How to get a lease in a competitive rental market


Rental rates are increasing around the country; both baby boomers and millennials are renting in increasing numbers. Because of this, many renters struggle to find a great – or even decent – property to meet their needs. The following strategies can help give you an edge when trying to get a lease in a competitive rental market.

  1. Be wary of red flags
    In competitive markets, unsavory landlords may try to scam renters. Be wary of listings that describe a rental as “charming”, “unique”, or “cozy” as these can be code for out of date, oddly laid out, or shoe box sized. Likewise, the term “converted” may indicate illegal additions to a home; a converted two bedroom is likely a one bedroom rigged with an illegal wall.
    Be wary of high pressure sales tactics, landlords that ask you to wire large sums of money without a contract, or those leasing or subletting “for a friend”. Renters should also know their rights when it comes to what landlords can and cannot ask on rental applications.
    2.         Have money ready up front
    You’ve found the perfect rental – but won’t have the cash to cover the security deposit for another week. In a competitive market, this can mean losing out on a great property. Ensure you have money for a deposit and first month’s rent ready in advance before applying for a property.
    3.         Update your references
    Keep an updated list of references on hand when applying for a lease. Even if references aren’t required, including them can show that your are honest, reliable, and trustworthy – desirable traits that landlords look for in new renters. To make the best impression, ensure all your references have up-to-date phone numbers and email addresses to make them easy to contact. Likewise, give those on your reference list a courtesy heads up that potential landlords may be contacting them.
    4.         Prepare your paperwork
    In addition to an updated list of references, prepare a renter’s resume that you can bring with you to open houses; this allows you to apply on the spot if you like the property. Include a copy of your most recent credit report, proof of income, a copy of your photo ID, as well as information about any pets (such as training certificates or proof of vaccination).
    5.         Schedule showings as soon as possible
    Don’t wait until the weekend to view a property if it is listed on a Tuesday. In a competitive market, it is important to move fast on new listings; schedule a showing as soon as possible to give yourself the best chance with a new property.
    6.         Don’t be afraid to ask questions
    Finding a good rental in a competitive market can seem impossible. Because of this, many potential renters often avoid asking questions about a property so they aren’t seen as demanding or difficult. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the neighborhood, building, previous tenants, or the condition of the home.


Finding a rental property in a competitive market can be difficult – but doesn’t have to be impossible. Following these tips can help you sign a lease on a great rental no matter the market!

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