A Step by Step Guide Through the Rental Application Process
Step 1 - Fill out a rental application
If you are interested in a property, the next step is to reach out to our property management by filling out a rental application, discussing the Security Deposit and Pet Deposits (if applicable). If you have a co-signer or plan on having roommates, they will also need to do the same. Essentially, every person over 18 years old planning to move in needs to fill out a separate lease application form. Most properties have online application forms. It’s best to have the necessary information easily available as soon as you take the very first steps to renting an property.
Employment and income information
Pets (if applicable)
Personal or Professional references
Step 2 - Pay the apartment application fee
The application fee funds the credit and background checks done on potential renters. It essentially covers the screening cost of the applicant. The rent application fee itself differs depending on various factors, such as the area, the building, or even the landlord. In some cases, the application fee may be accompanied by processing fees. Ask your future property manager about all the applicable fees associated with the application process for the property you’re interested in. You can also ask what fees are refundable in case they decide to go with someone else.
Step 3 - Expect credit and background checks
The rental application process means you will most likely be asked to agree to background and credit checks. Apartment background checks may go as far back in the past as a landlord deems necessary and they will usually focus on criminal history. It’s better to report any relevant background information. A rental application credit check accounts for how financially responsible a potential tenant is. Are they a reliable person who pays rent on time? The easiest way of doing this is to check credit scores. Make sure to mention if you have bad credit or if you are still recovering from past medical bills. This is where a co-signer can step in (see step #5).
Step 4 - Prove you can pay rent
An important part of the rental application process is providing proof of employment or income. Most landlords will ask for copies of tax returns, recent pay stubs or other forms of receipts from an employer. Depending on your job, you may also provide recent bank statements, copies of client contracts, or copies of one or two W-2 forms if need be. Employment and credit checks usually takes 24 hours for an approval.
Step 5 - Figure out if you need a co-signer
The next step in the apartment application process is figuring out if you need a co-signer or not. A co-signer is a person with good credit who acts as a willing guarantor. If you have bad credit or insufficient credit history, they take the legal responsibility of paying your rent in case you won’t. Co-signers or guarantors may step in when first-time renters have no way of accounting for rental history or commitment to monthly rent and bill payments. You might need one in case your monthly income is less than three times the rent. You may also look at a co-signer as a way to strengthen your application and improve your chances of approval. Think of it as an additional referral.
Step 6 - Show them that you are an agreeable renter
Usually, landlords want to know from previous landlords what type of tenant you are. Were you a bit on the noisy side? Did you abide by the pet policy? All this usually comes in the form of a letter from the former landlord. Although typically not required, you might want to think about attaching a landlord reference to the application as another way to improve your chances of approval or simply to set yourself apart from other applicants. For some properties, you might even find it mandatory.
Step 7 - Pay the Security Deposit(s), Sign the lease and Get the Keys
You’ve passed the rental application process, Security Deposit requirements are typically are the same as the rent rate. Most landlords will ask for the equivalent of one or two months’ rent in case you fall back on rent payments.
At SPM, our process is all these steps are done on your online portal.