So, you’re getting ready to go out into the rental market and find a great new place to rent! Are you aware that there are things you should consider before you begin submitting your application for tenancy? Here’s what you can do to make sure you’re prepared:
1. Your Credit History
Do you know what your credit report says? Most apartment applications include a check of your credit history.
Before you start looking for a new home, check your credit first and make sure your reports are correct. Dispute any inaccuracies and consider paying outstanding debts which might keep you from qualifying for your rental.
By federal law, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax every 12 months through www.annualcreditreport.com. Keep in mind credit disputes can take up to 30 days so make this your first step in looking for a new home.
2. Your Rental History
Did you leave on good terms with your previous landlord? Have you talked to your current landlord about leaving? Positive references reduce your chances of having to pay a higher deposit for your new place.
Prior to submitting your application, contact your current and prior landlords to let them know they might be contacted for a reference. Ask your current landlord what kind of notice is required and make sure your rent is paid up to date. Reach out to your employer as well so they are aware someone might be calling to verify your employment history and income.
Doing these things will let your references know to expect a verification call which can speed up the application process. It will also help ensure you won’t run into surprises during the application process which could delay or deny your apartment application.
3. Your Finances
Take the time to make a budget to determine what rent amount is realistic for your household. Financial advisors often recommend your rent be no more than 30% of your gross monthly income. It should be noted this isn’t always realistic in some rental markets. You may need to make a decision on spending more per month or looking for a roommate to lower your expenses.
Additional ways to save: Look for places which include utilities, are close to public transportation or have on-site amenities which provide value to your lease. Some employers and communities have roommate match-up programs to help you find a good fit.
4. Application Fees and Criteria
Set aside some money for the application process. Rental applications often have a non-refundable fee associated with them. Landlords may require a security deposit to hold the property for you as well.
Ask your prospective landlord if they are willing to accept a reusable screening report such as MyScreeningReport.com®. With MyScreeningReport.com, you are in control of your background check. You can order and review your own tenant screening report (includes credit & background check) then grant secure and free access to your prospective landlord(s). BONUS: MyScreeningReport.com provides reusable background checks. So you can securely share your screening report with as many landlords as you want (for 30 days) without having to pay multiple applications fees!
Ask your prospective landlord for a copy of their rental criteria. Read it over carefully so you understand if you will qualify for the property and if you might need to pay an additional deposit. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the property or criteria before you apply. When you finally submit your application, be honest! Failure to disclose negative information may cause your application to be denied.
5. Your Rights
Know your rights as a consumer and as a renter. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides a summary of your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This summary gives an overview of the laws which define the accuracy, privacy, and fairness in consumer reporting agency files. These laws help protect you and your consumer information.
Landlord-Tenant laws vary from state to state so reach out to your state and local government agencies directly to obtain information on the rights and responsibilities of both your landlord and you.
As the saying goes, knowledge is power. For more information on this and related topics, check other entries on our NEED TO KNOW blog!