5 tips to get your rental application approved, even if you have bad credit and pets

Guest post by Jessica Carrillo
Rental Sweet Rental pillow from Etsy seller Plum Perfection.
Rental Sweet Rental pillow from Etsy seller Plum Perfection.

In a competitive rental market, you want your application to be approved. I’ve been a property manager for over 10 years, so I have five important tips to help get that rental application for sure approved. These tips are especially helpful if you don’t have the best credit, or if you have an animal…

1. Get organized before you go on the apartment hunt

When I’m reviewing rental applicants, if an application is organized and thorough, the cards will already be in your favor. Most landlords will require you to fill out an application, provide a copy of your photo ID, submit documented proof of income, and they will charge you an application processing fee to run your credit.

If you are moving for a new job, make sure to have the signed offer letter from your new employer. If you are self-employed, get a copy of your tax return and copy a few bank statements to show current consistent income.

The more organized you are the less work the landlord will need to do. This will automatically enhance your application and put you ahead of the pack.

2. Write an introduction cover letter

Write a few paragraphs sharing a little history about who you are, the reason for your move, your financial background, and a few sentences to personalize why you are interested in that particular apartment. You should also include an explanation of any negative credit marks, so there are no surprises when they run your credit. Ask your current landlord to write a short recommendation to show your rental record of paying on time.

3. Secure a financial Guarantor if you have poor credit

Applicants with poor credit may need to ask a friend or family member with good credit and ample income to act as their financial Guarantor/co-signer. That person is guaranteeing that they will pay your rent if you don’t. As landlords we sometimes think, why should we trust this person with a bad track record to pay rent on-time each month, if their friends and family won’t vouch for them?

The guarantor will also need to submit the same application documents as the applicant. If you get these documents ready ahead of time it could save you a few days of scrambling. If you cannot secure a guarantor, try offering to pay a double security deposit or pay a few months of rent in advance.

4. Offer more rent per month — especially if you have a pet

Money talks, so if you really love a place try offering more rent per month, even if it is just $25 or $50 more than the listed price.

If you have a pet, offering additional “pet rent” will give the landlord an incentive to choose you over an applicant with no pets. You should also expect to pay a pet deposit, provide pet references, and purchase renter’s insurance to cover your pet’s liability.

5. Have a good attitude

I think this might be the most important tip! Searching and applying for apartments can be a stressful time for a prospective renter. Running around looking at multiple places and providing personal financial documents can create anxiety which sometimes manifests in a bad attitude. Make sure to be polite and friendly to the leasing agent, landlord, or owner. Your pleasant attitude will have a direct impact on the success of your application. This one seems like a no-brainer, but from my experience, sometimes ya really do need this reminder.

Rental managers and dwellers: Dish the goodies! What are your secrets for nailing the rental application?

Comments on 5 tips to get your rental application approved, even if you have bad credit and pets

  1. Hello! Frustrated and sad Montrealer!
    After 22y of living at the same address, finding myself looking for an apartment as of today for my University daughter & myself. Apartment hunting surely is not what it’s used to be back then when I was in my 20’s, 30’s. It’s complicated, frustrating and time consuming. I haven’t slept well since I got my repossession notice. My landlord of 21 years died, the duplex got sold and now owned by a new owner that literally is giving me the boot. Rest assure I’m not talking about cowboy boots! How nice of him! I have been looking for a flat since January 2018 for July 1. All I am finding is apartments that are way too expensive/nice and cannot afford it, or sometimes reasonable enough but not clean and in need of many repairs/painting etc that landlords are not willing to do. Then there’s those that I find reasonable/clean/freshly painted and what not and there’s those extra applicants that I have to compete with in credit check, income, etc. I don’t even have bad credit and I still have a hard time. Boy just by the rental information I have to fill out makes me feel quite naked. Here in Montreal there’s certain rules and codes they (LANDLORDS) have to obey of what to ask and not. The do’s and don’ts per say. I didn’t know any better and after 22y, duh! as I am, we together my daughter & I fill out our first rental application & gave way too much sensitive info by answering the questions, for the credit check. I even had to go after him just to get an answer. He finally returned our texts saying that “he hasn’t made his mind up yet on who to choose” from all other applicants that have been applying for the same flat. Well, then I tried to call by phone to speak to him in person to get some type of explanation re to the application, he does not answer his phone. I have been trying for days with no response to the texts sent. I had to tell my daughter to send him a text to destroy/w/proof/or/return the applications back to us immediately. That we’re no longer interested and if he doesn’t comply with my terms, give me some type of reply. That I will then notify the police for disrespecting altogether the binding document/application and its sensitive information given. Now, I’m so regretting giving him our private information, SIN number, medicare #, license#, and more. I just found out from the Quebec rental board this:
    TO THE LANDLORDS: Do not ask for private information; including credit card numbers, social insurance numbers, and/or passports.
    The landlord cannot collect credit card numbers, bank account numbers, social insurance numbers, visa or passport, driver’s permit or health insurance. They may ask a future tenant to show their ID to confirm their name. They are allowed to ask for references, full name, current or previous addresses and date of birth for a credit check. To learn more take a look at The lease and protection of personal information
    Now I feel scared thinking that, was he just being a phony gathering information for something else? Or other? I have not meet him just his parents when I went to see the apartment first before applying. From the looks of it so far he’s their son in charge of the credit check/choosing the applicant and so on. I’m trying to stay calm and think positive that my information is secure despite his rudeness of not getting back to us. At least to let us know what the hell is going on. Are we accepted or not? That’s is the question. It seems he has no respect no consideration for others. Now, surely, will not make the same mistake if I come around to apply for another apartment. Having other difficulties there’s a shortage of 5 1/2 apartments in Montreal that are affordable and in good condition. I understand the Landlord’s situation when it comes to feel secure about having the right tenant but to ask for way too much rent/being too picky/or/discriminate and to top all of that the apartment looks like crap, in every you could imagine, for me is 666 highway robbery. LOL There’s this British tv show on Netflix called “Nightmare Tenants and Slum Landlords”, I think I will watch this to get more insight on how to or whatever…after I finish this post. LMAO – You should to!
    All I can suggest to everyone is check your rental law in your town/city/country before filing out your rental application, never give more information that’s not necessary to give and keep your information secure from identity theft and never never pay your first rent/deposit before signing a lease. Thanks God I didn’t give him $1000.00 upfront to reserve the apartment that literally I would of lost it at the end. Lesson learned! For now, I will continue having sleepless nights, searching & crying, & still manage to have a bit of faith/hopes that I will not end up on the streets with my daughter, dragging my furniture, camping out, with no apartment in time to move out July 1, 2018. I never thought that it would be so hard.
    If it wasn’t for the loss of my awesome previous landlord of 21 years I wouldn’t have to move out and continue enjoying my awesome low rent cost , spacious, with a terrasse patio in the back 5 1/2 apartment with peace and smiles to last me until my daughter would finally finish University, probably get married, have some grandchildren and so on…now craps, my dream just turned into a nightmare.
    Many thanks to my new landlord for making my life a living hell.
    PS By the way landlords have rights to asks us tenants to be nice, quiet and not to make noise while renting but where’s the law where the landlord should be nice, quiet and not to make noise while owning? In my case it’s my new landlord that makes hell of a lot of noise every night with his theatre special VERY loud effects HD tv and I always have to shut off my beautiful 60″ tv off in the living room to go into my bedroom to watch my smaller tv. I hate it. Since he bought the house in July 2017 my nights haven’t been the same nor my weekends. The whole family makes noise downstairs from me and I haven’t enjoyed my living room since then. In a way I’m glad I am leaving but only for this reason.
    Goodnight and thanks for reading my post. I hope my experiences will shed some light to some of you.
    Good luck ,
    Cheers from Montreal

  2. very well written and informative post for me. for renter we must have legal and improvement and tips will help me to get these. Thanks a lot.

  3. This is good advice for those trying to rent with less than stellar circumstances surrounding them. As a property manager, we look for tenants that are responsible and have the ability to pay the rent on time. While credit scores do say a lot about a person, they are not the entire story. That’s where having good references, a solid rental history, and a stable job with plenty of income help – just as you mentioned. I would also suggest that any tenant looking to lease should do everything in their power to avoid having to file bankruptcy right before or even during a tenancy. This will not only create problems for you and your landlord at the time, but affect your ability to lease in the future.

  4. Thanks for this insight! It can hard for tenants to secure a home when they have poor credit, inconsistent income, and even pets (so many landlords don’t want to deal with pets!). That said, it can be done if you know how to handle your situation. As a property manager, I make sure to thoroughly screen each prospective tenant to make sure I don’t place a problem tenant into an owner’s property. However, I don’t always rely just on what the paperwork says. Sometimes talking to a tenant and finding out their situation can go a long way when it comes to an approval. I appreciate your mention of having a good attitude. Sometimes things happen that make it harder to lease a property. but it doesn’t have to make it impossible and a good property manager understands this.

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