Searching for a rental property can be stressful, especially in peak periods such as the beginning of each year, when demand may out-do supply. Here are some tips for renters – how to put your best foot forward and increase the chances of securing the property you really want.
First impressions count. Like a job interview, being well presented and dealing with the lettings agent or property manager in a pleasant manner will certainly help. Surprisingly, some people are not aware that simply being polite may sway a decision in their favour.
References. Good property management companies will check references in respect of your renting history. Typically, they will ask you for these from your most recent landlord and the previous one. If it is your first time renting (e.g you have been, or still are, a home owner in a different locality), good character references will be beneficial; your employer may provide an important reference. For students, the property management company may seek a guarantor, such as your parents or guardian, to guarantee the rent and take responsibility for any damage or issues that may be caused during the tenancy.
Credit check. Property management companies will typically check your credit history with permission (which is usually granted on the application form). If you have any blemishes on your record, be ready to explain them. Sometimes businesses may fail. Property management companies can be understanding of these situations. If you have made, or are making, an effort to put things right, no matter how small, this will serve you in good stead.
Pets. Some of us are pet lovers and others are not. Investors will generally prefer to rent to a tenant without pets, simply because of the risks and possibly greater amounts of wear and tear. Having said that, there are many responsible tenants with pets and pet-loving landlords. Introducing your pet to the property manager may make the difference between securing a tenancy or not. Promise (and include in the agreement) to thoroughly clean the carpets on vacating of the property so no pet smells and/or stains remain.
Honesty and completion. Be honest with your application and complete all sections. Property managers become suspicious of blank boxes! If you are unsure about something, ask.
Mobile phone and email address. In today’s environment, these are important. A property manager will want to have contact details to reach you in the case of an emergency.
Next of kin. A sensitive subject. Tenants do become sick or pass away in the their homes. Being able to reach loved ones or friends can be important. Be sure to provide next of kin details as part of your tenancy application, regardless of whether the form asks for it or not.
Live within your means. Don’t be tempted to choose a property that is beyond your means. It is better to chose a cheaper rent than one that will stress you out from week to week. Most property management companies have a zero tolerance for rent arrears. Don’t become the subject of a 14-day-letter or worse. These things get noted and form part of your renting history. They will come up through the reference checking process when you need to rent again.