Perhaps the biggest reason to come prepared when it is time to submit an application for a rental in today’s market is because there is a very low vacancy rate of 6.80%. This is the lowest vacancy rate dating back as far as 20 years. It also explains why rental rates continue to climb nationally; the demand is far greater than the supply. Another factor that confirms the tight rental market even further is homeownership is on the decline and is at an all time low since 1994. Therefore, when you do find something you like you need to be ready to act quickly.
Some ways that you can prepare for your rental search is to make sure you have the necessary items with you to include:
- Employment verification or offer letter. If you don’t have an offer letter, you’ll need to bring the last three payroll stubs and W-2 form. Be sure to have your driver’s license or Photo I.D./Passport.
- References from 2-3 landlords and personal references with contact information provided.
- Money for a security deposit and application fee. Some places may accept security deposits with personal checks, but others may require a certified check or money order. They may require separate checks for different fees.
- Some landlords use a credit screening service and may request a copy of your credit report with your credit score. Many landlords will require that your income is 2-3 times the annual rent. There are some options online where you can get a copy of your credit score for free. (www.creditkarma.com or www.annualcredit report.com)
If you have pets you should come prepared with a pet resume complete with photos of your pet or pets and references from a previous landlord or neighbor. You should also include health records from your veterinarian. This helpful tool will give you an edge especially when you are up against someone else with pets. The landlord might not know anything about a pet another applicant may have, but since you came with a completed pet resume with background and references—you have the advantage.
Credit concerns should be addressed as well with a letter of explanation and you should make it very clear that if you are able, you can come to the table with several months of rent up front to get you in the game. You might need to consider a co-signor or consider having your rent deducted directly from your bank account. Sometimes even a payroll deduction directly to your landlord will help if there are blemishes with credit. The key is to be ready to address the issue and to bring it to the attention of the landlord before they learn about it from a credit report.
In today’s competitive market it is best to come prepared with as many tools as possible to give you an edge. Then if you are looking to let property in the UK then you need to make sure that you get a great letting agent, we recently used a great Bristol letting agent who were fantastic, so they are a great example of what to look for.
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