What Do You Need to Rent an Apartment?

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What Do You Need to Rent an Apartment?
You'll need to gather a few basic items when renting an apartment. (apartment for rent image by dead_account from Fotolia.com)

You need several items when meeting with a landlord to rent an apartment. Some items, such as references and a security deposit, are required by most landlords. Some landlords also ask for proof of income, a co-signer or extra fees. Be certain to have these items ready, as many landlords require them before signing the lease.


An apartment reference is a former landlord who can attest you paid your rent on time and were otherwise a good tenant. Usually, prospective tenants only need to provide one reference, though a landlord may be suspicious if your reference is not your most recent landlord. If you have no previous landlord because you have never rented an apartment, your current employer can serve as your reference.

Security Deposit

A security deposit is money given to the landlord as a bond for good treatment of his property. Money equal to one to two months' rent is the usual amount for a security deposit. The landlord will require this amount when you sign the lease, and will return the amount to you at the end of your lease. According to the National Landlord Tenant Guides, fees for destruction of property or cleaning the property may be deducted from the deposit.

What Do You Need to Rent an Apartment?
Security deposits are usually equal to a month and a half of rent, on average. (Cash image by Greg Carpenter from Fotolia.com)

Proof of Income

Many landlords ask for proof of a source of income allowing you to pay your rent. A recent wage stub, W2 form or letter from a current employer are all acceptable proofs. If you are not currently employed, the landlord will want to know how you plan to meet your monthly rent and may also require a co-signer.

What Do You Need to Rent an Apartment?
Prospective tenants must prove they have the means to pay monthly rent. (keyboard with -salary- button image by air from Fotolia.com)


Landlords may require a co-signer if you do not have a current source of income or are very young. A co-signer is someone who signs your lease and is legally required to meet its financial obligations if you cannot. Anyone who has the ability to pay your rent and other tenant fees if you run out of money, leave town or otherwise fail to meet the monetary requirements of your lease can be a co-signer.

What Do You Need to Rent an Apartment?
Family members or friends can be co-signers. (signer pour la vie image by julien from Fotolia.com)

Extra Fees

Some applicants must pay their landlord a credit check fee; this amount is used to pay one of the credit history companies for information on your financial situation. Twenty to thirty dollars is an average amount for a credit check. Landlords of large or high-demand buildings often also require a small fee for the time spent processing a prospective tenant's application materials.

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