How to Get a Lease: What to Do if No One Will Rent to You

With an explosive housing and rental market, it’s more complicated than ever to secure a lease! From negotiating a lease to writing a letter of intent, what you’ll need to do to find a lease looks much different than it did 5 years ago. Wondering, “what do you do when no one will rent to you”? With the market being tougher than ever, now is the ideal time to brush up on how to impress a landlord, improve your apartment viewing etiquette, and try your hand at tips to get rental applications approved.

Follow these tips to increase your chances of signing a lease for your dream apartment or rental home!

1. Identify Why It Feels Like No One Will Rent to You

Have you found yourself thinking, “I wonder why nobody will rent to me”? Take a moment to ask yourself: does my application show a bad rental history? Is my credit score or my overall debt load hurting my chances of getting this lease? Do I look great on paper but maybe my first impression in-person is lacking? It’s important to know where you might be getting looked over so you can address it!

If you know you look questionable on paper, don’t be afraid to address that in your letter to your lessor. Keep it professional and acknowledge why you’ve previously broken leases, especially if those instances were for opportunities like taking jobs across the country, or being near family during important times, and especially if those moves were to increase your personal safety. If your finances are slouching, team up with a guarantor to add a level of ease to the application process. Regardless of how you look on paper, these tips for applying for rental property leases will make you appear even better.

2. Improve Your Apartment Viewing Etiquette

First impressions are everything. So, be sure to conduct yourself in a professional manner in all communications with a potential lessor. Particularly, be mindful of how you show up to an in-person meeting.

When you’re touring apartments, make sure you:

  • Show up on time. Punctuality is key! Show up a few minutes early to ensure you don’t waste a touring agent’s time.
  • Dress professionally. While you don’t need to break out something business formal, a clean, wrinkle-free outfit and tasteful accessories can speak volumes.
  • Speak cordially and thoughtfully with whoever is leading your tour. A good rule of thumb is to use the kind of language you would if you were in a job interview.
  • Have a few questions ready. Such as, “is there a garbage service? What’s the best wifi provider in this community? Are there any necessary securities or featured amenities I should know about? Do you have any rules about pets?”
  • Stay off of your cell phone. That is unless you’re testing your service in your prospective apartment or taking pictures. In either of those cases, be sure to say, “I’m sorry to be on my phone, I’m checking my service/taking pictures.”
  • Iron out the details. Confirm your required move-in date aligns with the apartment’s availability timeline

From there, make sure to look for signs you didn’t get the apartment so you can adjust your focus and tour new places. Some signs include if rent cost is out of your budget, the property manager is hopeful to get someone moved in before your current lease ends, the meeting went really poorly, or you filled out the application incompletely.

3. Write a Letter to Your Potential Lessor

One of the main differences in renting today versus 5 years ago is that writing letters to your prospective lessors or landlords has become commonplace. With the market being competitive for both rentals and real estate sales, it’s harder than ever to nail down your ideal lease. That’s why it’s best to introduce yourself formally by writing a letter: it’s how to convince a landlord to rent to you. Present yourself with some personality, a lot of professionalism, and the eagerness of why THIS place is the one for you.

Draft your letter with a professional header including:

Your name
Current address (or PO Box)
City, State, Zip

The date

Your prospective landlord or property manager’s name
Their address
City, State, Zip

Then, start the letter by typing, “Dear (their name),” introduce yourself with your full name, and include the address of the property you’re interested in renting. Be clear and direct; a simple “I am interested in your apartment/rental home” will suffice.

From there, talk about why this apartment or house is right for you, why you’re moving, and why you’d be a worthy addition to their renter community. Sign off with a “Sincerely” and your name — and signature if you’re delivering it in hard copy. If you’re getting any assistance with rental costs from family or government resources, include that information so the landlord can consider it when they run your finances during the application process.

Even if it feels a little over the top to write a professional plea to a prospective lessor, it’s essential in that it puts you in the most competitive heat of the pack for property approvals. Plus, writing a letter to a lessor is just like how to write a letter when buying a home. So, view it as good practice for when you’ll buy your first place down the road.

4. Secure a Guarantor

While you might be more familiar with the phrase “co-signer,” a guarantor does the same thing. Generally, a guarantor is a parent or family member — but sometimes a friend, employer, or peer. A guarantor signs your lease along with you to legally ensure payment in case you fall behind on your rent. If you’re feeling frustrated with your apartment search or saying things like “nobody will rent to me,” it might be time to consider a guarantor. Be sure to choose someone who is more financially settled than you, if it’s possible, and, if you have the availability of choice, try to choose someone with whom you’ll have accessible and open communication in case you need to involve them down the line. Learn more about why you need a guarantor for your next apartment.

Are you ready to secure a lease? ApartmentSearch is here to help you navigate the changing market! Our advanced search features and filtering options make it easy to find a lease that fits both your terms and your budget.