How to Apply for an Apartment: A Guide


When landlords have unoccupied units, they begin searching for high-quality tenants for these apartments. If you want to get approved for an apartment, you may want to find ways to present yourself as a trustworthy, reliable tenant.

The tenants that a landlord has can make or break the business, so most landlords use screening processes to hand-pick their tenants.

If you need a place to live, you might be wondering what landlords look for and how to apply for an apartment.

Here is a guide that you can use to know precisely how to apply for an apartment and what landlords look for when selecting tenants.

Check Your Credit

One of the most significant steps to renting an apartment is checking your credit. Landlords don’t base approvals on credit alone, but credit matters.

High-quality tenants possess several primary qualities, and one is that they pay their rent on time. People with excellent credit have a history of paying their bills. Paying bills on time results in a high credit score and makes a person creditworthy.

If you haven’t checked your credit in a while, now is the right time to check. Knowing your credit may help you learn the challenges you might face with getting approved for an apartment.

With great credit, you may face fewer challenges than you would if you had a poor credit score.

Request an Application and Fill It Out

The next step to renting an apartment is requesting an application and filling it out. If you have any questions about how to fill out a rental application, you can ask the landlord or a close friend or relative.

Most rental unit applications are straightforward. They ask questions about you, such as your name, phone number, and address. They also ask questions about your income, job, and rental history.

As you fill it out, try to answer every question, and always answer them honestly. If you aren’t sure what something means, research it.

Handing in an incomplete application may result in getting denied to rent the unit, so make sure you are thorough and complete.

Submit the Application to the Landlord With the Deposit

When applying for an apartment, it’s also likely that you’ll be required to pay a deposit.

Some landlords might not require a deposit, but most do. The amount varies, and landlords charge this fee to sift out applications from people who are not serious about renting an apartment.

The landlord will tell you the fee amount when you request an application and will expect it when you submit the application. Make sure you find out the payment methods the landlord accepts, as some might not allow personal checks.

Consent to Several Screenings

When you apply, the landlord might ask you to consent to several screenings. The screenings require your approval and help the landlord learn more about you.

The landlord might require the following screenings during the application process:

  • Credit check
  • Background check
  • Employment verification

The credit check might show up on your credit report as a hard inquiry, but you must consent to this if the landlord requires it. The credit check helps the landlord know if you are creditworthy.

The background check is helpful for landlords to learn more about a person’s criminal history. If you have felonies on your record, you might face challenges renting a unit.

The employment verification process helps the landlord know if you can afford the rent for the unit. If you are self-employed and do not have pay stubs to provide, you might need to make some.

You can use a pay stub template generator to create pay stubs if you need them. The process is simple, and using this generator can help you qualify for an apartment rental.

Provide References

Another step you might have to complete is providing references to the management firm.

References are people that can vouch for you and recommend that you would be a good tenant to have.

The landlord might ask for personal references, past landlords, or business references. Each type serves a different purpose, but each is important to landlords.

When choosing people as your references, make sure you ask them first, and make sure they would offer positive information about you.

Negotiate the Rent

The next step when applying for apartments is negotiating the rent. The landlord will tell you the monthly cost for an apartment, but this amount is not always set in stone.

If you have excellent credit and references, the landlord might give you a discount on the rent, especially if you can pay extra upfront.

If you have poor credit, you may need to negotiate with the rent in order for the landlord to approve your application. In other words, you might need to agree to pay more each month or pay several months of rent upfront.

Sign the Lease and Pay the Necessary Upfront Costs

The final step in applying for an apartment is signing the lease and paying the necessary costs. You’ll likely be required to pay the first month’s rent and the security deposit, but this varies.

Before signing the lease, make sure you read it over so that you understand what is says. You may also want to request a walkthrough of the apartment before signing the lease to make sure you can write down the condition it is in.

How to Apply for an Apartment: More Tips

Learning how to apply for an apartment is necessary if you need a place to rent. You can follow the tips and steps listed here to begin the process, but you can also learn more by checking our blog.

Researching what landlords look for in tenants can help you prepare for the rental application process and improve your chances of getting approved!

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