How to have the edge over other prospective tenants when trying to rent in California

From apartments to condos and townhomes to houses, finding the perfect place to live is getting harder.  

Finding an available place doesn’t mean you as the prospective tenant will be chosen to move in. That’s mainly because filling a vacancy isn’t the prime goal of rental property owners... it’s finding the right tenant.  

"One thing that owners tell us is the pool of tenants has changed. So people’s credit scores are worse today, people have more debt today than they did pre-pandemic," said Jeff Faller with the Apartment Owners Association. 

The wrong tenants could go from rent payers to rent delayers or worse.  

"We have an eviction moratorium there's people who haven't paid rent, literally in years, and there is no way to evict them in the city of LA, so that makes people more cautious."

Steve Jones had no problem finding prospective tenants for his 2-bedroom 2-bath home in Cypress Park.  

So many people were interested, that they knew they needed a way to get the edge on the competition.  

"One of the ways a few of these applicants or interested parties did that was by offering or saying to me ‘I can go a little bit higher than what you have your home advertised for’", stated Steve Jones. 

There are other ways to go from shopping for a rental, to finally moving in.  

Jones wanted $3,600 a month for his property... ideally, a person's income should be a minimum of three times that rent.  

Here are some other tips to give you the edge in a hot rental market  

  • Have a good credit report  
  • Prepare paperwork (bank statements, income, pay stubs, history of rental payments)  
  • Make a good first impression

"When I see how you take care of your own property, that tells me how you'll take care of my property," Faller said.  

There are other ways property owners may subtly discriminate.

RELATED: How much $400,000 gets you in California

James Murphy needed a place to live for him and his two roommates and been surprised by some of the owner’s questions.  

"I wouldn't call it an age thing, but because I’m younger and not with a family they were like ‘well we really want to make sure your credit is fine’ and I'm like ‘yes my credit is fine,’" Murphy said.  

Jones admits he might get multiple applicants that meet his criteria. Deciding who gets the lease... he'll go with his gut.  

"It really is a relationship and so, I want to make sure that relationship is going to work both ways," Jones said.