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  • Writer's pictureAmber S

The Rental Application Process

A rental app provides necessary information to determine a tenant's ability to pay their rent reliably.

A rental application is a form that provides the information necessary for a landlord or property owner to determine a tenant’s creditworthiness and their ability to pay their rent reliably. Filling out a rental application isn’t difficult, but there are a few steps involved in the process.

Here are some common questions prospective tenants have about the rental application process:

Where do you fill out a renter's application?

There are a few ways to fill out a rental application and it all depends on the landlord or property owner's preference. A lot of property managers, like us here at IPM, make it easy by having an online rental application. Others may require prospective tenants to complete an in-person paper application or electronic application at the leasing office.

How much is the application fee?

Some states regulate the application fee so that it cannot exceed the actual costs incurred to do a credit check and get a background report. The cost can range anywhere from $25 to $100, with $35 to $75 being the most common. Our fee is $35, and this is charged by a 3rd party processor whom runs the background and credit checks.

What do you need when filling out a renter's application?

Ideally, you'll have the most commonly requested documents ready ahead of time so that you're prepared when you are ready to apply. Delays while you search for key documents may give other applicants an edge up.

What is important to landlords and/or property owners when reviewing a renters application?

Landlords ask themselves these common-sense questions as they review applications:

  • Does the applicant pay his/her bills on time?

  • Does the applicant have sufficient income to reliably pay the rent?

  • Does the applicant have a clean background check?

(Helpful Hint: you can get your own credit report free at Credit Karma-it may be helpful to know what your credit history looks like before applying/paying the application fee)

If you are an independent contractor or otherwise self-employed, you won’t have W-2s or paystubs. Instead, a landlord will usually focus on the last two years of your tax returns. Several months of current bank statements will also show if you are earning enough to pay the rent.

Helpful Hint: Be forthcoming about any felony conviction(s) and/or pending legal cases you may have. It's always better to be proactive so you can present your side of the story upfront.

Most of the time, the application process takes one to three business days. Background checks and employment verification may take some additional time. Sometimes things move more quickly. A prospective tenant might tour an apartment (in-person or virtually), apply, get approved and sign a lease, all within 24 hours. In other situations, however, the process may take up to a week.

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