I have had quite a bit of experience representing landlords. Here is
what I believe they are about:
1. They want to get paid. Every month. On time. So the first order of
business will be to check with any previous landlords to find out
about delinquencies in rent payments. If there were delinquencies, how
serious were they, and was any legal action required in order to
collect. Any outstanding balances or judgments (by a court).
2. They want peace and quiet. The next question that they will ask
will be whether the prospective tenant was a nuisance at their prior
location. Were the cops called? How often? Any domestic abuse?
3. Did the prospective tenant leave the previous place in good
condition? Carpet clean? Holes in the wall? Did they have pets? If
so, were the pets kept in the apartment according to permission by the
landlord, or not?
4. How long did the prospective tenant stay at the previous place.
Long term is good and stable. Did the prospective tenant break the
lease, or did they stay for the entire term?
5. Would you rent to this person again?
Who for references? Certainly your Boss would be an excellent
reference! The Boss can say how long you have been employed, what
your salary/wage is (if you want that disclosed), what your position
is, what your status with the company is (read that as how stable of a
tenant you will be), and what he/she thinks of you "dante_mw would be
a great tenant; if I had an apartment I would rent to dante in a New
Other references could be anyone you know - BUT the younger and closer
a person is to you, the more the prospective landlord might discount
what they say.
Someone who the prospective landlord knows, for example another
tenant, that you know as well, would be outstanding.
Ex-Teachers/professors? Is there anyone you know, who the landlord
There are a couple of web-sites that are well worth taking a look at
if you are considering entering into a lease agreement:
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
maintains a nifty web site entitled "Renters Kit". I would definitely
recommend reviewing it at: http://www.hud.gov/renting/index.cfm
NOLO Law publishes the Ten Tips Every Tenant Should Know. This is a
must read! http://www.nolo.com/lawcenter/ency/article.cfm/objectID/1DC31D3C-B648-4BA7-9B9179DA80039436
Just a couple of cautions:
A. Make sure you read any lease agreement carefully! If you can
access an attorney - please consider using one. Find one that
practices "landlord/tenant law" and ask them to take a quick look at
it - where are the pitfalls? Ask up front how much the attorney will
charge to take a look at it with you - I wouldn't pay more than $50
for this (which should be plenty) - and it will be $50 well spent.
Very well spent.
B. If you have a roommate - DANGER. It seems like every week I end up
in court with cases where the roommates have feuded. One moved out,
and left the other one hanging. Leases are usually, very typically,
"JOINT AND SEVERAL" which means that the landlord can go after either
one of you for the ENTIRE AMOUNT! Usually, the landlord doesn't have
to go after both - they can pick one person and get the whole amount
from him/her, leaving the poor tenant to have to sue the ex-roommate
for the half they owe.
If you have a roommate - consider asking for separate leases - each
for one-half of the rent.
C. Watch out for the term of the lease and the renewal provisions. Is
it for just a year? Is there an automatic renewal provision that
might trap you into a longer tenancy? What happens if you want to
leave early for another place? What happens if you get to the end of
a 12 month lease and discover you need to stay for just another 2
months. . . what happens to the monthly rental (how much does it
increase for a "holdover"?)
D. The prospective landlord is checking up on you to see if you will
be a good tenant. Turnabout is fair play. Check up on the landlord to
see if they are reasonable and cooperative. Talk to a couple of other
Best of luck getting exactly the home you are looking for. If I can be
of ANY more help, please let me know by asking for "clarification".
Based upon the direct experience that I have in this field, much of
what I provided was based upon my knowledge of the subject area.
Clarification of Answer by
20 Jun 2002 06:49 PDT
Hi again, Dante!
Well, certainly one great reference (a boss) is better than giving the
names of two friends who you met last week. :-)
I would think that if there are two blanks, it would be best to put in
two names; three blanks, three names. Just so that there aren't any
holes in the application that may cause someone to wonder "why did
they only put one name in there." I would suggest that you place
another name in the blank - even if it is your best friend, a family
member, or whomever. I WOULD, if placing your boss on the references,
write in that he/she is your boss to hi-lite the importance of that
Of course, too, if you use someone as a reference, make sure to tell
them in advance that they may be getting a call. Probably a good idea
to get their permission to use them as a reference in advance of
giving their name out. They will certainly say "OK!" but it's just a
Enjoy your new home!!!!!