the door.
It’s application processing time, and there front and centre are your contact details including your email address. You have no idea how often I saw email addresses with stupid things in them. Like stonerforlyf@hotmail or babylikestoparty@gmail. While these email addresses are funny as heck, it makes you look irresponsible and just a tiny bit stupid on paper. Sure they were probably the first email account you ever opened. We all have them. But for the purposes of how to fill out a rental application it’s time to reconsider these ridiculous email addresses and get something simple. Like your name or some version of it.
If you have never rented before don’t try to lie about it. Get some people who know you to give some written references (and make sure they are contactable by phone too) and be upfront about it. And no, your parents won’t be helpful in this situation unless they are willing to co-sign a lease or similar. Discuss this with the owner or agent and see what options you have.
Same goes if there was a problem in your previous rental. Take a moment to explain the situation in a separate letter/attachment. You will get more points for your honesty than you ever will if the truth is uncovered. And in my experience, the truth is almost always uncovered. And what do agent’s do when you lie on your application? We used to thank you for coming and refuse to rent to you. Liars can’t be trusted, why would we give you the responsibility of someone’s property?
Sometimes, how to fill out a rental application might not be enough! If you have been rejected in the past, it might be worth taking the time to write a cover letter to introduce yourself. Outline who you are, why you are looking for a property and why you would make a great candidate for the house you are applying for, or heck any house! I would often recommend that potential renters submit a cover letter if they were inexperienced renters or in situations like large families when owners might potentially be nervous to say yes. It works a charm. And again, honesty is key!
This would have to be common sense, right? But you’d be surprised how often people would abuse, yell at or be confrontational with the very same team who was processing their application then wonder why they weren’t successful. You are about to enter a relationship, you wouldn’t date someone who treated you like that, and agents are the same. You are not making it to first base with an attitude like that. It’s called being a functioning human but if that’s not enough, being nice to the staff you encounter throughout the process will ensure you have left the best possible impression of you in their mind come processing time.
Something we used to do in our office was take applications and match them to more suitable properties. Sometimes an owner with an older property, or one asking less rent or shorter term, may be more flexible than someone with a prestige property with numerous competing applications. If your agent suggests this it’s worth considering making a switch to a different property that still fits your needs but that you hadn’t considered for whatever reason. It means that your agent or the owner wants to work with you to develop your rental history that could in a year or two see you in the property of your dreams. It’s a win win, they get their not so premium property rented while you go about proving yourself able to take one something bigger or better.
We can’t guarantee you’ll get a rental, no one can do that. But we do stand behind these tips, used in conjunction with a complete application, will put you on the front foot when applying for the property you want.
Melissa is the Leave Home Blog Boss. She is living the high life in her hometown, didn’t finish her marketing degree & drinks too much on a Thursday night. Blogging since 2009, Melissa decided to put everything she knows into making The Leave Home Blog a light & easy how-to guide for being a grown up.