You found an apartment that checks off all the necessary points on your apartment tour checklist. In other words, you fell in love with the place! Now it’s time to tackle the apartment application process, but don’t worry, we’re here to help. Below is everything you need to know about apartment rental applications.
Almost all rental apartments require you to submit a screening application. The rental you’re interested may have the application posted online, so be sure to check their website first. In this case you can fill it out and email it to the management. Otherwise stop by the leasing office and pick one up. Fill it out as soon as you can, to make sure you get that apartment you have your eyes on.
There is a lot of information you need to collect for your apartment rental application. Plus the process has several steps. You will most likely have to pay a non-refundable fee, allow your potential landlord to run a background and credit check, and provide evidence of your rental history. We’ve outlined below all the information you will likely need to provide, as well as what to expect from the application process. Read on, so you are prepared to apply as soon as you find the apartment you love.
Information You Need For An Apartment Application
- Your personal contact information: The landlord will need to communicate with you, so make sure you are responsive and provide the easiest way to reach you, be it your phone number, email, or another method.
- Your social security number: Usually you will need to provide your social security number. The landlord may also ask for a copy of your social security card. This information is necessary for a background check.
- Your vehicle information: If you are looking to apply for a parking spot, you will need to provide details about your car. Have the make and model, year, and license plate number information all on hand. It is possible that the property manager will also ask for the car’s insurance information.
- Your driver’s license number or state ID: This information is proof of your identity and may also be needed for that parking spot you’re after.
- Current and previous address/rental information: This information is also needed for your background check. In addition, the landlord may want to check in with your previous landlords for referrals.
- Current and previous employment information: Again, this information is necessary for your criminal background check. Note your occupation, company name, and phone number in the paperwork so that your landlord may verify your employment.
- Proof of income: Pay stubs, tax returns, or some other proof of income is going to be required for your application.
- Past landlords and personal references: A potential landlord will likely want to speak with your previous landlords to verify your rental history and demeanor as a tenant. They may also ask for personal references, such as your boss, to confirm your employment and character.
- Emergency contact: In case the landlord is unable to reach you or a medical emergency takes place, they may need to contact someone close to you, so choose wisely.
- Cover letter: Think of your apartment application as a job interview process. To better represent yourself and answer any questions that may arise, you can put together a cover letter. Other people get to talk for you in your personal references, but this is where you can be your own advocate.
- Cosigner application: If you have a cosigner, make sure that they fill out their part of the application, too.
- Any additional documents the landlord may request: Landlords may want to see some additional paperwork. Check with the leasing office early to know what else you need to complete your apartment application. For example, if you have a pet, you might want to provide a pet resume to predispose your potential landlord to your best bud.
The Apartment Application Process
Fill Out the Application
First thing’s first, you are going to have to fill out the apartment rental application. Your application will include much of the information we listed above, so if you’ve gathered it all beforehand you should be able to fill out the application quickly.
Pay Application and Processing Fees
Most applications have an application and processing fee. This fee could be a single fee for the application, or a fee for each person applying to live in the unit. Application fees are non-refundable, and are required in order for your application to be processed. An application fee may cover background and credit checks, and rental history verification. These fees may also be separate, so make sure to ask. Average processing fees for an application are around $100.
Provide Proof of Income
One of the key components of a completed rental application is your proof of income. Your potential landlord will want assurance in that you are able to pay for the apartment next month and the month after that. You may have to demonstrate that your verifiable monthly income is at least 3 times the monthly rent. For this you can use your pay stubs, bank statements, or possibly your tax returns. Be ready present your employment history and possibly be able to provide validation for it.
Approve a Credit Check
The property management company or landlord will require you to authorize a credit check in order for them to proceed with your rental application. They conduct a credit score check to make sure that you are a fiscally responsible person, as well as to determine how timely you are likely to be with your rent payments. A landlord may see a low credit score as an implication of poor dependability. Make sure you don’t have open bankruptcy cases on your file, as this too can lower your chances of success in getting the rental property you’ve applied for. If case this applies to you, consider finding a cosigner or talk to your roommate about using their credit score.
Approve a Background Check
The landlord will conduct a background check for the same reason as a credit check. They want to know how dependable you are. Previous convictions or pending charges may interfere with your ability to get ahold of the apartment you’re after. If you have anything in your past that may raise questions, you might want to provide an explanation ahead of time.
Find a Cosigner (If Needed)
In case your credit score or income are not high enough for you to secure the apartment, consider asking a trusted person to be your cosigner. A cosigner is someone who signs the lease with you and agrees to pay your rent and fees in case you fail to do so. Having a cosigner is a legal way to increase your landlord’s trust in you.
Provide Past Landlords and Personal References
You may need to provide proof of good standing with your previous landlords. This is especially true if you have low credit, an issue with your background check, or limited rental history. Your potential landlord might ask you to deliver eviction judgement from the last five years, documentation of your rental history, or landlord references. In this case you’d have to provide proof that no previous landlords have evicted you in that period of time. Don’t fret if you can’t get in touch with your prior landlords, because personal references can also be helpful. In this case it would be best to provide recommendations from people other than your family members. Try asking your employers, professors, or fellow volunteers for letters which describe your work ethic and other important character traits.
Pay a Hold Fee
Once you’ve been approved for the apartment, your road to a new home is just beginning. A hold fee is your reservation deposit for the apartment. Your landlord will deducted it from the move in costs and will hold the place for two weeks, allowing you to deliver signed papers before freeing it up for someone else.
Application process may take some time, so be prepared to have some patience. Be ready with an amount that’s enough to cover the security deposit and first month’s rent. This way when your landlord approves your application you are ready to sign the lease agreement.