A Guide to Choosing a Reference for Your Rental Application

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Your rental application is your key to getting accepted at the apartment complex of your dreams. It needs to stand out above all the other applications in situations where there is one apartment at a great rate that many potential tenants are seeking. One important aspect of your rental application that can make it or break it, is the references section. Who you choose and what they say may bridge you from hoping for the apartment to moving into it.

Relevance to Rental

Your potential landlord will ask the people who you cite as references how they know you. If you simply include your mom and your best friend since kindergarten, the landlord will know that their opinion is going to be more than a bit biased. Also, the relevance to objectively assessing your qualifications for a rental agreement will be considered. Choose people that can attest to the fact that you have performed well at your current job for a certain amount of time or that you have demonstrated a great deal of personal responsibility in other ways.

Approaching Potential References

One way to decide who to choose for references on your apartment rental application is to ask potential references an open-ended question in a casual way, such as, “If I were to list you as a reference, what would you say you’ve observed about me and responsibility?” The answer can definitely let you know who you shouldn’t include in the list. Don’t pick casual acquaintances or teachers you’ve only had for one class with a large student body. You want to pick people that know you well. A boyfriend or family member should never be used as a reference, unless there is also a section for personal references.

Wisely Picking References

When asking people for permission to use them as references for your application, you want to make sure that they will provide a positive reference for you. Although someone may have a difficult time saying no (or letting you know that the reference he provides may be negative), it’s easier for a potential reference to say no if you give him a way out. Let him know that you won’t take offense if he would prefer to not be contacted. Look at his reaction when deciding if you want to use him on your application. If there is hesitation, ultimately pick someone else for the reference section.

Ideal Choices for the Reference Selection

A career mentor makes a great reference for a rental application. Since the experience with you is of primarily a professional nature, he can speak about your good qualities and your ability to handle responsibilities and pressure. A former landlord with whom you had a great experience is probably the perfect reference. A professor who has worked with you for years will also be a great reference; so will a boss at a job you’ve been working at for at least six months (as long as your boss is satisfied with your work, attendance and attitude). A supervisor who has overseen a lot of volunteer work may also be a great reference.

Think of the people in your life who have seen the best of you in terms of what is needed to be a good tenant, such as personal and financial responsibility, professionalism and accountability.

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