Let’s talk about the apartment approval process. What should you expect? (Part 1)

By 

Lighthouse

Updated

June 23, 2022

Let’s talk about the apartment approval process. What should you expect? (Part 1)

Everyone's after that cherished apartment approval. But getting it isn't as easy as most people think. Similar to any other application, you'll want to present yourself in the best light. Landlords are always on the lookout for the best tenants. 👀

In order to do that, you'll have to check off a certain number of boxes. So- let's talk about those boxes! This is the first article in a two-part series about the apartment approval process. 

In this part, we're going over the basics. What do landlords look for in an application? What would make you the best candidate for tenancy? We're here to discuss the key points and how to approach them.

Without further ado, let's get started! 🥳️

What’s an apartment approval process? 

It's pretty much in the name! If you want to get a rental apartment, you have to apply for it.

The apartment approval process begins with an application. You'll also have to compile various documents, so we hope you like paperwork! 😝 Once applied (the fee is usually $35-$50), the landlord either approves or denies you.

If you do get an approval, well, congrats! You're moving into a new home.

If you get denied, it's a great moment to figure out what went wrong with your application. Ask the landlord to clarify the reasons for their denial. They should also state their reasons in their tenant rejection application letter. Use those notes to fix up anything you can!

How do you know if you’ve been approved for an apartment?

You'll get a response involving your application after 2 to 3 business days (most commonly).

The approval process is also pretty much what you'd expect. If the landlord thinks you're a good fit for the apartment, they'll approve you. Expect to receive a phone call or message saying you got the apartment!

On the other hand, sometimes, you don't get a response. If you don't hear back after 3 days, call or message the landlord. They may be taking longer because they’re backed up with applications. Longer wait times could also happen if a landlord decides to verify your criminal, financial, or rental history.

Just keep in mind that you'll want a firm response from them. It would suck not knowing if you should keep looking for a rental or not!  

Steps to take to guarantee an apartment approval

We're going to be real with you. You can never 100% guarantee your apartment approval. However, there are some things you can do to majorly boost your application. Here are some items you can check off your list.  

  1. Bring all the appropriate documents. The best thing you can do for yourself is have a thorough and complete application. Check what documentation you should be including. Look to bring pay stubs, employment letters, references, credit, and rental history reports. 
  2. Bring references. Landlords just want to make sure they're renting to someone trustworthy and reliable. References are the perfect way to showcase that. Getting a past landlord or employer to write you a reference would be a bonus! 
  3. Give a good impression. Viewing the unit is the perfect opportunity to introduce yourself to the landlord. Make it a point to present yourself in a positive light. Be friendly, respectful, and professional. Let them know you'll responsibly take care of the apartment won't hurt either. 😉 
  4. Have good finances. If you're able to do so, get your finances in order. Landlords always look at your credit and income when reviewing your rental application. A credit between 550 to 600 is what's generally accepted by landlords. Having a score higher than 700 is considered really good! 
  5. Provide a cover letter. What's a better way to tell your story than through a cover letter? It'll highlight your best qualities and point out why you're the best candidate to rent. You should include information about yourself, your work background, and pastimes! 

What landlords look for in an applicant 

Landlords look for a set number of items when evaluating potential tenants. Down below are the things they look for! 

Good Credit Score

Landlords use your credit score as an indicator of your financial responsibility. They're looking to guarantee that you can pay rent in full every month. 

The following things can affect your credit score

  • Credit card debt 
  • Loans
  • Late payments
  • Defaults
  • Bankruptcies
  • Collections
  • Past-due accounts

If you don't have the greatest credit, it's recommended to get a cosigner or wait until you grow your credit. 

Cosigning with someone is the best way to get that rental as soon as possible. However, if you're willing to hold out, improving your credit can be super helpful. Good credit has its advantages for more than just renting! 

Clean Background Check

Typically, rental applications will ask if you have a criminal past. Depending on your answer, landlords will run background checks. It's part of the common tenant screening process. 

Many landlords won't rent to those that fail the background check. If they do deny your application, they are obligated to disclose their reasons. You are also allowed to see the report and who administered it. 

Positive Rental History 

Your rental history will give the landlord insight into how you are as a tenant. They'll know if you've had issues in your past rentals. To approve your application, landlords don't want you to have prior: 

  • Evictions
  • Broken leases
  • Bounced rent payments
  • Property damage 
  • Public disturbances
  • Money owed to past landlords

All these factors impact your rental history. Landlords may also investigate through a more informal stance. They may reach out to past landlords if you use them as a reference. 

Sufficient Income

Your income will help paint a picture as to how desirable you are as a tenant. A common guideline is that tenants should assign 30% of their income towards the rent. Landlords will look at that when reviewing your income.

Time Matters 

So, you've got your apartment approval. That means you're guaranteed the apartment, right? Actually, the apartment may still not be yours. You only officially get the apartment when you sign the lease.

You'll risk losing your rental if someone else signs the lease before you. That's why you shouldn't wait around after you get your apartment approval. Make sure to sign the lease as soon as possible! 😄 

TL;DR 

Let’s recap everything that was said! The apartment approval process involves applying for a rental unit. Once the landlord reviews your application, they either approve or deny you. Start the process in the right direction by making a cover letter. Gather all the correct documents, add references, and have good finances. It's also great if you make a good first impression. If you want your application to really shine, you should have good credit and a positive rental history. You should also have no criminal record and sufficient income to cover rent. 

Conclusion

There ya have it! These are the basics surrounding apartment approval. Check out the second part of this article where we'll answer your most common questions! 

To keep up with the latest news follow us on our social media! Lighthouse also gives cash back on newly signed leases. Our team of experts (called Lightkeepers) also helps you find just the right rental home! You can check us out here. 😊

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