A fairly common question that our staff at Places4Students.com often receive from students is "When should I start looking for a rental property close to my college or university?"
Unfortunately, there is no absolute answer to this question. But as a rule, we generally find that the old saying usually applies - The early bird gets the worm!
We recommend that students plan ahead and start looking for housing options long before they start school, especially with the current low rental market supply across North America. College and university students are feeling the pinch when searching for housing accommodations, particularly for the upcoming semester. As mentioned in a recent blog about the current rental market, there is a much larger percentage of tenants looking for rental housing options now than at any point since 1965. As conditions recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and life returns back to normal, student renters are returning to in-class learning and are once again adding to the tenant pool.
Are you having difficulty securing rental housing accommodations? Here are some helpful tips to gain a competitive advantage over other potential tenants:
1. Be prompt in responding to landlords.
When searching for a rental accommodation in this competitive market, be consistent in looking at new property listings daily because vacancies won’t last long. Landlords are often receiving multiple rental inquiries and responding back to prospective tenants simultaneously. Responding immediately and professionally to screening questions can advance a student more quickly into a second round of selection or give the opportunity to view the rental unit before others.
2. Arrive at rental viewing appointments on time and prepared.
Landlords will normally request a completed application, proof of income or guarantor, and personal identification to start the screening process. They may also request a credit report, references, and other documents. It is important to be prepared and bring all needed items to the viewing, whether in person or virtual. Students should have questions prepared for the landlord to avoid later or ongoing correspondences, resulting in a delay of securing the rental property.
3. First impressions are KEY.
A rental application meeting can be a lot like a job interview. It is important to dress appropriately, treat everyone with respect, and be professional. Some students find it beneficial to research and practice responding to several common screening questions. These questions are often in relation to any previous rental experience, a tenant’s background, and what a student is looking for from a rental arrangement.
4. Have rental payments readily available.
Should the landlord offer the rental unit to the student during the application process, it is beneficial to have funds readily available to make a deposit or pay the first-month’s rent immediately. In most cases, the rental accommodation will not be fully secured until some form of payment has been made first.
5. Prepare ahead of time and read rental reviews.
Before making a rental payment and signing the lease, it is important that students do due diligence in reviewing the property and landlord. The application process gives a landlord the opportunity to prescreen potential tenants. Student renters can conduct landlord evaluations online by researching the property and reading rental reviews. Students can prepare a few questions to ask the landlord as well. Places4Students.com has compiled a list of red flags to be mindful of before securing a rental property.
Being prompt and prepared could be the difference between securing a rental unit or losing it to another potential tenant. Similar to a job interview, there is likely multiple other candidates applying for the same rental accommodation in this competitive rental market.
SEE ALSO: 7 Important Things Students Should Check Before Renting a Place
The Places4Students.com Team