This article is in a series of articles that cover the basics of what you need to know about apartment living.
If you have ever been turned down by a landlord because of a clearance issue, I feel for you. It sucks. It’s stressful and the thought of moving back (or staying) with your parents is driving you nuts. It seems like everyone is keeping vital renting information from you.
Well, they’re not. They more than likely had to learn about the rental process the hard way too.
I work in real estate. I know from experience how frustrating it can be when you are looking for a new place AND how irritating it is when a potential renter or buyer is unprepared for the process.
Now, (most) landlords are not looking to screw you over. They have a building and they want to fill it. If their building is empty, then they don’t get paid. Landlords are, however, easily frustrated when they have to waste time on an unqualified applicant. Time is money. And in real estate, money is all that matters.
To help make this experience as pleasant as possible for you and your potential landlord, check out these 6 things that you need to know before you even start looking for an apartment:
Your Credit Score
The golden number for renting a new place is 620 (and that’s the lowest of the low). Below that, you are considered HRD (high risk to default) and most landlords will not lease to you. Landlords who rent to individuals with low credit scores often charge more for less desirable places (FYI- these complexes also tend to be sketch af).
Landlords measure your income against your rent on a scale. In most large cities, your monthly take home income needs to be 3x’s your monthly rent. In places like NYC and LA, this may increase to 4 or even 5x’s. Example: You must take home $2,100/month after taxes to afford a $700/month apartment.
Landlords may ask to see your bank statements to prove you have savings just in case the worst happens. Many even require proof of 3 months’ worth of savings to rent. They may also ask for additional assets you could use to pay rent (ie a car with no loan payment) if you were to lose your job.
If you have ever spent time in a drunk tank or have been arrested and/or cited for any other reason, it will show up on tenant background checks. In addition, outstanding warrants (ex: unpaid traffic or parking tickets) may show up as well. If you’ve been implicated in a domestic violence situation, have more than 2 traffic stops in the last 12 months or have more than 3 arrests on your record, then you will not be qualified to rent from most landlords.
For my former company, if you were not a student or military and moved in the same state more than 2 times in the past 5 years, you were automatically flagged as a potential lease breaker. Be prepared to convince the landlord that you are not and you just wanted a change of environment or that your past landlord was a weirdo.
If you constantly change jobs or the landlord can’t tell on paper where your career is going, then you will be flagged as a risky renter. Landlords want to be sure that their tenants have stable employment so they don’t get stiffed on rent.
If you can check off these boxes, then you should be able to get approval wherever you want to rent! If you don’t, don’t worry. There are things you can do to circumvent these issues. That information is coming very soon.
But for now!