Home Renters

Buying a home is not right for everyone. Before jumping into a large purchase, especially if you don’t know the area, renting is not a bad choice.

Leasing a home can be a great step between living in an apartment and being a first time homebuyer.  Renting a home can be a great way to try out a neighborhood before you decide to make a purchase.

A lease is a contractual agreement between the tenant and the landlord to occupy a property for a fixed period of time and agreed upon terms.

Before you start looking at homes, come up with a plan.

  • What’s Important to you?
    • Do you want to be close to work (limit your commute).
    • Are schools important?
    • Do you want to be near certain amenities?
    • How many bedrooms, baths?
  • How much can you afford?
    • Typically landlord will want to see that you make 3 x the rent (gross).
    • Most landlords will require 1 month’s rent as a security deposit (at least)
  • Look at homes online within your price point.
    • Is it what you expected?
    • Do you like the areas?
    • Is it the size you want?

Typical Qualifying Criteria

Application fee: The application fee is paid upon submitting your application. The application fee is non-refundable and there is typically an application fee for everyone 18+ years old that will be living in the home.

Rental History: Two years of residency history is usually required on the application. You will be asked for your previous landlord’s contact information. Normally your past landlords will be contacted as a reference. Did you have a bad experience in the past? Will you get a bad reference?

Employment History/Proof of Income: Two years of consecutive employment history is normally required. Most landlords want to see 3X the rent in gross income. If you do not have local employment history (you just moved here from out of state), you can provide proof of funds in the form of a bank statement, social security statements, disability statements, etc.

You will need to prove proof of funds to cover your security deposit, pet deposits, and 1st month’s rent. These fees need to be paid via certified funds upon signing a lease. Exception: 1st months rent is due upon the commencement of the lease.

Photo ID: All persons 18 or older must submit a copy of their driver’s license or other approved photo ID with the application.

Credit and Criminal Check: All persons 18 or older will be asked to complete credit and criminal check.

Possible Obstacles and How to Potentially Resolve Them?

Evictions and Foreclosures: Evictions and Foreclosures on your record are a big deal. Landlords want stability. If they feel that you might disappear and/or not pay your rent, they are less likely to rent you the property.


  • Write a letter to include with your application explaining why you were evicted. Did you have a legitimate reason? This will not always solve the issue but it can’t hurt.
  • Offer to pay a larger security deposit
  • Would the landlord accept a co-signor?

Criminal Records: It is better to disclose a criminal record before you apply. Ask in advance if your record is a deal breaker before you make any application payments.


  • Write a letter to include with your application explaining the conviction. It’s better to explain how this all occurred and not let the landlord guess. This will not always solve the issue but it can’t hurt to explain.
  • Offer to pay a larger security deposit

Low credit score: Ask in advance for credit requirements. There is no point in applying. Every landlord is different.


  • Write a letter to include with your application explaining the low credit score. Highlight the positives: do you have a great rental history? This is usually more important than credit.
  • Offer to pay a larger security deposit
  • Would the landlord accept a co-signor?

Items that will typically cause an automatic decline:

  • Incomplete applications
  • Falsification of identity
  • Failure to pay the application fee
  • Some criminal histories: ask for restrictions
  • Invalid IDs or Social Security numbers

Ask Questions

  • How much is the rent?
  • How much is the initial deposit?
  • What are the rental requirements?
    • Do they accept an eviction on your record?
    • Do they have credit requirements?
    • Will my credit score effect my security deposit?
    • Do they accept a criminal records?
  • Is there an application fee? If so, how much is it?
  • What are the lease terms? 
  • What utilities are you responsible for?
  • Do you have to maintain the lawn?
  • Does the home come with all the appliances?
  • Is there parking ? Is there additional fees for parking?
  • Is there a laundry room in the house? 
  • Are pets allowed? Are there any restrictions for breeds and species? What’s the pet deposit? Is there pet rent? Are there any HOA restrictions on pets?
  • If I need to terminate the listing, is there a way out?
  • Can I sub-lease if needed? What are the requirements?
  • Check for flooding in the area.

Other Info

Rental Fraud Alerts

The Residential Lease Inventory and Condition Form is important. It should be filled out and submitted within the first few days of occupancy (less than 7 days typically). Even is the landlord doesn’t require this form, I’d go ahead and fill it out. This form protects you as well. The form will document the initial condition. Take pictures of any issues and document problems. Send the landlord the completed report and any images you collected. Keep copies of the inventory sheet and the images. When you get ready to move out, you will use this report to protect yourself from any damage you didn’t cause.

Rental Insurance – Rental insurance is cheap. This insurance will protect your personal belongs. Your personal belongings are not covered by the landlord’s insurance policy. Click on the link within this text for a list of insurance brokers.

Housing Discrimination Complaints