When it comes to prospective tenants, many landlords will choose other applicants over college students. If you fall into the college student category, this sort of situation can be very frustrating — it’s not legally considered discrimination, but it still makes it harder for a student to find housing.
Dan Godfrey had some difficulties as a college student going apartment hunting. He attends Pittsburgh Technical Institute and looked for apartments in the area. “When I first started to look for a place when I was 18, I would go to showings dressed as if I was going to go out with my friends on a Saturday night. I asked few questions and generally brought my friends with me to the showing.”
Each time, Dan didn’t get the apartment. It’s not hard to figure out why: college students are stereotyped as riskier tenants. In the mind of a landlord, a student tenant is more likely to throw loud parties, do property damage and cause problems. The mindset isn’t fair to students, but it’s there.
Just because a landlord has an unofficial policy against leasing to college students, though, doesn’t mean that you can’t rent an apartment.
“After being refused several times I changed my approach. I came dressed in a button-up shirt and khakis. I asked as many questions as I could and had real conversations with the landlords. This allowed me to get to know them and them to know me. Finally instead of bringing my friends (potential roommates), I brought my digital camera.”
Acting like the ideal tenant is a good start, but you may also need to take a few further steps. A key concern for many landlords is that most college students are first-time renters. Without a rental history, credit history or references, it’s much harder for a landlord to be sure that an individual will make a good tenant.
One way around such a situation is asking your parents to sign the lease with you. A signature from someone with an established credit history can be enough to reassure landlords to the point that they’ll be willing to rent to college students.