in New York State

Renting an apartment doesn’t have to be difficult when you understand the basic rental approval process and the specific requirements for the desired apartment or house. However, before you can sign a lease agreement and move in, you’ll have to go through a number of steps. It’s something every renter goes through pretty much everywhere. Here’s a look at everything you need and must do when applying for a rental property, including a list of required documents and some tips and tricks to help you getting that rental.

1. Complete the Rental Application

Filling out the rental application is the first step. Your agent can help you here to get it right. Here is a list of some of the required information needed when applying:

  • Your legal name
  • Your social security number (required for background checks)
  • A copy of your government issued ID (required for background checks and to establish your identity)
  • Your current address
  • Your phone number
  • Your email address
  • Your proof of income (pay stubs, letter from employer, recent tax return and/or other supporting documents)
  • Your previous addresses
  • Your emergency contacts
  • Info regarding your pets (if allowed by landlord)
  • Info regarding your support animals (as stipulated by law)
  • Your references (personal and/or from employer/prior landlord)

Almost always there will be a pre-printed application form supplied by the landlord or your rental agent. This paperwork will often guide you through the process with questions and prompts. Answer everything as thoroughly as possible and submit the supporting documents asked for.

2. Pay the Application Fee

Usually you’ll also have to pay a non-refundable rental application fee which can vary anywhere from $20 to $100. The landlord charges this apartment application fee to cover the costs of screening potential renters, sometimes including background and credit checks.

3. Prepare for Credit & Background Checks

The credit and background checks are usually part of the application fee and require your authorization. The landlord conducts these to assess your criminal history, determine your reliability and ability to enter into a legally binding rental agreement.

4. Supply Proof of Income

Proof of some sort of income is critical when applying for an apartment or house rental, as it shows that you have a reliable source of income to pay the monthly rent. Proof of income can be documented through any of the following:

  • Pay Stubs
  • Tax Returns
  • Bank Statements
  • Income Letter From an Employer
  • Court-Ordered Payments
  • Social Security Documents
  • Unemployment Documents
  • Pension
  • Severance Statement
  • Disability Insurance
  • Worker’s Compensation
  • W-2 Income Statement
  • 1099 Form
  • Annuity Statement
  • Interest and Dividend Income
  • Bonus and Incentive Payment Statement

5. Determine If You Need a Guarantor or Co-Signer

Should it turn out that your income (or credit score) isn’t high enough to secure a rental or you have an unstable income situation, you may want to ask a trusted person to be your co-signer, such as a family member. A guarantor or co-signer is someone who co-signs the lease with you and is legally on the hook to pay your rent if you fail to do so.

6. Provide Rental References

Prospective landlords many times want references from previous landlords to verify your rental history and trustworthiness as a prospective tenant. They may want to call your previous landlord to determine how reliable you are and establish how punctual you were paying your rent in the past.

7. Consider Including Personal References

If you are renting your very first apartment or home and don’t have any previous rental history, supply personal references from your boss or superior that speak to your trustworthiness and reliability. Make the rental process easier with these personal reference letters.

8. Provide Your Security Deposit & First Month Rent

The first month's rent and a security deposit equal to the amount of the monthly rent are one of the many requirements for renting an apartment or house. These sums are due with signing your lease. Security deposits provide landlords insurance for damage caused by a tenant beyond normal wear and tear. This sum is usually fully refundable if there are no chargable damages.

9. Sign the Lease & Create A Move In Report

Your landlord or property manager will send you an email or call you to let you know if you have been approved or not. Once approved they will forward you the lease or invite you to meet with them to sign it. Make sure you read through everything and understand every detail of the lease which is a legally binding contract.  Furthermore, create a move in report with the help of your agent to make sure any existing damage or issues in the rental are documented before you actually move in, so you’re not held liable when you move out. Look out for anything damaged or missing, such as holes in the walls, scuffs on the floors, damage to the windows, doors or major appliances, and any noticeable exterior and interior wear and tear. Document everything carefully with time stamped photos and descriptions .Also, let your landlord know about any issues that need addressing before you move in. Your agent will be able to help you with these steps.

10. Move Into Your New Apartment

Moving into your new abode is very exciting event but it can be overwhelming. If you already own furniture and such it can be of help to hire a professional mover. Make sure to contact at least three moving companys and get estimates so you can compare and select the one. Agai, your agent will be able to assist you with recommendations.

Some Tips to Get Approved

A few things to know about the rental process that could impact approval include on-time rent payment history, reliable income, and good communication. Here are some tips to help move the renting process along:

  1. Come Prepared: Speed up the rental application process by providing all of the information required, such as copies of your credit report, income sources and rental reference letters.
  2. Budgets for Application Fees: The property management company or the landlord won’t proceed with an applications if you decline the application fee.
  3. Know Your Credit Score: Typically, 650 is the minimum credit score needed when applying for any type of rental.
  4. Be Transparent: Disclose if there’s anything noteworthy, like a previous arrest, before landlords run your background check.
  5. Gather Pay Stubs, Offer Letters or Document Other Income: If you don’t have pay stubs due to a new job, provide an offer letter from your new employer when applying. If you are no longer working show where your income is coming from with copies of bank statements or other relevant documents.
  6. Call Ahead: Ask which payment method landlords prefer: cash, checks, or credit cards.
  7. Explore Move-In Specials: If you’re on a budget, look for move-in specials that waive the application fee to entice more renters to apply.

How Long Does It Take to Get Approved for an Apartment?

Depending on the landlord or property management, waiting for apartment application approval should only take up to 72 hours.

How Do You Know If Your Rental Application Is Approved?

Once you’ve fulfilled all of your apartment rental requirements, you will hear if you’re approved by email or phone. Your landlord will also schedule a time to sign the lease and review any questions or next steps.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Rent an Apartment?

Because leases are legally binding contracts, you must be 18 when renting an apartment. In some situations, a landlord may rent to an underage tenant, although this is rare and usually requires a guarantor or co-signer.

What Happens After You Get Approved for an Apartment?

When your apartment application is approved, you can decide whether or not you still want to sign the lease or decide to pursue a different option. If you choose to move forward, you will need to:

  • Do a walk-through of the unit and create a move in record
  • Review and sign a lease and note any existing damage in the unit
  • Pay your first month rent and security deposit
  • Put any necessary utilities in your name, such as heat and electricity
  • Set a date and time you can move into your rental (an apartment building may have rules about using the freight elevator during specific times for moving)
  • Hire movers and arrange for moving boxes and other materials

Can You Apply for Multiple Apartments?

Yes, you can apply for multiple rental properties at the same time.

Final Consideration

Now that you have a better idea of the requirements and the application process, you'll be approved in no time! But if you’re having trouble finding the right place and applying for it, I can help you find exactly what you’re looking for, and help you obtaining it, too.