If you’re a first-time renter or renting an apartment in a new city, you may not be completely familiar with the apartment search process. Of course, general knowledge will help you out – most potential renters know that they need to have a certain gross income, at least one month’s rent, security deposit on hand, and their credit checks in order.
However, there’s a lot more to know about how rental applications work. This is especially true if you want that perfect apartment in a particular building. The most reputable apartment communities and direct owners of rental property usually have a stringent rental application process in place. They have the authority to eliminate anyone with bad credit, even if it’s related to student loan debt.
Overall, there is a lot to get through before you even submit that rental application. If you would like to end that grueling apartment hunt and settle down in a dream apartment, it’s worth knowing more.
What Do You Need to Rent an Apartment?
What if you find your dream apartment, but don’t have the required documentation in order? Remember, any decent property management company or individual property manager will require proof of monthly income, identity, bank statements, credit and background checks, and so much more besides.
You may not have found your dream apartment yet, but having all the documents in hand can help you qualify and snap it up when the time comes.
It is a Competitive Market
Many apartment complexes will jump at the chance to fill any vacancy. So, giving them all the required proof can get you your dream apartment home in no time!
Ready to start getting everything in order? Let’s first have a look at what you need to rent an apartment today so you can immediately sign a rental agreement.
1. The Rent Itself
When you seek to rent an apartment, the first question should be: how much rent can I afford? Once you have a set range in mind, you can move on to the question of how much money you have to pay to rent an apartment?
Can You Afford the Rent of Your Dream Apartment?
Whether you have your heart set on the upscale type of apartment complexes or want a friendly, safe apartment community, consider the monthly rent before anything else. This makes the most sense as you don’t want to sign a lease agreement you can’t afford.
How to Figure Out Your Affordable Rent Range
Before you pause your apartment hunt to sign any contracts, figure out your affordable rent range. The 30% rule is usually the best measurement as it gives you a lot of wiggle room.
This rule means that a tenant should not be spending over 30% of their take-home income on rental payments each month.
The expenses of renting an apartment aren’t limited to rental payments only. Besides the apartment move-in fees, here’s a glance at the various expected costs to budget for:
- Security Deposit: This is usually refunded if you leave the apartment in decent condition
- First and Last Month’s Rent: This could be for more or fewer months according to the policy in place
- Application Fee: This is used for running credit checks and generally processing the application
The Payment Options
Once you’ve noted all the expected fees, you might want to find out how to pay rent for an apartment. There could be several payment options, so you can pick whatever is most suitable for your situation.
2. Your Contact Information
When you apply for an apartment, the property manager will need updated contact information to get in touch about any updates. Make sure you give them your current address, phone number, email address, and an alternative number as well. You should also double-check for typos.
3. Proof of Identity
You will need to confirm your identity before renting an apartment. The most common way to do that is to submit a copy of your photo ID. Depending from one landlord to the other, a driver’s license usually suffices in most cases.
If the place you’re applying for has a parking spot as well, you’ll need to show a relevant driver’s license. The amendment may also require proof of your vehicle registration, its make, model, year, insurance information (if any), etc.
Social Security Number
Before you rent any apartment, the property manager in question will run a background check and credit check on you. For this purpose, they’ll probably ask for your social security number. However, it’s also wise to know that there should not be any request for providing your social security card, not even a copy of it. The number alone is sufficient for such purposes, at least for now.
Know Your Credit Score
Before you fill out any apartment applications, you might want to run a credit check on yourself. Due to the increasing occurrence of identity theft and hacking, many people may end up with a lower credit score than they think they have. At other times, certain actions of yours might have lowered your score without you even realizing it.
Analyze if You Need a Guarantor or a Co-Signer
Once you understand where your credit score lies, it will be easier to decide whether to look for a guarantor or co-signer. If you want to stay safe throughout the rental application process, you can find out if your parents can rent an apartment for you.
4. Resume or Some Form of Employment History
Property managers and landlords usually ask for recent proof of stable employment, and, hence, a stable income. Many people might have enough saved up for a few months of rent, the application fee, and the security deposit, but a property manager will probably ask for evidence, including:
- Recent pay stubs
- Bank statements (for at least the past two months)
- Tax returns
- References from previous and current employers
What a Property Manager Expects
Ideally, a property manager will like to see that you’ve been at your current place of employment for about six months or more. Therefore, you can provide details of your employment history when filling out the rental application form.
In Case of a New Job or Self-Employment
If you’re fairly new to your current job or are self-employed, it’s time to get letters of recommendation and references from people that the property manager can trust. These may include previous employers, previous landlords, etc. We will discuss references in detail further on.
Make Sure You Can Pay Your Way
If you’re self-employed, it can be hard to determine a stable level of income. Before signing any lease agreement, you’ll have to present a thorough credit check to your potential landlords in such cases.
For your own sake, make sure you know how much income is required to rent an apartment in your apartment complex of choice.
5. References (As Many As Possible)
A rental application in highly desirable apartment complexes requires something unique if you want to get noticed. That is why it’s a good idea to mention the names and contact numbers (with permission) of your previous landlords, property managers, or the property management company.
How References Will Help You
Showing relevant references can help landlords assess your credibility while giving them the following information:
- You paid your month’s rent on time
- You got along well with other tenants in the same apartment complex
- You didn’t break any part of the previous rental agreement
- You were able to pay the security deposit as well as the monthly rent
- You and your family were able to keep your previous apartment in decent order
Sources for References
With the information from various references, the property managers at your desired apartment community might place your rental application on a priority level.
Apart from your rental history, other references will help to make that rental application stand out from the rest:
- Current or previous employers
- Current or previous managers or co-workers
- Teachers or professors
6. Information on Any Pets
If you have a pet and the potential apartment complex allows them, you’ll get the landlord’s information about their rules of pet ownership. You will also have to be upfront about the kind of pet you have; along with their size, their weight, breed, and other factors. Proof of vaccination is also typically necessary. Finally, keep the following pet-related expenses in mind:
- A pet rental fee
- Pet security deposit (paid upfront)
When you plan to rent an apartment, do keep all the above factors in mind. The more you prepare to be ready for an apartment, the more likely you are to acquire the next likely unit! With the housing market being so competitive these days, potential tenants and apartment hunters need to do all they can to secure a place. This also requires knowing how long it will take to move to a new apartment.
You don’t have to get overwhelmed, though. Take it one step at a time and start with whatever is easiest. Begin today. That way, you can have your documentation ready in a matter of days.