Landlords typically do some research on prospective tenants before they hand over the keys to their properties. After all, they’re not going to just let anyone live in their units without verifying what they’ll be like as renters.
Typically rental history checks are conducted to find out what type of experience previous landlords have had with rental applicants. They’ll usually call up these landlords and ask them if the tenants paid on time, if they took care of the property and if they were good neighbors. If they don’t get the answers they want, they can move on to the next prospective tenant.
But what if you don’t have a rental history? What if you’re just moving out of your parents’ home? In these cases, there are no previous landlords to call to verify that you’d be a good tenant. Many times landlords won’t want to take a chance on people who can’t come up with the proper references.
If you’ve never rented before, there are still some things you can do to get approved for a rental unit.
Provide Proof of College Enrollment
If you are currently in college or university and are looking for a place to rent close to school, show your potential landlord proof of your enrollment. Landlords that rent out units near educational facilities are accustomed to renting out to students, so they may be open to negotiating a deal with you.
You might even want to show the landlord a copy of your transcript if you’re getting good marks, which can show them that you’re a good student who will be just as diligent at paying rent on time as you are at maintaining good grades.
Provide Proof of Employment
You might not have a previous landlord to vouch for you, but perhaps your employer might. Get a copy of a letter from your employer stating where you work, how much you earn, how long you’ve been employed there, and whether or not you’re on full-time payroll. With strong job security comes a higher chance of you being able to easily cover rent each month with no problems.
Provide a Copy of All Financial Accounts
In addition to providing documents showing your employment history, you should also provide the landlord with a recent copy of statements of your bank accounts, retirement accounts, investment accounts, and any other account that shows that you’ve got the finances to comfortably afford your rent each month.
Get a Reference Letter From Your Professor
If you’re either still in school or have already graduated, get one of your professors to provide you with a reference letter. Assuming that you were a decent student who worked diligently in school and regularly handed in assignments on time, your old professors shouldn’t have a problem drafting up this potentially important letter.
Obtain a Copy of Your Credit Report
Your landlord will probably want to know what your credit score is before they agree to sign a contract with you, so you might as well pull your own report to find out where you stand with the credit bureaus. This will give you a chance to see if there are any mistakes on the report that could be pulling your score down.
If that’s the case, have these issues investigated and rectified before looking for a place to rent. Doing so can help boost the odds of getting approved for an apartment.
Offer Advanced Rent Payments
Consider offering a few months’ worth of rent in advance as well as a hefty security deposit. Sometimes a little monetary incentive can be just enough to entice your landlord to sign you on as a tenant.
Get Help From a Real Estate Agent
Speak with a real estate agent about your desire to rent an apartment and get them to help you find one. Your agent will be able to find a place that meets your finances and matches your lifestyle, and they may be able to negotiate with a landlord to give you a shot.
Get a Co-Signer
If a family member is willing to co-sign on your behalf, the landlord may feel more at ease about bringing an inexperienced renter aboard. Just make sure that both you and your co-signer fully understand the magnitude of such a responsibility.
The Bottom Line
There are plenty of renters in California, and they all had to start somewhere. With proper preparation, there’s no reason why your rental application form should be denied, as long as your history paints a positive picture of you. Your landlord will obviously want to be careful of who they rent to, and if you show them what they want to see, you should be successful in landing your very first apartment!