How to be a Competitive Rental Applicant

Austin is a fairly competitive rental market, and the neighborhoods surrounding campus are even more so, since they are in high demand with students. On the bright side, there are lots of options out there. Be persistent, take note of the following tips and you can find a great place to live.


Lease agreement on a clipboard


  • The early bird gets the worm. Apply online as soon as you have seen and decided on a property.

  • Come prepared to a tour or visit by bringing a copy of your credit report, your last pay stub or offer letter, a photo ID, copy of your tax return, veterinary records if you have a pet, rental insurance information and a printed list of references (employers and previous landlords).

  • Consider writing a letter to the landlord explaining why you would be an excellent tenant.

  • Show up with a lot of good questions for the landlord. This shows them that you are a serious applicant and possibly a responsible renter. A few examples of good questions are:

    • Do you have courtesy quiet hours?

    • Are there any social events for the residents?

  • If you are flexible about the lease dates or other details, tell the landlord. This flexibility can make you more attractive as a renter if they have an opening coming up soon.

  • Be honest on your rental application. This benefits both you and the landlord. Fudging your budget or income could end up harming you in the future if you enter into a lease you cannot afford.

  • After meeting the landlord, send them an email thanking them for meeting with you. Doing so may help your application rise to the top, and it shows that you care about your application. 

  • Highlight the factors that make you the ideal tenant. For example:

    • You will be studying a lot, so you may be a quiet resident.

    • You will be new to the area, so you may be friendly to your neighbors.

  • Look presentable when you view the property. This isn't a job interview, and it is ok to be comfortable, but you still want to make a good impression.

  • Know what you can afford ahead of time. Prepare a set budget before you sign a lease using our budgeting worksheet.

  • If you are going to have a roommate, bring them with you to view the property and sign the lease.

  • Use our apartment comparison sheet to compare properties side by side.

  • Research your renter’s rights in advance so you know what the landlord can and can’t ask of you.

  • If your social media accounts are public, make sure there is nothing on them that would raise concerns if the landlord searches your name.

  • Use a neutral, professional email address when you communicate with the landlord.

  • Keep your word. If you say you are going to follow up, actually follow up within the time frame you promised. If you have an appointment, show up on time. Being conscious of their time and following through are good indicators that you would make a good renter (i.e. you are going to pay them on time with your rent).