How can I rent again if I have a bad reference?

Private Property South Africa
Carmel Woodman

Tips on how to go about renting a property when one of your previous landlords is giving you a bad reference.

Has something unforeseen happened in your life that resulted in you missing a rental payment? Did this lead to you getting evicted from your rental home or getting on the wrong side of your landlord?

Sometimes things go wrong and you simply can’t afford your rent for a month or two. The unfortunate result of this is that your landlord could give you a bad reference, making it incredibly difficult to find another landlord who will take you on as a tenant. This can ultimately hinder you being able to rent a property in the future.

Here are some tips to help you reassure a potential landlord and secure yourself a new rental home:

Honesty is the best policy

Be honest from the start, before a potential landlord contacts your references. Explain how you managed to get yourself into the unfortunate situation and how you have managed to rectify it. Ensure potential landlords that you are back on your feet, have a steady income and are capable of paying the rent every month, on time. Show them as much proof of this as possible, using recent bank statements, your credit record and any other relevant documents.

Co-sign with a friend or family member

Have someone with a great credit record co-sign or agree to be your guarantor. This will help your landlord be more open to the idea of you renting their property as they will be guaranteed to get their rent every month, even if you can’t pay it. Make sure that your guarantor understands the ramifications of their position: inform them how much they will have to pay, if you aren’t able to, and perhaps have a cutoff amount if the guarantor is concerned about how much they will spend.

Pay upfront

Offering a potential landlord your total rental payments for the duration of the lease upfront is the ideal way to secure yourself a rental property if you have a bad reference. A poor reference becomes irrelevant if the landlord receives all the rental upfront. However, this may not always be possible. In which case, you could offer the landlord a few months rental upfront instead. Securing a few months of rental payments could be a major drawcard for a landlord, as they wouldn’t have this option with another tenant. Then, after proving yourself for a few months, a landlord may be more likely to offer you a longer lease.

Show steady income

Your next landlord will want to see that you can afford the rent payment every month and showing them that you have a steady income is a great way to reassure them of this. Print out copies of your pay slips and have them on hand to show your potential landlord at the viewing. Make sure that your landlord knows that you have a stable job and that your income isn’t likely to change anytime soon, as this will make them feel more comfortable that you can, in fact, pay the rent every month.

Use multiple landlords as reference

If you only defaulted with one of your previous landlords, make sure to include other landlords as references as well. These landlords should provide a good reference and that help your future landlord see that your default was not a regular occurrence, and is therefore not likely to happen again. This should give your future landlord some peace of mind that you are easily capable of renting without defaulting.

Offer to pay more

Paying more for rent each month will help put your future landlord’s mind at ease. Not only is it in their best interest to have a higher rental yield, but it could make them more likely to take you on as a tenant over anybody else. Particularly if you have a guarantor signing with you. Guaranteed higher rental yield would sweeten the deal for a potential landlord.

Have your ducks in a row

Make sure that you have all your paperwork in order and on hand, in case your landlord should ask for something. The last thing you want is to be scrambling for paperwork to prove that you can afford the rental home, or that you are back on your feet. Assume that the potential landlord will not just take your word for anything, and make sure that you can back up everything you say with proof - whether it be pay slips, receipts or your credit record.

Finding a rental home if you have a bad reference is certainly not impossible. Following these steps should get you well on your way to putting your future landlord’s mind at ease and securing a wonderful rental home.

For more tips on renting or to view all properties for sale, peruse our comprehensive listings or read on for more information.

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