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

Find your next Apartment
April 15, 2021
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After you submit a completed rental application, the hardest part is definitely the waiting. This is when you start to second-guess yourself, and wonder whether there is something that you forgot to put on the application. Maybe there was some factor you could have put forward to bump up your application, or maybe there was a requirement you overlooked.

For most people, the waiting period isn’t that long. A rental application gets approved or rejected within three business days of submission. However, there are ways to not only shorten this waiting time but to tip the scales in your favor.

If you don’t want to spend days waiting on tenterhooks to find out if you were successful in your application, we get it! No one wants to be left hanging in the air, and you want to do everything possible to get approved.

So, here’s what you need to do.

Three Tips to Get Approved Faster

While there is no surefire way to get approved for an apartment, there are ways to put yourself in a better position and get that signed lease!

Know the Application Requirements

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when applying for an apartment is not being prepared with the application requirements. Some people even mistakenly assume that they can simply complete the rental application on-site. However, there is more to the process than completing a few pages of your personal information.

Applying for an apartment rental means that you need to submit accompanying financial documents such as your bank statements and letter of employment. Some landlords even look for reference letters from your former landlords to get an insight into what you are like as a tenant.

The best way to go about it is to call ahead and ask what specific requirements you will need to apply. Your potential landlord might ask some questions about your professional background or financial status to get a better handle on your circumstances.

As a rule of thumb, the more information you can provide to prove that you are a model tenant who has the financial capacity to pay for the apartment and maintain it properly, the better chance you have of getting approved.

Speaking of your financial capacity...

Check Your Financial Situation

Any apartment rental application you submit will always come with a financial background check. This will come with a thorough review of your credit history, as well as your history as a renter. They will be looking for any red flags such as a history of delinquency when it comes to paying rent or if you’ve had any complaints lodged against you by former landlords.

During this process, they will also be verifying your employment status and income. In places like New York City and Boston, you will be required to make 40x the monthly rent in annual income. So, for example, if you are applying for a studio apartment that costs $2000 a month, you will need to make $80,000 a year to qualify.

Take note, this is applicable no matter what type of apartment you want to rent. For more upscale apartments such as a classic six or a penthouse, the landlord might even ask for 50x the monthly rent in annual income to prove that you are capable of paying the rent during the length of your lease.

Always Be Reachable

This might sound obvious, but always be reachable when you are applying for an apartment. Your landlord might be trying to call you for one reason or another, and if you are unavailable, they might just drop you and move on to the next applicant!

If you are applying for an apartment during peak season, you should assume that you’re in stiff competition for the apartment. Most landlords will not waste time trying to find an applicant who can’t be reached.

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Causes of Delays

There are many reasons why your application can be delayed, such as:

  • Incomplete Applications - any incomplete document on your application will cause a delay. No landlord will move forward with the vetting process if your application is not satisfactory.
  • Using real estate agents - if the application process is done by a real estate agent, the process can drag on considerably since any communication would need to pass through the third party. It’s generally faster if you deal directly with the landlord, however, you might not always have that choice.
  • Issues with your financial documents - if your potential landlord spots any issues with your documents such as a spotty credit report, they will likely ask for an explanation. In some cases, they can reject your application outright if there are too many problems with your financial history.
  • Finicky landlord - unfortunately, this can also be the case. Some landlords can be just a little bit too meticulous with their vetting process and tend to nitpick at every perceived issue on your application. In this situation, you might want to reconsider whether you want to continue! After all, they’re probably going to be the same when it comes to being your landlord, so you should pause and think about whether you want to deal with this during your time as a tenant.

Speeding Up the Application Process

Is there a way to speed up the application process? The best chance you have is by coming prepared with all the necessary documents AND making sure that you’re applying for an apartment that is within your financial means. If you can provide additional documents to strengthen your application such as good references or a solid work history, those will definitely help your case.

If you’re working with a real estate agent, you can also ask for help. They can facilitate the application process and move it along. Going through a real estate agent also lessens the risk of you coming across as a demanding and possibly difficult tenant.

Approved or Denied -- What Happens Next?

Whether the outcome of your application process, you should get a call from the landlord with their decision. If you get approved, your landlord will give you the next steps you will take to complete your application.

Generally, these are things like securing the deposit, signing a lease, and finalizing your move-in date. You will also need to iron out other details about your stay, such as the length of your lease, which amenities are included such as cable, Internet, water, and heat, and provisions like parking or having a pet.

If your application is denied, you should also get a call from the landlord to tell you why your application was rejected.

FAQs

I haven’t heard back in weeks. What should I do?

As mentioned above, the application process is usually pretty straightforward and quick. However, if you’re applying for income-restricted or rent-stabilized apartments, the application process can take considerably longer. In fact, it’s not uncommon for applications to take weeks.

If you have not heard back from your landlord within three business days, you can leave a message following up on your application. Make sure that the message is polite and direct. It will also help to let them know that you are willing to submit any additional documents to improve your application chances.

Can I reapply for an apartment if I get denied?

It all depends on the reason why you were rejected. If you were rejected because of some problems with your financial status (i.e., your monthly income is not enough to qualify), you can use a guarantor to improve your chances.

However, if you were denied because of a past incident in your rental history such as being brought to court by a former landlord, it might be more difficult to reapply for the same apartment. The best thing you can do is either ask your landlord directly if they can reconsider or cut your losses and find a new apartment.

Final Thoughts

Waiting to know whether you’ve been accepted or denied for an apartment application isn’t a great experience, but it’s part and parcel of the application process. As a renter, it’s your responsibility to comply with all the requirements. You should also do everything you can to put yourself in the best position to be approved for an apartment.

If you do get denied, don’t sweat it too much! There will always be something else down the road. You should take it as an opportunity to improve your standing as a potential tenant so that you’ll have a better chance of getting approved next time.

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