The required documentation you’ll need to present when renting an apartment can vary from city to city. It can also depend on whether you’re renting from an individual property owner, or from an apartment complex owned by a corporation or real estate company. Whatever the situation is, you’ll need to show at least some of the following documents when renting an apartment.
Your Driver’s License
Presenting your driver’s license allows a property owner to do several things. He or she can verify your identity with it. Your driver’s license can also be used to run a credit check. Potential landlords want to know if you’re a person who can be trusted to pay their bills (specifically their rent) on time. Your driver’s license will also be used as part of a background check. Some property owners will check to see if you have a criminal history, or if you’re a registered sex offender.
If you don’t have a driver’s license, another form of photo ID will be required, such as a passport or military ID, but other documents could then be required in order to run a credit check.
Your Social Security Number
Be very careful when giving out your social security number. Many landlords will tell you that this number is required for a rental application, but it’s not required by law. Your driver’s license number is sufficient for someone to run a background or credit check on you. If you have any doubts about a property manager or potential landlord, it’s best to not provide this. You wouldn’t want to have your identity stolen while applying to rent an apartment.
Your Rental History
A history of your past apartment rentals will also be required documentation. The landlord or property owner will typically want to know about your past three rentals, or every apartment you’ve rented in the past five years. You’ll be required to provide the name, address and phone number of each previous landlord. Your prospective landlord will check with previous landlords to see if you were a problem tenant or if you didn’t pay your rent on time. They’ll also ask whether there were any damages to the apartment(s) when you moved out.
Your Work History
In many cases, you’ll be asked to provide some form of proof of employment. This could be as simple as a contact phone number for your current employer. Other property owners will ask you to provide the contact information of previous employers. This information is used to determine whether you have gainful employment, and therefore the ability to pay rent each month. People who get fired from multiple jobs are also likely to end up not being able to pay their rent. Employment history is another way that potential landlords will look into your background.
It’s less common, but some landlords will ask you to provide names and phone numbers of personal references, in addition to the above documentation. If that’s the case, choose someone who you trust to give you a good reference, such as a friend or a close co-worker. The stipulation to this type of reference check is often that it can’t be a relative.
The required documentation for renting an apartment is usually easy to come up with. Keep good records of addresses where you’ve lived and contact information for former landlords, to speed up any future apartment searches.