College students are one of the largest markets for rental housing, and many will start renting from the first year they are in school, provided that their college allows it. Some universities require freshmen to live on campus or with a relative, so that they can get used to college life without having to worry about maintaining an apartment.
Landlords oftentimes don't want to rent to teens, fearing that they will be irresponsible and cause problems with neighbors or other tenants. Although federal law prohibits discrimination based on age, landlords can usually find another way to keep you out, such as a lack of a credit history or references.
If you are 18 and looking for an apartment, here are a few suggestions that can help you to convince a landlord to sign a lease:
1. Start a bank account and make regular deposits into it. Landlords like to see a reserve of cash in case a tenant becomes unemployed or has medical issues during the lease term. You should try to keep an average balance of three times the rent of the apartment you're seeking. Also, be prepared with pay stubs or checking account ledgers to prove you have a steady income.
2. Ask several people to provide personal and employment references for you so that the landlord can call on them to judge your character. These should be people who know your habits and can reasonably support your quest for an apartment.
3. When you make an appointment, show up on time. Tardiness will indicate to the landlord that you do not pay attention to details, and perhaps will not pay attention to rules that the landlord sets. If you will be unavoidably late, call the landlord to explain your tardiness and offer to meet at another time if the landlord can't wait.
4. Dress the part of an adult. Don't show up in clothing that might suggest that you'll be misbehaving -- ideally, wear business or business casual clothing, something you'd wear to an important event. The landlord, just as any other stranger, will judge you, among other things, on the way you dress.
5. Ask pertinent questions and don't haggle over the price of the apartment. If the landlord sees that you have some understanding of how to keep and maintain a household, the landlord is more likely to approve your application. Likewise, if the landlord hears you asking to knock a few dollars off the rent, the landlord will think that you're living on a thread and may not be able to afford it.
I've suggested these techniques to teens looking for an apartment in the past, and they've had plenty of success. I wish you the best of luck, and hope you find your home soon!
Don Pasek, CIPS, TRC, ADPR
Omniterra Real Properties
do you have sufficient credit scores so a landlord knows you're trustworthy to pay the rent on time?
If the answers to any of the above are "no" - you better look for someone to guarantee the rent - it's called a "guarantor" - they will be listed on the lease with you.