By Nikki Davidson
Finding the perfect rental in 2022 can be rough. Tenants have to navigate rising rental costs while facing a shrinking selection of options on the market. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the national rental vacancy rate (as of the first quarter of 2022) is sitting at 5.8%, a 1.2% decrease from the same period in 2020.
Well-priced and desirable units won’t sit empty for long, so if potential tenants want any chance of scoring their dream pad in a competitive field, they’ll have to act fast. This article will provide a checklist on how to prepare a rental application and make it stand out.
Dig Up All Docs Ahead of Time
Most applications require several pieces of information, and it’s best to dig those up early. The most common documents needed are pay stubs, bank statements, photo identification, pet registration and immunization information, tax documents, and rental history with references for the last five years.
The most prepared renters will bring all of that information with them on a property tour; it helps potential landlords know they are organized and serious about the commitment. Property owners want to get tenants in the space as soon as possible, so the less waiting required, the better.
Pay Application Fees Immediately
At this time, there are no laws in Texas or Florida that limit how much landlords can charge tenants to apply for a rental. However, according to nonprofit legal aid collaborative group Texas Law Help, most application fees are between $15 and $50. Meanwhile, the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, a program started by the Florida Legislature to provide affordable housing, advises their landlords to charge potential tenants $85 per adult to apply. If a tenant is serious about winning the address, they need that money on hand.
Know What the Potential Red Flags Are
Landlords have a lot to lose if they choose the wrong tenant. According to the consumer credit reporting agency TransUnion, the cost of the legal fees and unpaid rent associated with the average eviction is about $3,500 and takes three to four weeks to complete. Additionally, 84% of property owners are most concerned if new tenants will pay their rent on time.
A FICO credit score above 670 is generally considered the gold standard for good credit history. Before applying, applicants should know their credit score and how their prior landlord will describe them. If they don’t have a squeaky-clean record, they may be better off explaining the situation to a potential landlord ahead of time rather than catching a landlord by surprise.
Avoid Unattainable Rental Rates
The general rule of thumb is that rent shouldn’t exceed one-third of a person’s income. Landlords will often request pay stubs to verify employment and see that a potential renter meets that threshold. Some landlords will take this further, and ask for bank statements to confirm a potential tenant has a bank account and can handle the financial commitment.
Complete Applications With Accurate Info
Most rental applications are non-refundable. Potential tenants should apply wisely to avoid losing money and wasting time on applications with a high rejection rate. The tedious, frustrating application process can be tempting to rush through, but errors or missing information may make a potential renter stand out in the wrong way.
Double-check phone numbers, email addresses, Social Security numbers and financial information to ensure everything is current. By crossing all t’s and dotting all i’s, potential renters can avoid wasting their own time as well as a future landlord’s.