What to Bring to a Lease Signing

Signing the lease to your new apartment should be a joyous occasion. But if you come unprepared, it can delay the process.

Lease agreements are legally binding documents between tenant and landlord or property owner, landlords do not want to rent to irresponsible renters. Which is why they ask for proof of identity, proof of employment, rental history, and references from all potential tenants. It is also common for landlords to ask potential renters to fill out a formal apartment application to better determine their candidacy. Submitting an apartment application is similar to a job application. You want to make sure that your application is taken seriously, and that you are presenting yourself in the best light. By bringing all of the necessary documents with you to sign your lease, you will be one step closer to getting the keys to your new apartment and decorating it to make it feel more like home.

Bring Proof of Identity

Signing a rental lease is a significant financial decision. As such, you will need to show proof of your identity. For a person to rent an apartment, they will need to have a government-issued ID. It can be a state driver’s license, a non-driver ID card, or a non-expired passport. To save time, make sure you carry your proof of identity with you to all apartment tours. Potential landlords will want a copy of your ID for their records, so it may be helpful to bring a few photocopies with you.

Your Social Security Number

While it is essential to be wary of who you share your Social Security Number with, your potential landlord is not one of them. Landlords and property managers use Social Security Numbers to check potential renter’s credit scores and reports. Not providing yours can keep you from getting your dream apartment.

Proof of Employment

Landlords are in the business of making money. Therefore, they want to rent to people who have a steady income. Otherwise, they risk having tenants who do not pay rent and whom they will have to evict. Potential renters can use several documents to show their proof of employment, such as their last two pay stubs or two recent bank statements that show their account balance. Or, if the tenant is self-employed, they can show their most recent tax return. If possible, prospective tenants can get a letter of employment on company letterhead, which includes information such as job title, base salary and bonuses, and the date of hire. When apartment hunters find an apartment that they like and begin to correspond with the landlord, they should be sure to ask the property managers what can be used as proof of employment.

List of Previous Jobs

Landlords prefer tenants that are not only employed but who can keep a job. And you can show potential landlords your worth as an employee by preparing a list of previous employment. When you go to sign an apartment lease, you should bring a copy of your job history. Like a resume, it should detail where you currently work and a few places you have previously worked. It shows landlords that you are a potentially stable tenant and that you should have no problems with making rent each month.

List of your Past Addresses

Landlords do not want to rent to irresponsible people, which is why many landlords ask potential tenants for a list of their past addresses. You should include the property names, the addresses, and the contact information for your previous landlords and property managers. You should also add how long that you lived there, how much you paid in rent and your reason for moving out. Generally, you should include at least two to three addresses, if applicable. But you can add as many as you please.

List of References

Most landlords want a list of references, and it is common for rental applications to have separate sections for references. On your application, you should include both professional and personal references. They can consist of bosses or former bosses, past and current coworkers and people who you met in non-profit or educational settings. You should aim to provide at least two references. They should be people that can attest to your character, and who will paint you in the best light. Your younger brother might not be the best reference, but your manager or colleague could be. When you write down each reference, make sure to add your relationship and their contact information. Nevertheless, before you give away a references phone number or email address, be sure to ask them for permission.

It is worth noting that some landlords or property managers may want you to include one or two letters of recommendations. You can include people on your list of references, as long as they are credible. Make sure that the letters not only look professional but are dated and signed by the appropriate person.

Check, Money Order or Cashier’s Check

When it comes time to sign a lease, your new landlord expects you to bring all required deposits, which typically includes first and last month’s rent and a security deposit. But you may also need to pay application fees and parking fees. So, to be safe, bring a few extra checks with you at signing. It is crucial to note that you need to know how your landlord expects payments before signing. While most landlords accept online payments for rent, many do not accept checks for initial deposits with most requesting a money order or a cashier’s check. Not being prepared for signing can not only irritate your potential landlord, but it could allow another renter to swoop in and close on your dream apartment.

Vehicle Registration and Proof of Insurance

Most apartment complexes have limited parking spots, especially in large, metropolitan cities. Therefore, apartment complexes typically assign parking spaces for tenants, which means that they will need your vehicle and insurance information. Generally, landlords and property managers will want to know the make, model, year, and color of your vehicle, along with the license plate number. Having this information on file will prevent your car from accidentally being towed or flagged as an unauthorized vehicle.

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