Finding your dream apartment can be stressful, but waiting to get approved by the landlord can be even worse. If you’d prefer not having to anxiously wait to find out if your application is approved or denied, here’s what you should do.
A big mistake that many renters make is not preparing ahead of time. When renting an apartment, you’ll need to submit a complete rental application to get approved. While this may sound easy enough, it takes more than completing a one or two-page apartment application. Most applications will also require you to submit supporting documents such as bank statements, a letter of employment, and in some cases, landlord reference letters. If you don’t have these documents handy when you apply, it will delay the process.
Having this paperwork ready ahead of time will ensure you can get approved for the apartment as quickly as possible.
Once you’ve found the perfect apartment and submitted your application, you may feel a bit left in the dark regarding the process. Here’s what the landlord is going to be doing behind the scenes.
Typically they’ll start by looking at your credit report and rental history. Assuming your credit score meets there requirements and that you don’t have a prior history of being taken to landlord-tenant court, they’ll move on to reviewing the rest of your application. For the most part, this means verifying your employment status and income and ensuring that you make enough money to meet the apartment’s approval requirements. Depending on where you live, income requirements can range from 3x the monthly rent in gross monthly income to 40 or even 50x the monthly rent in annual income. The most stringent approval requirements and applications tend to be in places like NYC.
It depends, but in most cases, you’ll find out if your application has been approved in 1 to 3 business days.
Some landlords will be able to pull your credit and review all this paperwork very quickly, potentially approving you in as little as a few hours. Others will take a more thorough approach and may even want to speak with your employer or past landlord. In other cases, the landlord may take a more hands-off approach and use a third-party to process the application, slowing things down.
Another factor that impacts how long it can take to get approved for an apartment is who you’re dealing with. If you’re dealing directly with the landlord, you can expect a faster answer than if you’re dealing with a real estate agent or management company that will need to run everything past the landlord for a decision.
The most common things that can delay the approval process are an incomplete application or a finicky landlord. If you don’t have all your documents in order or if your prospective landlord insists on speaking with your previous landlord or asks you to provide additional paperwork, the process can easily drag out to over a week.
Another thing that can drag the process out is any issue regarding your credit or rental history. Sometimes a landlord might come across something that raises concern but doesn’t necessarily prevent you from being approved, and they will likely ask you to explain it. Having to explain something like a charged off debt or a complaint filed in housing court can add days to the approval process.
In some cases, it can take a very long time to get approved for an apartment. This is most common if you’re applying for a rent-stabilized or income-restricted apartment as your application will face a higher level of scrutiny. While this can be a major inconvenience, it’s typically worth the headache, as getting approved for such an apartment comes with significant savings regarding your monthly rent.
The best way to speed up the approval process is to come prepared and provide the landlord with all the required paperwork up-front. If you have additional documents that can help verify your income and rental history, submit that as well, as it can help move things along.
If you’re working with a real estate agent, they may also be able to put some pressure on the landlord, speeding up the approval process somewhat. It’s a lot better to have your agent follow up and inquire about how things are moving along than to do so yourself as you risk coming across as being pushy and a potentially difficult tenant.
Once the landlord has processed your application and decided if it’s approved or denied, you can expect to get a phone call with their answer. If the application has been approved, you can expect to receive details regarding the next steps (things like check information for rent and security deposit payments as well as information about scheduling your move-in). If the application has been denied, you can expect to be provided with some insight as to why.