Before starting your search for your new rental apartment or home, you need to understand first what will likely be required by your new landlord before you get approved. These requirements are not set in stone and may be different depending on the landlord and the property. However, we strongly recommend being ready for any situation. Thus, here is a punch list of things to take into account before starting your search:
1. You need a copy of an official picture I.D. Typically a valid driver’s license of any of the 50 states should be enough. However, if you are a tenant coming from overseas, you will need to provide a copy of your passport and visa.
2. You will need a credit report. The number one concern for any landlord is the ability for the prospective tenant to pay rent on time and without issues. Thus, a good credit rating strengthens your offer and may allow you some bargaining power. Make sure you get one before beginning your rental search.
3. You should get a background check. There are two ways to go about this, one being getting an official background check from your county police department (this is free of charge), and the other getting a background check and credit report, both for about $35, through an online tenant screening company such as landlordstation.com. Ask your real estate agent about the best options in your area.
4. You must show proof of income. If you are currently employed, you will need to provide a copy of your W2 form or the last three months of pay stubs. The landlord may also require the last three months of bank statements. If you are in between jobs or recently moved to South Florida, then proof of funds to cover at least 6 months of rent plus other normal living expenses is highly recommended to make a good case to the landlord.
5. At least one tenant application must be completed. Often landlords require prospective tenants to complete an application as part of the tenant’s application package. In addition, if the property is part of a home owners association (HOA), you will need to be approved by the HOA upon completing their requirements and filling their own application form. When dealing with HOAs, expect an application fee of between $100 to $150 for one person and $150 to $250 for a couple/family (minors do not need to complete an application). Also, HOAs may require some of the items previously listed as part of the HOA’s tenant application package.
6. You need generally no less than the equivalent of three months of rent to move-in. These three months of rent are usually broken-down into first moth, last month and one month Security Deposit.
7. Every adult planning to move to the new rental apartment or home should be included in the lease. Whether you are married or just roommates, if you are an adult and you are living together you must be on the lease. It is common to see sometimes one person applying as the tenant and another, i.e. spouse, fiancé or roommate, attempting to move in as an occupant or resident. Frequently this practice backfires and creates problems and unnecessary inconveniences at time of moving-in that should have been addressed and avoided from the beginning.
8. Pet policy can be a real headache. Often landlords prefer tenants without pets because of concerns of future damages to their property. Therefore, it is a common challenge for pet owners to find a home that match their criteria and accept pets as well. It is always best to be upfront with the landlord even if he has listed the property as NOT pet friendly, since often that can be negotiated with a pet deposit (this is only true if the HOA, if any, allows pets in the premises of the development).
9. Always get renters insurance. For a small monthly fee of $10 to $20 you are protected and the landlord is too. This will be a major plus in your favor when the landlord assesses the different rental applications and it is mandatory in many cases by landlords, particularly those renting townhomes and single family homes.
10. Often overlooked, your agent should verify that the property you want to rent is not going through a foreclosure process. A few years ago, during the 2008-2012 real estate debacle, it was common to see tenants moving unknowingly to properties waiting to be sold in foreclosure auctions. Although less common now, you want to be sure that the landlord is paying the mortgage, if any, on time, and that you won’t have to move unwantedly a few months down the line. Doing proper due-diligence is key to a smooth transaction.
If you follow the recommendations stated above and gather all the information you need before starting your rental property search, you are guaranteed to have a much smoother and pleasant experience in your home hunting quest. In addition, you will make life a lot easier to your agent and future landlord and possibly get a price reduction in the end.
Real Estate Professional
Miami Properties Network