Buff Up Your Rental Application with a Renter’s Resume

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Apartment hunters in Chicago have faced a tough market lately. The best apartments receive many applications within their first 24 hours on the market. While good landlords choose their renters on a first come, first serve basis, others say that they will choose the “best renters” out of their applications. In many cases, the best renters are not the ones who offer the most money - although that certainly helps! Rather, they are looking for reliable, quiet people with good jobs who are not likely to wreck the place.

So how do you prove that you're the best renter? How do you show that you're taking this apartment hunting thing seriously? Come prepared with a renter's resume! Just like the resumes you make when you're looking for a job, a renter's resume shows all of your experience in a tidy and concise format. However, instead of listing all of your work experience, you're going to be showcasing all of the qualities that make you an excellent human being.

Why Should I Use A Renter's Resume?

Remember, a good listing agent works in two directions: they must convince you to rent the property, but they must also convince the landlord to accept you as a tenant.

Renter's resumes are totally optional for apartment hunting in Chicago, but in tighter markets like San Francisco and New York they've been part of the process for years now. As a former Chicago leasing agent, I can confirm that they do work and they do have an impact on your application process. Out of the thousands of applications I reviewed over the course of my career, only two included renter's resumes. In both cases, the mere existence of the renter's resume was a deciding factor for the landlord, and I have to say that it made my job as an agent much easier.

Of course, you should only use a resume if it makes you look good. But hey, if a leasing agent can call that tiny sliver of water a “lakefront view,” then you can call say that you're a “dining area sanitation specialist” if you're a busser at the local bar. This is your chance to create a brochure that sells YOU to the landlord.

How Do I Use a Renter's Resume?

You include it with your application when you turn it in, or if you apply online you can email it to the listing agent to include as part of your application package.

Each applicant over the age of 18 should have their own resume.

What Do I Include?

  • Your Name and Contact information
  • Emergency contact information
  • Cosigner name and contact information
  • Names of any children that will be living with you
  • Your pets' breeds and, for dogs, their license numbers
  • What you do for a living. (Landlords like tenants that aren't going to be sitting at home all day)
  • Outside activities
  • Sources of income[1]Note: in Chicago, a landlord can't turn you down based on where your money comes from. Some folks will say that it's a bad idea to include this as it invites discrimination, especially if you work somewhere that the landlord might not like, such as a strip club, marijuana dispensary, church or political organization. However, if your money comes from unconventional (but legal) sources it may be better to use some space on your resume to explain the breakdown of your cash flow.
  • Bank accounts and credit cards
  • Previous roommates with contact information
  • Previous rental addresses, with landlord contact information
  • Your car's make, model & plate number
  • Optional: Personal references. I never once had to contact a personal reference in the many years that I worked in leasing, but sometimes smaller landlords might like to check them.

As for formatting, it can be as simple or elaborate as you like. If you're a graphic designer who will bring your own unique aesthetic sense into their interior decor, then by all means you can gussy up the resume too. But the mere presence of the document is already going to set you head and shoulders above the rest of the applicants, so even a basic text document is fine as long as it's easy to read.

What should I not include?

  • Your Photo. You don't want to reveal your race or age to your landlord and risk discrimination. If you would like to include an image, consider a photo of your current apartment (after you've cleaned it, of course).
  • Your credit score. Landlords won't believe it until they pull their own copies of your credit report.
  • Links to social media accounts. Chances are good that you've got some incriminating photos on there. You never know what a landlord will consider to be offensive behavior.
  • Names and contact information for personal references who have not given you permission to share them.

Do you have a renter's resume format that you'd like to share with our readers? Have you tried using one? Let us know how it worked out for you in the comments!

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References

1 Note: in Chicago, a landlord can't turn you down based on where your money comes from. Some folks will say that it's a bad idea to include this as it invites discrimination, especially if you work somewhere that the landlord might not like, such as a strip club, marijuana dispensary, church or political organization. However, if your money comes from unconventional (but legal) sources it may be better to use some space on your resume to explain the breakdown of your cash flow.

Published by

Kay Cleaves