Renting an apartment is a big step in any person’s life. Often, people who are considering getting their own place will have many questions running through their heads. Should I get an apartment or a house? What should my price range be? What do you need to rent an apartment? At La Maison of Saraland, we are ready and willing to answer any questions or concerns you may have when searching for your new home. We want to make sure you feel fully prepared and excited for this big step in your life. 

What is an apartment application?

An apartment application is generally a collection of documents that landlords use to screen potential residents. Essentially, it is a way to ensure that you, the tenant, will be trustworthy enough to meet payment obligations. It is similar to a job application. For a job, the employer wants to make sure you are fit for that specific line of work. When choosing an apartment, the landlord or property manager needs to ensure you are fit to live in and make payments for that apartment. 

Most apartment complexes require that applicants pay a nonrefundable application fee before they will process it. The application fee is generally no more than $50. 

Where can you find an apartment application?

Almost all apartment complexes have a leasing office where you can visit and meet with a leasing agent. He or she will tell you of any available units, give you a quote, and likely offer you a personal tour. If you are still interested, they will provide you with an apartment application and tell you what to do from there. 

You can also typically access apartment applications online via their website. At La Maison of Saraland, we provide an online application under our “Contact Us” tab. Here, you will be able to choose from one of our six floor plans and check the availability for each. We also provide you with lease terms and a quote for how much your monthly payment will be for your specific circumstances. You can find all that here on our La Maison online application

With COVID-19 still on the rise, we recommend completing your application online. We provide pictures of common areas, amenities, and the apartments themselves so you can really get a good idea of your (potential) new home.

What information do you need for an apartment application?

So, down to the question at hand: What do you need to rent an apartment? For starters, you’ll need to fill out your application. An apartment application requires quite a bit of information in order to prove you will be a trustworthy tenant. Here is a list of information that your application will likely require:

  • Personal Contact Information
    • This includes your name and the way you prefer to be reached, preferably phone number or email.
  • Driver’s License or State Identification
    • This is simply proof of your identity. 
  • Social Security Number 
    • Along with your number, you may also need to provide a copy of your Social Security card. This information will be used to conduct a background check.
  • Vehicle Information 
    • If you have a car, many apartment complexes will provide you with a parking space. To do this, you will need to provide vehicle information such as your make, model, year, and license plate number. You may also need to provide insurance information.
  • Proof of Income
    • This is how the landlord or property manager will determine if you have enough income to afford monthly payments on the apartment. Proof of income may include things like previous pay stubs or tax returns. 
  • Current and Previous Address
    • This is so that your landlord or property manager can speak to your previous landlords to see how well you obeyed the contract. 
  • Current and Previous Employment Information
    • This may be used to verify your employment and complete your background check. Information may include job title, company name, and company phone number.
  • Personal References
    • It is possible that your application will request personal references. This may be anyone from family friends to past landlords or bosses. This is essentially to confirm your character.
  • Emergency Contact
    • This is only for the case of an emergency.

With all of this information provided, you (and your cosigner, if applicable) will need to sign some additional documents. It may take a week or two for you to hear back on the status of your application. You will then move forward with a lease agreement. 

How do I pay rent, and what happens if I don’t pay on time?

There are a few ways in which you can pay your rent. Your leasing agent will provide you with all of the ways that they will allow tenants to pay. Some choose to pay their monthly rent by check, while others may opt for online transactions. These days, most apartment complexes will send out an email reminder to tenants with a link to pay rent. With this, they are able to fill out their credit card information via an online portal and submit it through there.

At La Maison of Saraland, we understand that these are hard times and not everyone is able to make their rent payment on time. Because of this, we are always willing to work with you. If you aren’t able to pay your rent on time, there are a few things we recommend you do.

First, explain your financial situation to the landlord or property manager and ask for a couple extra days to pay. If you are able to, offer to pay some of the rent now and the rest at a later date. If you do this, you should provide a written plan for when and how you plan to pay your rent. Remember, many apartments have a late fee in place for tenants who do not pay their rent on time.  

If a tenant continuously fails to pay their rent, it is possible that they will be evicted from the apartment. This is not an intentional act of cruelty, as it can be both challenging and costly for landlords to evict you. It is simply due to the fact that apartments also have expenses, and a lack of rent can threaten their business.

What is a credit score?

A credit score is a number that essentially acts as a visual representation of a person’s creditworthiness. The number falls somewhere between 300 and 850, 300 being an extremely poor score and 850 being excellent. The average score, however, typically falls somewhere around 700. Those having a relatively high score are more likely to gain the trust of lenders, while those with lower scores not so much.

The brackets for credit scores are as follows:

Poor: 300-579

Fair: 580-669

Good: 670-739

Very Good: 740-799

Exceptional: 800-850

Credit scores are based on a person’s credit history. A person’s credit history includes things like the number of open credit accounts, repayment history, length of credit history, and total levels of debt. There are a number of different scoring systems out there, but the most commonly used is that created by the Fair Isaac Corporation, or FICO. 

Failure to pay back lenders on time can lead to financial debt, which can reduce your credit score. Regular, on-time payments and less debt increases your score over time. 

What is the minimum credit score to rent an apartment?

There is no universal credit score that apartment complexes require for their tenants to meet. Landlords are able to set the minimum credit score at whatever number they desire. However, on average, landlords generally look for credit scores in at least the mid 600s. Some might even require a minimum credit score of 700 to rent an apartment. It is likely that landlords will not accept those with poor credit scores. It indicates to them that they do not have a good history in paying back their loans and may not be reliable in putting forth rent. 

Landlords might look at more than just your score, though. In most cases, they will also look at your entire credit report. Your score is generally just a summary, while your credit report will go into much further detail about your creditworthiness. 

Come Live With Us! 

If you have any more questions like “What do you need to rent an apartment?” let us answer them! We want you to be our neighbor here at La Maison of Saraland, and we’ll address any concerns you might have to get you here. Give us a call today at 251-257-0829 for more information!