This’ll cover the basics, such as financial expectation, rental history, what to bring for the application process, etc.
FIRST PLACE?: Don’t sweat it. What’s likely is you’ll have a higher deposit, or need lots of references, or have a longer lease. Come prepared with reference letters from employers, non-family friends you’ve known at least a year, volunteer mentors. This will make you look awesome.
If you can get out on your own without any hitches, you should do it. If you’re in the process of getting booted out by family because they don’t want to support you anymore, or you’ve had enough and are deciding to save up the smallest amount possible to get out fast (see “how much should I save?”), as long as you follow the rest of the steps below, all should be well.
Sometimes (not always; just sometimes) when you live in an area where the rent is just not in your price range at all and you don’t want to move away from a place you know, it helps to have a friend who’s been renting a while and becoming roommates. You essentially ride in on their rental history and in doing so, you build up some cred yourself. Plus, then you have not only your future manager’s reference, but a personal/roommate reference. Everyone should have a couple roommates in their life, so they can figure out how to co-habitate. Family doesn’t count, and be careful housing with close friends because it might test your friendship. You might be saying “Oh, no! We’re best friends! If I can’t live with my best friend—” but trust me: long-term friendships have ended because of roommate situations. After doing this, then you can live completely on your own.
If you don’t have a credit card, get one. Buy little things on credit you know you can afford; pay them off within the first two weeks of purchasing them. Do this early and often, and you’ll look awesome. Don’t trust credit cards? Check if your bank will let you take out a personal loan. Make it smallish, ranging $350-$500. Go on a mini-vacation, or buy yourself a video game console, or a couple new outfits that are in fashion. Pay it back monthly in double the minimum payment, and pay on time. Having credit is essential if you want an apartment. Also, having this little cache of… cash… will help you with your moving costs.
PROOF OF INCOME?: You need it. Are you a student? Bring in your financial aid award letter. Are you self-employed? Bring in bank statements and 1099’s/tax documentation. Working hourly 9-5? Three months of paystubs should suffice. Is your sugar daddy/momma paying your rent? They need to be put on the lease as a guarantor/co-signer.
HOW CAN YOU IMPROVE YOUR RENTAL SCORE?: Your rental score results from information found in your credit report, criminal history, references, and application data. Such information may include your history of paying bills and rent, the accounts you have, collections and delinquencies, income and debt.
Your rental score may change if the underlying information it is based upon changes. To improve your score, concentrate on paying your bills on time, paying down outstanding balances, and removing incorrect information. Your chances of approval may also improve if you apply for an apartment with lower monthly rent, or use a guarantor or co-signer if permitted by Management.