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5 Tips to Stand Out as the Ideal Tenant on Your Rental Application

All landlords want to find and keep quality tenants to occupy their rental units. One of the most important parts of owning a rental is finding tenants that will treat the property as their own. That said, when there are a lot of applicants, finding the ideal tenant is more complicated. However, landlords typically have a list of qualifications for tenants to meet before they sign a lease agreement. Here are some of the minimum qualifications landlords look for in an ideal tenant. 

What Do Landlords Look For in an Ideal Tenant? 

Landlords sometimes get several rental applications from potential tenants looking for a place to rent. However, most landlords go through a screening process beforehand to make sure the tenant will be a good renter. If you’re wondering what types of qualities landlords look for in an ideal tenant, here are some of the basics. 

  • Good Credit
  • Sufficient Income
  • Positive Rental History
  • Clear Criminal Background Check
  • Professionalism

Good Credit


Before renting to you, landlords want to see that you have creditworthiness. If you have a history of late payments or a large amount of existing debt, it may lower your chances of being approved. So, consider your current credit report and make sure you’re ready to share your credit history with a potential landlord. 

Sufficient Income

Along with good credit, landlords want to see that you have enough income to pay monthly rent. As a general rule, landlords like to see an applicant present proof of at least 3 times the monthly rent in gross income. After all, if you can’t afford to pay, landlords will probably quickly move on from your rental application. So, before you meet with a potential landlord, make sure you have proof of your current income to show that you can pay to live at their rental. 

Positive Rental History

Your rental history can make a difference for a landlord in choosing the ideal tenant. For example, if several previous landlords give you excellent feedback, your chances are probably higher with a new landlord. On the other hand, if a previous landlord gives you a negative review, a new landlord may be more hesitant to rent to you. Make sure you have an excellent rental history and references to back it up. 

Clear Criminal Background Check

Most landlords will run a background check on you before they sign a lease agreement with you. Not only does it ensure landlord safety, but safety for the community as well. That said, most landlords will check for criminal activity within at least the past seven years. Therefore, if you have a history of drugs, violence, or other illegal activity, it may be harder to get into a rental home. 


Professionalism is important when dealing with rental property owners, maintenance workers, and property managers. Setting a friendly yet professional impression each time you speak with someone will set the tone for a good relationship. After all, you don’t want to be on bad terms with your landlord at any point during a lease term. 

If you’re looking to become the ideal tenant, here are five ways you can make an excellent first impression on your landlord. 

5 Tips For Making a Good Impression on Landlords

If you’re applying for a rental property, sometimes you have tenant competition to worry about. For example, rentals in desirable areas are often very competitive, with several applicants. As such, you want to make a good impression on landlords and ensure your rental applicant stands out. Here are five ways you can stand out from the crowd. 


  1. Be On Time
  2. Have Solid References
  3. Be Honest
  4. Plan Ahead Financially
  5. Create a Rental Resume

Be On Time

If you’re meeting with a landlord or property manager for any reason, make sure you’re on time. Whether it’s a property tour, a tenant screening, or a document signing, it’s crucial to be there on time. After all, there’s nothing worse than making someone wait on you, especially for an important matter like rental housing. 

Have Solid References

Solid references are great if you’re trying to get into a competitive rental property. If you have past landlords or other professionals who can provide an excellent review, it can ultimately increase your chances of occupying the rental. However, if your references don’t have anything good to say about your rental history, landlords may overlook your application and find a different tenant. So, before you add someone as a reference on a rental application, make sure they’ll give you a good word.

Be Honest

Honesty is always the best policy. For example, if you’re in a tight financial situation, it’s essential to be honest with a potential landlord if you can’t meet a rent deadline. Otherwise, a lack of communication can leave landlords wondering why you haven’t paid rent. 

Additionally, talk about it beforehand if you know something might come up on a background check. Opening up about it can give landlords your perspective instead of finding out your legal troubles independently.

Plan Ahead Financially

You’re one step ahead of the game when you plan ahead financially. If you have enough money ready for the security deposit and first month’s rent, you’re set to go as soon as you’re approved. Letting potential landlords know that you’re financially prepared to move is one way you can stand out. After all, they can feel a sense of security knowing that you have the money to pay for the rental right away. 

Create a Rental Resume

If you’re looking for a rental home in a competitive market, the process of getting approved can take weeks. So, to stand out to potential landlords right away, a rental resume can help in several ways. 

After all, creating a rental resume shows landlords that you’re invested and interested in finding an apartment right away. Additionally, landlords want to find trustworthy tenants, so giving them some key information from the start can be extremely helpful. Therefore, if you’re thinking about creating a rental resume, make sure you include the most relevant information. For example, have your: 

  • Full name
  • Current address
  • Contact information
  • Proof of income
  • Contact information for the previous landlord
  • Rental references
  • Occupation and current employer

Aside from creating a rental resume, there are more ways to prove you’re the ideal tenant. Here are some tips for making your rental application stand out to potential landlords. 

Additional Ways to Make Your Rental Application Stand Out

Landlords in large cities often receive several rental applications from people wanting to live in their rentals. When there are multiple applications you’re competing with, it can be hard to ensure yours stands out. Here are some of the best ways to prove you’re the ideal tenant. 


  • Prepare All Necessary Documentation
  • Get a Letter of Recommendation
  • Create a Good First Impression
  • Be Honest About Pets
  • Follow Up With Potential Landlords

Prepare All Necessary Documentation

Renting a property can be a lengthy process, including paperwork and documentation. Before you meet up with a potential landlord, it’s great to have all your documentation ready to go from the start. This will alleviate stress for tenants and landlords if you don’t have to take an extra step to get all your paperwork together. Additionally, it can help the screening process go by quicker when you have all your documentation ready for review. 

Get a Letter of Recommendation

Getting a letter of recommendation from a previous landlord or working professional can help you secure a rental home quickly. After all, if you have positive feedback from other landlords, new potential landlords will feel more comfortable renting to you. Additionally, a letter of recommendation can set you apart from other renters in a competitive market. 

Create a Good First Impression

A first impression can sometimes make or break a deal. For example, if you show up late, poorly dressed, and unprepared to speak, it can give landlords the wrong impression. However, if you show up prepared and well-dressed, it creates a better first impression. When you meet up with a landlord or Northern Virginia property manager for the first time, think about the lasting impression you’re making with your first interaction. 

Be Honest About Pets

Pets can become a huge issue in a rental property. First of all, some landlords allow pets, and some do not. That said, tenants must obey pet rules and be honest if they plan to live with pets. After all, if you don’t report your pets on a lease agreement, it could lead to trouble for tenants. As such, be honest if you have any pets, what type of pets, and make sure to pay a pet deposit, if applicable. 

Follow Up With Potential Landlords

If you meet with a potential landlord to discuss a housing opportunity, but you never hear back from them, consider following up. Landlords are often extremely busy, so they can forget to contact you. So, if you thought your original meeting with a landlord went well, follow up with them to see if the housing opportunity is still available. It shows interest in the property, it shows initiative, which is a great quality to have.


Need Help Finding the Ideal Tenant?

If you’re a landlord, you know how tricky it can be to find the ideal tenant. However, you can find peace in knowing you’re not alone. If you find it difficult to screen potential tenants for your rentals, don’t worry. The professionals at Bay Property Management Group are here to help. 

With our team of qualified professionals, landlords don’t have to worry about the day-to-day tasks of owning a rental. Our comprehensive services cover it all. Contact Bay Property Management Group today if you need rental management in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Northern Virginia, or Washington DC.