5 steps to finding the best-value homes for rent — and getting one
To get the best homes for rent, you need to be an attractive prospect for landlords.
Check your credit and clean it up or at least explain any blemishes
Get references in advance
Choose property you can afford so they know you'll be able to pay on time
Rental housing: Get the most for your money
At first glance, homes for rent may look like any other products: you shop around, you choose, you "buy" (or rent, in this case). But it's not that easy because landlords — unlike most retailers — are picky about their customers.
You need to be as persuasive at selling and proving your trustworthiness as the person who shows you the home is at highlighting the property's features and amenities.
Here are five easy steps that could help you find the apartment or house you want — and then move forward all the way to signing the lease.
1. Think like a landlord
A highly effective technique when you're selling anything is to put yourself in the shoes of the person who's buying. You're selling your attractiveness as a tenant, and the person buying is your prospective landlord.
Know what your landlord values
So try to imagine what she sees as an ideal tenant. You then want to paint a mind portrait with yourself in that role. She's likely to want someone who is going to:
Pay rent reliably and on time — So she's likely to pull your credit report and score
Care for the property — A small landlord will be entrusting a big part of her net worth into your hands
Abide by the rules — Your lease will contain some duties and obligations that you must observe, including not causing a nuisance to neighbors
Be low maintenance — Of course, you're entitled to report issues and get them fixed. But do so with a sense of reasonableness and proportionality: there's a difference in urgency between a failed hot water system and a single power outlet that's not working
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If you meet your landlord's criteria for an ideal tenant, there's a good chance you'll catch some breaks further down the road. And that might include consideration when rent reviews arise. Many landlords value "golden tenants" and will do a lot to keep them happy and in place.
Head off problems
Most new landlords will want to call your previous landlords to check on your past behavior as a tenant. That's the best indicator of what's likely to happen in the future.
If you had a big falling out with a previous landlord, be upfront about it. Say, "Landlord x hates me because [say why]. But call landlords y and zand they'll tell you what I'm really like as a tenant."
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The same applies to blemishes on your credit report. If you explain them upfront, they'll be read in context when she receives your report. For example: "I was unemployed for three months back in 2015 and things got messy. But I've been in a steady job for two years now and things are back to normal."
The more high-end the property you want to rent, the more choosy the landlord's likely to be. When you're looking in the bargain-basement (perhaps literally) end of the market, you'll typically face lower hurdles.
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