What you'll need:
A government issued photo id (driver's license, passport, military id, etc.);
Proof of income (before tax income needs to be 3x rent at most properties) in the form of pay stubs, a letter from your employer, bank statements; money for your application, deposit and administrative fee in the form of money order(s) or cashier’s check(s).
Some apartments accept personal checks or credit cards for the application fees, but none accept cash. Money orders are available easily and quickly at Valero Gas Stations and HEB grocery stores, or your bank..
Always ask the apartment what their refund policy is on the deposit before you give it to them.
Get and keep copy of anything you sign. The policies regarding refunds are usually written on the back of the application. But ask.
What apartments screen for:
Most apartments base their decision/approval of an applicant on background, credit history, and leasing history. They look at the total picture.
Background and Credit Issues: Many will deny anyone if they have a felony, misdemeanor, eviction, or broken lease on their record. I know properties that work with people with these issues, so let me know as soon as possible if you do. I'll direct you to those properties. Be sure and tell leasing agents and put on your application any issues that you have. If you don't and the issue shows up on your credit or background check, the application is automatically denied and you will lose your deposit.
If you have:
a broken lease and/or eviction: tell me how old it is and if you have rented with a management company since. If you have more than one, how many? Broken leases and evictions stay on your credit for 10 years.
If you want to check your credit report to see if you have one, go to the free site: www.annualcreditreport.com, check all three reporting agencies.
a felony or misdemeanor: What was the charge and how long ago did it happen? These never go off your record and apartments that work with these issues require the whole process be over with for at least 10 years from date of the offense before they will consider an applicant. I don't know of any apartments that work with crimes of a violent or sexual nature.
If you have a foreclosure or bankruptcy, generally many properties are able to work with you if the bankruptcy or foreclosure is discharged/finished; but they almost always require a larger deposit. These also stay on your credit record for 10 years.
Income requirements: Usually 3 times the amount of rent based on before tax income. If your rent is $800 a month, household income needs to be at least $2,400 a month. Some apartments require 2.5x amount of rent as income.
Pets: There will be a pet deposit, pet fee and usually pet rent, which can be from $10 to $20 a month. The pet deposit is usually refundable in part; half is most common. Also, it can often be paid in two, sometimes more, payments, over the first few months of renting.
Most apartments now have breed restrictions and do not allow aggressive breeds however I have access to apartments that have no breed restrictions and can help you find a community that will welcome your pet!
The most commonly restricted breeds: Akita, American Bulldog, Bullmastiff or Mastiff, Chow, Doberman, German Shepherd, Husky, Presa Canario, Pit Bull, Siberian Husky, Staffordshire Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier, "Wolf Dog", Bull Terrier, Rottweiler and any combination of these. Different apartments have different lists, so this is a basic guide for you
Pre-leasing: If your move date is not immediate you will not be able to see the actual apartment that you will be renting because it is still occupied. Many people make the decision to go ahead and put down the deposit and apply if they like the property and the model appeals to them. Apartments rent out so quickly -- if you wait to see it, it'll be rented out to someone else who was willing to rent sight-unseen. Be sure and find out from the leasing agent if you will have the option to see the apartment before you sign the lease, and get clear about refund of your deposit if the apartment isn't what you expected and does not meet realistic expectations
Rent and other fees: Most apartments, in addition to rent, bill tenants for water, which averages ($10 to $20 a month per occupant), trash pick up, which is around $5 unless it's valet trash and the cost varies per property, from $20 to $35 or so a month, and pest control which is minimal. Most apartments also now require renter's insurance, which you can obtain through your car insurance company or through the apartment complex. Average cost is $10 to $20 a month.
Reviews: If you see questionable reviews about a property online, please ask me about it. Many times apartments get bad reviews from tenants who have specific and personal issues with the management that do not reflect the experience of the larger community. I look at a review and consider the number of reviews positive and negative, the time frame, and also the nature of the reviews. I also consider the size of the community -- the majority of tenants don't post at all.
Applying online: If you decide to apply online, let me know and call the property to be clear about the apartment you are applying for, the amount of rent and the availability. Most apartments allow you to apply through their websites with a credit card. There are some apartments that don't have that set up on their websites, and so you'll need to have the leasing agent email you a copy of the application and do the process through the mail. When you apply, please be sure and list me as your referral on the application. Look for the section that says, "how did you find us" or "who referred you" and then write "Top Texas Apartments". Please do not check "Apartment Finder" on the application as that is another company.