Apartment Rental Application Process

Your palms are sweating. Your heart is pounding. Your head aches. You could vomit at any moment. Did you just ride a roller coaster—or apply for an apartment?

This overview of the apartment rental application process should help relieve some of your anxiety. You’ll know what to expect from start to finish (which, come to think of it, makes roller coasters less scary, too!) Here’s a look at the process and several steps you can take to make it a smooth one:

Paving Your Way to Approval

The apartment rental application process is about more than filling out a form, handing over the application fee, and waiting. You can make the process more predictable and improve your chances by taking a few proactive measures.

  • Get the lay of the land. You should know a little bit about the neighborhood and the apartment before you talk to a landlord. This will solidify your resolve to rent an apartment there. But it’s also a way to impress upon a landlord your understanding of and appreciation for that slice of the local community. Personal impressions go a long way, after all.
  • A tip: Make sure you understand the sort of apartment lease type with which you’re most comfortable. Also be sure to visit the area at different hours of the day to get a well-rounded impression.
  • Run a credit check … on yourself. Get a copy of your credit report before the rental application process. Doing so affords you the opportunity to address any unexpected issues that might turn up. It’s better to deal with them now than later, when the apartment of your dreams could be on the line! Annualcreditreport.com, the only authorized website for free credit reports. Get a complete overview of your credit and the role it plays in apartment hunting.
  • Arrange finances beforehand. Your expenses may include the application fee, first and last month’s rent, furniture, and more. Understanding your financial picture will help you zero in on locations that fit your budget. It’ll also give you a confidence-boosting foundation to help you engage landlords about rent, fees, and other money matters.
  • A tip: Renting your furniture through CORT offers many advantages, like lower cost and greater convenience.
  • Gather a list of references. The landlord might ask you for a list of personal and/or professional references when you apply. If you take care of that before you even start the application process, you’ll have one less thing to worry about when you have a lot more on your plate.
  • A tip: Make sure to thank those who agree to serve as a reference. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Research has shown that even a simple “thank you” note goes a long way to make the recipient feel happy.

Conducting Due Diligence Benefits Everyone

The apartment approval process exists in large part because landlords don’t like getting stiffed on rent, tenants hate lousy neighbors, and police officers have better things to do than evict deadbeats.

To avoid these situations, landlords like to screen prospective renters—yes, including you—for:

  • Financial viability: Are you employed? Is it likely that you’ll be able to afford rent now and for the duration of your tenancy? Besides employment information, the landlord will also review your credit score.
  • Criminal activity: Does your background check uncover a prior arrest or criminal conviction? Any outstanding warrants? Would you pose a potential risk to the well-being of the landlord, other tenants, neighbors, etc.?
  • Prior evictions: Has a former landlord ever had to evict you? In most cases, such information remains on your record for seven years.

… and more. You get the point: the apartment rental application process pulls in a lot of information on you for the landlord.

Would you want it any other way? You know you’re a law-abiding, hard-working wage-earner. But your prospective landlord doesn’t know that. And he or she has obligations to banks, tenants, and others to uphold.

Collecting all that data is neither easy nor fast. That’s why you’ll pay between $25 and $75 as part of the rental application process. It’s also why the rental application process time may take longer than you’d like.

On Your Mark, Get Set … Search!

Ready to find your best apartment? List ApartmentSearch.com as the way you found your apartment on your rental application. You’ll receive a $100 Visa Gift Card for whatever you need and $100 CORT Bucks to buy or rent furniture. That's it. No catch. We can even help you find movers. Outside of a roller coaster, it’s one of the best thrills you can find. Why would you search anywhere else?

Additional Resources

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A Beginner’s Guide To Phoenix, AZ
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A Beginner’s Guide to Pittsburgh, PA
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