Try these five renter-tested strategies to help land your next place

We surveyed recent renters to find out how they were able to find, and win, their current home in a competitive market

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If you’re stressed about finding your next rental, you’re not alone. Demand is up, due in part to affordability challenges for potential buyers, which is keeping more people in the rental market. However, there are strategies you can use to make yourself stand out from other applicants. Zillow surveyed recent renters to learn their tips and tricks for winning in today’s tight rentals market. 

Strategy 1: Be flexible about your move-in date. 

34% of surveyed renters said this strategy helped 

If you have some leeway on when to move in (or out) of a rental, consider expanding your timeline to open up more options. Though it may often mean paying additional rent, this strategy can lead to additional opportunities. If a landlord won’t budge on a proposed lease start date, see if you can stay with friends or relatives during the lease gap or have rental payments overlap for a short time. 

For renters with a strict schedule, be sure to use Zillow’s move-in date filter to help focus only on listings that fit your needs. 

Strategy 2: Be willing to pay more upfront. 

30% of surveyed renters said this strategy helped 

Around one-third of renters said paying at least two months’ rent in advance helped them win their most recent rental. Offering more up front may show a landlord you’re financially stable and especially interested in their unit. 
Before you make an offer, research what you can afford. Zillow’s rent affordability calculator can help determine your price range, and Zillow’s rental market trends tool provides an up-to-date look at what is competitive but typical for your desired market.

Strategy 3: Gather strong references

29% of surveyed renters said this strategy helped 

Potential landlords will often ask for references from employers or previous landlords. By having these readily available, you not only can convey your trustworthiness and reliability with your application, you can also be one of the first applicants to meet all of the landlord’s requirements. 

In addition, consider using a renter profile when applying on Zillow. Create a personal profile outlining your renter qualifications, such as employment, income and credit score, as well as your desired move-in date and lease duration. You can use the profile to introduce yourself to potential landlords and have all your information in one place.

Strategy 4: Apply as early as possible. 

26% of surveyed renters said this strategy helped

Landlords want to fill their spaces quickly to avoid lost rental income. Some cities even have laws requiring landlords to accept the first applicant who meets all requirements. Thanks to virtual 3D Home tours and interactive floor plans on many Zillow rental listings, you can get a sense of the rental without having to wait to schedule a tour. 

Using the Zillow Applications feature can help you move quickly. For a flat fee of $29, you can apply to an unlimited number of participating properties for 30 days. Applying directly through the Zillow app can also help you shave time off your search, potentially putting your application before those of other applicants.

Strategy 5: Commit to a longer lease. 

23% of surveyed renters said this strategy helped

The less often landlords have to list and lease a rental unit, the less work and risk there is for them. Being able to guarantee their rental will have a tenant for more than just a typical 12-month period may help expedite your application. 

Signing a longer lease can be beneficial to you as well. Locking in the current price for multiple years can help you avoid annual rent increases.

Visit Zillow’s rental guide for more tips on how to find your ideal place. 

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