9 ways you can knock the socks off your next landlord

9 ways you can knock the socks off your next landlord

We all know how to rent a typical, cookie-cutter apartment or house. Find a contact number. Set-up a walk through. Fill out the application. Pay your fee and wait for a response.

But sometimes typical just doesn't cut it.

Maybe you're looking to secure a unique apartment in an irresistible location. Or you might be seeking the only house for rent in a certain school district. Heck, you may even find yourself in New Zealand needing a short-term (3-month) lease when everyone wants a 6-month minimum.  *raises hand*

Whatever your motivation, here are nine ways you can knock the socks off your next landlord or property manager:

1. Create a Rental Résumé. Treat this like you would a job search. The majority of applications are going to ask for the same information. Put together a basic one- or two-page document containing this commonly requested information. Even if the landlord or property manager makes you fill out the application anyway, at least you'll already have everything on hand. Be sure to include:

      • Full names of everyone on application
      • Dates of Birth
      • Contact information (phone and e-mail)
      • Current address (length, landlord information, reason for leaving)
      • Previous addresses (with additional information)
      • Social Security numbers Previous commenters note that you may want to wait to reveal your Social Security information
      • Current employment information (salary, length, contact information)
      • Past employment (with additional information)
      • Personal references
      • Vehicle information (make, model, plates, driver's license number)
      • Pet(s) information (breed, size, age)

2. Pull your own credit report. Use AnnualCreditReport.com, if possible. Pulling your own credit report ahead of time will ensure that you are aware of the information contained in the report. If there are any negative marks, be sure to include a written statement of explanation (especially for any bankruptcies, evictions, or missed rent payments).

3. Obtain and include full letters of reference. Most rental applications only ask for the contact information of your references. However, as with a job, you can go the extra mile by including full letters of recommendation from previous landlords, property managers, or apartment complexes. As a property manager, I was more than willing to write these for our best tenants. Many apartment complexes have a standard reference letter they provide to past tenants upon request.

4. Provide copies of commonly requested “further information”. This is especially important for the self-employed or those with inconsistent employment length. Commonly requested information can include copies of recent paystubs, recent years' tax returns, net worth statements, bank statements, and income/expense reports for small businesses. Also, landlords may request copies of identification like driver's licenses, social security cards, or birth certificates.

5. Look sharp. Whether you like it or not, appearance does matter, especially for first impressions. Wash the purple dye out of your mohawk, lose the three wolves T-shirt, and dress business casual. (J.D.'s note: Did anyone notice that Dwight was wearing the three wolves t-shirt on The Office recently? I just about died laughing.)

6. Be five minutes early. Waiting does not impress anyone.

7. Find common ground. In any social encounter, discussing a topic that is familiar to both parties is one of the fastest ways to build rapport. When Courtney and I were searching for apartments here in Auckland, we talked to many different agents and owners. Early on in each discussion, I brought up the fact that I had owned a property management company back in the States. It gave us an immediate connection and built instant trust. While you may not have direct real estate experience, chances are there will be many opportunities for you to find common ground of your own.

8. Know your needs and wants ahead of time. This is a important. Decide ahead of time what features are absolute musts and which are more negotiable. For example, you may know that you need a fenced in backyard for the dog. Or, you may only be willing to consider homes with a detached garage for working on your cars as a hobby. On the other hand, an included washer/dryer may only be a strong want. You'd be willing to purchase these if the rest of the property fit your needs. Get clear on this distinction and be able to articulate this to your potential landlord or manager.

9. Don't be afraid to ask questions. As a property manager, I always had a weird feeling about tenants who appeared nervous or who seemed afraid to ask questions. The potential tenants whom impressed me the most appeared confident, stated what they were looking for, and asked specific questions about the property. For example, it's perfectly reasonable (and somewhat expected) to inquire about the average costs of monthly utilities.

Once you've established yourself as a strong candidate…leverage it! Knocking the socks off your landlord is not just for fun! After positioning yourself as an ideal applicant, don't be afraid to start negotiating.

Here in Auckland, Courtney and I had luck negotiating ourselves into a three-month lease even though it ended in the middle of December (bad timing when trying to re-rent). At our last apartment in the States, the complex ended up waiving both the application fee and our required deposit.

Try asking for a 10% rent discount. Many apartment complexes run unadvertised specials, and the individual landlord will often discount if he believes you'll be a quality tenant.

I've seen people have luck requesting upgrades on appliances or requiring that an owner furnish a washer/dryer when previously it wasn't included. If your condo or apartment charges extra for amenities (gym, pool, parking), try asking for access to be included in your rent.

Most people are scared because they think it's uncommon to ask for more. I've been on both sides of the rental equation and this sort of negotiation happens all the timeIf you don't ask, the answer will always be “no”. So get out there, impress some people, and take your apartment or house hunting to the next level!

More about...Home & Garden

Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others

Subscribe to the GRS Insider (FREE) and we’ll give you a copy of the Money Boss Manifesto (also FREE)

Yes! Sign up and get your free gift
Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others
guest
51 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Frugillionaire
Frugillionaire
11 years ago

Nice article!

After you move in, you can further impress your landlord by being a great tenant–thereby gaining strong negotiating power when it comes time to renew your lease.

Bruce
Bruce
9 months ago
Reply to  Frugillionaire

Absolutely. Im more impressed with long term actions than fluff at the beginning. Have had tenants who seemed great, wrote a lovely note…then proceeded to act the opposite of how they presented themselves. Had I listened to my gut, I never would have rented to these borderline sociopath passive aggressive sneaks.

Drew
Drew
11 years ago

As a property manager I can agree with most of these. However, I do have an issue with number 2. If someone brings me a credit report, my first thought is that they may have doctored it somehow. Some may think its a bit cynical, but I’ve seen it done. So while I would appreciate the thought, and it definitely shows preparedness, please don’t be shocked when I pull it again anyway.

Ryan Stackhouse
Ryan Stackhouse
11 years ago

Good post Baker. I also am a landlord/property manager and agree with most of your points. A person that carries their self well makes a better impression on me than a quiet, nervous person. That also strikes a “weird” chord in me. The best tenants that I’ve had just simply communicate with me and pay their rent on time. If they do that, lets just say it makes it easier to improve their situation. I’m pretty fair with everyone, but I always tell people, “if you take care of me (by paying your rent, taking care of the place, etc.)… Read more »

Tyler Tervooren
Tyler Tervooren
11 years ago

In 2007 when the housing market was booming, I was just moving off of campus and into a home with 3 friends. It was bad enough that rentals were in short supply, and we found out the hard way that the typical landlord is not thrilled to rent their beautiful home to 4 college students. After a month or so of failed attempts, we sat down and put together a real game plan for how we were going to find a decent place to live. Two of us had been Resident Assistants (aka property managers) at school for 3 years… Read more »

ami | 40daystochange
ami | 40daystochange
11 years ago

This is excellent information and advice. One doesn’t often think of putting one’s best foot forward during the rental process, but, as you point out, renters can gain a lot of benefits – including big savings – by treating the rental process in a serious and professional manner. I do disagree with one point though (puts on foil lined hat) Perhaps I’m paranoid, but I hate to disclose any personal/confidential information unless absolutely necessary (and for me, that means legally required). Providing all of the personal info you list in the “resume” section seems a bit over the top –… Read more »

Baker
Baker
11 years ago

@Frugillionaire – Yeah, keep that relationship going strong can really help when you go to renew, need a reference letter, or something DOES break down. 🙂 @Drew – We pulled the report again, too, 99% of the time. However, I still *was* impressed most of the time (more than most tenants bothered to do). I especially like this for people who have a negative mark that needs explaining. @Ryan – Glad I wasn’t the only one who had the ‘weird’ chord hit ;-). I found that it was really easy, as a property manager, to have GREAT relationships with tenants.… Read more »

Little House
Little House
11 years ago

Great tips. My husband and I are working towards saving for a down payment to purchase a house in the next year. However, we’ve recently begun bantering around the idea of moving to a less expensive place to save a few hundred dollars each month.

These tips will come in handy if we decide to go for that option.

-Little House

Budgie
Budgie
11 years ago

But can I wear my t-shirt with only one wolf on it? 😉 Props for the three-wolf t-shirt reference!

CC
CC
11 years ago

Such good advice! I recently renewed a lease for the first time, and I was shocked that my apartment complex tried to raise my rent by about $50 a month for the new lease. I did some sleuthing, and I learned that (thanks to the market downturn) my floorplan was going to new renters for $50 LESS than my current rent – a $100/month difference! A lot of my friends sympathized with me and suggested I move…but I love my apartment. One friend, though, works in a leasing office of a similar apartment complex and convinced me lease terms are… Read more »

Leah
Leah
11 years ago

You have to give a little to get a little. When we moved into our new apartment, the previous tenants had “spot painted” the holes in the walls with a slightly different color of paint (!). While they had technically fulfilled their lease terms, it looked terrible.

Rather than ask the landlord to repaint it, we asked him if he’d paint it if we bought the paint ourselves (since we wanted to use low-VOC paint b/c of a chemical sensitivity). Sure enough, he recognized that we were willing to give a little to get a little.

Todd @ Personal Finance Playbook
Todd @ Personal Finance Playbook
11 years ago

I would like to add that when your renewal comes up, if you’ve been a good tenant, don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. I’m a landlord and I will do almost anything to accomodate a good tenant. Having to evict someone or fix the place up after a bad tenant moves out is quite a bit more expensive than knocking $50 a month off to keep a good tenant in place. I would simply tell the landlord that you’re thinking about moving somewhere cheaper, then see if he makes you an offer. I always make an offer;) Good… Read more »

Tracy
Tracy
11 years ago

These are some great suggestions. Wish there was something said for people with pets. As pet friendly as public places, hotels, and restaurants are these days, it’s still a pain to find a decent place that will allow for pets.

Thanks for sharing!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
11 years ago

OMG- you just made my day with the double whammy of The Office and Three Wolf Moon. 🙂

Also, fantastic post!

Gee
Gee
11 years ago

RE: Tinfoil hat… (Should refresh to read comments before I post) I’m completely on board. It seems like way too much information. I’m not sure why a landlord needs a birth date. With that and some other infomration here, it’s quite easy to gain access to anyone’s bank acct. There are several other pieces of infomation I would never give a landlord. Protect your privacy. And for Canadians – DON’T ever give your SIN to anyone who isn’t absolutely required to have it. From what I remember landlords cannot require it. Better to lose out on an apartment than have… Read more »

finance girl
finance girl
11 years ago

I’m a landlord, and one of the ways someone would knock my socks off, so to speak, would be to manage the weeds in the yard. I pay for this service, because I’ve never had a tenant who, even though they know they are responsible for the yard, has managed the weeds. I just pay for it out of cash flow, but it would be the one way a tenant would knock my socks off. Of course, this is after the fact of them moving in, so they perhaps don’t feel they need to keep up on their end of… Read more »

Anne KD
Anne KD
11 years ago

We live in a house now, but the last rental we had, the property managers had us pay a deposit and an extra monthly fee for my cat. The cat died and a year later we got a kitten. Just talking with the manager before we moved in let me keep the first cat clawed, and we didn’t have to pay anything for the second cat at all. They even came to fix some holes that the kitten found to hide in. We paid the rent on time and rarely complained unless it was a true complaint. I made sure… Read more »

Honey
Honey
11 years ago

The last 4 places I have lived I rented directly from the owner (no property manager). Which in some ways gives you more negotiating power, since you’re dealing directly with the person (things like painting, pets, or the amount of the rent). Lots of other things, though, are off the table entirely since they didn’t own a lot of property and didn’t have the sales volume to do expensive property upgrades.

Our current landlord won’t even address our mold issue.

tg
tg
11 years ago

I too, would be very skeptical of handing out the résumés with DOB and SSN; that would also not be ok on job résumés even though the latter is needed at time of employment. In fact, the only reason my landlord knows my salary, SSN, or DOB is because one of them is an accountant and has done our taxes. For the résumé, how far back do you go with previous residences? By the time I move out, I’ll have lived in the same house for at least 7 years, so I really hope I wouldn’t need to admit that… Read more »

Gee
Gee
11 years ago

Finance girl – I always viewed lawn care (and other maintenance) as the perk of renting. Why not just incorporate lawn care into the cost of rent if your tenants don’t want to do it? I’m just citing the rules where I live. I think tenants should know their rights (and so should landlords). It’s not all rights on one side and liabilities on the other. Both have rights and duties. Landlords don’t carry all the liabilities. You simply have an unequal relationship. Quite common enough. There are all sorts of mechanisms to protect your porperty from bad or neglectful… Read more »

Nancy L.
Nancy L.
11 years ago

Good tips, but in a market like Manhattan, many of these tips are of less value, as you almost never actually meet the owner/management firm. You get shown an apartment by a realty company, and then you fill out an application. The realty companies have very little interest in making sure the “best” tenant gets in the space–the quicker they fill it, the quicker they get paid, and if it doesn’t work out, it just means another commission will be coming down the pike. And unless times have changed drastically since I lived there, the realty agents that deal with… Read more »

Fat Bob
Fat Bob
11 years ago

This reminds me why I really don’t want to go back to renting despite the possible financial advantages

Oleg Mokhov
Oleg Mokhov
11 years ago

Hey Adam,

To get what you really want, give more than you ask, and do more than expected.

By giving more than you ask, you make others want to help you more. By doing more than expected, you rise above the average and become remarkable – fascinating and easily remembered.

I’m planning on looking for month-or-two apartment rentals for mini-retirements, and these tips are just what I need. Thank you.

All the best with Man vs Fat, you’ll get ripped in no time 🙂

Oleg

mkg
mkg
11 years ago

before i even clicked on the amazon link for the 3 wolves tee i thought about DWIGHT!!! CRACKED me up 😀

Emmy
Emmy
11 years ago

Yes, but what if it was the “Three Keyboard Cat Moon” t-shirt?

http://www.threadless.com/product/1960/Three_Keyboard_Cat_Moon

Eh? Eh? Sadly, in Portland that would probably be a bonus, depending on the neighborhood.

Doug Armey
Doug Armey
11 years ago
As a landlord I would add a couple more obvious ones. Make sure you make enough income to afford the rent and second have enough cash for the deposit. If those items aren’t there the rest is wasted.

One additional not obvious one. Drive a clean well cared for automobile. I usually walk out to the parking lot with my prospective clients. If their car is trashed I assume that my rental house will look like it soon. Big turnoff.

Adam
Adam
11 years ago

This article just encourages me more to make ownership of my own home someday my ultimate goal. I realize that renting/leasing in the short-term is a must, since that is also my current scenario. I realize it’s a huge life investment too, but long term it’s worth it.

Baker
Baker
11 years ago

@Budgie – Truth is I don’t really need the T-shirt because I have it tattoo’d on my chest. But the T-shirt is fine for cold weather, I guess. @Todd – Good point, Todd. Most people would never consider asking for a rental *decrease* they are just worried about any increases. Decreases are very possible for good tenants. @Gee – The situation in the Midwest is drastically different from Canada, I guess. We would have never rented to someone without their SSN, Date of Birth, knowing their pets, and whether they smoke. You can’t discriminate on age still, but DOB was… Read more »

Aaron
Aaron
11 years ago

I like the comparisons between looking for an apartment and looking for a job, great way to look at it. I like the rental resume idea.

JD – I also did notice Dwight wearing the 3 wolves shirt on the recent Office episode. Love the top rated ‘review’ on the Amazon page, hilarious!

Jim
Jim
11 years ago

I’m a landlord and I think if someone did all these tips then it would certainly help a lot. Personally though I’m not much open to negotiating on price with a new prospective tenant. But then my rents are relatively low to begin with and I don’t have much problem renting. If you’re a new tenant then I don’t care that much how polished you seem, I still don’t know if you’ll be a *good* tenant until after the fact. I would be a lot more open to negotiation or accommodating a tenant after they’ve proven themselves able to pay… Read more »

Alissa
Alissa
11 years ago

The only part I take issue with is the “Wash the purple dye out of your mohawk, lose the three wolves T-shirt, and dress business casual.” I think it presents a false image. I’m not saying to show up looking like a slob, but if I’m not normally a “normal” looking person, showing up as one doesn’t prepare the landlord that that is who they may actually be renting to. It seems dishonest to me and speaks to other peoples assumptions that someone dressed unusually can’t be just as responsible as the next person who shows up in a business… Read more »

Rick Brewster
Rick Brewster
11 years ago

“Ask for a discount.” <– Absolutely works. I asked for a lower price on the place I was looking at in April. They gave the usual, “Oh we’ll have to ask the boss … she’s really busy … I don’t know, we’ll call you when we hear back” spiel. So I said, “Ok well let me know when you hear back.” (Contrast this to, “Well, whatever, I’ll take it anyway.”) 30 minutes later I had a phone call, “Oh good news, she agreed to knock it down to $____ … still want it?”, so I said yes, “Ok we’ll cancel… Read more »

Lena Austin
Lena Austin
11 years ago

I’m a former property manager, and you were spot on, Baker. I’ll add one more “I love this kind of tenant.” In this day and age, many people now use online bill-paying from their bank. If a prospective tenant told me they’d put me on an automatic payment using their online bill pay (and did it), I’d happily give them a discount for as long as those automatic payments kept coming. The lowering of my stress levels made up for the losses. I had several of those auto-pay tenants, and I treated them like the gold they were. They got… Read more »

econobiker
econobiker
11 years ago

And after you have rented the property, don’t forget to give the landlord or property manager/maintenance people cards and a little gift for Christmas time- doesn’t have to be a gift card but could be something like a screwdriver or dvd movie, etc I rented an apartment in a semi-rural exurb area and the manager/ maintenance people loved me after I gave them some $20 Walmart or Lowes gift cards for Christmas. They let me slide on having a couple of motorcycles right next to my deck (for security) and always jumped on it when I needed maintenance (which wasn’t… Read more »

cph
cph
11 years ago

What do you do about letters of recommendation when you’ve had some real deadbeat landlords? My last landlord, for example, left half the apartment unpainted, left most of the electrical outlets without covers (presumably because he was going to paint), did not deal with a fly infestation the week I moved in (had to deal with it myself), and left the bathroom sink hanging off the wall without proper support (among other things). Luckily, I was smart enough to present him with a list of the things I’d like fixed the first month of the lease, and he was stupid… Read more »

Chris Brown
Chris Brown
11 years ago

I just stopped renting two days ago and moved into my used (brand new to me) mobile home. I will never have to pay rent again!!!!! Couple years when the market turns around maybe I can upgrade. My mortgage now is less then my rent was!!!! Why did I rent all those years when I could have been building equity? (Albeit mobile home equity which really isn’t very much) If I had to do it again I would have been sleeping in my car for 6 mo and use that money for my down payment.

Ann
Ann
11 years ago

I question how valuable these tips are. Maybe in New York you need to do this, but there aren’t that many metro areas where prospective tenants need to beg.

FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com
FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com
11 years ago

Does it count that my parents were my “landlords” and I was living in their home but being charged rent? 🙂

I think only #7 and down applied to me.

I basically helped out a lot in the home in addition to paying rent to keep ’em on my good side.

finance girl
finance girl
10 years ago

Gee, the owner of property is responsible of whatever happens on that property, regardless of source. A tenant who has a pet is indeed a public safety hazard, in that if that pet bites someone the owner of the property, not the tenant, is liable. You don’t have to buy it, you just have to know law. RE: lawn care, tenant don’t take care of lawns, period. Even when they say they will, they don’t. I already factor this into rent price so I can hire a gardener when the lawn need more than just mowing. If you are not… Read more »

Meaghan
Meaghan
10 years ago

These are helpful tips. Thanks for sharing!

dawn
dawn
6 years ago

What if the landlord dont put heat or water in ur house? and i put the pluming in

The Black Destroyer
The Black Destroyer
6 years ago

This article is sickening. Why would I want to impress a landlord? I’m not applying for a job, I am PAYING this person money to rent space. When was the last time you saw someone walk into an electronics store and try to impress the salesperson so they would sell them a TV? Get real.

Sapphyreopal5
Sapphyreopal5
5 years ago

Am I one of the few people who actually think this is way overkill? Unless you live in a city where you’re competing with people for a nice place to live, this doesn’t apply to a good majority of people. As others have said, why the hell would I work my ass off to beg someone to let me live on their property courtesy of my paycheck in the first place? Any landlord who wants a resume for me to PAY for a place to live is no landlord I’ll rent from in this lifetime. Yeah thanks but no thanks…

Adam H
Adam H
5 years ago

Best motivation I’ve seen yet to buy your own home.

sunamer
sunamer
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam H

“Best motivation I’ve seen yet to buy your own home.”
People with shitty credit score having problems making payments will be buying houses? Lol. That’s new. Even HRA loans are not that easy to get.

melissa
melissa
5 years ago

i agree this is a bit overkill but trust me living in London it is so competitive to get a decent room! There’s been a few times where they’ve got 50+ others to show around.

Also, any answers to the landlord letter question above? i.e. having previously been living with parents but paid a monthly contribution? Would it still be the same as the standard landlord letter?

Ash
Ash
5 years ago

This is the third site I have looked at and it really does have what the other two had and then some more information that was really important I am making a rental resume right now or tonight its just amazing how it included asking about none publish sales or including a washer and dryer this is very helpful to someone like myself thank you very much

sam
sam
4 years ago

I just sold my home, retired, financial ok and need to rent a house. I had listened to my adult kids talk about how hard it is, and the BS they put up with and now I am experiencing it. I will do a renter resume with pet resume. I just wonder where employment goes what do I put? My Social Security is not enough to pay for my monthly expenses, I will be using my savings. How to you verify you have enough but keep your privacy? On another note for all u who say never, disgusting, etc on… Read more »

sam
sam
4 years ago

For the other side of the coin, as someone who is seeking to rent a house, who has ideas on how to check out the prospective landlord? I worry about crazies, I’ve heard so many stories! I worry about scams. Having a young adult daughter who rents I have watch her get treated badly. I co-signed one rental and the mgmt co ppl were so cold and rude. One landlord only wanted to check public record to see if she had sued any other landlords. So I have no trust in the rental owners or mgmt companies. Any ideas out… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
4 years ago

I agree with some of this, but I can tell you after running a good size property company for 15 years that I own, if someone shows up and asks me to come down on the rent price, pay for their utilities, negotiate or give them better appliances, I can tell you up front that I will thank them for their interest and know that they are going to be a problem for me. I don’t do entitlement or negotiating. When a property is listed for a ridiculously high price on the market, then its the Landlord that needs to… Read more »

mother
mother
2 years ago

I’m in a situation at the moment where I have to move out of my current property because my landlord wants to sell his house but I’m finding it very hard to get another one, don’t know why but for some reason I think it’s because I’m not in an employment as I’m a full time carer caring for my son with special needs, I also think there might be some discrimination going on because they don’t want anything to do with special needs kids in the their property even though my current landlord gave me a good written reference.… Read more »

shares