Did you find the perfect apartment to rent? Filling out the application improperly can result in delaying the process or possibly losing out on the rental. Make sure you are filling the form out in its entirety and correctly. However, the application isn’t the only thing that landlords or property owners require. They will also be running a full background check.

Find out what they are looking for below:

1. Income

They will require income statements to prove that you not only have a job, but that you can afford to pay the rent. Obviously, this is an important step and one of the first taken by landlords and property owners.   An important rule of thumb to remember is that the rent should be around 1/3 of your monthly income.  Landlords and rental agents will almost always require at least one pay stub as proof of income to gauge whether or not you have the means to pay the rent.

2. Credit Report

A landlord will often require a credit report to make sure that your credit score is good and that you are current in the payments to your creditors.  Sometimes they will ask you to supply one, but more often they will want to order their own credit report and will do so at your expense.  Not everyone has great credit, and there can be extenuating circumstances surrounding a less-than-good rating.  It’s worth it to know your own credit score and be ready to explain a FICO score of 675 or less.

3. Picture I.D.

This proves that you are who you say you are and also supplies important information to help in your credit report.  The best ID and the easiest to work with is a driver’s license or state ID card.

4. Clean Background

Some landlords and real estate agents will conduct a background check to see if you’ve had trouble with the law.  This is not a regular check – it’s expensive and invasive – but it can happen and you should be aware that it can.

5. Poor Rental History

Agents and landlords will call your previous landlords to find out if you paid your rent on time and if there were any complaints about you while you were a tenant.  You should let your landlord know you are planning to move so he doesn’t find out about it from someone making this inquiry.  Agents and landlords are human and they have their own attitudes about what constitutes a “good” tenant, but if you make an effort to pay your rent on the first of the month and to pay attention to your neighbors, that will usually do the trick.

There are exceptions to every rule because the rental business is, for the most part, a people business.  Understanding what is being asked from you as a potential tenant and being willing to help figure things out is a good measure of what you will be like as a tenant. 

It’s also important to understand that because one landlord will not accept you as a tenant it doesn’t mean that NO landlord will accept you as a tenant.  Finding a rental is a process that can take some time and some compromise.  The more time you can devote to it, the more likely you will have a chance of finding something that you really like.

Here are some ideas:

1. Don’t expect to find the perfect place

2. Order your priorities. What is the most important thing for you to get? A good kitchen? In-unit laundry? Parking? Near Public Transportation? What is the next important thing?

3. What can you actually afford?

4. Where do you want to move? Would other nearby towns work? If you want to be on a T line, would you consider moving farther out (or in) along the line to get what you want?

5. Understand that most leases run about a year. If you don’t like what you’ve chosen for now, you have time to find something that you do.