Recent college grads find apartment hunt tough

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Q: My son and his friend just graduated from college and are having a tough time getting an apartment. Though they both have good jobs and were excellent tenants while in school, they're losing out to older applicants with better salaries, longer histories as tenants, and more established credit. Any suggestions on how they can improve their chances? --Harold D. A: The landlords' rule of thumb is to pick applicants who have track records as good tenants (that's why they talk to prior landlords and ask about evictions and late-rent episodes). There's nothing wrong with this approach, and it works -- people are creatures of habit, after all. But the other factors are less telling. For example, a large salary is not reassuring if the applicant also has a high level of debt (when those debts come due, there may not be enough money left over to pay the rent). And don't forget the personal angle -- landlords want to rent to people who will get along with them and the neighbors,...