Updated: Sep 22, 2019
You finally pulled the trigger and applied for your new apartment. You went through the lengthy application, paid your application fee, gave them tons of information about your job history, rental history, employer, etc. etc. Then you hear nothing...days are slowing dragging by and nothing. You start to think you won’t be approved. Why is your rental application taking so long to process?
THE RENTAL APPLICATION PROCESS
Most applications take 2-3 days to process and for a decision to be made, however, there are instances where it may take longer. In Texas, the law deems an applicant has been rejected after seven days from the date the person submits a complete rental application. See Texas Property Code 92.352. However, I have seen a few applications get approved after the 7th day because of an unforeseen delay in getting information - such as the previous Landlord is on vacation and can't send back the rental verification form.
So what is the prospective Landlord looking for? Basically, there are four elements that are looked at when processing an application. The first two are - credit check and background check. Those reports can literally just take minutes to an hour or so to get back. The next two items are what can slow down the application process to a snail's pace! Your employment verification and rental history reports. In order for the Landlord to collect that information they must send the appropriate form to your employer to gather data such as length of employment and verify your income. The Landlord will also send the rental verification forms to the current and possibly past Landlords. The rental verification forms will typically ask dates of lease, how many late pays you had, how many NSF checks, any lease violations, any evictions filed, if you turned in appropriate notice, if you left owing the property money AND would they lease to you again.
Unfortunately, often these forms are sent and not returned in a prompt manner. Then follow up begins on trying to get them back! The apartment community may not be able to approve an application without getting this information back. What I tell my clients that are waiting for the application to be approved or denied...is be patient NOT silent. The squeaky wheel really does get the grease!! In this case, it is important not to be an annoying "squeaky wheel" but don't disappear!
TIPS TO APPLY
1. In Texas, the Landlord is required to give you the apartment community's rental criteria BEFORE you apply. Read it carefully, if you do not meet the criteria you are at risk of application rejection. If the Landlord does not provide the tenant selection criteria, and you apply and the application is denied then you are entitled to the return of ALL fees that you paid including the application fee! See Texas Property Code Section 92.3515.
2. When filling out the application, DO NOT leave any blank spaces, if something does not apply write in N/A for not-applicable. Write in print and legibly if you are filling it out by hand. Make sure the dates you provide are as accurate as possible in regards to employment hire date and previous residences.
3. Make sure all of the contact details for your previous Landlords and Employer are accurate and give as many possible ways to contact them. Phone numbers, fax numbers, and email addresses should all be given.
4. When you turn in your application and fees, ask how long the application takes to process? Also, ask what is refundable if you are denied. Most application fees are non-refundable, occasionally the administration fee is not refundable either. In Texas, the application deposit is refundable if the application is denied. See Texas Prop code 92.351.
5. After application submission, wait 24-48 hours before you start following up. By the end of day two or beginning of day three it is time to make a call. Simply, ask for the leasing agent that helped you and politely say, "Can you please give me a status update on my application?" Many times the agent will tell you - you've been approved, I was just about to call you! Or he/she will tell you what they are waiting on. If it is something you can help with such as your HR department hasn't sent back your employment verification form, then make a call to your HR dept. Do what you can and then sit back and be patient for a full 24 hours. The following day around the same time, call again, and request an update. If you get to day five and the application is still not fully processed then ask for the manager. Again, be polite - even though you are frustrated - notify the manager when you submitted your application and ask if there is anything you can do to help get the application processed.
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