How to Rent an Apartment [2023 Rental Application Guide]
You’ve scoured area rental listings, found the perfect place, and are ready to take an apartment tour. But before you can sign a lease agreement and move in, you’ll also need to complete the apartment application process. It’s part of the requirements to rent an apartment and something everyone does.
Although it’s not complicated, all the steps involved can feel overwhelming. Don’t worry. We’ve rounded up all the info you need for renting an apartment, including how to apply for an apartment, the documents required for the application process, and tips to help ensure you'll get approved.
1. Complete the Rental Application
Here is a list of some of the required information needed when applying for an apartment:
- Social security number (for background checks)
- Proof of ID
- Current address
- Phone number
- Email address
- Income verification
- Previous addresses
- Emergency contacts
- Pets (if applicable)
2. Pay the Application Fee
Another one of the steps to rent an apartment includes applicants paying a non-refundable application fee of about $30 to $50. The landlord charges these fees to cover the costs of screening renters, sometimes including background and credit checks.
3. Prepare for Credit and Background Checks
The next part of the process includes credit and background checks.
Credit checks are usually part of the application fee and require your authorization. The landlord also conducts a background check to assess your criminal history and see how dependable you are.
4. Send Over Proof of Income
Proof of income is critical when applying for an apartment, as it shows that you have a reliable source of income to pay rent. Bring two to three pay stubs, tax returns, and two to three months' worth of bank statements to include in your application to speed up the process of renting an apartment.
Getting an apartment application approval requires proof of income in the form of:
- Pay Stubs
- Tax Returns
- Bank Statements
- Income Letter From an Employer
- Court-Ordered Payments
- Social Security Documents
- Unemployment Documents
- Severance Statement
- Disability Insurance
- Worker’s Compensation
- W-2 Income Statement
- 1099 Form
- Annuity Statement
- Interest and Dividend Income
- Bonus and Incentive Payment Statement
5. Determine if You Need a Co-Signer
6. Provide Rental References
Prospective landlords want references from previous landlords to verify your rental history and reliability as a prospective tenant when getting an apartment.
They want to ensure your responsibility. To confirm, your prospective landlord might also call your previous landlord to ask about your reliability and ability to pay rent on time.
7. Consider Including Personal References
If you are new to the apartment renting process and don’t have previous rental history, bring personal references from a boss or superior that speak to your trustworthiness and reliability. Make the process easier with these rental reference letters as an example.
8. Sign the Lease
Once approved, it’s time to sign the lease. Make sure you read through everything and understand each detail. After all, it’s a legally binding document!
9. Provide Your Security Deposit
A security deposit is a sum that a new tenant pays to a landlord or property management company before moving in. Security deposits provide landlords insurance for tenant damage beyond normal wear and tear. It’s common for the amount to be between 1-3 months' rent.
10. Move Into Your New Apartment
7 Tips to Get Approved for an Apartment
There are a few things to know about the rental process that could impact approval. For example, most landlords are looking for applicants who pay rent on time, are excellent communicators, have steady incomes, are good neighbors, and treat the property as their own.
Keeping these factors in mind, here are seven tips to help move the renting process along:
- Speed up the rental application process by providing copies of your credit report and rental reference letters from your employer and previous landlords
- The property management company won’t proceed with apartment applications if individuals decline the application fee
- Typically, ~650 is the minimum credit score needed when applying for an apartment
- Before landlords run your background check during the apartment rental process, disclose if there’s anything noteworthy, like an old arrest
- If you don’t have pay stubs because you just got a new job, provide an offer letter from your new employer when applying for apartments
- Call ahead to ask which payment method landlords prefer between cash, checks, or credit cards
- If you’re on a budget, some move-in specials will waive the application fee to entice more renters to apply
Now that you have a better idea of the renting and application process, you'll be approved in no time! But if you’re having trouble finding the right place for you, we can help. Find your next apartment on Apartment List today!
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