In a competitive rental market, standing out in a pool of applicants might be the key to securing your ideal tenancy. According to the CMHC, BC’s hottest rental housing market is Vancouver where the vacancy rate is below 1% and that is expected to decrease. Demand for rental units far outpaces the current supply and renters are feeling the pressure. Here are 5 tips to help make sure your rental application gets noticed by potential landlords.
1. Online first impressions count
When you are inquiring about rental properties over email, be conscious of the first impression you are making. Keep your email brief and professional (no spelling mistakes or slang). Is your email address potentially juvenile or offensive? In your introductory email, you will want to tell the landlord a bit about yourself and whether you are planning on renting alone, with a partner, or with a friend. Politely ask to see the property for an in-person showing. It is always good to show a bit of enthusiasm about the rental unit, location or other aspects of the rental. Also, take a quick look at your Facebook profile, what would a potential landlord see if they searched for you? Now might be a good time to clean up your profile (or lock down your privacy settings)
2. Make a personal connection
Once you have scheduled a viewing, show up on time (better yet, get there early). Take your time checking out the unit and try to make conversation and get to know the landlord. Tell the landlord what you like about the rental and the location. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take note of the details of the property. Be friendly and outgoing, which will help make a positive impression and demonstrate that you are a serious renter. Some landlords hold a few showings, accept several applications and then make a decision. Others are open to renting the unit on the spot (if they feel it is a good fit and you are prepared with your documentation).
3. Be prepared
When you are looking for rental housing, it pays to be prepared. Having all of your personal information and documentation in order is key to securing a rental in a timely fashion. Ideally, you will have all of your paperwork gathered and ready to submit immediately after the in-person showing. Complete the application (if there is one) and make copies of your last few pay stubs or bank statements. Have the contact information for your current employer and your current landlord. It is also a smart idea to have a check or cash handy for the full amount of the damage deposit plus first month’s rent in case you want to secure the tenancy on the spot. Anything you can do to speed up the rental process and set you apart from other applicants.
4. Be open and honest
Do you have a pet? A spotty credit history? Be honest with the landlord or property manager. Communicate clearly and help them understand your situation – being trustworthy and upfront may be a plus.
5. Get a recommendation
If you have rented previously with a good result, you can ask your current (or former) landlord to write a letter of recommendation. The letter should include key details such as the length of your tenancy, and that you paid your rent in full and on time. If your landlord could speak to your character or other attributes, that is a bonus! Make copies of this letter to share with prospective landlords and property managers.
If you haven’t rented before, or cannot secure a recommendation, consider enrolling in Rent Smart Online. The course will provide you with valuable information about your rights as a renter and how to maintain a tenancy. After completing the course, you will receive the RentSmart certificate, which is recognized by a growing number of landlords. Taking RentSmart demonstrates your knowledge, education, and dedication to being a responsible tenant. In some cases, RentSmart certificate can be recognized in lieu of references and credit checks. Currently, RentSmart is available for residents of BC and Alberta.