How To Make Your Housing Application Shine

While renting a home comes easy for some, for others it can be a challenging process due to lack of income, flaws in rental history, and more.

No matter what your circumstances, hard work and a positive attitude can go a long way in your search for a new home. Make your housing application stand out among many others by considering some of the tips below. Landlords will be impressed!

Make a Good Impression

Aside from the information you provide during the application process, your actions and attitude play a big role in helping a landlord shape their impressions of you. Your handshake, on-time arrival, and cleanliness are all excellent ways to communicate your suitability as a renter. Small gestures such as wiping your feet before entering a unit, and asking questions, are both great ways to make a good first impression on a landlord.

Keep a good attitude
While applying for housing can be discouraging at times, a positive mindset will go a long way during your housing hunt. A good attitude can help you stand out and seem more trustworthy to landlords. For many landlords, finding reliable renters can be a stressful process, so make sure to always bring a positive persona to the table.

Always arrive on time
One of the best ways to express your interest in a place is by arriving to appointments on time. Being punctual will demonstrate your reliability, and it will also show landlords how serious you are about a potential home. For information on transportation assistance to and from appointments, call White Bird Clinic at 541-687-4000 or email  

Dress your best
When meeting with landlords, it’s better to dress up than dress down. This is a good time to pull out your best outfit to ensure you make a good first impression. If your clothing options are limited, visit, or call 541-687-4000, for more information on resources that offer free clothing in Lane County.

Be Open and Honest

When filling out your housing application, or speaking to a landlord, always be honest about any blemishes in your credit and rental history. Landlords may not like the flaws they see, but they’ll likely appreciate your integrity, and be more willing to consider your application because of it. The last thing you want is for a landlord to find out that you weren’t honest on a housing application, so always be sure to answer everything honestly and accurately.

Use a cover letter to explain yourself
While speaking to a landlord in person is the better option, another great way to explain your situation is through a cover letter that you can attach to your housing application. In your cover letter, be sure to highlight a little about yourself, how many people live in your household, your main source of income, your rental history (including reasons for leaving previous homes), and why you’re interested in the unit. Also be sure to stress all the qualities that make you a good tenant!

Know what’s on your credit report
If you’d like to get ahead of the game, you can run a credit report on yourself to prepare your explanations for any flaws in your rental and credit history. is the only federally mandated and authorized source for obtaining a free credit report, and it allows you to obtain one free credit report per year thanks to federal law. Learn more about the information a credit report might contain.

See if a landlord will work with you
More often than not, private landlords are willing to work with tenants’ individual situations. If you are open with a landlord about your your personal situation, income, and goals, they may consider working with you.

Gather Important Materials

Many landlords will advise you in advance about the documents you need to submit an application. But in case they don’t forewarn you, you should be prepared with a state-issued identification card, proof of income (paystubs, bank statements, and/or any other documents that prove a stable source of income), a check or money order for landlords to conduct background checks (usually $35-$40), a social security number for credit checks, and contact information for your references.

If you need assistance with any of the above materials, such help obtaining identification documents or paying for a background check, see this list of resources that can provide rental assistance in Lane County.

Include good references
Providing solid references can make a huge difference for your application. Try to get letters of recommendation from a current or previous boss, a previous roommate, and/or another recent landlord. Submitting letters of recommendation with your application can show how organized you are, and demonstrate how serious you are about a unit.

Other Things to Consider

Thoroughly clean your previous unit before moving out
One of the easiest ways to get a good review from a previous landlord is by taking good care of your unit, and making sure it’s as clean as possible when you leave. After giving your apartment a deep cleanse, set up a time to do a walk-through with your landlord to ensure you cleaned everything to their satisfaction. Not only can this be great for your rental history, but it can also be great for your wallet! Oftentimes, the better condition you leave your unit in, the more money you will get back from your move-in deposit.

You may be required to pay a higher deposit
Although landlords may be willing to give you a second chance, they may require certain things upon renting to you. Most common of landlords is that they may require you to pay a higher security deposit than others to ensure they’re covered if you decide to break your lease or not pay rent.

Resolve outstanding issues with previous landlords
A landlord may also require you to resolve issues with previous landlords, such as setting up payment plans to pay outstanding debts. However, it’s always a good idea to begin resolving issues with previous landlords whether a landlord requires it or not.

Don’t be afraid to seek help
Whether you need place to stay during your search, or simply a little guidance from a professional, Lane County offers plenty of resources that can assist you in the housing process. For a list of organizations that offer housing assistance, check out the Community Resources page at


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