In a word, “no”!
I urge every potential renter to write a cover letter that you will attach to every application that you submit.
Because the landlord’s application form is asking about factual information, such a your name, address, social security number, place of employment, income, etc. But it doesn’t tell the landlord much about you.
Think about how many things aren’t asked on an application form that show the landlord you are a person of good character, exceptional skill, great talent, vision, and community concern. In other words, a cover letter is a fine place to impress the landlord that you’re a decent, upstanding citizen who understands that you have a legal and moral obligation to respect the landlord’s property and pay the rent on time.
Think of this cover letter as the right place to get an edge on the competition for this apartment.
Broker’s merely present the application to the landlord. You can impress the landlord, particularly if you are young and early in your career.
After all, if the landlord has a choice between you and another applicant, but all he knows about the other applicant is what’s on the application form, you can get the edge.
For example: if you can honestly say to the landlord that you’re a volunteer for certain community groups or a volunteer in a school or hospital, the landlord is going to know that you are a highly responsible young person.
If you talk about your advanced schooling, the landlord will infer that your career is certain to move upward. If you talk about any awards you’ve won from schools or community groups, the landlord will once again know that you are highly responsible and highly respected.
In short, a well written cover letter will be an introduction to who you are as a person. It’s your chance to put your best foot forward.
The cover letter is the right place to raise those issues, since it allows you to “frame” the conversation.
If your credit is bad because you were ill for a prolonged period of time, or because you lost your job, or because you had to leave your job to attend to a very sick member of your family, the cover letter is where you can explain what happened and and what steps you’ve taken to overcome the problems.
Since the landlord is going to see your bad credit on a credit report, you might as well confront the issue head-on and explain it in the most sympathetic light. After all, if you don’t handle the issue, the landlord will simply conclude that you are a dead beat who doesn’t pay his bills, and that is why your credit is bad.
It must be well written and that might be difficult for you. If you can’t write it, have a friend or family member help you write it. Have at least one or two other people proof-read the letter. This is not the place for bad grammar, typos, and rambling sentences.
When you have perfected your letter, print it on a quality paper stock, even if you have to purchase a package of quality paper from Staples or a stationary store.
Go for a simple Strathmore ivory or ecru paper. Or a linen paper. Think of this cover letter as a “resume” of your life. Say nice things about yourself, but keep it believable.
Attached, please find my application for your apartment at 245 West 135th Street. Since your application is limited in the amount of personal information requested, this letter will serve to give you a better introduction to me and my current circumstances.
As you can see from my application, I work with the NYPD at the nearby 25th precinct. I’ve worked my way up from patrolman to Desk Sergeant, and now to Captain. Needless to say, I will add an element of safety to your building, just by my presence.
You will notice from my credit report that my credit isn’t stellar. Over the years, I’ve been late a few times with some bills, particularly when deep in the middle of an investigation that consumes me. I fully understand your need to be paid the rent by the 1st of every month.
To satisfy any concerns you might have about my payment record, I propose to do the following; I will prepay you the rent three months at a time. So you will know that I will always be paid up in full, ahead of the due dates.
You can also see from my credit report that I had a series of late payments in March, April, and May of 2008. Please understand that I was shot in the line of duty and was in the hospital during that time. I can provide letters from each of the creditors that they have been fully paid. I can also provide paperwork discussing my injuries in the line of duty as well as a Commendation from the Mayor.
In short, you will find that I will be a valuable addition to your building and a person you will have no problems with.
Thank you for your consideration,