As a real estate agent, if I could only do one thing when screening a rental property, I would ask the current agent...
Would you rent to them again?
Note the keyword in that first sentence - 'agent'.
This is because a professional real estate agent:
Ok, so you know the problem. If your application is against another applicant who has renting experience through an agent and you don't, they are in the box seat.
But you can try levelling up the score.
I will tell you how.
Side note: If you're reading this and feel you're in too deep. Click here you'll be asked a few questions about your situation. You'll then get instant recommendations to help get your application approved based on your personal circumstances (not generic advice).
1. Prove you pay the rent on time with a Rent Payer badge.
Sadly you can't rely on the private landlord to provide this because 99% of the time, they will not be able to offer an entire rent payment ledger to you or the agent requesting the reference.
Therefore you need to provide your own proof.
2. Prove you can afford the rent with a Rent Affordability check.
This report also picks up your rent payments and provides proof of your income.
It all comes back to making it easy for the agent to say yes to your application (over another application).
Here are some excellent but less impactful things you can do as well:
First, prove you rent the property (so the agent knows the reference is legit). Upload a copy of the lease agreement to the application form; just make sure it clearly shows your name as the tenant and the owner's name.
Prove you look after the property (without solely relying on your landlord reference because, as you know, their reference comes with low weighting). Do a tidy up inside and out, then do a quick 1-minute video run-through of your current home. You don't need sound; you don't need a voice over; just get your phone out and click record. No special effects allowed. Don't go over 1 minute because they won't watch more than that. I know doing a video sounds extreme, but do it once and put a link to it in each application you fill out. It might be the difference between living in the dream home and the other one you don't really want.
Click here to get your own personal recommendations to stand out from other applicants when applying for a rental property.