What Do You Need to Rent an Apartment?

Updated May 7, 2024
9 min read
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Choosing an apartment is crucial because it determines the quality of your life in and away from home. The quote, “The magic thing about home is that it feels good to leave and even better to come back,” perfectly captures the importance of finding a suitable living space. However, you shouldn’t forget about essential legal paperwork. 

Providing complete documentation evidence to your landlord is a critical step when you’re thinking of renting an apartment. The documents show your identity and ability to pay rent and bills. So what do you need to complete the rental agreement?

Keep reading to find out the essentials for securing a rental contract. 

What To Consider When Choosing an Apartment

Renting an apartment is a relatively long-term decision requiring you to consider several different aspects, such as cost of living, transportation, safety, and security. Similarly, ensuring that the environment, neighborhood, and amenities meet your requirements is crucial. That said, every tenant has different needs. Here is a list of four basic things for you to consider: 

1. Type of apartment

First, you must decide the type of apartment you need. Whether it’s a studio apartment, loft, or convertible, you can only proceed if you’re clearly focused on your preferred type. 

For instance, some people prefer an easy-to-manage apartment with limited amenities. On the other hand, you might need additional facilities like a parking spot, washer and dryer, etc. Likewise, does the apartment have a laundromat nearby if a washer isn’t available within the apartment? 

Simply put, it’s about listing down the basic amenities and lifestyle choices that you would want in your dream apartment. This way, you are closer to renting an apartment that fits your needs.

2. Neighborhood or environment

The neighborhood plays a pivotal role in your lifestyle, especially if you have kids. So, you must think about your preferred lifestyle. Do you like the hustling urban environment in the neighborhood, or do you prefer the calmness of a rural area?

Likewise, think about the security conditions and the local communities. At times, people can struggle in certain communities, so it’s critical to figure out how you will gel in if the local community differs from the one you are used to. 

Moreover, think about the distance between the apartment and your workplace. Do you work from home or have an office elsewhere? How will you commute, and can you bear the traveling expense if you’re renting an apartment at a far-off location? Asking these simple questions gets you one step closer to renting the perfect apartment. 

3. Lease terms

The lease terms are also important to consider. As a tenant, you must be aware of your rights over the property during the agreement period. 

It’s a good idea to ask the landlord about generic and specific terms and conditions mentioned in the lease agreement. For instance, you could ask the following questions:

  • What happens if I terminate the agreement before the lease period ends?

  • Do I have the right to sublet the apartment if I travel?

  • How do you plan to tackle any unexpected repair and maintenance expenses on the property during the lease period?

As the landlord answers your questions, you will understand the implications of each provision, which always helps with renting an apartment. You can even ask for a sample lease before you decide to choose a particular apartment.

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4. Property management

Property management has a unique set of pros and cons. For instance, when you rent an apartment that is under a property management company, it’s much easier for renters to deal with the maintenance of the property. That’s because property management companies provide professional maintenance services and ensure a better quality of facilities. This isn’t always the case when a landlord manages a property.

Property managers ensure that the rental property abides by state and local laws and that it’s safe for renters to move in. But how do you ensure that the property is well-managed? Here, checking reviews and comments from the previous tenants is a good idea. You can easily get them on property managers’ websites. 

Renting an apartment that is well-maintained is crucial, as it avoids unwanted expenses and provides much-needed peace of mind.

Things You Need While Renting an Apartment

Now that you know the critical aspects of picking a rental property, let’s talk about the eligibility criteria for renting an apartment. 

Firstly, find out whether you qualify to rent the apartment you want to live in. Typically, landlords look for a stable income and the financial ability to pay rent in a prospective tenant. Landlords prefer making safe and profitable business deals to avoid conflicts later in the agreement. 

Figure out how much rent you can afford

Of the things for renting an apartment, the key is financial stability. Consider how much you are comfortable spending on rent. Compare the cost of your previous apartments and the price of apartments landlords or property managers are quoting in your search. 

If you find a particular place’s rent is higher than expected, always ask for an explanation. Asking questions throughout your search will help you make an informed decision and settle on a place where rent matches the area's amenities, environment, or property rates. 

Find out your credit score

Regarding your credit score, what do you need to qualify for renting an apartment? A new landlord will check your credit score to ensure you are financially responsible and can keep up with your rent payments. 

A credit score is a number between 300 to 850 that depicts your creditworthiness. Reporting companies base scores on your credit history with banks, auto loan issues, credit card issuers, and insurance companies. The credit score your landlord will approve depends on the local rental market. 

What Documents Do You Need To Rent an Apartment?

Having figured out the financial requirements, let’s now look at the types of essential documents for renting an apartment.

Here are the basic papers that most landlords require for completing a rental apartment deal:

  • Tenant’s proof of good character;
  • Bank statement;
  • Identification documents;
  • Income statement, Paystubs, W2s, etc.

By securing these documents, you can present yourself as a trustworthy person who can afford to live and pay bills for the apartment. Remember, landlords want consistent tenants who won’t cause any trouble related to legal or financial matters during the rental agreement period. These documents help build trust and strengthen your position in front of the landlord. 

Bank statements

As you rent an apartment, your bank statement is generally used to confirm your income and other financial resources. Alternatively, the landlord’s property manager could ask you for any other document that can prove your income. It assures the property manager that you have enough resources to pay the rent and bills, even if your income fluctuates. 

Paystubs, W2s, or income statements

The bank statement shows your financial strength and ability to deal with financial crises. However, landlords seek tenants who have secure income streams. This way, they can enjoy the peace of mind that the payments will be on time and that you are not facing difficulties making them. 

Typically, landlords prefer tenants whose income is at least three times the monthly rent. So, when you rent an apartment, make sure your pay stubs and income statements meet this criteria. If they don’t, be prepared to show how you will make your rent payments.

Rental history

One of the main things you need to rent an apartment is proof of good character. While your bank statements show your financial capacity, your rental history helps demonstrate your ability to respect the landlord’s property and peacefully co-exist in a community. 

Though your credit report may provide insights into your rental history, the landlord may ask you to submit a list of addresses and contact information of previous landlords. 

Why Do Renters Need Bank Statements & Other Documents?

It’s pretty straightforward why landlords seek financial and legal documents. The documents are essential to building trust between the renter and the landlord. Understandably, landlords prefer renters who won’t cause any trouble financially or legally during the agreement tenure. Moreover, the documents provide additional security to both renter and landlords in  case where there is any trouble caused to either party. 

Finally, having a sound financial and legal record also gives you an edge over other prospective renters, so renting an apartment of your choice becomes easier. 

Closing Thoughts

While renting an apartment, property managers or landlords closely monitor your ability to pay the rent. So, as long as you can satisfy their requirements and prove that you possess a decent character, you won’t face too many problems and will be able to rent an apartment of your choice. 

Consider the critical aspects of the property that may impact your rental decision, such as cost, environment, surrounding, etc. The documents that validate you as a potential tenant must be updated. More importantly, maintain a good credit score as well as satisfactory rental history to maximize your chances of securing your favorite rental property. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What credit score do you need to rent an apartment?

There is no specified limit for a credit score to rent an apartment. However, landlords seek renters with above-average credit scores because it shows their ability to pay rent regularly. But at the same time, some landlords prefer trust and character more than a credit score.


Moreover, some landlords will only look at your debt load to figure out whether you can pay the bills and rent. Likewise, some landlords prefer standard credit scores before they rent an apartment to any renter. FICO ® suggests that a good credit score lies between 580 and 669. 

How do you rent your first apartment?

Renting an apartment for the first time is perhaps the most challenging, especially. if you’re a teenager who has just finished college and you’re looking to move out of your parents' home, it can be slightly tricky to build trust with your prospective landlord because you probably do not have a strong rental history or income statement.


However, when renting for the first time, it’s important to start low and analyze your limitations. Think about how much you can afford every month and how you will establish your credit score.


Once you’ve figured it out, search for apartment listings from reputable resources. It’s a good idea to reach out to landlords on your own. Set visiting schedules and analyze the apartments closely.


Once you find the right one, apply for it immediately. Fill out the necessary forms proving your identity and attach documents like proof of income, rental history, etc. Afterwards, the landlord will review your application and decide whether to hand over the apartment to you.


If the renter agrees, you will have to deposit the security amount. After that, the landlord will send you a lease agreement form. The document spells out the lease duration, rental amount, and other relevant details. Read the document carefully before signing and ask the landlord questions regarding any provision mentioned in the document. 

Where can I look for an apartment?

Finding the best rental property in an area of your choice isn’t too difficult these days. There are several online tools and applications that provide suggestions, helping you in renting an apartment of your choice.


You can start by searching the top-quality listing sites on Google. Moreover, there are mobile applications and websites like Zillow Rentals, Trulia Rentals, Apartment List, and many others. These applications are available for both iOS and Android mobile devices, so you can download them and get started with your apartment search.


Other than that, you can take services from a broker or real estate agent. In that case, you must pay the broker’s fee, which is roughly about 15% of the annual rent of your apartment. 

What documents do I need to rent an apartment for the first time?

When you rent an apartment for the first time, you must have the following documents to file a rental application:

  • Bank statements;
  • Pay stubs;
  • Identification documents;
  • Personal references.

Since first-time renters don’t have any rental payment history, they need additional documents to secure the landlord’s trust and present themselves as a worthy renter for the agreement tenure.