Key tips when leasing from a landlord (non-apartments)


When applying for a lease rental history, credit, background, and income play a major role in the approval process, as well as timing.  There’s not a “uniform” process when submitting a lease application, however I have complied a list of tips to aid you in your rental search.  These tips will hopefully save you time, money and peace of mind.

Prior to viewing any properties with a real estate agent please organize the following documents:

  • Completed lease application for each person living in the residence 18 and older or co-signer.
  • Two months’ pay stubs, if self- employed please provide 6 months’ bank statements or Tax Return.
  • Photo copy of driver’s license or state ID.
  • Copy of Social Security Card.
  • Letter of Explanation for any rental or credit concerns.

Depending on your organization skills and access to the documents above, it can take the typical rental 3-5 days to obtain these documents.  When search for a lease with a real estate professional you are 1 of probably 20 people who have viewed the home.  Some owners/management company will take the first application provided that meets their needs while others will review a couple and make a decision on a later date.  Unfortunately, as a tenant you never know what type of landlord/management company you are dealing with.


Once the documents are organized, decided the:

  • Type
  • Size
  • Bedrooms and Bathrooms
  • Location/Schools
  • Pricing

of your next home.  Most real estate professionals will email a list of suggested properties.

Once a desired property or properties have been chosen, together the applicant and real estate professional will reserve a time to view the property.

After viewing the properties, if applicants would like to proceed with an application they will submit a money order or cashier’s check in the landlord or to the landlord representative’s (real, estate brokerage, management company, etc.).  Lease application fees can range from $35 to $50 per person.

Once approved the applicant has 24 to 48 to submit the deposit to the landlord or landlord’s representative to remove the property from the market.   Until the deposit is paid the landlord or landlord’s representative may leave the property on the market.  Depending on the landlord or management company the deposit is the same as the first month rent.  For example, if your lease is $1,000 your deposit would be $1,000.  Depending on credit and background the landlord or management company may require a higher deposit.

Once the deposit is received, the landlord or landlord’s representative will send a leasing agreement.  The lease agreement will disclose the terms of the lease, fees, and move in date.

Either on the move in date or prior to the moving date, the applicant will pay for the first month’s rent, if the tenant moves into the property before or after the 1st of the month, the following month will be pro-rated for the days the applicant did not live in the property. (If a tenant’s lease is $1,000 and the deposit is $1000, the tenant would need a total of $2,000 plus any application or pet deposit fees to move into the property.)

Each tenant is given an inventory form, a form used to disclose any defects in the property.  The tenants have a certain amount of days to submit this form to the landlord or landlord’s representative.  The inventory form protects the tenants deposit and informs the landlord of any defects the property has.


 What Landlords or Management Companies Look for?

Rental History: 12 months valid, verifiable rental history Valid meaning a written lease or month to month agreement. If rental history is less than 12 months then an increased deposit -OR- cosigner may be requested, recommendation will be dependent on credit history, level of income and length of employment.

Credit History: Accounts established for 1 year in good standing. (If applicant has 1 or more utilities in collection or collections less than 1 year old it’s strongly advised the applicant provides a copy of their credit as well as a letter of explanation. )

  • Employment: 12 months on the job or previous employment in same kind of work.
  • Income: 3 or 4 times the rental amount (only garnishable income considered).
  • Pets:  non-aggressive breeds and pets less than 50lbs.
  • Criminal History:  no felony or convictions, exceptions can be made depending on the age and type of felony or conviction


What can cause a denial or require additional deposits:

  • False, inaccurate, or incomplete applications.
  • Verified eviction showing on credit report or confirmed with landlord.
  • Rental collection verified on credit report.
  • Balance owing to landlord.
  •  Extreme negative and adverse rental history, e.g…documented complaints and/or damages, multiple late payments
  • Unverifiable social security number
  • Breaking lease agreement that will result in collection filing
  • Aggressive bread or to many pets


If a prospective tenant has any of the items listed above, don’t panic or feel discouraged there is a home for you but it might take a little longer and more money to find it.


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