We have all heard, “we only employ people with experience”! Well, the same principle applies to property rentals.
It is not uncommon for a landlord to say that they do not want first time renters; mainly because we have no way of verifying how they will be as a tenant. It is important to appreciate, if you are a potential tenant, that being a good tenant isn’t just about paying the rent on time (that part is easy for us to determine), it’s about much more. Most astute landlords are more concerned about having a good tenant who is looking after their valuable asset; is the tenant looking after the property well? It’s also important for a landlord to be comfortable in the belief that they will not get monthly maintenance requests for items that could easily be carried out by the tenant. All these factors come into play for a landlord when choosing a tenant.
Clearly the only real way we can find these things out is through carrying out a rental reference with the previous licenced agent (not a private agent or private landlord).
But don’t worry, as a first time tenant, it’s not all doom and gloom. Every tenant has had to rent their first property, and many landlords are prepared to give them a go. That said, there are a few tricks that can assist in securing your first rental tenancy.
Pay above the price
This sounds blunt, but it’s a simple concept for investment, “the higher the return, the higher the risk” this applies to all asset classes – yes, even rentals. By offering a few dollars more than the advertised price you maybe able to forward the argument that the landlord is making a little more in rental income, so maybe the landlord will be prepared to accept a little more risk by taking on a first time renter.
Use your strengths!
In addition to the tip above about meeting the property manager, be sure to tell the property manager a bit about yourself. Obviously if it is a busy “open for inspection” this will be hard, so maybe wait until the end when the crowd has dispersed. What sort of things should you mention? if you are from the country, are you a member of a community group, do you play local sport, connections to the area, etc. Any activities at all that you think may help spark the interest of the property manager. After-all, we are all human so show your human side.
Meet the Property Manager
Make sure that when you attend an “open for inspection” don’t just sneak in and out without saying anything, make sure the property manager (hopefully the person doing the inspection) knows who you are and that you have engaged with them, and please smile! It doesn’t cost a cent to smile and be friendly. If the property manager is not at the “open for inspection” try to find an excuse to meet them (don’t just drop into the office unannounced though), maybe call to arrange an appointment if you can. It will be the property manager who will go into bat for you; so if the Property Manager knows you, and the Property Manager has good relationship management skills and experience, the landlord will take their opinion and advice on board when choosing the property’s next tenant.
Be sure to add a cover letter
Oddly this only seems to happen with people from the country (yet again highlighting the good folk of the land) but a short few paragraphs with the application, best sent separately or dropped off by hand (finding that excuse to met the property manager) just saying a little bit about yourself. Write a letter that is like a brief CV, and remember to make sure that your cover letter has the actual property address you are applying for clearly noted at the top of the page.
Go to inspections early in the week
While it maybe hard to avail yourself early in the week for inspections this is a great time to go, especially if you are in a high interest area (many people attending opens). There are three good reasons for this; firstly, its likely that the property manager will be holding the open (instead of the Saturday leasing person) this is your chance to put your best foot forward. The second reason is that property managers will be keen to get properties let ahead of the coming Saturday, so will be motivated to put forward your application promptly. And finally, chances are less people will attend an open early in the week.
Try to avoid a private landlord
Sure you may think that you are building a solid rental history, but the fact of the matter is private landlords are not taken seriously as a quality rental referee. They may not even be real people as far as we are concerned, not only that there could be a personality clash that would not reflect accurately as a rental reference or many other potential issues. I, for one, won’t bother ringing private landlords for a reference because I just can’t sufficiently verify their bone fides.
These are just a few small tricks that can help get you across the line and into your first rental.
Truth be told, it comes down to “fit” – are you going to be a good fit for the particular landlord? Often that question can really only be determined by the “gut feel” of the Property Manager, so be sure to go out of your way (without stalking of course) to befriend a Property Manager – she or he will be your greatest ally!
Good luck and happy renting! And don’t fear, like tenants, most landlords are great people too, and with some coaching by your Property Manager, they will be prepared to give you a go!
Stop the Press
Just a quick last-minute add on, be available! Nothing more annoying for a property manager than calling peoples phones and getting message banks or ring outs! We will only try so many times, and then go to the next person. This happens all too often with young people especially.
So if you want to maximize your chances you need to be available. I for one will not proceed with any applicant I can’t get hold of on the phone, especially if I didn’t do the open for inspection and have not met them. At the very least, I will need to talk to them. So be available!