After the showing where you either saw or heard about the competition, you may wonder, "How does the landlord possibly decide who to rent to?". The simple answer is, it depends.
Most of the property managers in SLO follow the law and operate under the Fair Housing guidelines set up by the State of California. These guidelines state, “The landlord should take the time to check out the information and make a selection based on the first qualified applicant(s)”. It's recommended that property managers follow this, but it’s not law.
This means that property managers will accept applications and review them in the order they receive them. If they feel comfortable with the group, their references, and their financial stability, they'll rent to the group. What does this mean for you? Be prepared and submit your applications as soon as you can.
Next, you need to know that the Fair Housing Act only applies to landlords who have more than 3 rental units. This means that this law doesn't apply to the many independent landlords on Craigslist who are renting one home. Because of this, these smaller landlords tend to base their decisions on a separate set of criteria.
In our experience, independent landlords base their decision on an emotional basis. The house you're looking at is most likely their retirement plan. They bought the house a few years ago and have been renting it out to students. Since students can be quite rowdy at times, these landlords need to make sure that their $500,000+ investment isn't going to burn down. To put it plainly, they'll base their decision off whether or not they trust you.
Know How Property Managers Decide: Property Managers run on "first come & first qualify". If you get your application in first, you'll have a higher chance of getting the place.
Know How Landlords Decide: Independent landlords are going to decide based on whether or not they trust you.