Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

The rental market can be brutal, especially when a hot property that is well priced comes available.  It is entirely too frustrating when a property rents out quickly.  What can be worse is when an apartment for rent has a dozen other applications turned in and the property manager hasn’t made a decision yet on which one to go with.

So here are some tips to make your application stand out above all of the other applications:

1)    Write legibly! It’s like wearing a suit to a job interview instead of wearing jeans.  Make it stand out by making it easy to read and understand.  A sharp-dressed application always gets the attention before the sloppy one.

2)    Fill out the application completely. You may not know your previous landlord’s phone number from two years ago, but LOOK IT UP.  Most landlords require a minimum of four years rental history.  Your application will get passed over if the potential landlord has to do a lot of the leg-work in Googling and tracking down the required information.

3)    Re-assure the potential/new landlord that you have all of your money (first month’s rent, security deposit and/or pet fee) ready to go now. Prove it to them that you have your ducks in a row and are serious about renting the property.  Mention it when you turn in your application, and be sure to jot it in the notes section on the application.

4)    Follow policy. You may not know what the property manager’s policy is or why, but it doesn’t matter.  If they ask for an application fee, a copy of your driver’s license or the names of all the people living in the unit, then give them that information up front.  Don’t question why they want it for, just do it.  If you buck their system during the application process, chances are they might determine that you will buck their system when it comes to the lease, too.  Your application will quickly get placed on the bottom of the pile if you don’t cooperate, or if the application is incomplete.

5)    Do not hound the potential landlord or make a list of demands up front. Property managers process a lot of applications, maintenance requests, complaints, and inquiries day-in/day-out.  Have some patience, and don’t leave 12 voice mail messages for them.  However, don’t just turn in your application and then go silent.  There is a fine line to walk in this, and most likely email is your best option.  It can take approximately 24-48 business hours to process an application, assuming you have filled out the application completely (see point 2 mentioned above).  If you haven’t heard back from them by the next business day or so, send a gentle (read: short, but sweet) email to the potential landlord expressing your interest in the property.  Don’t overdo it and make your point quickly, they have a lot to do.

Above all, keep your cool.  If you show your frustration with the property manager’s policies and procedures, whether or not it’s justified, it will signal a red flag to them that you will most not likely cooperate with the lease agreement policies and procedures if you won’t do it now.  Instead, impress them with having everything on your end done and organized, which ultimately makes it easy on them when it comes to making a decision on the right application to choose.  Which, of course, is yours right?!

Jessica Hickok is a REALTOR® Broker and Property Manager/Landlord with Dizmang Properties, Inc. ( in Springfield, Missouri. She can also be found on Twitter as @SugarCube.

About the Author

Jessica Hickok is a REALTOR® Broker and Property Manager/Landlord with Dizmang Properties, Inc. ( in Springfield, Missouri where she and her business partner manage over 200 single-family homes. She is the Co-Founder of the web site and blogs about property management projects on her personal site at and via Twitter as @SugarCube.

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