Like a job application, apartment applications require you to attach additional documents. Simply filling out the form with your information and a list of past apartments isn’t enough for the landlord to decide whether you’re a reliable renter. As such, he or she will ask for more items that will show that you’re on top of your game.
As you start looking for your first apartment (what an exciting time!), gather the following documents. Some landlords will ask for all of these items, and others will only ask for a couple, so being prepared for any situation is your best bet.
Landlords ask for pay stubs to ensure you actually are employed and make as much as you say you do. Remember, the landlord’s No. 1 concern is whether you’ll pay your rent. If you don’t make enough money, taking you on as a tenant is a gamble. Landlords typically only accept tenants for whom the rental price is 30% or less of their income.
Most of the time, landlords will ask for your two most recent pay stubs. If you have direct deposit, you can likely still find your pay stub online, or ask your boss for a copy. If you do get a physical stub with your paycheck, only provide a copy, not the original.
Generally, you’ll only need bank statements OR pay stubs, not both. They essentially do the same thing– show you have money.
Plus, every month, the bank statement should show a deposit from your work. Print two months’ worth from your online account, just to be safe.
Driver’s License (Or Passport)
Bring your driver’s license with you when you tour apartments or when you go to fill out an application.
The landlord will make a copy for his or her records. If you don’t have a license, a state ID works too.
Letters of Recommendation
Most landlords accept basic info about your last apartments, such as the property manager’s contact information, but others will ask you to go above and beyond by providing letters of recommendation.
These are documents your former landlords create saying what a great tenant you were. It’s like a letter of recommendation for college, only instead of teachers writing it, your landlord will.
Vehicle Registration and Proof of Insurance
You may wonder what a landlord could possibly need your vehicle info for, but if the unit has a parking space, it will make more sense. Registration and insurance show the landlord which car will be in the apartment lot or use the city parking sticker.
Some buildings have a limited number of parking spaces per unit, so landlords want to make sure only the approved vehicles are in the lot.
Social Security Number
Your parents may have warned you not to give out this precious eight-digit identification code, but you should provide it to your potential landlord. Property managers use it to perform a credit check to see whether you’re a good tenant.
You shouldn’t have to provide a copy of your social security card, so memorize your number instead. If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to do so, as you’ll have to use it a lot in the future– welcome to adulthood!
While you might not use your letters of recommendation, you will need to provide your rental history. This is a list of all the units you’ve lived in during your life as a renter, including their addresses, the phone number of the property manager, how long you were there, how much you paid, and why you left.
Consider writing this information down and keeping in your personal records. That way, you won’t have to dig out phone numbers and struggle to recall addresses every time you apply for a new place.
Most applications have a section for references. You should have both professional and personal references ready to go in case the landlord wants both. Just make sure to ask the people you plan to use as references for permission.
Also, choose established and responsible adults as your references. Your 20-year-old college dormmate isn’t as reliable in the eyes of a landlord as your 40-year-old boss.
This is just like a rental history, but with information about where you worked. Include your current job and a few previous ones. Keep this information on hand so you can reference it when you apply for apartments.
Many landlords want to see your employment history to determine that you can hold a job. If you leave every three months, you don’t make a stable income. If, however, you’ve had a job for five or more years, the 12 months you’ll be at this apartment will likely be financially stable.
Finally, bring your checkbook when applying for apartments. You may have to pay an application fee or a fee to take the unit off the market until you sign the lease. That way, no one else can swoop in and take your dream apartment while you’re waiting for the OK.
Have all these items on hand when you tour a place in case you want to fill out an apartment application on the spot. Happy hunting!
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