Getting the Apartment You Want!!
Renting an apartment can be a frustrating task if you have a limited income, poor or no credit and if you have special requirements – like a pet, or if you want a yard for your children, or just basically seeking clean housing in a safe neighborhood.
When you go into a store to buy a product, it’s usually a “cash and carry” purchase. You pay for the product and it’s yours to take home. You own it. You can do what you want with it after it’s paid for. Done deal.
The relationship with a landlord puts you in the position of being the tenant as a “buyer” and the landlord is offering the “product” that you want to buy. The difference is the “product” cannot be paid for in one lump sum, instead the product that you are buying from the landlord is being paid for on a month-to-month basis, over a period of time and you will never own the product. The landlord is loaning the product to you and is going to want certain qualifications (proof) from you to be sure that you will be able to meet your monthly payment obligations. The landlord will also look for some assurance that you will take care of the product he is loaning you.
You need to show the landlord that you are a good risk and will pay as you promise to do. This is where your credit score becomes a helpful tool. Your good credit score shows the landlord that in the past, you have a good history of paying for items that you purchased on a similar month-to-month basis. Previous landlord references can also be helpful. If you have paid your rent on time in the past, the previous landlord can offer a confirmation/reference that verifies that you are a good risk. Renting is a risk for both tenant and landlord! Trust & integrity should prevail throughout your relationship!
Start the apartment inquiry process on a positive note. Read the ad completely and don’t apply if you don’t meet the requirements! If the ad asks you to TEXT ONLY, don’t call!!! If and when you do speak with someone on the phone, speak clearly and don’t start the conversation with “Do you take Section 8? or “Do you take DSS?” It is a law that all people offering housing must accept Section 8 or any other legal form of income as payment. It’s not even a valid question. It’s like asking the landlord, “Do you accept money for the rent?”
Lead with your strengths. Start the inquiry by stating the circumstances that apply to you. For instance, “I am interested in your 2 bedroom apartment on Chestnut Street (this shows you read the ad) and my monthly income is approximately 3X the rent you are asking (again, you read the ad and know the standard for income –“housing should be 1/3 of your monthly income”). I have good previous landlord references and I am looking for a 2 bedroom for myself and my 2 children (or whatever applies to you). I have a cat and small poodle dog (if you have a pet, say so up front). Both pets are up to date on all their vaccinations, and I am a non-smoker.” State what your strengths are. Be business-like and friendly. Impressions of you are formed by your phone etiquette. These are just suggestions. Think of your first meeting with a landlord the same way you would if you were going for a job interview. Present yourself well and always be honest!! First impressions count for both parties; you and the landlord. Pay attention to how the landlord presents himself to you! You should both be putting your best foot forward!