How Long Does It Take To Get Approved For An Apartment?

how long does it take to get approved for an apartment

Going apartment hunting can be one of the most exciting things, no matter your age. Once you’ve done all the work to find the perfect place, it’s time to put in an application. Nobody likes waiting longer than they needed to move into their new home. 

Whether you’ve just put in your application today or you’re still window shopping, it’s important to know how long the whole process takes. As soon as you’ve given your application to the property management company, it takes an average of three days to hear back. 

For some people, their circumstances require things to go as fast as possible. Today we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about the apartment application process. Hopefully, this can ease any nerves and get you prepared for moving into your new space. 

What Happens After Submitting an Application?

After you’ve turned in your application and head home to wait for the results, the landlord first sees your credit report. It takes them just a few minutes to run the report and get a number. Assuming your credit score is 620 or higher, they’ll move forward with the application. 

The next thing your potential landlord will do is look at things like tax returns, government identification, and pay stubs. On average, this will take a couple of hours to go through. At this point, a landlord might reach out and offer you the place if everything looks good. 

Some will want more information, which requires more waiting. It’s not uncommon for a property manager to reach out to an employer, as well as past landlords. They’ll ask about your behavior, your ability to pay rent, and your work history. 

This can cause delays in the approval process, especially if they’re playing phone tag. On top of that, there’s often a criminal background check. This can add an additional two days to the waiting period. 

When Will I Hear Back?

I get it; you want to hear back as soon as possible, or at least soon enough that you can begin packing. Something you’ll want to consider is when you applied. If you sent in your application on a Friday afternoon, you’d have to account for the weekend. 

In general, you can expect to hear back in one to three days. Private landlords tend to approve folks quicker, as they just pull your credit score and do the rest of the work themselves. Brokers, on the other hand, can take more time to get everything approved.

Another thing to keep in mind is where you applied for an apartment. While the one to three-day turnaround is fairly standard, it can vary from state to state. Like Texas, some states require applications to be approved within seven days, or they’re automatically rejected. 

What Can I Do To Speed Up the Process?

After your application is turned in, the speed at which things are done is mostly out of your hands. Something you could do to ensure you get the place is run some of the reports yourself. You can check your credit score for free and find public information regarding your background check. 

You could also be extra-thorough on your application. Ensure you include any paperwork, letters of recommendation, and even a copy of your credit report. This can make things go a lot faster on the landlord’s end of things. 

What Could Delay the Process?

There are a handful of things that could make things take longer than usual. For starters, if your potential new landlord is having a hard time getting ahold of past landlords, this could delay things. 

There’s no time frame for how quickly a landlord needs to respond. If you can, consider letting your previous landlord know that they should expect a call in reference to you. This can help ensure that communication happens in a timely manner. 

Another thing that can slow things down is forgetting your paperwork. If you turn in your application and don’t include your pay stubs from the past few months, this can slow things down. Make sure you have everything needed before turning in the application.

Speaking of, you’ll also want to have plenty of savings, not a ton of debt, and a verifiable income. Having issues with any of these things or unexpected issues with your credit can definitely bring the process to a halt.

The Application Fee

It’s common for a landlord or property company to ask for an application fee. This is usually non-refundable and helps cover the cost of the background and credit check. Application fees, on average, are between $30 and $40. 

Some states and larger cities will add cap application fees for the landlord. This makes it so they can’t overcharge you to get a few bucks in their wallet. It doesn’t hurt to ask the potential landlord if the fee can be refunded if you’re not approved. 

Reasons Why an Application Can Be Rejected

There are a variety of reasons your application may be rejected. As you read earlier, it could be something as simple as the landlord not getting to the application on time. While it’s unfortunate, some states do have a time limit on apartment applications and can reject them if the timeframe isn’t met. 

Here are the other most popular reasons you didn’t score the place:

  • Your income is too low
  • The background report suggests you may be a danger to other residents
  • You have no income 
  • Someone else got the vacancy first
  • Information like your social security number doesn’t match up
  • You have a poor credit history

What Documents Do I Need When Applying to an Apartment?

Once you find where you want to live, it’s time to apply. More goes into applying than just filling out the online or paper application. You’ll need a handful of other documents to make the approval process go smoothly. 

What forms you need can vary from one landlord to another. Most review the same things, including your income, credit score, and rental history. Here’s what you can expect to need when gathering documents for your application. 

Rental Application Form

The most obvious form you’ll need to fill out is the rental application itself. This will ask you your social security number to perform a background and credit check. It also can showcase things like your work history, current address, age, and more. 

The landlord will then use a third-party company to perform the background and credit check. It can show them everything from your history of eviction to any criminal activity on your record.  

Pay Stubs, Tax Documents, and Employer Letters

No matter if you’re working with a landlord, property manager, or broker, they want to ensure that you can pay rent on time. This is why they ask for pay stubs from the past two months, along with copies of your tax returns. 

Some companies don’t give paystubs to their employees. If you find yourself in this situation, you can ask for a payment receipt on the company letterhead. Make sure it’s dated, and the total income is accurate.

It’s not uncommon to move in order to start a new job. If this is the case for you, ask your new employer for a copy of the offer letter on the company letterhead. This shows the landlord that you have a new job that will provide sufficient income. 

For freelancers and self-employed individuals, download your most recent bank statements and highlight your income deposits. If possible, get signed copies of contracts from your clients. Getting approved for freelancers can be a bit more difficult, but not impossible. 

Lastly, if you have income from other sources, you’ll need a letter from a certified public accountant. Attach this to your application to show the landlord that you have plenty of income sources available. This helps them know you’ll be able to pay rent for the duration of your lease. 

Government-Issued Identification

Whenever you apply for a rental property, you’ll need a government-issued-photo to verify your identity. You can use a driver’s license, passport, or state-issued ID card. This is done to help prevent fraud and identity left. 

Reference Letters

While it’s not always required, some landlords will ask for a letter of reference from previous landlords. If this is your first time renting, there’s not much you can do about this. Otherwise, your previous landlords can write a short letter of recommendation. 

It should state that you paid rent and utilities on time. You may also want to include a small tidbit of what kind of resident you were. This helps the potential landlord to know that you’ll follow and rules or regulations in place. 

Related Questions

What is the minimum credit score for an apartment?

While the minimum credit score can change depending on the economy, it usually stays at a 620 baseline. Applicants that have a lower credit score appear as a higher risk to landlords. Some property management companies will allow renters with lower scores but will require more money upfront. 

If you have a score below 620 and are desperate to get approved, offer to pay first and last month’s rent on top of the deposit. This shows that you’re serious, and you have the income to prove it. 

What do apartments see in a background check?

A background check for an apartment rental shows things like your criminal history, credit report, and employment history. Depending on the landlord, they may run all of these reports, one of them, or even more. This ensures the people living in the apartment can pay their rent and are safe individuals. 

Do evictions show up on background checks?

Unfortunately, yes. Evictions and any sort of tenant liability issues can show up on background checks. On a positive note, evictions only stay on your record for a maximum of seven years. After that, they will no longer show up when a background check is performed.

Kirstin Harrington

Kirstin is a passionate writer who loves helping people learn new things when it comes to home improvement. When she’s not behind a keyboard, she enjoys DIY projects, crafts, spending time with her pets, and making videos. She hopes that with all she writes, someone is finding a solution to their home improvement needs.

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