I’m part of a smol polycule that’s looking at moving in together. I’m mostly in charge of the search, and I’ve checked all the legal things, but I’m struggling to express the situation to letting agents and we’re often getting dismissed as 4 friends or 2 couples, rather than one household. Any advice?
It’s unclear to me whether “getting dismissed” means that the letting agents aren’t actually considering you as renters, or whether they’re just being rude and not recognizing the reality of your relationship.
In either case, it might be smart to go a big strategically closeted and present yourselves as 2 couples - this is a relatively common arrangement for renters and it shouldn’t entirely preclude you from finding a place. It hurts to have to fake it and be treated like someone you’re not, but this is a temporary situation - you just have to charm one landlord for long enough to get that lease, and then the whole charade is over.
However, I have also been in a similar situation and it can be harder to find a rental when you aren’t “one household” (landlords tend to think that’s a more stable configuration). What I did in this situation was to put together a little one page “renter’s resume” for each person or each ‘couple’ - formatted like a job-searching resume, listing previous places we’ve lived, contact info for former landlords, plus impressive stuff about us like our careers, the fact that we don’t have pets, etc. Basically, you want to make yourselves look like Super Upstanding Members of Society as much as possible. Bring those, plus a filled-out copy of a standard rental application and copies of whatever documents landlords in your area often ask for (pay statements, etc.) in a tidy package to each viewing.
It can take a bit more time and effort to find a rental as “2 couples” or “4 friends” - again, landlords do like to rent to “single households” as much as possible. I was once in a situation of looking for a place for 5 unrelated single young adults in the country’s toughest rental market, and I know how much it sucks! What I did was set up accounts on every rental listing website and track specific tags or check for new listings every morning. Then I made a spreadsheet of listings that worked out based on price, location, amenities, etc. I had a standard greeting/interest email I kept a draft of, then pasted it in with specific details when I reached out to agents via those listings. (If you can, find a phone number or agent email - sending messages through the rental listing websites is like shouting into a void.) I used the spreadsheet to keep track of who I’d called and emailed, and when. Essentially, I just treated it like a work project.
Put it out there to your support network that you’re looking, and check Facebook (and other websites) for groups local to your area where people list available housing - making a personal connection can often work out better than cold-contacting agents. Some areas even have LGBTQ+ friendly rental listing groups or pages, which might be a good place to look.
Remember that you only have to find one place! I probably reached out to 50 listings. I’d say about 25 never got back to me, and of the remaining 25, about 15 dismissed me off the bat for not being a single household. That left 10 places to go tour. 5 of them kind of sucked, 3 of them we didn’t get approved for, but then 2 of them we did get approved for, and we moved in to a really lovely place! It took tons of work but it was totally worth it for a few years in a great house that met our needs. Finding a rental just sucks, period. Try not to get discouraged or take it personally. Best of luck!