Always be honest when talking to a potential landlord, but be careful what you say. Landlords often judge a book by its cover and for good reason…they are protecting their investment. If you want to make a good first impression and be seriously considered as a rental applicant, follow this advice:
DO NOT mention that you have to move because you didn’t pay your last landlord. If a landlord asks and this did happen, just say you ran into financial problems and are looking to rent a place that is more affordable. You realize you were in over your head and are being smarter about your finances now.
DO NOT lie when the landlord asks if you smoke. If you do smoke, say so and add that you have no problem signing an agreement to smoke outside only and in an area designated for smoking.
DO NOT lie about having pets. If you have pets, describe them in a way that a potential landlord would appreciate hearing such as, “I have 2 adult cats who are fully trained and well-behaved. I would be willing to pay a pet damage deposit; however, it may not be necessary as I have excellent references.” You can even add something about your one cat being old and when it passes you do not plan to get another cat.
DO NOT talk bad about your last landlord. This is a major red flag to a prospective new landlord or property manager. While you may very well have had a bad landlord, it’s best you don’t bring this up. Landlords are likely to side with the other landlord if hearing a story and may think that you’re going to be difficult to get along with.
And now for what you SHOULD say.
“Let me tell you a little bit about myself…” This is a great opener. Be honest and tell them all the things you’d expect they’d want to hear.
I am 43 years old and have a good job that I’ve held for 15 years. I don’t smoke, don’t party, and am impeccably clean. I have excellent rental references and have never missed or been late with a rent payment.
My husband and I are in our 60s. We both work part-time and have one older, trained, inside-only cat. We are very quiet and are respectful of the properties we live in. My husband smokes, but always outside and away from the building. We are willing to sign for this in our agreement. We are good renters and always pay rent on time.
I’d like to tell you a bit about myself. I am in my 20s, and while you may think I am young, I am very respectful and grown-up. I prefer to read a book, than go to a party. I have worked for my current employer for 2 years so I have a steady income with which to pay rent. I do not have any pets but if you were open to it, I would love to have a small dog in the future, with your approval of course.