If we believe popular media, it seems Millennials want everything, yet do nothing for it - only looking up from their devices to ask someone what’s for dinner. This of course is a massive and unfair generalisation. As a generation, they have more information to process and opportunities to consider than any generation prior could possibly have imagined for the future. When it comes to the property market though, few choices are theirs to make. As the median house prices edge ever higher and their life choices are made from a much more global perspective, the more traditional goals of marriage, house and babies are no longer the norm.
Conversely, as baby boomers farewell their now adult children from the nest and fill in time travelling, or wondering what to do next, the need to maintain large family homes makes less sense. These notions go some way to explaining why both generations are now choosing to rent properties over the long term rather than buy. Both have their own unique challenges though when it comes to a rental property application – with the potential that neither has a rental history to speak of and Millennials may not look as strong financially on paper as baby boomers might. However, it is possible for Millennials to compete effectively in the race for a rental property, but a thorough and well-planned application process is the key.
Get them the facts
There can certainly be some tough blanks to fill when trying to complete an application as a first-time tenant – let alone getting it approved. The main thing property managers are looking for in your application is evidence that you will be a good and responsible tenant, by paying the rent on time every month and looking after the property. They’ll want to get a sense of who an applicant is and this can be in the form or whatever documents might be relevant – personal references from teachers, or maybe a letter from whoever you’ve been living with up until now, providing detail on how you’ve been as a tenant/housemate/boarder. Applicants should always include copies of personal identification such as a driver’s licence, passport or phone contract too. Information about residential history is important (even if the only previous address is your parents’ house) – this should be stated and board payments referenced if available.
Though a young person’s work history may be brief, it still should be included – both paid and voluntary work. This tells the property manager a bit about an applicant’s work ethic and capacity for earning. It’s also useful to give a rough budget to show what earnings and anticipated expenses will be. This information shows the property manager that not only can the applicant pay their rent, but general living expenses as well. If someone is struggling with cash, rent is usually the first thing they delay payment on. A property manager wants to see that the tenant can afford all of their lifestyle costs, not just the rent.
Think outside the box
There will be parts of a rental application that many Millennials won’t be able to complete initially, but a bit of creative thinking can certainly provide relevant detail. Even though applicants may not have a rental history, there are other ways to provide information that will do the same job for the property manager. A history of car repayments for example, or a gym membership might work. Copies of bank statements for the past few months can be helpful as they give a good indication of money in and money out.
As far as references go, why not include a screenshot of Airbnb guest reviews from places stayed in previously, or, a house minding reference from a friend or relative? An important job for Millennials before applying for a property might also be to either clean up their social media profiles, or make them private. If a property manager or landlord doesn’t feel sure about the information provided in the application, they may turn to Facebook or Instagram to see who the tenant ‘really’ appears to be. This can be the undoing of many a twenty something and is well worth paying attention to.
Ultimately the decision is in the hands of the landlord, not the property manager, and applicants have little idea who they are competing with for a rental property. A solid application ticks all the boxes around personal and financial responsibility - being able to somehow communicate trustworthiness and reliability on paper will work in your favour when the final choice is made. A bit of creativity also does wonders to make an application stand out amongst the masses.
DISCLAIMER: The following advice is of a general nature only and intended as a broad guide. The advice should not be regarded as legal, financial or real estate advice. You should make your own inquiries and obtain independent professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances before making any legal, financial or real estate decisions.