When you’re ready to find a new home to rent you will need to wade through the rental application process. The first step is to find a list of available rental properties that may fit your needs. Once the list is ready you are ready to get started!
Rental Application Process
It is best to view a few properties in person to get a good sense of whether it will meet your needs. Take the time to look inside the unit but also at the whole property.
Look for these qualities when reviewing a property:
Is the unit and property clean and well-maintained?
How many units are rented vs. vacant and why?
Is there a safe, well-lit place to park your car?
Do your observations match the advertised features and is it a good value for the rental price?
Renters can contact a landlord, real estate agent, property manager or apartment complex office (where applicable) to make an appointment to view the unit.
Once you have chosen the unit you would like to rent, each adult planning to live in the space will be expected to fill out a rental application. The application is to help the landlord determine if you will be a credible renter by looking at your credit and past rental histories. Generally, applicants are asked to pay a non-refundable processing and/or application fee of approximately $40 and submit their security deposit at this time. In some cases, applicants are asked to pay a binder that will later go toward their security deposit upon approval. Expect to pay a higher security deposit if you have a pet. If the application is later denied then the security deposit/binder should be returned within 30 days.
The rental application typically asks for the following information:
Phone and e-mail contacts
Driver’s license number/state issued ID (expect to bring valid identification)
Pets, if applicable
Employment and income information
Background information, including questions about criminal charges or previous bankruptcies
Credit and Background Check
Many landlords require consent to perform and obtain a consumer credit report, landlord/tenant credit record search, criminal records search and registered sex offender search. All of these reports help the landlord decide if you will be desirable renters. Be aware that the Fair Housing Act makes it illegal for a landlord to deny housing to a tenant on the grounds of race, color, gender, religion, disability, familial status or national origin.
If you lack acceptable rental history or personal credit, you may be asked to provide a co-signer. The co-signer is typically a close friend or family member that agrees to share legal and financial responsibility for the terms of the lease. The co-signer will be asked to fill out a legally notarized co-signer/guarantor application.
Sign the Lease
Upon approval of your rental application, each co-tenant will be asked to sign and date a lease and pay the first month’s rent. Typically first month’s rent will be required as a cashier’s check.
A lease is a legal contract between the landlord and tenant(s) and should include:
The names of the landlord and tenant(s)
The starting date and duration or end date of the agreement
The address of the property being leased
Options for lease renewal, if any
The lease will also include specific terms for:
Rent payments, including amounts and due dates
Applicable late charges
Number of occupants and guests
Right of entry and inspection
Noise, and any “quiet” hours
Lead notification requirement (if the property was built before 1978)
Whether it is acceptable for tenant to sublet the premises
Joint and several liability