My Lease Application was Denied: What Now?

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Having your lease application denied is a stressful event. Understanding possible causes can help you to overcome this problem now and in the future.

Lease Application Process

When you apply to rent an apartment, your landlord will screen your application. The screening process includes a background check, credit check, employment verification and a review of your rental history. Problems in any of these areas may result in the landlord refusing to rent the apartment to you. Most landlords will send you a letter, informing you of this fact, if your application is denied.

The denial must conform to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair Housing Act and your local jurisdiction’s anti-discrimination laws. Other than that, your application can be denied for any reason, even if nothing bad  turns up in your screening.

Typical Reasons for Rental Application Denials

Common reasons for denying your rental application are: poor credit, providing false information on your application, a negative rental history or inadequate income. It’s also possible that your application will be denied because another applicant was better qualified than you to rent the apartment.

Understanding Why Your Application Was Denied

Unless your application was denied because of something in your credit report, the landlord does not have to tell you what the reason was. If the decision was based on something in your credit report, your landlord is obligated to provide you with the name and contact information for the credit reporting agency where they obtained the information. They are not required to tell you which piece of information disqualified you as a prospective tenant.

When something negative comes up in your credit report, take advantage of the opportunity to review the report for errors. After your lease application is denied, the law gives you 60 days to request a free copy of your credit report from the credit reporting agency. By requesting the report immediately, you may be able to correct errors that negatively influenced the landlord.

In addition to information obtained from credit reporting agencies, your landlord may review information from third parties, such as former landlords. Your application can be denied based on third party information, but due to privacy laws, landlords are not obligated to tell you the details of what was said about you.

What Can You Do?

If you really want to rent the apartment, try talking to the landlord to work things out. While it won’t hurt to ask why your application was denied, be prepared for the landlord to refuse to tell you. For credit related problems, correct any mistakes in your credit report and present this information to the landlord for consideration.

For inadequate income, offer to have a guarantor (someone who agrees to pay on your behalf if you can’t pay your rent) sign the lease. Be aware that no landlord is obligated to rent to you. Sometimes, the best course of action when your lease application is denied, is to determine why, and to correct any problems that may have worked against you. Use what you’ve learned to improve your chances of success on future lease applications.


Lisa Bernstein: As a long-time apartment dweller and seasoned condominium trustee, I have dealt with numerous landlord-tenant, property management, and day-to-day apartment complex issues. My extensive, direct experience has led to invaluable insights into apartment life from both the tenant and management perspectives.


7 Responses to “My Lease Application was Denied: What Now?”

  1. September 21, 2012 at 12:42 pm, tina said:

    I have paid and paid and paid someone please stop the. Crdit people for raceterring. Selling my card off again and again .


  2. November 20, 2012 at 4:52 pm, Anonymous said:

    My application was denied because of my credit, but I asked if I could have a cosigner they told me they don’t have cosigners. Also, before I had asked for the requirements and I made more the income requirements.


  3. December 03, 2012 at 4:52 pm, Mayra said:

    An my aparment application be denied because my husband is an alien and they are worried of how I’m going to pay for the rent if he were to get deported but I explained to her they won’t becuase of the new law and he’s working into getting his citizenship and then she told me well he doesn’t have a good social and I told her he does and she told she will talk to her supervised


  4. March 19, 2013 at 2:05 pm, Dave said:

    My girlfriend applied for an apartment. We wasted lots of gas trying to get it arranged, payed for a month, payed the $45 application fee, was told that the apartment is hers, then less than 24 hours later got a call saying the application was denied due to something in her background check. She’s never been in trouble with the law. Now, she is out $45 (which may not sound like a lot to you, but it is to her) and we have to wait up to 2 weeks for the $300 that was payed in advance. Out expensive gas, out $45 completely, and they get $400 for free for 2 weeks. Now she is freaking out because there is something on her background check that they won’t tell her and she has never been in trouble with anything in her life. If there isn’t a federal law against this, then there should be. Completely unacceptable behavior inflicting stress, taking money interest free, and outright taking $45 with NOTHING to show for it, not even a reason why.


  5. June 04, 2013 at 2:53 pm, michele rhoads said:

    Did u contact the fair housing authority? They handle disputes such as this. They cannot hold back the upfront money you deposited. It should be given back in a timely manner! If there is a credit denial, they are bound to tell you, anything else they are not. See a lawyer about getting your money back. Lots of them offer a free consultation. These guys are to be their names/leasing company on facebook and let them know how ‘a,b&c’ treated you and the outcome.
    Hope this helps.


  6. June 04, 2013 at 2:54 pm, michele rhoads said:

    Take them to court. The money is due you. If any other reason except for bad credit rating, they don’t have to give a reason.


  7. September 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm, Kae Ross said:

    I applied for an apartment rental and was denied because it was missing my phone number and no one was able to reach my agent(no number) so the person emailed my agent. My agent stated she never recieved an email. This sounds suspicious to me because I made sure the application had my number on it. The application was completed as soon as I seen the apartment and checks was given as well. I was told my checks were not cashed until 1 month later I seen it was. Now I am fighting for my application fee, $300. My credit check fee ($50) was returned to me and I had to cancel the third check which cost me $20. This is so unfair that apartment owners and agents play these games.


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