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Etiquette for Calling About Rentals

What questions should you ask when calling about a rental property?

A lot of prospective tenants, especially first time renters, are nervous and don't know what to say when calling about a rental. Before you dial the number, read the advertisement carefully and have it in front of you for reference. Notice we said call about the rental property. A phone call is the fastest way to get your questions answered - much faster than email or social media messages.

Select a time to call when it is quiet and you can concentrate without interruptions. This includes turning the radio and TV off and being prepared to ignore call waiting and text messages throughout the phone call.

With paper and pen ready to take notes, call the advertised telephone number. If there is no answer, leave a message complete with your name, phone number, the address you're calling about, and the best time you can be reached. Then repeat your telephone number very clearly. If you don't hear back within 24 business hours, it is acceptable to make that call again.

Once you are speaking with the property manager or landlord, state the purpose of your call. "Hello, I am calling about the 2 bedroom apartment you have for rent on Maple Street." "Is it still available?" Most property owners have more than one rental property and want to provide you with the correct information the first time. Verify the rental amount and ask when it is available for move-in. Confirm which floor of the building it is on. Ask if appliances are included or if utilities are the tenant's responsibility. Confirm whether or not a laundry room is on the premises. Does the rental include off-street parking with rent and, if so, how many spaces, are they open or covered? Are pets allowed?

Keep your questions realistic and not a matter of personal opinion. For example, asking if a location is quiet and in good shape may not be useful. It is important for you to schedule a personal showing so that you can determine for yourself if it meets your needs. When scheduling your showing, ask exactly where you will meet the property manager or landlord. Front porch? Common area? Driveway? If you're not familiar with the area, ask what color the building is or if there are any landmarks close by that you will be able to easily identify. Getting lost and showing up late is not a great way to make a first impression.

What should I do if I really like the place and want to rent it?

Before you start walking into rental properties, we recommend assembling a rental packet for yourself that includes a recent copy of your credit report, letters of recommendation from current and previous landlords, and proof of income (including a few pay stubs). Have your photo ID on hand to show to the property manager or landlord - not a copy of it, but your actual photo ID.

Dress decently, since appearing presentable rarely damages a first impression. Hold your questions until after you've listened to details of the rental property, what is and isn't included, lease terms, etc. When you make your inquiries, include "Where is parking available?", "Is there anything here that will be replaced or cleaned before move-in?", and of course, "When is it available?" If you are sincerely interested in the rental, be upfront and make that known as soon as possible. Offer to put a deposit on the location while your application is being reviewed.

Stay in touch with the property manager or landlord throughout the application process, but understand that the rental property has been shown to other applicants as well. Each application must be considered carefully in order to select the most qualified applicant possible for tenancy. The property manager or landlord should explain how the application process works so that you understand the timetable he or she is working on.

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