How to Rent an Apartment: Tips For Renters

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Executive Realty 91362

Tips For Renting an Apartment

If you’ve found an apartment to rent that meets all your needs, there are a few things you need to do before you can move in. Your landlord needs to know that you are going to pay on time and that you will take care of their property.

You will need to fill out an apartment application providing lots of information to the landlord. Let's take you through the things you need to know when renting an apartment. If you have never been a renter before, the advice will come in handy to make things go smoothly. Maximum Real Estate Exposure offers some great insights when you've never rented before.

You will see a handy comparison between renting an apartment vs. a house in case you had any doubts about which you should choose.

Apartment Applications

There are many things to know when renting an apartment for the first time. When you rent an apartment, the owner of the home will want to screen you. The management will either give you the application forms necessary, or you'll be able to download them online.

There will normally be an application fee of up to $100 for your form and documents to be processed.

You can expect to have to provide quite an abundance of information; this will include:

Personal Information

The landlord is, of course, going to need your name, as well as your current address and contact information. They will normally also need your social security number and perhaps a copy of your social security card. This will be used to run a background check on you. Most landlords don't want to rent an apartment or house to someone who has a criminal history.

Previous addresses may also be asked for. If you are not a first-time renter, they will contact your current landlord, as well as previous landlords to check you are a reliable tenant.

Employment History

You need to provide some information about your current employment. This will include the company name, your occupation, and a contact phone number. This will be used to check that you are employed where you claim to be.

They may ask for your previous employer’s details as well, and this information will be used to run criminal background checks on you.

Additionally, you will have to provide proof of your income. You should be able to show that you have an income that is more than three times the monthly rent. You will need to provide pay stubs, bank statements, or tax returns. Normally a landlord will want to see at least three months’ worth of pay stubs, so make sure you have these available.

Your Vehicle Details May Be Required

If a parking spot is also available in the apartment rental, you will have to provide information about your vehicle. This will include the license plate number and the make and model. They might also ask for your car insurance details.

On top of that, you might need to provide your driver's license number or your state ID to make sure you get the parking spot you need.

Character References Might Be Asked For

Your potential new landlord may ask for personal references from you. These can't be from family members for obvious reasons.

They might also want you to prove that you are a good tenant with references from previous landlords. This is more likely to be the case if you don't have a great credit history. You might be asked for your rental history or eviction judgments from the previous 5 years.

Other Information About You

Your landlord could require you to provide a cover letter as well. This gives you the option to present yourself to the landlord and answer any questions they may have.

The Application Process

Once you have submitted all your documentation, you may have to agree to a few other things. The landlord or property management company might need you to approve them to run a credit and background check on you. One of the three major credit bureaus will be used to access this information.

This information will be used to find out what sort of tenant you will be. They are looking for someone reliable, responsible, and who can be trusted to pay the rent on time. If you don't have the best credit history, a co-signer maybe your best option.

Help From a Co-signer Might Be Necessary

If your credit score is too low, you can use a co-signer to help you in renting an apartment. This person has to trust you, and you have to trust them. You also will need to provide documentation for them.

How Long Does it Take to Get Approved?

Typically it takes between one and three days to have your apartment rental approved. Though this depends on the landlord or management company, you are working with. Providing some documentation, like your credit report and rental reference letters from previous landlords, can speed things up.

Collection of a Security Deposit

After you've been approved to rent an apartment, you will have to pay a security deposit. This is normally between 1 and 3 months’ rent. However, you will get this money returned to you if you return the apartment in good condition when your contract is over.

Then all that is left is to sign the rental agreement and either hire a mover or do it yourself.

Final Thoughts on Renting an Apartment

If you have been living with your parents and have never rented an apartment before, these are probably exciting times for you. Going out on your own is a big step for many people. Signing a lease to rent someone's property comes with it some substantial financial responsibility. It also means respecting other people's property.

Always keep in mind you are renting someone's property. You need to make sure you treat it as if it was your own. When guests visit, it should be expected they will also treat the home properly too. Remember, you may move out of this place at some point and need another rental.

You will want the landlord to give you sterling references, so it is even easier to rent your next place. Hopefully, you have found these apartment rental tips to be useful. Knowing how to rent an apartment is worthwhile information - you'll be able to help friends and family somewhere done the line.


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Bill Gassett is a thirty-two year veteran to the real estate industry. He enjoys providing helpful information to buyers, sellers and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Placester, RESAAS, Credit Sesame and others.

Comments (2)

Hannah Williams
HomeStarr Realty - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-820-3376

Bill Gassett  good information here for renters new and old 

Oct 14, 2020 12:05 PM
Bill Gassett

Thanks for the comps, Hannah. Finding an apartment to rent isn't always easy.

Oct 14, 2020 01:26 PM
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center 262-567-2455 - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Good information.  Thanks for sharing and enjoy your weekend!

Nov 06, 2020 07:20 AM