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How Do I Qualify to Lease a Single-Family Home?

Landlords look for tenants who can pay their rent on time and take good care of a home. In order to determine whether you’re a good rental candidate, you’ll be asked to prove your income and rental history. You’ll also be the subject of consumer and criminal backgrounds checks.

Each property management company or individual landlord will have their own application process. You might qualify for one home and not another owned or managed by the same person or company. Ask the landlord about specific items that might stop your application.

To avoid disqualification, spend some time getting prepared before you apply for a rental home. Follow these recommendations to streamline your experience:

Know what rental amount you can afford. Start by being realistic about your finances and budget. Take into consideration that a single-family home might require you to pay for lawn maintenance and ongoing indoor and outdoor cleaning costs.

Clean up your credit report. A large amount of debt and a history of missed payments are signs that identify you as someone who might not be able to pay their rent on time. A foreclosure, recent bankruptcy, or judgement might require a larger security deposit upfront, or in some cases disqualify you.

Keep track of income documentation. Applicants are usually required to provide paystubs for at least 2 or more months of employment. The documents must include year-to-date income totals. Before filling out the application, check with the property manager or landlord to find out how much income you need to make to qualify. If you’re self-employed, copies of your tax return may be required. Retired persons may have other documents they need to supply to complete the verification process.

List everyone on the application who will be living in the home. You can be evicted for having unauthorized people living in a rental home. If a person’s name is not on the lease, but they are living in the home you’ve rented, they are there illegally. Everyone on the lease must complete an application and qualify to be in the home.

Maintain a list of personal and landlord references. Landlords are looking for people of good character to live in their rental properties. You’ll be asked for contact information such as phone numbers and addresses. Why not keep everything current so you don’t have to go hunting for the data at the last minute?

Be prepared to pay application fees. It’s common to pay an application fee to cover a background and credit report. You’ll need to pay this right away. You may also need to pay a deposit amount to hold the property off the market while your application is being processed.

Find out what might disqualify you. Most property management companies will post details about the qualification requirements for their homes. If you have questions, call and ask for more information before applying.

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