Documents Needed for Renting an Apartment

By Lorena Roberts on November 7, 2017

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You know you’ve made it to adulthood when you’re ready to sign a lease for your own apartment! Congratulations. This is nothing less than a great feat — you’ve done it!

Hopefully, you’re making enough money to afford your rent every month (or your parents are super supportive and want you to have the very best). The thing about renting an apartment is you can’t just show up and sign a lease. Apartment complexes typically want lots of documentation saying you’re a great person and you aren’t going to fall behind in rent, damage their property beyond repair, or start your own version of Breaking Bad in their community laundry room.

If you’re planning to sign a lease for an apartment, here’s a list of documentation you should show up with to be fully prepared.

1. Paystubs

Apartments typically want you to have a monthly income that’s about three times the amount of your rent. (Crazy, right?!) If you show up with six months of pay stubs, you’ll easily be able to prove you make enough to afford rent. If you can’t, then bring someone with you who’s willing to co-sign for you and their pay stubs.

2. Driver’s license

Apartments will want your driver’s license on file so you can be held responsible should you decide to flee the state. It’s important to bring your actual driver’s license with you — not a copy. Don’t bring an expired license, either.

3. Social security number

You wouldn’t believe how many people I know who have no idea what their SSN is. The apartment complex will want you to bring this with you so they can check your credit. If you haven’t had bills or credit cards before, it might be tough to get a score for you, so you should bring the SSN of your cosigner.

4. Rental history

If this isn’t your first rental, you’ll want to bring your rental history with you. Sometimes complexes want to call around and make sure you’re a good tenant before they offer you a spot at their complex.

If this is the first place you’re renting, they probably won’t need anything more from you. There’s a good chance they’ll just make you jump through a few more hoops before they agree to let you lease with them.

5. References/Recommendations

Sometimes apartments even want you to bring names of people who can vouch for you. If you’ve already compiled a list of people who think you’re great, you’ll be able to save yourself some time and hassle.

6. Vehicle information/Registration/Insurance

If you’ll be parking on the property during your stay at a rental, they’re probably going to want your vehicle information. Sometimes, they’ll even request a proof of insurance. Having an uninsured vehicle on the property can be a pain in the butt for anyone involved in an accident.

7. Checkbook

You’re going to have to pay an application fee, so bring your checkbook with you! Application fees vary. Sometimes they’ll be waived to try and solicit more business, other times they’re over $100. Most of the time, these application fees are used to look into your credit history.

8. Proof of residency

If you’re not a citizen, you’ll want to bring papers with you to show you aren’t illegal. It’s unlikely that an apartment will be okay with an “illegal person” living in their rental unit.

9. Bank statement

Sometimes, if you don’t make enough money monthly, you can bring in your bank statements and any money you have in assets can count towards your eligibility for renting.

10. Work history

Apartments want to ensure that you have a stable job and/or have been employed for a long period of time. If you’ve never had a job before and you just started one the day before you’re trying to sign a lease, that might be a bit fishy. Appease the landlord and assure them you have the means to pay your rent.

Recommendations can come from past or present employers. These are good options for people you’ll need to verify that you’re a good person.

Before you decide on an apartment you for sure want to rent, I’d do a lot of research. I’d look at reviews online, talk to people you work with, or investigate places where you know current tenants. Meet with management a few times before you decide to rent from them — these people can be really helpful or they can make your life much tougher.

Look into things like maintenance and quality of appliances. You don’t want to live somewhere with bug infestations or non-working microwaves. If it takes maintenance more than 72 hours to respond to a maintenance request, you probably don’t want to live there. Happy apartment hunting!

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Lorena graduated from The University of Tennessee in Knoxville last December with a BA in Honors Psychology. After some serious soul-searching, she's decided to pursue a Master's in teaching in order to teach middle school math! In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her Whippet mix, Gio, at the dog park and binge watching Netflix with endless cups of Hot Cocoa.

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