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How to Convince a Landlord to Rent to You

By Julie Jaggernath

Are you trying to convince a landlord to rent to you? Looking like the ideal renter and great tenant to make your application stand out takes a bit of planning. But to score the place you want – and keep it, can be done even if your credit might look bad.

The landlord-tenant relationship is ultimately a business relationship. To show landlords that you care about the same things they care about, find ways to show them that you can truly afford the rent, that you can take care of their place and keep it in good shape, and that you aren’t the kind of person to cause problems with other tenants or neighbours.

Here’s a list of tips to help you be desirable to a landlord:

How a Landlord Can Tell if You Can Afford the Rent

A landlord can tell if you can truly afford the rent by looking at the income information you provide, as well as the monthly payment amounts for each of the debts on your credit report. If the rent they will charge you plus the debts you currently have come close to what you earn, that will cause them concern.

To alleviate their concerns, prove to them that you have additional savings set aside (to which you contribute regularly) that will be used for the security deposit and unexpected expenses. You can’t however, keep living beyond your means so avoid renting a place that’s more expensive than your regular budget allows.

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Your Credit Report and Rating

If you’re not sure what a prospective landlord will see on your credit report, get a copy of your own credit report from both Equifax and TransUnion Canada ahead of time. The link explains in detail how to get it for free in the mail, how to pay for it and get it right away, and how to get your credit score.

However, you don’t in fact need to worry about your credit score. Take care of your credit history report and your score and credit rating overall will take care of itself.

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If you have a bad credit report, for instance with items of public record, debts in collections, judgments against you, bankruptcies, repossessions, debt written off or settled, or even continuous late payments, you have your work cut out for you when it comes to proving to a landlord that you have what it takes to be an ideal renter. Be prepared to explain how your problems occurred and what you have done since to address the problem and resolve it.

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First Impressions Count

When it comes to applying for a rental, your first impression matters. A lot. So make it a good one. Prepare to go to a property viewing the same way you would prepare for a job interview, because that’s exactly what this is. You are interviewing each other. Your clothing should be clean, in good repair, and appropriate. You want to be yourself, but make it your business or business casual self and not the you that just left a workout, the beer league, or is ready for a day at the beach.

Is Your Vehicle Ready for a First Impression?

While you’re at it, make sure your vehicle is up to making a good first impression too. Any potential landlord who accesses your credit report will see if your vehicle is leased. If your car is a mess and you’re just renting it, that will send a loud message that you might not intend to send. If you have a car loan, you want to ensure that the way you take care of something you own is indicative of how you take care of an apartment or home.

Come Prepared to Your Rental Appointment

It is essential that you come prepared to your rental appointment and property viewing. Be on time, and a few minutes early is best. Bring everything they asked you to bring, any information you need to reference to fill in an application form, your current contact details as well as those of your current landlord, employment information, and how to contact your references. If you are self employed or have irregular income, ensure that you are organized and can provide what they need to verify your employment as well as your income. Filing your taxes should be up to date so that you can provide your 2-3 most recent notices of assessment if asked.

Children, Pets, and Extra Friends or Family Members

Bring your children along if they will be living with you. Ensure that they have gone to the washroom ahead of time, aren’t hungry, didn’t just down a sugary snack or drink that will cause them to bounce off the walls, and that your kids have something quiet to keep them busy while you speak with the landlord. If you plan to let your kids use your electronic device, ensure you’ve got paper copies of any information you need available during your interview.

Don’t try to hide that you have pets. Many landlords don’t allow pets, and those who do will typically ask for a pet deposit on top of your regular security deposit. Critters, from something small and caged to furry and four-legged, any landlord who follows their insurance company’s rules will need to walk through their property at least every few months at the latest, so they will notice the aquarium, the smell of the hamster’s cage or that one of your stuffed animals is blinking.

Ultimately landlords want to know who they will be renting to. Supportive friends or family members may cause a landlord to question who will actually be moving in. Save your friends and family to help with moving instead.

When It Comes Right Down to Convincing a Landlord to Rent to You (Even If You Have Bad Credit)

First impressions for the ideal renter or great tenant and looking good on paper matter when it comes to getting a landlord to pick you. But being an attractive tenant also means communicating clearly and confidently; give straight forward answers when asked. And above all, be honest, even if you have bad credit. Landing the place is just the start. When it comes time to renew your lease or to ask you landlord to be a reference for the next place, you don’t want them to feel like they didn’t get what they saw in you before you moved in. People remember when they feel like they got duped, and you know what they say about karma.

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