Renting an apartment comes with a number of obstacles and land mines. Competition for the new place might be fierce, and the landlord wants to know if you can pay him. If you don’t have a good track record or credit, you will be at a real disadvantage. But paying cash up front can eliminate most disadvantages and put you in a stronger position to rent the place you want.
Covers Up Some Black Marks
If you’re renting your first apartment or have bad credit, you might have trouble getting into a new apartment. The landlord won’t want to rent to someone he considers a high risk. First-time renters are especially considered a bad risk because their track record is brief or unknown. But money talks. Throwing down hard cash up front may be enough to tip the scales in your favor and make the landlord overlook some of his reservations.
Shows You're Serious
If you’re a young student, the landlord may already have preconceived notions about you. He might think you’re a flake or someone who will string him along in the application process. Even if you write a check, it may not be enough to convince him that you’re OK, because you can always stop payment on the check or it could bounce. But breaking out some of that green lets him know you’re serious about renting from him.
Knocks out the Competition
When you have your eye on an apartment, you’re not the only one. You may have to line up for a crack at the new place. Putting down cash cuts a lot of time out of the process, especially if you rent from a private owner. The landlord wants someone reliable in his place as soon as possible, and folding money might be enough to move you to the front of the line.
If you really want that apartment and can afford to do so, offer several months’ rent in advance. It’s hard to argue with that kind of cash on the barrelhead, and the landlord may even forget about your competition and not notice any red flags on your rental record. Prepaying multiplies any advantages that paying cash ordinarily gives you. By prepaying you might be able to get a break on some move-in costs, such as your security deposit. If your credit is really bad or nonexistent, Rent Direct New York recommends paying a year in advance. While three to six months' worth of upfront rent payments can help get you into a place, two months won't make much difference.
Al Bondigas is an award-winning newspaperman who started writing professionally in 1985. His print credits include the "Mohave Valley Daily News" and "The Mohave County Standard." Bondigas studied journalism at San Bernardino Valley College in California.