Apartment Approval FAQ

Apartment Approval FAQ

Imagine how easy our life would be if apartment approvals were automatically guaranteed. Yet, we're all well aware that's not how reality works. The apartment approval process comes with many details. Although some may be obvious, many other components may call for more explanation.

If you have any questions about it, we're answering them here! This is Part 2 of this Apartment Approval series. In this article, we're going over the most asked questions when it comes to rental approval.

Let's get into it! 😊

1. What’s the rental application approval process? 

Any time you try to get a rental apartment, you have to apply for it! The rental application comes with a cost, each fee ranging from $35 to $50.

Once filled out, you send it off to the landlord or property manager, who then reviews it. If they like what they see, they'll accept you for their rental unit. All in all, that's the apartment application approval process! 

2. How long do apartment approvals take? 

The length of the entire process will usually depend on two people. The landlord that reviews your application and you.

The landlord usually gets back to you in 24 to 72 hours.

If there's a middle man in the process, like a property management company or a broker, it's going to take longer. Your documents and application have to go through them before they go to the landlord.

However, some application reviews take up to a week. Typically, this is the case when the landlord has many applications to review or has to verify items. We route a definitive guide to how long apartment approvals take.

3. What determines apartment approval? 

Well, lucky for you, a whole variety of factors affect apartment approval! For starters, a big chunk of your past contributes to your chances of getting approved. Landlords look at your criminal background, rental history, and finances. They also check your current income and any available references. 

All those factors combined determine your eligibility for apartment approval. 

4. Where do you get an apartment application?

This one's easy enough! You can find a rental apartment application online. Most apartment buildings have websites and post their applications there! If you can't find it, you can always reach out to the landlord. 

If you're viewing the apartment in person, you can get an application directly from the landlord or the management office.

5. Can you guarantee approval for an apartment? 

The short answer is no. Unless you personally know the landlord who's in charge of the building, you can't guarantee your apartment approval. But, you can get pretty close! 

If you exceed all the factors that landlords look for, chances are you're getting the apartment. For a landlord, the "perfect" tenant on paper would have: 

  • High credit (a score that's higher than 600 is ideal)
  • High income (30% of your income should cover the rent cost)
  • No criminal background (have no criminal charges on your file)
  • No rental history issues (no prior evictions, defaults, broken leases, etc.)
  • Positive references (preferably from a past landlord or employer

Apartment approval reminder checklist

6. Is there any way to speed up the apartment approval process?

There's no actual fast pass for an apartment approval process. Yet, the way you approach your application can determine how quickly a landlord looks over it. 

The best way to speed up the process is to do as much work as possible so the landlord doesn't have to. This would include concisely compiling all your documents. Here's a quick list of what you should have in your application.

  • Rental application (fill out everything correctly)
  • Income verification (ie. pay stubs) 
  • Credit report
  • Recommendation letters (ie. references from past landlords)
  • Contact information (ie. photo ID) 

7. What things could delay your application approval? 

If you hand in a thorough and organized application, your job is pretty much done. Unless the unexpected happens, you shouldn't have any delays. 

You'll typically encounter longer waits if the landlord needs to run additional checks. Think rental history, credit, employment, and background checks. 

Those take some time since they have to go through third-party agencies. You should expect a delay of a few more days in this case! 

High peak renting season (the summer months) also comes with longer wait times. Landlords have multiple applications to go through. So, inevitably, it'll take longer to get a response! 

8. What are your chances of getting approved for an apartment? 

Well, it's really going to depend on your attributes, the price of the rental unit, and competition. So, let's go over an example to put things into perspective. 

Two applicants are applying for the same apartment, where the cost of the rent is $1500 a month. 

Applicant A has a credit score of 500. They have been previously evicted, and their monthly income is $4000. That means that 30% of their income does not cover the cost of the rent. 

Applicant B has a credit score of 650 and no prior rental issues. Their income is $5000 (meaning 30% of their income would cover the $1500 rent). 

When comparing both applicants, the landlord would pick Applicant B. 

That's because when looking at the aforementioned factors, Applicant B outranks Applicant A. This is the screening criteria most landlords use when choosing what tenants to accept.

As such, your chances are going to depend on what you're presenting with your application.

A key point to note is that finding an apartment is easy throughout the low-peak, winter season. Additionally, getting apartment approval may be easier if you decide to rent privately. 

9. What happens after you get approved for an apartment?

First of all, you should celebrate! It's always exciting getting that apartment approval. Secondly, you should make it your top priority to sign the lease. 

If another person signs the lease before you, the apartment is no longer yours! It won't matter if you got that approval or not. So, you'll want to hop on that quickly. Get the paperwork signed and delivered.

10. How do you get approved for an apartment if you’re young? 

It can be quite challenging to rent as a young person. You don't have any credit, references, rental history, or income (most of the time) to show. 

The best way to get approved for an apartment if you're younger is to get a cosigner. Many parents or relatives will help cosign on apartments. Just make sure they have good credit. A cosigner can majorly boost your application. 

If you have regular income, bring pay stubs and an employment letter. You also can't go wrong in pleading your case! Show you're responsible and friendly when presenting yourself.

11. How to get apartment approval with low credit?

Low credit scores can be a huge hindrance when trying to find an apartment to rent. Apart from being plain annoying, it also makes the rental search a lot harder and more time consuming. 

If you’re trying to rent with low credit, we’re going to give you the same advice as in the question above. Look into getting a cosigner. It can be a family member, friend, or roommate. In instances where you can’t get a cosigner, look into signing a lease with a guarantor.

A guarantor is a third-party signer that is only liable for rent payments when the tenant fails to pay. You can find online agencies, such as The Guarantors, that act as your guarantor.

Another option is to rent with a roommate. If roommates aren’t your thing, look to renting privately. You can find some private landlords that don’t run credit checks. 

12. How to get apartment approval with a criminal record?

This one can be tough. Your best bet would be to sublet or join someone who’s already moved into an apartment. You could also opt to move in with roommates, but keep yourself off the lease.

A third option would be to go the private route. The chances that a private landlord doesn't run a background check is always higher.

If you’re really in a pinch, you could look into short term rental websites like Airbnb. The thing about this one is that you’ll definitely spend more on a rental apartment. They do offer reduced prices for monthly bookings, but they still end up being a bit pricier.

13. How to get an apartment approval with a bad rental history?

Bad rental history can also act as a hindrance when applying for rentals. Breaking leases, defaulting on rent, or eviction are all negative indicators to landlords.

As such, if you want to rent an apartment, we recommend you try to rent with a smaller or private landlord.

You can also leverage your case by paying a larger security deposit or by offering to pay more upfront. So, on top of paying the first and last month of rent, you could try to pay an additional month of rent.

If these options aren't your vibe, you could always get a cosigner. So, you've got some options!

However, you can make a huge difference by explaining your case to the landlord. Take responsibility for what happened, and be honest about your past. Explain how you plan to approach your next tenancy. Honesty and friendliness will go a long way! 🙌 


This completes our FAQ about apartment approval. If someone else is confused over this process, feel free to share it to your friends and family! 😊

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Still need help with the whole rental application process? Don't worry, we got you covered! Lighthouse offers a quick and easy way to find apartments in your area, while giving you cash back on rent. If you're having a harder time finding a home, you can always partner up with one of our Lightkeepers. They'll help you find an apartment, free of charge!  

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