The rental application is a fundamental tool for landlords when it comes to finding the right tenants. But an application is only as good as the information contained in it. One way to obtain the best information — and weed out bad tenants — is for the landlord to attach a cover letter that explains the significance of the rental application.
Here are some tips for drafting the rental application cover letter:
Tone is important because this is the first official document that the new tenant will see, so be firm but kind. Don’t be informal, funny, or chatty — that sends the wrong message. But polite and respectful words can put the applicant at ease. A tenant who is trusting of the process is more likely to provide the most complete and accurate answers.
Many property managers use a form letter or instruction sheet as a transmittal for the rental application. While this format looks official and sets a firm tone, using one of these forms is not always the most effective strategy.
Instruction sheets often are generic, with multiple check-off boxes. Not only is this confusing for the applicant, but it’s impersonal, which can discourage complete answers. Also, these forms can be intimidating. For instance, if the first line of the form is a list of all the personal documents the tenant must hand over, along with a demand for money, the applicant may become defensive. That resistance only encourages omissions and sketchy answers on the application, and turns off the best rental applicants. A letter format allows for a more personal, welcoming introduction, like:
“Thank you for your interest in the rental property located at 123 Main St. This is our rental application. Before you get started, let me explain how our process works.”
That makes the landlord’s subsequent demands more palatable — and less like a slap in the face.
The most important point to make in the cover letter is that the application is a legal document, and failure to provide complete and honest answers will be considered fraud. That can lead to the application being rejected, and may be a crime. Explain that the tenant will be asked to verify with a signature that the information is true and complete, and that each item will be verified. Warn the applicant that even if the application is approved, if it is based on false or misleading information, the tenancy may be terminated. This information should be one of the first things the applicant reads in the cover letter, and the applicant should read it before beginning to complete the application.
Explain that each adult occupant must complete a separate application based solely on that individual’s information.
Let applicants know they will be asked to consent to a tenant background check which will include a credit check, eviction and criminal histories, and confirmation of references. If the landlord cannot get in touch with the references, applicants must facilitate the reference process or the application may be denied. This will discourage applicants who were planning to bluff their way into the property by listing references who they know are unavailable.
Provide contact information and encourage the applicant to get in touch with any questions regarding the leasing process. Be approachable. Open communication will encourage truthful answers and sets the stage for a successful landlord-tenant relationship.
This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).
Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.
The expectations of tenants and landlords are rarely similar. As a tenant, you expect a great apartment that doesn’t cost too much. You want a landlord whose policies are not too strict, so you can make the place feel like home. You would like to go through the application process as quickly as possible, so you can move in right away.
The landlord, on the other hand, wants to get more money out of the property, and they want to invest as little as possible. They will hardly give the apartment to someone with bad credit. They want proper documentation, so they can evaluate the candidates before making a deal with one of them.
When you’re in search for a new place, the landlord has an advantage. The rental market is heating up. More and more people can’t afford to buy their own place, so renting is their own option. When a landlord has a place for rent, they can choose.
So how do you get chosen? It’s all about the rental application. We’ll give you 5 hacks on how to do things right.
- Double-Check the Requirements and Provide All Needed Documents
It’s surprising to see how many people neglect the required documents for the rental application. If everything is listed properly, why would you avoid providing some of the documentation? In general, these are the documents that landlords require:
- Proof of income, which should show you have a steady financial status. This may include bank statements, recent payslips, and tax return reports.
- The letter of employment is requested from applicants who just started a new job. They can’t provide an impressive bank statement, but this letter shows your financial status is getting better.
- The summary of your rental history should show you made payments on time and you didn’t cause your previous landlords any trouble.
- Valid ID
- Reference letters
- Pet references
- Application form
- Cover letter
All these documents are important, so put them together on time. It’s easy to get most of them; you’ll just need to contact the bank for statements and your employer for a letter. The application form and cover letter, however, are a bit tricky. That’s where you’ll need the real hacks.
- Make the Cover Letter Perfect
Okay, now things get overwhelming. The cover letter should tell who you are, what you do, and why you’re moving to a new place. The landlord wants to see your personality through this letter. The other documents already show how much money you’re making. In the cover letter, the main goal is to show you’re a responsible individual who will take care of that property.
Try to answer this question: why would you make a great tenant?
Here are few tips to help you write a great cover letter:
- Don’t make it too long. One page is more than enough. You can’t expect the landlord to read an endless essay about your life.
- Double-check the letter for grammar and spelling issues before you submit the application. Proper language shows you as a responsible individual.
- Ask a friend to check the letter. The feedback will help you improve it.
- If you’re not that great at writing and you really want good results, you can always hire a writing service to help you with this part. It’s a small investment that can boost your odds to get the application approved.
- Get at Least Three References
The references are there to prove you can act responsibly with someone else’s property. Landlords pay a lot of attention to the references. If you can provide one from your previous landlord or property manager, that would be great. Where do you get the other two references? Here are few suggestions:
- A real estate agent
- Your accountant
- Former neighbor
Even if many people like you, most of them won’t know how to write you a reference. Explain that all they need to do is write that they think of you as a responsible person who doesn’t cause trouble. Ask them to include their phone number in the reference, so the landlord can call them.
- Be Honest about Your Credit Status
If you have poor credit, it’s not the end of the world. Maybe you won’t get the first apartment you lay your eyes on, but you won’t stay homeless. With the rising foreclosure rates, many people’s credit history got less than perfect. If you’re struggling, but you’re still a trustworthy and responsible person, the landlord will consider you.
The important thing is to be honest. Explain why you have a low credit score and what you’re doing to improve it. Make sure to provide strong proof that shows your finances can cover all expenses you have, including the rent.
- Offer to Pay More
Now this is a hack that all landlords like. If you really, really love a place and you don’t want to lose it, then offer to pay more than the suggested rent per month. You don’t have to go overboard. Even $25 or $50 will be enough to make the landlord think. They will be getting a considerable extra amount on an annual basis, so they will definitely prefer you over the remaining candidates.
Maybe this is not fair play if you ask the other applicants. However, this is a competitive market and you gotta do what you gotta do.
When the landlord evaluates your personality through documents, it’s not easy to impress them. The cover letter gives you a chance to show your personality, so use it well. Make sure to collect all needed documents and submit an organized, easy-to-read application.
Joan Selby is a content marketer at former teacher and fancy shoelover. A writer by day and reader by night. Find her on Twitter and Facebook.
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