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Once you finally find an apartment, after weeks or months of searching, it will be time to sign the rental agreement.
While contract lawyers and real estate agents are very familiar with this step, you will probably need to understand what is usually included in a standard contract and what you will need.
To make sure the signing process can go through without any hiccups, there are a few steps you can take beforehand to prepare. You will want to have all of the paperwork that the property owner or leasing agent will need complete the rental agreement. Many property owners require that tenants provide their apartment history and authorize them to run a credit check. Some may ask renters for other references from professional or personal sources. If you have not already put a down payment on the home, you should consider bringing some form of payment to make the deposit on the spot if you decide you want the place before it goes to someone else. Look at the list below to determine what you may need to prepare to bring to your next lease signing.
Your new landlord may request a few different forms of photo ID depending on your individual situation. You can usually use any valid form of photo ID when initiating the renting process with an agent, but you will eventually need to show either a driver’s license, state ID card or passport if you are not a U.S. citizen. The landlord will make a photocopy and note down your information, returning the document to you immediately. There is no reason for them to need your ID for any longer period of time.
While not every property owner will run a credit check, the vast majority will. To run a credit check, your landlord will need your Social Security Number (SSN). Some may require you to show them your official SSN card while others will simply ask you to provide them information for them to check later. Like your ID, there is no reason they should need to keep you SSN card for any extended period of time. Because running multiple credit checks on your account can negatively affect your credit rating, make sure to only provide your SSN when you are sure you want to move into a place.
If you are renting an apartment in a country that you are not a citizen of, you will probably have to show proof of your legal residency in the country. If you are a non-citizen, make sure you bring a copy of your visa or other government-issued document to the lease signing. Like with your ID, the landlord should make a photocopy of the document before handing it back to you immediately.
Before a property owner signs a rental agreement with you, he or she wants to know if you have the means to make regular payments throughout the lease period. This typically means that they will ask you to demonstrate that you either have access to or have a job that is expected to pay you enough for your housing costs to make up 30 percent or less of your monthly budget. To see if you meet these requirements, some landlords will ask to see copies of your most recent tax returns so that they can check out your earnings in the last year. If you changed jobs or plan on otherwise earning significantly more money this year than you did last year, you should make sure the landlord understands your situation. You may be asked to provide supporting documentation to back up your claim.
If the property owner does not ask you for your most recent tax returns or you plan on paying all of next year’s rent with your savings, be prepared to hand over information about your bank account. There is no reason the landlord should need to know your bank account or routing number, so you can print out your transactions and black out those numbers. They will be looking for incoming and outgoing transactions and a base sum large enough to cover your expenses for the upcoming year.
Especially if you have recently changed employers and plan on earning significantly more in the coming year than you did in the past year, your landlord will probably ask you for some proof of employment and of your expected salary. It may suffice to provide a couple recent pay stubs or receipts of direct deposits into your account. If necessary, you can ask your employer to write an official letter declaring your past and expected earnings. Your bank may be able to help you with such documentation as well. People who are self-employed may have difficulty with this requirement and may need to ask if they can provide an alternative proof of economic resources to meet the property owner’s requirements.
Some property owners will ask you to show them a timeline of your job history with contact information for previous employers. The primary reason they ask for this information is to establish if you can hold a job and are seen as a trustworthy person. They probably will not need to contact your employers, but you may want to let any unsuspecting contacts know that you have included their name and information on your list. You should not need to include every job you have ever had, but at least the employers you have worked with in the last five years.
Some less surprising information you will probably have to provide the leasing agent or property owner is a copy of your rental history. This information is used to establish if you are a dependable tenant and have been honest about your experience in the area. Some landlords may contact your previous landlords to ask if you followed the building regulations or got along with your neighbors. You will probably have to provide information on the addresses and telephone numbers of property managers for whatever rental properties you have had in at least the last five years.
Expect the property owner to ask for references. may specify who these references must be: former landlords, employers, friends or anyone you know. It is a good idea to get a recommendation from your landlord whenever you leave an apartment to make this part of signing the lease as easy as possible. Make sure whatever recommendations you do receive include the signer’s name, address and phone number for easy contact. In most cases, these inquires have to do with your behavior as a tenant, your respect for regulations and how well you got along with the nearby community. Do not hide anything concerning your renting history from your new landlord as this could undermine your relationship.
If your new apartment will include access to private parking facilities or your own dedicated parking spot, you will probably have to provide your vehicle registration number and proof of your valid auto insurance. This is so that the building administration will be able to identify your car. Private parking is an incredible benefit if you are moving to a congested area. If you have negotiated a parking spot as part of your rental price, this information will help make sure you have exclusive access to your dedicated spot.
If you have yet to pay the complete down payment on the apartment you plan to move into, make sure you bring some form of payment with you to the lease signing. Checks can be particularly useful in this situation, but many landlords will accept payment deposits in cash, credit or money order.