How Long Does It Take to Get Approved for an Apartment?

You may think that searching for the perfect apartment takes a long time, but applying for it may take longer.

Applying for an apartment requires that you come up with recommendations, specific documents, and may in advance.

There is so much red tape to get over that it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin.

However, there is a standard wait time for the application approval process. Hence, you don’t need to worry too much.

How Long Does Apartment Approval Take?

There is usually a 48 to 72-hour period after you’ve submitted your application before you hear back. That’s between 2 or 3 days.

Private landlords would perhaps take less time if they pull credit reports, which take just a few minutes to do. However, looking over your other application materials, performing background checks, etc. will take time.

If you’re going through a broker or through a management company, this process may take longer. They will need to pass your materials along to the right authorities.

Then they will be passed along to the landlord who will review them at his leisure.

In some cases, landlords can take up to 2-3 weeks to process an application. You could also check the laws in your state that talk about these processes.

In Texas, for example, applications are automatically considered rejected if there is no reply after 7 days.

These are all pretty standard practices across the entire country.

What Happens After the Application Submission?

The first thing that the potential landlord does is pull your credit report. This is to ensure that you’ll be timely with your payments.

If not, what does it even matter that you’ve got money? Hence the landlord will review your credit report with utmost care.

After doing so, they will review everything from your tax returns, pay stubs, government ID, and any letters of recommendation.

This could take 2-3 hours or some weeks depending on the institution or the landlord. Other landlords will want more information which will extend the timeline.

They will probably reach out to your employer and your other references to make sure everything checks out.

If you lived in a different apartment before, they’ll probably reach out to your previous landlord.

This reference probably counts the most since your old landlord knows you the best in this regard. He will have a clearer picture than anyone else on whether you pay rent on time and behave like a responsible tenant.

This last part is what often causes delays.

If your landlord ends up trying to contact someone that is hard to reach, application approval will take longer.

How to Speed Up the Process?

There are several ways you can speed up the approval process. The first is to put together a very thorough application that leaves little room for doubt.

It includes additional income verification materials that weren’t required. For example, it includes a copy of your credit report and a letter from your employer.

The more that you contribute to the application, the less the chance of you being rejected. The greater the chance that you’ll be approved quicker.

How Will You Know if You’re Approved?

You’ll probably be informed of the approval or rejection through a phone call. It will come from the entity that you applied through.

This could be an agent, a management company, or a private landlord. They will let you know whether you can start packing or keep looking.

If your application was denied due to your credit report, the landlord is legally required to tell you. Hence, you can demand that explanation.

At least, you’ll know what you need to fix.

Will Your Past Rental History Affect Your Application?

Unless your rental history is rife with late payments and un-tenant behavior, you have nothing to worry about. If your previous landlord or management company is very unconventional, then this could also be a problem.

A few potential landlords reach out to past landlords to discuss your nature and your financial standing.

A bad review from them can break your application. Hence, it’s very important that you not inconvenience them in any way.

What Delays the Approvals Process?

Aside from the reasons listed above, there are certain technical factors that could delay your approval. The most trivial reason is if your application is missing something.

These could be documents, signatures, or even stamps.

If your credit shows certain problems or if your income isn’t properly verifiable, you could face a lot of problems.

If your financials show a large amount of debt, you’ll need to prove if you can pay rent on time.

Also read: Do All Occupants have to be on the Lease

What is Required on Your Apartment Application?

Most applications are pretty standard and require financial proof and identification.

There may be a few small details that are more important to certain landlords than others.

Income Proof

Income proof is required so that the landlord knows you’re capable of paying rent. You should be making 3 times the rent per month to qualify for this.

To prove this, you should have tax statements, pay stubs, salary slips, etc.

You may need to get a signed slip from your employer as proof. You should also have bank statements to prove that you have enough saved up.

Credit Checks

You’ll need to give the landlord or the management agency permission to check your credit report. It contains information on how timely you are about your payments.

You can’t hope very much to get an apartment with bad credit.

New credit may be easier to explain to landlords. You may have just graduated and gotten your first job. You may also be renting out your first apartment.

However, a history of late payments is not easy to explain away.

Background Checks

This is for the safety of the other tenants. It’s a security check that ascertains whether you’ve ever been in jail, have committed a crime, or are known to be violent.

This is to ensure that the other tenants don’t face a physical threat from you, as well as the landlord.


Make sure that your rental history is available to make the application work easier.

If you don’t have past landlords, then you can provide references from work or from professors. You can also provide references from your professional colleagues.

Co-signer (for Bad Credit)

If you have low credit and absolutely need to get an apartment, you can have a co-signer.

This person will take partial responsibility for assuring that you pay on time. Co-signers basically guarantee that you’ll pay your rent regularly. A co-signer needs to have good credit of their own.

Landlords can also request a co-signer on account of your income being insufficient. They can also request one if you don’t have enough savings and are living paycheck to paycheck.

Cover Letter

If certain circumstances don’t make your application out to be good, you can attach a cover letter. This may explain the problems that you’ve faced or the reasons behind your bad credit, etc.

It may include details of a felony in the past or low income as a result of slow career progression. You may also explain that you’ve fallen on hard times due to a recession or a dip in the market.

Your words may not improve your chances of approval, but they may allow the landlord to see you in a different light. At times, numbers don’t tell the whole story and they require supplementation.

How Can You Improve Your Application?

The standard applications that meet the criteria of landlords usually get accepted.

However, some people may want to or need to go the extra mile. If you want to improve your application, you can do so with these helpful tips.

Check Your Credit Score

Request credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.

If you find any mistakes which can lower your score, you can tell them about it. This may help improve your score. This will put you in better shape to get an apartment.

You can also pay off outstanding bills; including credit card debt. You should also leave any unused credit card accounts open.

Closing them won’t do your credit score any good. Also, make sure to pay off your balance every month when you do use a credit card. Timely payments improve your credit score over time.

Get All Your Documentation Ready

If you submit a complete application and prove that you’re the best person to rent this apartment, you’ll probably get it.

Making it easy for the landlord to select you is a good way to get your application approved.

Check all the basics like proof of identity, a government-issued ID or driver’s license, and your social security card.

Your employer status, proof of employment, and recent pay stubs should also be included. Include rental history, references, contact info, and even your credit report.

Get Solid References

Usually, rental applications require three references. These should come from people that you know well.

These could be professional colleagues, former employers or landlords, former mentors, etc. Submit the contact info of these references so that they can easily verify your record.

Plan for Pets

If you have a dog, cat, hamster, iguana, snake, turtle, etc. you’ll need to plan for them. Some apartments require a pet deposit.

Your landlord may also require copies of the pet’s medical history. You should also include documentation that specifies your pet’s breed and vaccine record.

You should remember to not bring a breed-restricted dog to the apartment. This can start you on the wrong foot and even cause eviction.

Certain apartments even require that your cats be declawed. However, the latter is becoming much less common.

It should be noted that certain apartments simply don’t allow pets. In a few cases, landlords may allow pets, but prefer to rent to someone that doesn’t have pets.

You can sweeten the deal, in this regard, by paying extra, or a higher security deposit.

Make Sure You Have Renter’s Insurance

Renter’s insurance may sometimes be required by your landlord. Renters may not realize that their personal property isn’t protected by their landlord’s own insurance policy.

Hence, you need to get insurance for your belongings by yourself.

Any medical or legal costs will also be covered in the event of any injuries at your apartment. This is why renter’s insurance is so important.

Pay a Security Deposit

Landlords often ask for security deposits of up to 3 months as insurance.

These deposits can range from very little to several months of rent. You’ll have to pay this bill upfront if you want to improve your chances of acceptance.

Screen Roommates for Practical Qualities

If you’re sharing an apartment with a roommate; this could be a friend or a colleague, you should screen them.

You should have a roommate that not only gets along with you but also shoulders their part of the responsibility. They should pay rent on time, and manage their end of the cleanup as well.

Your roommate shouldn’t have a bad history of previous rentals. They shouldn’t have a behavior problem and shouldn’t have any income problems.

How Can You Rent an Apartment with Bad Credit?

There are ways that you can rent an apartment with bad credit.

You need to either be creative or use the money to your advantage.

Look for Property Owners that Don’t Request Credit

You could find a landlord that doesn’t do credit checks. However, that’s becoming increasingly rare.

Credit checks are becoming extremely standardized operations for most rental properties.

Prepare to Pay More Upfront

The easiest thing to do in order to ensure an apartment application approval is to pay more upfront.

If you have bad credit, that’s the only sure-fire solution. You can either pay a higher security deposit or between one or three months of rent at once.

There are ways to speed up your apartment application approval process. However, you don’t just need to work hard at it, you need to be creative.

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