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.