Building a Great Renter's Packet

Apartment hunting is a dog-eat-dog competition, especially in a competitive market. Fortunately, there are ways to set yourself apart from the competition and showcase your dependability as a tenant.

A renter’s packet is a lot like a resume, except that instead of being used by employers to evaluate job candidates, it’s used by landlords and apartment associations to evaluate prospective tenants. As with your resume, it’s important to present yourself in a positive light so those who read the packet will choose you over other candidates. Paint yourself as the perfect tenant, one who is professional, reliable, financially responsible, and has the means and resources to make all payments in full. Putting together a strong renter’s packet right as you start your search will set you apart from the competition and ensure your dream apartment won’t go to anyone else.


Including a headshot of yourself will set you apart from the competition, make you recognizable among other applicants, and give evaluators a face to your name. After all, there are thousands of people also frantically looking for a place to call home, and competition is stiff. Just ensure you’re not including anything that isn’t professional; if you wouldn’t want your employer to see it, then a potential landlord shouldn’t either. Place it on the front of the packet with your contact information so it’s the first thing they read.

Cover Letter

Again, similarly to a resume, introduce yourself by highlighting your basic information. Include contact information, your current address, and any other details that will emphasize your positive attributes as a renter. Also including a timeline for the move, any hobbies and interests, basic employment information, and any other personal attributes will set you apart from others. The idea here is to paint a vibrant portrait of who you are not only as a tenant, but as a person. A well constructed cover letter will lay the foundation for a positive relationship  between you and a prospective landlord; sparking their interest in you as a potential renter.

Employment History

Because a landlord’s primary concern is your ability to make monthly rent, it’s important to include any information that will prove financial and personal responsibility in your renter’s packet. You should highlight any long term employment, verification of income, bank statements, alternative income, and even letters of recommendation from your current employer. If you really want to go above and beyond, consider providing your tax information for the past two years (at least). The longer you’ve held a job, the better your chances are at securing the unit, but prove you have a steady source of income.

Rental History

Though rental history is usually included in a background check, one should compile a brief list of the places that you’ve lived, along with your current landlord’s contact information. If you’re on good terms with past neighbors, including their information as a reference may be a solid idea as well. Proving you have a history as a responsible tenant will go a long way with any potential landlord. If you have a somewhat spotty rental history, be upfront and explain any issues. Doing so will provide a better picture as to why you are moving and showcase any problems you’ve had with real estate companies in the past.


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Credit Reports

The vast majority of landlords will run an extensive credit check on potential tenants, so it’s a good idea to include an official credit report in your rental packet to save the landlord a little bit of leg work. While most companies will run their own reports to verify your credit history, including the report in the renter’s packet will demonstrate a certain level of confidence that certainly won’t hurt you before signing a lease. Just make sure you use one of the nationally recognized sources of credit reporting.

Pet Info

Every pet owner dreads the three words at the end of any lease description: no pets allowed. While some landlords and apartment associations run a strict policy, sometimes there are ways around this issue. If you do have a pet, include pictures and information about them in the packet; including obedience school certificates, vet contact information, and any letters from past neighbors or landlords that prove fluffy won’t damage the property. If the landlord seems particularly stubborn, offer to pay a slightly higher deposit that will cover any potential damage caused by your pet. It’s your job to prove that your furry roommate won’t be a nuisance to anyone. Your pet doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker.

Human Resources Today