You’ve been searching for ages for the perfect rental property to move into. You’ve spent dozens of hours online scrolling through listings. You’ve spent nights and weekends traipsing through property after property. All of a sudden, a beacon of light! You’ve just found a great property you’d love to have. After every other property you’ve looked at, virtually or in person, this is the one that checks all of the boxes for you.
That’s just the start of the process. Now that you’ve found the perfect property to rent in Virginia, you need to be poised and ready to present the perfect application to go along with it that has a higher chance of being approved, and approved quickly, or you’re back to square one. Looking for a home to rent can be time-consuming and stressful. A great property will often have several applications on it. Only one can be accepted, so even if you are highly qualified and offering full price, there is no guarantee that yours is the one that will be accepted.
How do you tip the odds in your favor?
Ironically, one of the biggest reasons another application is chosen first is that it has been filled out completely with nothing missing. Incomplete or no information, or contact information for references, stalls the processing of your application.
Here’s a broad outline of suggestions on how to make your application better.
Most companies prefer that applications are submitted online through their portal. Follow the requested procedures. The reason online applications are so popular is that it greatly expedites the process. If it is a property managed by a professional property management company, don’t waste your money getting a separate credit check through Zillow or other sites. Companies want to run their own credit reports, and it will usually always be the same processing fee.
In the application, make sure that all fields are fully completed. We cannot stress this enough. Commonly, telephone numbers or email addresses for references are missing. Companies WILL verify the information provided, but they need to be able to contact the rental and job references.
If there are three good applications, and they haven’t been able to verify your information, they’ll just go with the strongest one with verifiable information, and you lose the property.
Lease Terms and Expectations
While you are working with an agent, it is imperative that if you have special requests or expectations that your lease is conditional on, make sure to put it in the application. Has the agent said that the property will be painted? Note that in the application. Do you want any other work or lease terms? Write it. Once the lease is signed, it is considered the full agreement between the parties. Virginia law does not recognize oral contracts in real estate, so it’s critical that your expectations are clearly outlined even if you have discussed them and “come to agreement” with the agent or owner.
Do you need a transfer clause? Please include that request.
Be clear on when you want the lease to start, and how long a lease term you are offering. Please disclose all pets and breed in your application. Some insurance companies have restrictions on the type of dog breeds that are permitted in the property, and the landlord has no responsibility to accept a dog that will void his insurance.
If you have a service dog or emotional support animal, our company requires that the applicant submit to a third-party verification of the animal’s status, for an additional application fee per pet. The fee goes directly to the third party.
While it’s great to have a wish list of everything you would like to have done to the property, be realistic. In the Northern Virginia area, most property landlords are not breaking even, and a long list of requests may cause them to back away from your application.
Many residential rentals are not completely painted between each tenant. Carpeting will not be replaced because of a stain. If the issues are deal-breakers for you, you need to outline that in your application, and understand that your request may not be accepted.
Our leases require that a tenant have carpets professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy. A new tenant going in should expect the carpets to be cleaned, but again, always write every expectation into the application.
Fill out all Fields on Application
There may seem like there are some fields that don’t apply to you. That might be the case, but it never hurts to verify with the application processor, who will know what they need.
Be Prepared with Supporting Docs
Expect to provide a copy of your government-issued current ID. If you don’t have a US ID, as in the case of diplomats, then a copy of your passport will be required. There are stringent requirements put in place by the government to verify residency. You will also need to provide proof of income. That is typically the two most recent paystubs or most recent W2 or 1099. Self-employed individuals need to provide the first two pages of the last two years of tax returns. Military personnel should submit a copy of their LES. If you have child support orders, those should be provided. If you are relying on assets to qualify for a property, make sure you have recent bank statements. The more income verification you offer, the stronger your application will be considered.
Provide Residential History
If you were renting, make sure to provide the contact information for your landlord. If you have a pet, ask for a reference letter. If you owned your own home, your mortgage history will be used for verification
Understand the Qualifications
At Peake Property Management, we use the following qualification guidelines:
- Annual income equal to or greater than 40 times the monthly rent. In the case of three or more adults applying together, the combined two lowest incomes must meet that qualification.
- Two years of employment, with verifiable income documentation.
- Two years of positive rental or mortgage payment history.
- Good credit.
- Each non-dependent person over the age of 18 applying to lease the property must submit a separate application.
- Processing and approval may take three to five business days from the receipt of the completed application.
While qualifications may vary, depending on whom you apply with, it is critical that you understand the minimum qualifying guidelines BEFORE applying. There is no point in wasting time and money submitting an application that doesn’t meet minimum guidelines. However, on occasion a landlord may consider additional security deposit, prepaid rent, or a co-signer even if you don’t qualify. It’s better to ask the question first.
Be Prepared to Pay the Fee
The application fee is generally expected prior to the processing of the application. The application fee varies between $35 and $75. If you’re doing an online application, you can usually pay the fee at the same time. Don’t let yours be held up and the property swooped away because another person has applied.
Will My Application Fee Be Refunded?
Whether your application is accepted or not, it still takes time to process. If the application has been processed and rejected, it is unlikely that the fee will be returned to you. It’s generally considered non-refundable. That’s a good reason to make sure that you qualify, are offering reasonable terms, and have provided all of the necessary information for you to be accepted.
During the Negotiation Period
Everyone is human. You want the application processor on your side. While it can be a frustrating time, never forget to speak and act courteously with the people you are dealing with. Sometimes the tipping point can be choosing the prospect who is the easiest to work with. After all, it’s going to be a long-term relationship and who wants to deal with years of difficulty?
Each application has its own set of circumstances, but this general outline will ensure you are well-positioned to expedite your application. We hope you find this helpful and that it gets you into your next rental, faster and with fewer headaches!
Stay tuned, as we continue with lease negotiations and lease terms next time.
If you have any questions regarding an application you’re working on or would like to apply to one of the properties we manage, don’t hesitate to give our friendly Peake Management team a call today! They’d be glad to help this process or answer any questions you might have.