No one likes to fill out paperwork and rental applications are no different. However, one of the easiest ways to take the pain out of your rental application is to study what rental property management companies look for when reviewing your application and what documents you can prepare to expedite the process.
If you’re hesitant to fill out a rental application because you don’t know what you need and you’re afraid of being charged hidden fees, this blog’s for you. If you’re telling yourself you’ll never have the apartment you want because of bad credit or discrepancies on your background check, this blog’s for you.
At Pangea, we understand how tough finances are and we believe no one should be judged by a piece of paper. Our main objective is to build communities in the cities we love. That’s why we provide resources for anyone looking to rent an apartment, regardless of whether it’s with us or elsewhere. You shouldn’t be made to feel like you’re alone in the apartment search and Pangea is here to help.
What’s the Typical Apartment Rental Process?
No matter where you want your next apartment, it requires an application process. Every unit has an application for tenants to fill out and online rental applications are becoming more and more common. You should feel confident while entering the application process so you know nothing is missing from your documents.
Typically, you can find the form online and email a completed version to the office. You might also feel more comfortable dropping it off in person. Once you establish your preferred delivery method, you should try to start the process as soon as you can. But before you begin the process, it’s helpful to know what rental agencies look for in your application so you can be prepared.
What Do Property Rental Agencies Look for In an Application?
You should include all of your personal information on the application and details such as your Social Security number, driver’s license number, and previous rental addresses. You will also have to include income information and your monthly income. All of these documents are critical for background checks.
Prior landlord references significantly improve your chances for approval and medical bills are a common negative influence on credit reports, so it’s important to disclose the nature and reason why your credit might be low.
How Much Is the Typical Rental Application Fee?
The rental application process time gives your landlord time to assess your application and make an informed decision about their prospective tenant. You will likely need to pay a non-refundable application fee for your rental property when you submit your rental application. This fee is designed to cover the costs of background and credit checks.
Documents for the Apartment Application Process
Though agencies often differ on the elements they look for in a rental application, they commonly look at proof of income, credit score, background checks, rental history, potential co-signer information, and any cover letter you choose to attach.
Proof of Income
Property management companies will likely look at your proof of income to determine how likely it is that you can pay your rent. As a rule of thumb, you want to make close to three times your rent amount, though this isn’t set in stone and some property managers are more lenient than others. To provide proof of income, you should gather two or three pay stubs, bank statements, tax statements, or a W-2 if you’ve had your job for more than a year. The rental property agency might also call your employer to prove your employment as well as answer questions about you and your salary.
Credit Check or Credit Score
Rental property agencies often require permission to check your credit score and low credit can hinder your chances of getting approved for a rental. New credit is not as damaging to your chances as bad credit and if you’ve just graduated or have your first job, then you might want to disclose that to your landlord. If you have low credit, consider finding a cosigner or ask if providing a lump sum payment upfront would help your chances of approval.
Most applications require that you permit a background check and this aspect can account for some of the application fee. The rental property management company will analyze your background check and determine if there are any causes for concern that might affect your chances of approval. Rental property managers can include a line in the application that lets you explain the discrepancies on your background check. Providing context gives you a better chance of approval.
You should have your rental history at least somewhat handy. If you don’t have any previous landlords for references, you can provide personal references, such as employers or colleagues. These types of references will give your rental application some credibility and increase your chances of approval.
Cosigner for Those with Low Credit
Providing a co-signer is an excellent way to improve your chances of approval if you are worried about your credit score. Co-signers vouch for your credit by putting theirs on the line. This means they take legal responsibility for your rent if you can’t pay. If your income is lower than three times your rent, rental property managers might request a co-signer.
If you have a complicated situation that might hurt your chances of getting approved for your apartment, you can attach a cover letter to improve your chances. In a cover letter, you can explain things, such as:
- Bad credit due to medical bills.
- Felonies on your record.
- Low income but with a clear career trajectory.
A cover letter alone won’t get you approved for your apartment but it can make the difference if a property manager is unsure about approving you.
How Much Does the Application Approval Cost?
The rental application process is the first step for a landlord to determine your risk as a tenant. This, along with the non-refundable apartment application fee for the rental property, should cover any fees the rental property management company needs for background or credit checks.
Depending on the rental property management company, you will have to pay an application fee, processing fee, and potentially a security deposit. This application fee and screening can cost anywhere from $35-$75 per person and cover the background and credit check. After approval, you will also have to account for the security deposit and the first month’s rent, so make sure you plan accordingly.
What Happens After You’re Approved?
After receiving approval for your apartment, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to sign the lease. Everyone living in the apartment and any co-signer will have to sign the lease. The lease covers all of your expectations of the term, which can last anywhere from one month to a year and a half, in most cases. You should carefully read your lease to determine what concerns you have before moving in. You will also have to pay the first month’s rent and any move-in fees, so you should account for those before signing the lease.
Conclusion- All You Need to Know About Rental Applications
The rental application process can seem daunting but don’t let it deter you from going after an apartment you truly enjoy. No matter where you are in the leasing process, making sure you know all that is required of you is a valuable advantage. The more understanding you have about what rental property management companies are looking for, the more prepared you will be if any obstacles arise.
At Pangea, we believe in building a community and we are here for you throughout the lease application process. We also understand that trying financial circumstances and life changes shouldn’t define a person and we are open to hearing why you should be able to live in the apartment you have your eyes set on. Whether you’re in Baltimore, Indianapolis, or Chicago, there’s a home for you at Pangea.
Contact us today to find your new home!