What is the process for renting a House?
The General Approval Process
First off the terms Lease or Rent are used interchangeably here. Some prefer the term 'lease', while others use the term 'rent'. Don't let it confuse you, from our perspective it's the same thing.
As in the Buying process, when you are thinking about Leasing a Home you need to look at what the landlords will be looking at before you apply so you don't waste your time and money. Application fees can range from $40 per person over 18, to as high as $100 per person, and these fees are NOT refundable. So read through the items below that all landlords will be looking at. Then be honest with yourself, will they find something in any of these categories that will cause them to say 'no' to your application? Remember, they don't know you. They are going to look at your application and verify the information, so now is not the time to forget to mention that you were evicted from an apartment you rented a year or two ago. Sure it was your roommate's fault, but if your name was on the contract, then that eviction will follow you around for a while. And don't be trying to sneak that pit bull of yours in by calling him a mixed breed. Many landlords are asking for photos and even vet records sometimes to make sure the pets are not on the dangerous breed lists. But yours is old and sweet as can be...they don't care. At least the large property management companies don't. It's black and white and straight by numbers for them. If you do have a pit bull or a super low credit score, they typically won't work with you. You might find an individual owner who will listen to your story, but the large companies can't afford to. They look at applications by the numbers, facts, white and black...no grays allowed.
THE APPLICATION PROCESS:
Like looking for a job, the application to rent a home is putting yourself on paper so the landlord can see if there are any red flags that would keep them from renting to you. They will be verifying all the information so again don't think they are taking your word for it.
- Background check -- This will include a criminal history check and evictions on a state and national level. What is acceptable will vary depending on the landlord/property management company. If you have criminal convictions of any kind we recommend that you let us know prior to proceeding so we can check with the landlords to see if they will consider your situation. No sense in wasting your application fees if that single report will blow your application out of the water.
- Rental history -- This is a critical one. If you didn't pay your rent in your previous residences, or you left the place a mess, etc, why would the landlord think this time is going to be any different. On the other side, if you paid on time and left the place better than when you moved in, this goes a long way in telling the prospective landlord how you will be as a tenant. Most will be looking for 2-3 years of verifiable rental history that is not from a family or friend. (I guess they think families and friends won't be honest about how you were as a tenant....) Note: if you owned your own home previously and have no rental history, they will want to see proof that you paid your mortgage on time.
- Income Requirements -- All landlords require proof that you make 3 x the monthly rent.in gross verifiable income in order to qualify. A few companies require 4x the rent. You will be asked to submit recent paycheck stubs along with your application. While many companies will allow combined income for unmarried couples and roommates, we are seeing more and more companies not allow this. If you are not married 1 person of the couple or group will need to qualify on their own with an income of 3x the monthly rent (Too many incidences where one roommate moves out and the other can't afford the rent.)
- Credit -- Your credit will be run and this is probably the part that varies the greatest on what is or is not acceptable to a particular landlord or company. Many use a credit cutoff score of 550. That is, they won't consider someone whose score is under that. In addition to the score itself, they will look at what has caused your score to be low in the first place, such as foreclosure, late mortgage payments, bankruptcies. They will also look at current collections, length of established new credit, or past-due medical bills. It is hard for any company to give you an answer on whether they will accept your credit situation prior to running the actual credit report and seeing what is on there. If you have no idea what they are going to find you might check out running your own credit report and see what it looks like.
- Pets -- Some homes will allow pets, others do not. Some allow cats but not dogs, others say dogs and no cats. Some will allow dogs but will have a weight limit, which means if your Lab is over 35 pounds you might have to skip over several houses that are saying the dog must be under that limit. All in all the policy on pets varies and depends on the owner and typically their history with pets. All will have pet deposits that range from $300-$600 per pet, though we have seen some as much as $1000 which is typically a landlord who doesn't want pets. Also, some of these pet deposits are NOT refundable. So be sure to find out. Just because a landlord allows pets, doesn't mean they'll allow your beloved Rover. Most homes allowing pets will still have BREED RESTRICTIONS. Property managers do not want the liability of power breeds such as Rottweilers and pit bulls. There are some owners who are okay with it, so if you have a large dog or one that is on the 'dangerous breed list' then let us know ahead of time so we can check. Otherwise, you are wasting your time and money. NOTE: Don't try to sneak one in saying it's a mixed breed. Many/most that adhere to not renting to someone with a large/power breed dog will require photos, some will even ask for verification from a vet. They are taking the liability factor seriously. PUPPIES, as a note many will not allow puppies, (usually under 1 year). I guess they've had too much in the way of digging and peeing on carpet to accept the unpredictability of puppies.
- Move-in Date -- Most property managers will hold a home 2-3 weeks, sometimes 4 but not often, after approval.unless the home is currently being occupied. we know this is tough as we've heard many people looking are required to give 2 months' notice at their apartments and don't want to give the notice until they know they have a place to live. However, the landlords want someone in the place...now. The best option, in this case, is to look at homes that are currently occupied. That might give you a bit more time. If the home is vacant, the likelihood they will wait beyond 4 weeks is slim. On the other hand, if you need a place tomorrow you might also have a problem. The approval process takes 2-7 days depending on the company and if a weekend is involved as most property management offices are closed on the weekend. They typically will be happy to have you move into the home upon signing the lease and giving your deposits and first-month rent but only AFTER they have approved you. So typically we recommend that you actively start looking about a month before you will need to move in.
- Co-signers -- Co-signers or guarantors are not always allowed. If you will need a co-signer because you can't qualify on your own, let us know ahead of time so we can provide a list of homes that allow a co-signer.
- Deposits -- While the landlord can charge whatever deposit they want, the typical deposit is equal to one month's rent. In some cases this is required in secured funds (money order or cashier check for example) at the time of application. They want to make sure you have the money. If your application is not approved, they are required to return your security deposit quickly but they are able (and will) keep your application fees as those monies are used to pay for the credit screening. Pet deposits can range from $250 all the way to $1000. We don't often see the high end but there are some owners that really don't want pets so they put a high amount on it to discourage pet owners. These also are often PER PET. So the numbers add up. Some landlords make this refundable at the end of the lease if everything looks good. Others make it NON refundable using the argument they have to treat the home after pets have been in it. Whether they always use it for that purpose, it's hard to say...
- First Months Rent -- Usually when you get your keys to your new home you will be required to pay a FULL MONTHS RENT, even if you are moving in the middle of the month. This is because most landlords and property managers will use this money to pay the agents involved in the process. Then the following month you will pay the prorated amount.
- Lease itself -- Before you sign the lease at least run through the 'fill in the blanks' section. There are standard time frames and amounts, but the fields are left blank for a reason, so that the landlords can put in what they want. Things to check out, how many days do you have before you are late? What is the late fee? is your pet fee refundable? What is the repair policy? At the end of the lease what is the notice and how many days can the landlord put a lockbox on your door in order to show the house for the next tenants? Again there are some standard days, amounts and time frames but you need to read it before you sign. They might not change the amount or number of days, but at least at that point you know what you're committing to.
Requesting a Showing
If you're not totally discouraged after reading the list above, you're ready to proceed. Look at the links we provide for Houses to Rent in Kyle and Buda. If you see any of interest submit the contact form or give us a call. We'll ask you a few questions (repeating some of the questions from above) Not to be nosy but we know the process and we know it's a waste of time (yours and ours) to show you houses for which you won't be qualified. Again if you have a pet, we understand it might be a part of your family, it might be the most well-behaved dog in the world but if the landlord doesn't want pets, he/she doesn't want pets so there's no point in putting it on the list to show, etc. We do our best to make sure you are viewing homes that are available and will actually work with your situation.