5 Ways to Make Sure Your Rental Application Will Be Approved

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Let’s face it: there’s nothing simple about renting a new apartment. And that’s especially true if you have concerns about your rental application. On the plus side, there are a number of different steps you can take to make sure your rental application is approved.

As of 2017, more people in the United States were renting than at any point over the prior 50 years. And when you review the numbers for 2020, there’s reason to believe this trend will continue. With this in mind, it’s understandable that you may face stiff competition from other potential tenants. For that reason, you must take steps to make your rental application appealing. Here’s how:

1. Include a Cover Letter

cover letter for rental application

Cover letters aren’t just for applying for a job. They’re also useful tools when submitting a rental application. Use your cover letter to touch on the following details:

  • Why you want to move into the apartment.
  • Why you would be a good tenant.
  • Your history as a renter.
  • Your current employment situation.
  • Notify the landlord that references are available upon request.

A cover letter doesn’t have to be very long. A few paragraphs are more than enough to share additional information and give the landlord reason to believe you’re a good fit.

2. Include All Required Documentation

rental application form

Don’t make the landlord or property management company chase you down for additional information. Include all required documentation the first time around, which typically includes:

  • Rental application
  • Driver’s license
  • Bank statements
  • Paystubs
  • Social Security number
  • Rental history
  • References
  • Job history

You may not need all of this at first, but it’s best to get everything together to make life easier for yourself and the landlord. If your application is complete while that of another person lacks information, you’re more likely to get the nod.

3. Improve Your Credit in Advance

checking credit score online

Credit is a key component in a rental application. If you have good or excellent credit, there’s nothing to worry about in this regard. But if your credit score is less than desirable, there are a few steps you can take to improve it.

  • Review your credit report and credit score.
  • Consider how to best repair your credit on short term, such as by paying down debts and paying your bills on time moving forward.
  • Find a co-signer, a parent for example, on your lease.

You can rent an apartment even if you have bad credit. Just be prepared to take some extra steps such as drafting in a co-signer.

4. Share References

approved rental application

You want your landlord or property management company to consider you a solid rental candidate, both financially and personally. And that’s why references can put you on the right path. For example:

  • A reference from a former landlord will show that you were respectful to the property and paid your rent on time.
  • A reference from your employer can vouch for your professionalism and income.

It may take some time to collect a handful of references, but your goal is to get your rental application approved the first time around. It’s well worth the extra effort beforehand.

5. Know What Landlords are Looking For

finding a rental apartment

With this knowledge, you can tweak your application and strategy. Here are some of the things that landlords are often looking for:

  • Timing:

For instance, if you live in a cold climate, landlords often prefer for tenants to move in during the warmer spring or summer months. This reduces the risk of damage to the property done by water or mud being tracked through the property, for example. So, make it known that you’re flexible on your move-in date, if possible.

  • Responsible tenants:

A perfect tenant is one who respects the property and pays on time. So, it’s your goal to prove that you fit that mold. As noted above, the best way of proving this is by providing reference letters.

  • The number of people residing in the property:

The last thing a landlord wants is too many people living in a property, as this puts it at risk of damage and greater liability. So, there is some emphasis on the resident-to-bedroom ratio. Keep this in mind if you’re moving into a rental property with other people. Check out this article for more dos and don’ts of moving into a new apartment.

Final Thoughts

It doesn’t matter if you’re renting an apartment for the first time or seeking a change to your current living arrangement. Just make sure you’re prepared for the move. Budget for a new space and potential roommates, research utilities and study your lease agreement.

When you combine this with an understanding of the rental application process, you’ve done everything you could to receive an approval. So don’t be afraid to go the extra mile when completing a rental application. It’s likely to pay off in the end.

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Mihaela Buzec is a senior writer and online content developer for RentCafe. She covers topics about everything related to the renting lifestyle, from decorating and interior design to finding the right apartment, frugal living, money saving advice, and more. She dives deep into topics of interest, writing well-researched comprehensive guides on subjects such as renting with pets, saving on utilities, or avoiding rental scams to help renters stay informed and live smart.

Mihaela holds a BA in English and German Language and Literature, an MA in Current Linguistics, and she is currently pursuing a PhD in neurolinguistics.

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