Getting Your Rental Application Approved

You've searched and searched and then... yep, probably searched some more to find the perfect rental home or apartment. Now what?... well as a surprise to no one, the first step is usually to contact the landlord, view the home and then submit your application. But wait... after all that searching how can you be certain your application will get approved? and why is that even fair... to have to be 'approved' to 'pay' for an apartment. Well as you can imagine there is a lot more that goes into a housing application approval other than just being able to afford the rent... although that is an important one too.

Renting is unique in that you are not just purchasing a product, also known as time but whether you realize it or not, you are also establishing a working relationship with your landlord and are taking control of one of the most expensive assets most people will ever own - their rental. Because of this, concerns other than merely being able to afford the initial move-in costs come into question and rightfully so, concerns such as... character, financial stability, ability to pay, willingness to pay, ease of communication, residential history and the list goes on are all factored into whether your rental application is approved or declined. Lucky for you, we are going to spell out exactly how to best improve your chances of getting your rental application approved... lets go!

Get Organized Before You Go Apartment Shopping

When a Landlord is reviewing rental applicants, if an application is organized and thorough, the cards will already be in your favor. Most landlords will require you to fill out an application, provide a copy of your photo ID, submit documented proof of income, and they will charge you an application processing fee to verify your application. If you are moving for a new job, make sure to have the signed offer letter from your new employer. If you are self-employed, get a copy of your tax return and a copy of a few bank statements to show current consistent income. The more organized you are the less work the landlord will need to do. This will automatically enhance your application and put you ahead of the pack.

Get a Co-Signer if You Have Poor Credit or Rental History

Applicants with poor credit or poor rental history may need to ask a friend or family member with good credit and ample income to act as their co-signer. That person is guaranteeing that they will pay your rent if you don't. Landlords sometimes think... 'why should we trust this person with a bad track record to pay rent on-time each month, if their friends and family themselves won't vouch for them?' The co-signer will also need to submit the same application documents as the applicant. If you get these documents ready ahead of time it could save you a few days of scrambling. If you cannot secure a co-signer try offering more in security deposit if possible or more in rent.


"...the vetting and approval process usually starts from the moment an applicant picks up the phone or sends an email to inquire about a property and schedule a showing."


Stay Within Your Budget

One of the hardest things to decide is how much you can afford to pay for your new apartment or home.  Expressing interest in a property that is above your pay grade can discourage a landlord from renting to you.  The general rule is to take your annual salary and divide that by 40.  Another method landlords often use is to multiply the monthly rent by 2 or 3.  If you’re gross monthly income isn’t at or above this number you probably can’t afford the rent.  Remember to include all sources of income including your spouse, roommate(s) and/or investments when doing the math.  Impress prospective landlords by knowing exactly what the maximum rent you can afford is and then looking only at rentals slightly under that amount. For a single person who’s net annually salary is $35,000 the maximum rent they can afford is right around $875-$970.  Avoid approaching a landlord or leasing agent to look at properties that are out of your price range. Most professionals will do this same calculation and will be disappointed if you have been looking at homes that you simply cannot afford.

Screening Begins The Moment You Inquire

Leasing a home or apartment is a unique process unlike any other... on one hand you are purchasing time to use a product but, on the other the Landlord has valid worries beyond whether or not you can merely afford the rent. How will you take care of one of their biggest assets?... Will you treat it like a home? or Will you destroy it beyond repair?... Will you be a good neighbor? or Will you run up a bill of neighbor complaints and then leave to let the Landlord figure it out?... Will you call for every little item during tenancy? or Will you only call for legitimate repairs? ... Are you easy to get along with? or Is communication with you difficult or unpleasant?... These are just some of the worries that Landlords have and why the vetting and approval process usually starts from the moment an applicant picks up the phone or sends an email to inquire about a property and schedule a showing.

Related: Should You Grant Tenants Permission to Upgrade Unit Items

Be Honest and Professional

Nothing gets your application denied faster than omitting the truth or dare we say... lying on your rental application and during your interactions with the landlord. Chances are that any items you may be trying to hide or keep the landlord from knowing in connection to your housing application will surface either during the application verification process or throughout your tenancy... both of which will lead to no place good and may even have some real legal repercussions. By setting the tone and being upfront and honest from the beginning your chances of approval increase drastically even if it's something you may have been denied for originally.


Check Out G3's Tenant Resources


Do not try to hide a pet from a landlord. Even if a dog-owning tenant gets past the application process on a no-pets property, they put themselves at risk for getting caught later in the lease. If a landlord discovers an undocumented animal in the building, they can withhold the security deposit, charge for cleaning fees, apply pet fees and evict policy violators. Avoid these financial burdens and complications by taking responsibility for animals and paying all necessary dues to have them co-habitate. As long as the building or home allows animals, informing management of a dog or cat shouldn’t negatively impact the application process.

A tenant can impress a landlord by treating the application process with respect. Treat property managers politely during all scheduled showings and meetings. Applicants should also dress appropriately to set a notable first impression. Applicants who appear qualified are more likely to prove themselves as responsible future tenants.

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