Navigating the Rental Application Approval Process

Our guide will help renters master the rental application approval process. Learn how to nail the rent application form and secure your desired rental property.

Nichole Stohler
Last Updated
October 6, 2023
Navigating the Rental Application Approval Process

Learn the important details that can help get your application approved quickly with our rental application guide. Find out what you'll need to include and how long it usually takes to get an answer. It has everything you need to snag that perfect rental.

Getting the landlord to trust you and say yes to your rental application is the key to moving into a new home. This in-depth article will be your go-to guide for the whole process.

You'll find out what landlords typically look for in rental applications, understand how long it takes to get approved, and discover valuable tools to help you overcome any obstacles to getting a yes. So, let's dive in!

What is the rental application approval process?

Approving a rental application is part of the tenant screening process that landlords use to gauge if a prospective tenant is reliable and trustworthy.

This process involves looking at the applicant's credit rating, criminal record, employment history, and references from previous landlords. The underlying aim is to get employment information to decide whether the potential tenants would be punctual in paying their monthly rent and maintain the rental property responsibly throughout their lease period.

Property managers generally ask applicants to complete an online or physical form. Depending on the applicant's current residence, local fair housing laws and regulations, or the landlord's preferences, a more comprehensive background check might be needed before an application is approved.

It's common during this phase for landlords to charge an application fee to screen tenants. This application fee covers the actual costs incurred for screening applications of prospective tenants.

Navigating the rental application journey

Every property owner has a different method, but this is a general idea of what the application process might look like and how long it usually takes.

Filling out the rental application

The rental application form usually asks for the applicant's personal information and details, past jobs and places you've lived, and people who can vouch for you (references). Depending on how detailed the application is, it might take you less than an hour or several hours to finish. Once it's done, you can hand it in person, send it by email, or submit it online.

If you're looking for a streamlined and efficient application experience, consider mentioning Azibo's online rental application tool, which provides a seamless way to share all this information with potential landlords, ensuring you stand out as an ideal tenant.

Post application: What's next?

Once you've turned in your application, the landlord or the person who manages the property will take a look at it. They'll check things like your monthly income and credit history and get in touch with the references you provided.

Background check and credit report

Most landlords will do a background check and a credit check to ensure everything on your application checks out. This includes looking into whether you have a serious criminal history or record, have been evicted, or are creditworthy. This part of the process can take one to three days.


While reviewing your application, the landlord or property manager might call your employer and the previous landlord to ensure everything you put on your rental application form is accurate. They want to make sure you'll be able to pay your rent every month and that you've been a good tenant.

Getting the final answer

Once the landlord or property manager has finished all their checks, they'll decide whether or not to approve your application. They'll let you know if you've been accepted.

You can increase your chances of getting approved by including a letter with your application that explains why you're a good tenant, making sure you give them all the documents they ask for, working on improving your credit score if needed and being ready to show proof of how much money you make.

Want to amplify your chances of getting that coveted approval? Accompany your application with a compelling letter highlighting your ideal tenant attributes. Ensure all requested documents are provided, consider enhancing your credit score if it's on the lower side, have credit references, and be prepared to furnish evidence of your income when asked.

What landlords look for in rental applications

When landlords sift through online rental applications and run screening reports, they usually seek specific details to determine if a prospective tenant is a good fit. For example, landlords pay attention to your credit score. It's like a report card on how well you manage your money and if you can pay your rent every month.

Rental property owners are also interested in your past behavior as a renter. It gives them clues about whether you've been responsible for paying rent and following lease rules.

Having a stable job and earning enough income will be a deciding factor. Landlords want to ensure you can pay rent and other bills. They also look into your criminal background check. Their goal is to keep their property and other tenants safe.

If you've been evicted before, landlords will find out. This could make them question if you were a good tenant. Some landlords might ask for people who can vouch for you, like previous landlords or friends who know you well.

Lastly, landlords often ask for proof of your income. This might be a paycheck or an employment verification.

Remember: landlords have to follow fair housing laws when reviewing rental applications. They can't ask for anything illegal or unfair.

Required documents for a rental application

Here are some common documents that landlords or people who manage properties might ask for:

  • Identification: Property managers usually want to see a valid, government-issued ID like a driver's license or passport.
  • Proof of income: Landlords often want to see documents showing how much you make. This could be pay stubs from your job, letters from your boss confirming your work there and how much you get paid, or tax forms like a W-2 or your income tax return.
  • Your rental history: You may be asked to provide information about places you've rented before to check if you were a good tenant. This can include your previous landlords' contact details, the dates you lived there, and records showing you paid your rent on time.
  • Bank statements: Landlords might want to see your recent bank statements to check if you manage your money well.
  • Credit history: The property owner may want to look at your credit report to see if you pay your bills on time. They'll ask you for permission to do this or ask you to provide a copy of your credit score.
  • People who can vouch for you: It's common for landlords to ask for personal references - people who know you well and can say you're responsible and trustworthy.
  • Information about your pets: If you have pets, you might need to give them records showing your pets are vaccinated and licensed or that previous landlords had no problems with your pets' behavior.
  • Other documents: Landlords might also ask for a filled-out rental application form, permission to do a credit and background check, or proof that you have renters insurance.

Tips for getting your rental application approved

Want to boost your chances of getting a rental application approved? Here are some helpful hints:

Fill in the form correctly

Make sure you fill out all the necessary information on the rental application. Before handing it in, double-check to ensure everything is present and correct.

Get your documents ready

Gather all the requested information and documents, like ID, proof of how much money you make via current pay stubs, recent full bank account statements, and people who can vouch for you (references). Having these ready to go can speed up the process and show the property owner you're a reliable tenant.

Keep an eye on your credit

Pay your bills on time and make sure to keep your credit score as high as you can. Landlords usually look at your credit reports and history to see if you have a positive payment history.

Explain any issues

If there's something in your rental application that might need improvement, like a low credit score or a gap in your residential rental application history, explain why in your rental application. This can help the property management company understand your situation and make a more informed decision.

Consider offering more security

If your credit history isn't great or you don't have much experience renting, you could offer to pay a bigger deposit or get someone to co-sign the lease with you. This can help to make you seem more dependable.

Stay in touch and take the initiative

If the landlord has any questions, answer them promptly and offer to give them any extra information they might need. This will show them how interested you are in their property.

Get ready for a possible interview

Sometimes, landlords want to meet applicants in person or talk to them on the phone. Dress nicely and be ready to answer questions about where you've rented before, your job, and your personal life.

Ask for personal references

Get references from past landlords or people who can say good things about you. They should be able to talk about how reliable you are, whether you paid rent on time, what kind of person you are, and how well you can take care of a place.

Check in if you don't hear back

If the landlord doesn't get back to you after a while, you should check in with them politely.

Remember, every landlord and property manager is different. They each have their own rules and criteria they're looking for. Read the specifics of the property listing or rental application to know what they want.

How long does it take to get approved?

Typically, you can expect to wait one to three business days for a response regarding your rental application. However, this could be shorter or longer, depending on your circumstances. Private property owners might approve a rental application quicker than larger property management companies.

When it comes to online applications, getting them filled out, processed, and approved could take a few hours to a couple of days. One thing that could slow down your rental application is background checks. These usually take 48 to 72 hours and are important for confirming the potential tenant's details and checking if the applicant is a good fit.

However, there are ways to speed up the process. For example, if you provide all the documents needed, fill in the rental application correctly, and quickly reply to any extra questions from the landlord or property manager, you can help move things along faster.

While it generally takes one to three business days for a rental application to be approved, this can change based on factors such as the landlord's procedures, the time taken for background checks, and how fast the applicant responds.

How to secure approval for an apartment

Securing approval for a rental unit depends on several things, such as your credit score, past rental history, and income.

If you have a good credit score, it shows landlords that you're financially responsible. This can make it easier for you to get approved. But if your credit score is low, it might make things a bit harder. Some landlords are strict about credit scores.

Your rental history is also essential. If you've always paid your rent on time and followed the rules at places you've rented before, landlords will see this as a good sign. But if you've had problems at a previous residence, like being evicted, it might work against you in the approval process.

How much money you make is another significant factor. Landlords need to know you earn enough to afford the monthly rent. If you don't, they might worry about whether you'll be able to pay your rent every month.

One thing that can help is having a co-signer or guarantor. If this person has a good credit history, it can give the landlord more confidence in approving your rental application.

The approval process: Explained

It may take more work and careful attention, but doing everything right during the rental application process can make both renters and landlords happy once the lease starts.

Following our tips, people applying to rent can show they're responsible and serious. They'll help you get off on the right foot with your potential future landlord.

Being transparent and honest, building trust, and keeping an open line of communication can help create a positive, long-term relationship with your landlord.

Rental application FAQs

How long should you wait to follow up on a rental property application?

How long should you wait to follow up on a rental application? There isn't a one-size-fits-all answer, but a good rule of thumb is to wait about one to three business days before contacting the landlord or property manager.

It's important to understand that the process can take longer in certain situations. For example, if there are a lot of rental applications to go through or a more detailed credit and background check is needed, it could slow things down. So be patient and give them a little extra time if necessary.

How long do most apartment applications take?

The duration for apartment application processing can vary based on several factors, but most applications take between 1 and 3 business days on average.

This timeframe allows landlords or property managers to review the application, conduct necessary background and credit checks, and verify references. However, the process could take longer in situations with multiple applicants, high demand for a particular property, or additional verification requirements.

When you submit your application, asking the landlord or property manager for an estimated processing time is always a good idea.

Can I speed up the rental application approval?

While you can't control the exact speed of your rental application process, there are some things you can do to make it go faster.

First, it's really important to fill out the rental application correctly and make sure you've included all the information they requested. Doing this makes it easier for the landlord to check everything and shows you're careful and organized.

Second, if the landlord or property manager asks for more documents or information, get back to them quickly. This can help your rental application move along faster. By being careful and taking the initiative during the application process, you can speed up how long it takes them to decide on your rental application.

Important Note: This post is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be taken as legal, accounting, or tax advice, nor should it be used as a substitute for such services. Always consult your own legal, accounting, or tax counsel before taking any action based on this information.

Nichole Stohler

Nichole co-founded Gateway Private Equity Group, with a history of investments in single-family and multi-family properties, and now a specialization in hotel real estate investments. She is also the creator of, a blog dedicated to real estate investing.

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