Homeward Bound

I have not rented anything since about 1987, until now that is. I have discovered that re-entering the rental market in 2014 is kind of like re-entering the dating market if you have been off the shelf for a few decades. In fact there are many similarities.

1. The photos (or lack thereof). As you know, photos today are essentially free, as demonstrated by the 112 vacation pictures people post on Facebook to document their long weekend in New York. So this tells you to be very cautious if there are very few photos available of your intended target. Only one head shot on Lavalife? This is someone who is not at their best from the neck down. Only a photo of the outside of the house (with snow on the ground)? Take it from me that the interior is not at all ready for its close-up.

2. The photos (or truth in advertising). There may indeed be several photos available. On a dating site they might show participation in sporting events, someone standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, or walking on a beach. However, there is usually no indication that these photos are actually recent. And like on a dating site, the goal of looking at rental listings is to actually see the potential candidate in person without too much delay. That’s why it’s generally not a good idea to go with photos that are several years out of date. Or those that have been airbrushed beyond recognition. This will not help you get a date (or maybe it will help you get one date) nor will it help you rent your flat.

3. The background checks. Google has revolutionized the background check. Who among us has not Googled someone prior to meeting them? Granted, Google doesn’t tell you everything but perhaps the most interesting finding is when you can’t find anything at all. Be afraid, very afraid. When researching a rental property though, you can find out whether it was recently for sale (but not sold), an indication that it may well have a for sale sign on the lawn in the future, which does not bode well for a long term tenancy.

4. The solvency checks. No one wants to date a deadbeat and I get that any landlord wants to know you can pay the rent. The problem is if you have been out of the rental market for some time (and out of the mortgage market for some time) you have a hard time proving you are good with paying monthly tithes. So you need to produce your entire financial history on short notice. And an employment letter. And a banking reference. No matter that we just sold the house for three times what we paid for it. Whatever happened to the ‘looks good, I’ll take it’ era? I think it is alive and well in 1987.

5. The personal references. Honestly, it is easier to get a Nexus card and a Russian visa than rent a place. (Note to self: did I put the possession of a Nexus card and prior possession of a Russian visa on the rental application? Surely that would hold some weight…). Please, please, please, if anyone calls you to ask if I am responsible, credit-worthy, not associated with the Hell’s Angels, bathe more than once a week, do not cook curry on a regular basis, and will not even be in my rental unit for more than 2 hours a day – the answer is yes. I’ll pay you later. Namaste.

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