When you’re looking to rent a house in San Antonio, you’ll eventually need to fill out a rental application. A lot of people hate filling them out for two reasons – one, there’s a lot to be filled out and two, the rental application asks for a lot of personal information. We thought we’d go through the application and look at the reasons behind some of those questions and what landlords and property managers are looking for. We can tell you from experience, the better job you do filling out the information requested on the application, the quicker and smoother the application process will go. And take our advice – you’re better off being open and honest on the application, because if the person processing it finds bad things that you “forgot” to mention, chances are your application will be denied.
The Rental Application and Personal Information
Social Security Number – The big one. Everyone questions why a social security number is required on just about anything. We’ve been taught to guard this number with our life and worry anytime someone asks for it. In the case of rental applications, it all comes down to your credit. Landlords want to be sure you’re creditworthy and they will run a credit report on you in order to avoid potential credit problems. Every property manager and landlord has their own set of criteria of what is/is not acceptable, but everyone of them will be looking to your credit for answers on whether or not to approve your application. In some cases, your social security number will also be cross checked with your name in various databases looking for criminal records, eviction filings, and even for odd behavior with your social security number (such as multiple names being matched up with the same number – a typical indicator of identity theft).
Emergency Contact – On the Residential Lease Application (we use the Texas Association of Realtors (TAR) form, which is quite common), there is a section asking for an emergency contact. The reason for this, is that on the Residential Lease (also by TAR), there is a section (Paragraph 34.F.) that covers what happens if all the legal residents of the rental die. It’s a horrible thought, but the landlord must know who to contact and it gives that person certain legal rights to access the property, remove property, and receive refunds of the security deposit.
Other Occupants – You must let the property manager know who all is intending to live at the property, their relationship to the applicant, and their ages. In most cases (we adhere to this rule), all applicants over 18 years of age must fill out a full application. Even your 20 year old son who’s living with you, but isn’t responsible for paying the rent…his application needs to be run to check his background and any potential issues that may come up.
Former Addresses – The rental application will ask where you lived previously and this will be used to verify rental history. The application may ask for other prior addresses as well (our application asks for the last two addresses). The most important thing you can do here is provide good contact information for your current landlord or property manager. If you leave these blank, the person processing the application will have to hunt down this information, which will slow down the approval process.
Current/Former Employers – Same thing goes with this section, make sure you’re providing good contact information (and preferably more than one way to contact the person). This information will be used to verify employment, length of employment, and income. If you’re self-employed or the owner of your company, you may be asked for additional documentation in order to show income and work history.
Various Questions – The TAR Residential Lease Application has a series of questions of the second page with Yes/No checkboxes. This is definitely a section you want to fill out completely and, as I mentioned at the start of this post, honestly. If you say “No” to “been convicted of a crime?” and the processor finds evidence to the contrary, you may find your application denied. A landlord may be able to work with you if you’ve had credit problems, been convicted of a crime, been in bankruptcy, had a foreclosure, etc., but if you’re not telling them the truth, you’re going to wind up being denied.
Authorization to Release Information – The last page of the TAR Residential Lease Application allows people to provide information to the property manager so that they can process your rental application. We send this authorization to your employer and former residence in order to obtain employment/rental history. If we don’t have this page signed, most companies will not provide us that information and without that information, we cannot process your application.
Financial Documents – Depending on the property manager, how they process their applications, and your personal situation, you may be asked to provide financial documents – anything from tax returns to pay stubs to bank statements. Typically, more documentation is required if you are self-employed or don’t have an easily identifiable source of income from a job (for example you’re living off of a divorce settlement or a trust fund). It’s the job of the person processing your application to try and get a complete picture so that they can recommend approval or denial of your application and depending on your situation, they may require supporting documentation. Rentals are much like mortgages in that the landlord is trying to mitigate their risk and take on the best qualified applicants as tenants.
image courtesy of PHOTO/arts Magazine