Bekah Steenbock
lease application questions

When you finally find your dream apartment, you ask the manager for an apartment application to seal the deal on the unit. They need so much information, though! You start to wonder if the next thing they want is a DNA sample.

The information required in an apartment rental application, however, is actually to protect you, as well as your landlord. But if you’re still wondering the purpose of all those information fields, here’s why they’re there.

Why they need your name

This primarily applies to people who have changed their name due to marriage or divorce. If you’ve done either, you have records showing your maiden and married name. Your landlord needs both your current and previous last names. This allows him or her to verify that you are who you say you are.

Why they need your driver's license or government-issued photo ID

This provides another safeguard to the manager, and you, in confirming your identity. If a stranger comes in and tries to fill out an apartment application in your name, the manager will put it to a halt if the ID does not match the person.

Why they need your current and former addresses

Landlords like to know both current and previous addresses. Having two landlord references helps to get a well-rounded look at how you were as a resident. One landlord may have a different story than another. Don't let this scare you; landlords just want to make sure you have a history of following the lease. If you did, it’s all good!

Why they need your social security number

The first thing a manager will do when you turn in your application is run a credit and criminal check. For this, they need your name, address, social security number, and birthday. Providing all these things to the landlord is just as beneficial to you as it is to them. This allows landlords to ensure the accuracy of the background check. If an individual with your name and birthday has a rap sheet, the property manager can cross-reference your social security number to determine that this person is not you.

FAQs about your Apartment Rental Application

I'm not from the US so I don't have a social security number. Can I fill out an apartment rental application?    Yes, but instead of a social security number you need an Individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) which you can get from the IRS.  Landlords accept this number on applications.

I have no credit and am debt-free. Does this rule me out for renting a unit?   No, you can still rent an apartment. However, the process may be a bit different. The purpose of the credit check is to see how responsible you are with paying your bills on time and paying your debts in a timely manner. You will just need to prove that you’re responsible. Bank statements, and pay stubs that show long-standing employment history, will both help prove your credibility. The landlord needs to feel confident that rent will show up in a timely manner. Talk to you landlord and be upfront. Nerd Wallet also has a few more tips.

What if I have a criminal record? Depending on the circumstances, this may rule you out. The application itself will tell you, in writing, exactly what would disqualify you from renting an apartment at the complex. Look it over and see if you would make the cut or not.  Every applicant for the community is qualified using the same rules.

Apartment applications are full of legal terms and conditions. Once you know why landlords need the information they do, the application is much less intimidating. The process is done the way it is to not only to protect the landlord, but the residents too.



About The Author

Bekah Steenbock is a freelance writer with a background in real-estate and business growth. She is a native Austinite, but has called Seattle, Mankato, Milwaukee, Las Vegas and Atlanta home. Bekah, her husband, and their three children love exploring the outdoors in their spare time.