Landing the Perfect Place Using a Rental Resume

It is not often that a tenant delights me before I even meet them. My wife Julie and I have 6 rental units and manage them ourselves. When a property is ready to be turned over, we schedule a few open houses and drop an ad on craig’s list. Two days ago, an applicant attached the most brilliant and simple document to their email: a Rental Resume. It reads exactly as you would expect, and in one glance they made a hard decision feel easy.

FYI, this article was written for the Zillow investor blog. Check them out for interesting tips and answers to timely real estate investing topics.

While I could get most of the information from our lease application, the forethought and simple aesthetic organization makes the application looks good. I’ve redacted all personal information so that I could share it in public:
Rental Resume
Rental Resume2

When I look for a tenant, there are a few questions which are absolutely critical, but we often struggle to get a clear answer. Simply, I want to know:

Why are you leaving (why are you leaving, why are you leaving)?

This question often reveals more than anything else I can ask. In fact, we’ve taken to asking it over and over to the same people. It tells you about financial situations, life situations, work situations, health situations, good habits and bad habits. I absolutely love that next to each location on the rental history, they stated their reason for leaving. I’ll probably ask them a few times anyways, but liking their reasons up front moves them to the top of the pile.

Can you afford my place & how secure are you financially?

A clear income history is on every application, but it sure is nice to get it up front.

There were two items they didn’t include which would have been nice:

Do they have any secondary income sources (side business, investment, alimony, disability…)?

A simple line regarding finances reserves & debt situation. People often worry so much about credit score. In the current economic climate, it just doesn’t mean what it used to. I’m far more interested in someone with a pile of money in the bank and minimal debt.

What are your 2-5 year plans?

What on the horizon? No one has a crystal ball, but the difference between a professional couple who might be setting down roots and stay as renters for a decade Vs one who plans to buy a house in 6 months is important.

Key Sections in a Rental Resume:

* What You Are Looking For
* About You & The Household
* Employment History & Finances
* Education (optional unless you are recently out of school)
* Housing History
* References
* Additional Documents Available upon request

Thinking of making one yourself? Here is a template based upon the one I received I made that you can grab and fill out (Microsoft Word or PDF).

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