Written by Libby Hooven :: From the Humboldt Advocate :: January 26 - February 1, 2005
With the local rental market tightening, it is becoming harder and harder for students to successfully qualify for the rental they desire. Here are some helpful suggestions for acquiring the space you want.
Be Presentable: Make a good appearance! Be polite, respectful, and clean.
Be Prepared: When you make calls of inquiry, don't leave a message and expect a return call to you if something comes up. If property managers took the time to return calls to everyone who wanted to know if we have a two bedroom apt available, we would be on the phone all day!
When you do call, please know what it is you're looking for, and state it clearly and succinctly. In the height of the rental season, property managers are inundated with calls, thus filtering through a lot of ums, ahs, and convoluted messages can be frustrating. If you leave a fax number, most will be happy to fax you a rental listing, especially if they don't have a web site, or if their listings are not on their web. Many will e-mail you listings, and larger companies often have downloadable applications.
When applying, make certain you have: 1) renter's references, 2) evidence of income, and 3) a cosigner, if you don't have sufficient income to cover your living expenses. If you do have a cosigner (or Guarantor of Rent), inform him (or her), that he may need to have a credit check run. If he or she has an existing credit report that is less than six months old, bring a copy with you, as that will usually suffice. Also, ask your cosigner to write a letter stating that they are willing to pay your rent, or commit to so much per month. If you are working, bring a statement from your employer. If you are getting financial aid, bring a letter of commitment. For obvious reasons, (I hope), simply stating that you "plan to get a job" will not do, (and yes, enthusiasm is nice, but it won't substitute for lack of qualifications). If you have been a renter locally, bring a letter of reference from your landlord. To speed things up, bring in a generic application, or one from another property manager. Anything you do to expedite the process will help you.
Don't expect to see the rental if you haven't met the property manager. Safety issues won't allow property to be shown without meeting the applicant first, as it presents too much risk for agents.
If you are applying with roommates, make sure all of the applicants come with you to the management office, and to see the property. And speaking of roommates, a word of caution ---- when you and your roommates sign a Rental Agreement, please remember that you become responsible jointly and individually, meaning, that if your roommate skips out, you are still responsible for the obligations and conditions of the lease, not just your half, or your quarter.
Be Truthful: Be up-front about pets and smoking. Those are two things that are pretty hard to hide. If you are credit challenged, let the property manager know. This doesn't necessarily mean you won't qualify for the rental.
Be Persistent: Don't make excessive calls, but be available to answer questions. Be sure to place return calls to check on the process, and to let them know you're still interested.
Be Patient: If you don't get the property you want, you can request the office to keep your application for future vacancies. Don't be too disappointed if you don't get THE place. It could very well mean that an even better one is waiting for you. Just keep doing the footwork, and the right place will probably find you.