What can I do to make sure my rental application is approved?
When searching for a rental in a competitive market, no one wants to hear their application is denied. So what can you do to make sure your rental application is approved?
The Application Itself: be sure to fill it out completely, correctly, and honestly. Property owners typically verify what you say on your application. If you misstate something, you won't come across as being a good tenant. Make sure that when you file the application, you include all of the requested documentation. If you leave something out, it may be easier for the landlord to just skip over your application and select someone else.
Credit: most landlords I’ll check your credit as part of the application process. That means that being financially responsible is key to having a rental application approved. Essentially, you need to pay your bills on time and if you have debts, work towards paying them off. Does that mean you can’t rent you have less than perfect credit? Absolutely not, but you may need to do things to help your new landlord feel comfortable renting to you, like offering to prepay an extra month or two of rent up front. Another key is to be honest about your situation if you are hoping for someone to work with you. If you have mediocre or bad credit, be sure to read our post about how to go about renting with bad credit.
Employment: landlords typically ask to see proof of employment or monthly earnings (possibly from a pension). Be prepared to provide recent pay stubs during the application process, a letter from your current employer, and possibly several years worth of tax returns in order to document your income.
Income: it is recommended that you have at least three times the monthly rent in income. This is to make sure you don't over stress yourself financially and you are able to pay your rent. Don't make applications for properties you truly cannot afford. Check out our post on how to determine how much you can afford to pay in rent.
Identification: during the application process, the landlord will likely want to verify you are who you say you are. They'll ask you for a copy of your photo identification, something like a driver's license, state identification card, passport, or a military ID.
Rental History: not only do landlords check to see if you've been evicted, but they also like to check to see if you are a good tenant. They may contact your previous landlords to see if you pay your rent on time, if you provided the required notice when you vacated the property, whether or not you disturbed your neighbors with excessive noise, if you were involved in illegal activities while renting from them, and if you kept the property clean and didn't cause damage. If you want to make sure your application is approved when applying for a new rental, be sure your previous rentals won't come back to haunt you!
Background: property managers perform background checks to make sure you are a good risk and fit for their property. If there's something in your past of a legal nature, it's likely to be discovered during a background check. It may be best to have an honest discussion with the property manager about it before applying for an apartment and paying the associated fees for it. That way, you won't be wasting time and money if there isn't a chance of being approved. During a background check, things like misdemeanors (crimes involving violence, assault, battery, drugs, & firearms) and felonies will be examined.
Before applying for a rental, read over this list carefully and think about what you can do to make sure you'll be approved. Certain reasons for issues can be worked with by some landlords, so be honest with them up front and see if you have a shot of being approved before you fill out the paperwork and pay all of the associated fees. Good luck!
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