How to Rent a Property with No Prior Rental History

Look at any rental application and you’re almost guaranteed to see a section asking for prior rental history.  But what happens if you don’t have any?  Maybe you’re a recent graduate or have recently moved somewhere and aren’t ready to buy a home yet.  Not having a rental history doesn’t mean you’re out of luck when it comes to rental applications.  But, what can you do?

One of the most important things a landlord wants to see is that you have the financial means to pay the rent (and not just for the first month or so).  Put together your financial information and bring it with you to meet the property owner or manager.  Being prepared shows the landlord you’re a serious contender.

  • Copy of your last three years of income tax returns, showing your income history
  • Copy of your three latest pay stubs, showing your current income
  • A letter from your employer on company letterhead, stating the company’s contact information, length of employment, and your current salary.  Make sure the letter is signed by someone in senior management, HR, or finance.  This will also be needed if you’ve recently moved to the area and have just started a new job.
  • Copy of your most recent credit report.  This can be obtained from several online government-authorized sites.  The landlord will likely perform their own credit check as well during the screening process. 
  • A recent copy of your bank statements showing your financial stability
  • A personal letting explaining why you have no rental history and why you are looking to rent now
  • A list of personal references that can vouch that you are responsible

If you are young (say straight out of college) you might want to consider having a parent or family member co-sign the lease with you, guaranteeing the rental payments.  

In the end, there were a lot of renters and they all had to start somewhere.  At one point, every renter out there had no rental history.  With the proper preparation and provided your information checks out during the formal screening process, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to rent.