Dated: 03/10/2018

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Everything You'll Need for an Apartment Application

Are you asking, “What do I need to rent an apartment?” Like a job application, an apartment application requires you to attach additional documents. Simply filling out the form with your information and a list of past apartments isn’t enough for the landlord to decide whether you’re reliable as a tenant. As such, he or she will ask for more items that will show that you’re on top of your game.

While you’re apartment hunting, gather the documents listed below. Some landlords will ask for all of these items, and others will only ask for a couple, so being prepared for any situation is your best bet.


Landlords ask to see your pay stubs, to make sure you’re actually employed and make as much money as you say you do.  (Remember, the landlord’s first concern is whether you’ll pay your rent). If you don’t make enough money, letting you move in is a gamble they can’t afford to make. Landlords typically only accept tenants for whom the rental price is 30% or less of their income.

Everything You'll Need for an Apartment Application - Paystubs

Most of the time, landlords will ask for your two most recent pay stubs. If you have direct deposit, you can likely still find your pay stub online, or ask your boss for a copy. If you do get a physical stub with your paycheck, only provide a copy, not the original.

Bank Statements

Generally, you’ll only need bank statements OR pay stubs, not both. They essentially do the same thing– they show you have money.

Everything You'll Need for an Apartment Application - Bank Statements

Bank statements also show regular paycheck deposits from your job. Print two months’ worth from your online account, just to be safe.
If you don’t have a computer at home, go to a public library to access your bank account and print these out.  Be sure to log out before you leave the library!

Driver’s License (Or Passport)

Bring your driver’s license with you when you tour apartments or when you go to fill out an application.

Everything You'll Need for an Apartment Application - Driver's License (Or Passport)

The landlord will make a copy for his or her records. If you don’t have a license, a state ID or passport works too.

A Recommendation

A recommendation tells the manager that you were a good tenant in a previous apartment community.  You don’t usually have to get an actual letter. Most landlords will accept basic information about your last apartments, such as the property manager’s contact information, so that they can call.  But a few managers might ask you to provide letters of recommendation so they don’t have to do the work.

Everything You'll Need for an Apartment Application - Letters of Recommendation

It’s a good idea to get one of these letters before moving from your current apartment building.  A referral letter that you were confident enough to ask for – and received – says a lot to a manager.

Vehicle Registration and Proof of Insurance

Why would a landlord need your vehicle info? If apartments come with a parking space, the landlord needs to know which cars belong on the property fulltime.  If a car appears to be abandoned, the manager needs to know which renter owns it.

Everything You'll Need for an Apartment Application - Vehicle Registration and Proof of Insurance

Some buildings have a limited number of parking spaces per unit, so landlords want to make sure only the approved vehicles are in the lot.

Social Security Number

Your parents may have warned you not to give out this precious eight-digit identification code, but you do have to provide it to a potential landlord. Property managers use this number to perform a credit check, to see whether or not you’re a good tenant.

Everything You'll Need for an Apartment Application - Social Security Number

You shouldn’t have to provide a copy of your social security card, so memorize your number instead.

Hot Tip:  Do not store it on your phone or leave it visible in your apartment.

Rental History

You will need to provide your rental history. This is a list of all the apartments you’ve lived in during your life as a renter, including their addresses, the phone number of the property manager, how long you were there, how much you paid, and why you left.

Everything You'll Need for an Apartment Application - Rental History

If you’ve rented in several locations, it might be a good idea to go ahead and create a file of this information for yourself, so that you can take it with you when you apply.  You can always update it with each move. That way, you can make your application quickly, by copying the inforamtion, or simply providing a copy of the document with your application, instead of filling out that section.


Most applications have a section for references. You should have a mental list of both professional and personal references, in case the landlord wants both. Just make sure to ask the people you plan to use as references for their permission, since they’ll be receiving a call.

Everything You'll Need for an Apartment Application - References

Choose established and responsible adults as your references. These references can come from businesses where you’ve worked, non-profits where you’ve volunteered, even your church. Your 20-year-old college dormmate isn’t as reliable in the eyes of a landlord as your 40-year-old boss.

Job History

A job history is just like a rental history, but with information about where you worked. Include your current job and a few previous ones. Keep this information on hand so you can reference it when you apply for apartments.

Everything You'll Need for an Apartment Application - Job History

Many landlords want to see your employment history to determine that you can hold a job. If you leave every three months, youur income isn’t stable, and thus isn’t reliable. If, however, you’ve had a job for five or more years, the 12 months you’ll be at this apartment will likely be a financially stable time.


Finally, bring your checkbook when applying for apartments. You may have to pay an application fee or a fee to take the unit off the market until you sign the lease. That way, no one else can swoop in and take your dream apartment while you’re waiting for the OK.

Everything You'll Need for an Apartment Application - Checkbook

Have all these items on hand when you tour a place in case you want to fill out an apartment application on the spot. Happy hunting!

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