Why Was My Apartment Application Denied?

(DISCLAIMER: ALL RENTAL COMPANIES HAVE THEIR OWN EVALUATION METHODS AND THE APPLICANT WOULD NEED TO CONTACT THEM DIRECTLY TO UNDERSTAND THEIR APPLICATION STATUS.)


Applied for a Traditional Apartment? This is why you may have been denied.

Infographic thoroughly explaining the possible reasons the application for application denial.
Why Was My Apartment Application Denied Infographic

When your application for an apartment is denied, it can leave you feeling frustrated, sad, and angry. If you look at your application, you could be confused as to what went wrong? An important part of lease agreements and renting that you shouldn’t forget is that a rejected application is not a personal rejection. When apartments become available, landlords receive many applications from people of all backgrounds and life stages. Every application must be fact-checked and will need to meet the landlord’s requirements before you can be considered for a lease.


If Your Application for a Traditional Apartment is Denied, there are Steps You Can Take to Improve the Success of Your Next Application.


Having your application for an apartment denied is not the greatest news. This is especially true when you have your heart set on it, or you have a family, and you need a place to rent.


In our guide to “Why your apartment application was denied?” you can learn what landlords are looking for in a future tenant, how to strengthen your application, and the steps to successful apartment hunting.


The following tips are offered for traditional apartments and not for affordable or second chance apartments.


Apartment Building that is red and white.
Apartment Hunting is Not Always Fun!

How Do I Know if I'll Get Approved for an Apartment?

When you apply to rent an apartment, your future landlord wants to know if you’ll be a reliable tenant. To understand whether you’ll get approved for an apartment, you should know what will be reviewed in your application.


What is Reviewed in an Apartment Application?

Your credit history is always assessed when you apply for an apartment. A credit score is practically a reflection of your financial habits and history. A positive score (credit scores of 600 or more) indicates that you don’t have debts and that you exercise good financial management. Lower scores may indicate difficulties with debt and financial practices. Remember, a lower credit score indicates that your accounts could be overdue, and you aren’t paying your expenses as you should. This can place the landlord in a difficult position because he or she could believe that you won’t manage to pay your rent on time.


Other factors that are examined in your application include employment history, proof of income, and rental history. Sometimes a background check is also completed. You can learn more about your apartment application by visiting our guide on How to Be Approved for an Apartment.


Jump To:

  1. What do Landlords Look for in Rental Applications?

  2. How do Landlords Choose Between Tenants?'


A lady holding some paperwork while looking at a computer s screen.
All Landlords Will Review Your Information in its Entirety.

How is a Rental Application Processed?


Applications are processed according to the following checks:


  • Credit check

  • Rental history

  • Employment history

  • Proof of income

  • Background checks


Processing Time for Applications - A rental application can take 24 to 72 hours to process. What if you submitted your apartment application and you’re reaching the 72-hour mark? Does it mean that you’re not approved, or should you call the office to find out if your application got lost along the way? The processing of rental applications depends on the landlord and the laws of your state. A landlord can take 24 hours to get back to you while some states give landlords 7 days to accept or reject applications.


If you’ve previously rented an apartment, documents concerning your rental history are sent to the new landlord and must be verified before the application is processed. A potential landlord wants to know if you are a good tenant, whether you pay the rent on time, or whether you’ve broken a lease in the past. It can take some time for future landlords and management to gather this information.


a sketch of a working system
Remember that Everything is a Process

How Will I Know If My Application for an Apartment Was Denied?


You will receive notification in writing (email) and telephonically from your landlord or their management team concerning the outcome of your lease application. Remember, you need to give the landlord and his or her team some time to process the application. If 3 days have passed, contact the administration to find out what is happening with the approval.

What Do I Do if My Apartment Application is Denied?

It’s certainly not a good feeling when you get the news that your application was rejected. But rather than feel angry or lash out at the landlord, we encourage you to try to understand why it was denied. When you know what went wrong and how to improve it, you can avoid getting your apartment application denied again.


There are many factors that cause the denial of a lease. To help you understand why your apartment application was denied, let’s explore a few reasons your approval may not go through.

Your Gross Income Did Not Meet the Requirements

Apartment applications are based on your gross income. This is your income before tax and other deductions. If your monthly rent exceeds 30% of your gross income, your landlord may believe that you cannot afford the rent and deny the lease application.

For applicants who have just started a new job, your application can be rejected based on a lack of employment history. Be sure to check both the income and employment requirements before applying.


If you are sharing with a roommate, your intention is obviously to split the rent; however, landlords will look at whether each applicant can cover the rent on their own. This is in case one tenant pulls out of the lease, the remaining lessee should be able to cover the full rent until another roommate is found.

Your Credit Score or Credit History is Poor


Bad credit or no credit can deny your apartment application. While poor credit does not mean you cannot apply for an apartment, it does make applying for a traditional apartment a lot harder.


For those with a less than ideal credit history, first, contact the landlord to discuss your financial situation. In some cases, landlords can request a higher security deposit or recommend a co-signer to secure the place. If you have bad credit, be sure to check out our Credit 101 Blog. We break down simple steps you can take to improve your financial circumstance and your future rental approval.


You Have Not Provided References

When you contact a former landlord or an employer for a reference, ensure you are on good terms. A poor reference or a lack thereof can deny your apartment application.

A Background Check


If landlords or property managers decide to do some digging into your background and find inconsistent information on your application, it will automatically disqualify your application for a lease. Background checks can reveal financial information, criminal history, and personal details that you may not want to share. Fortunately, our Tips to Pass Your Background Check Like a Pro can help you learn what to include in your application and how to improve personal information kept on record.


a computer screen computing data
All of an Applicants Information is Complied to Make a Decision.

Jump To:

  1. What Landlords Ask Employers When Verifying Your Application?

  2. Can I Lie on a Rental Application?



Can My Application Be Denied if I Paid a Deposit?


Once you apply for an apartment, the landlord or property manager may request a holding deposit and a security deposit. A holding deposit is used to secure the apartment while the paperwork is being processed. This means that the apartment is temporarily held for you until your application is processed and no other applications will be considered during that time. A security deposit is different from a holding deposit. Security deposits are used to cover any property damages that may occur during your lease period.

If you do not pass the credit or background check, then the landlord must refund the holding deposit in full.


A holding deposit can be used towards the first month’s rent if you are approved. You will only pay a security deposit if the apartment application is approved and you sign a lease.


photo of money, dollar bills, tens, twenties and etc.
Did You Pay A Deposit Before Approval?

What Do Landlords Look for in Rental Applications?

When you apply for an apartment at a fair rent and in a good location, you’re most likely going to be competing against a large number of applicants. Apartments that are in high demand will receive multiple applications. To ensure you make the right impression, get your application in early! Let’s look at what you can do to make the rental application stand out and get approved:

Complete the Application in Full


In your rental application, complete all the questions. Be honest about your financial situation and include references to strengthen your position.

Get Your Credit and Personal Information in Order


Landlords can screen potential tenants themselves or they can hire a company to perform the research. Factors including your credit, employment, previous rental history, and any criminal records will be uncovered.


Know Landlord's Qualifications


It is a good idea to contact the landlord or the property manager to learn of their requirements. This will allow you to adhere to these guidelines and improve your apartment application.


Up-close photo of a brown eyeball.
Landlords are Looking at EVERYTHING! BE HONEST!

How Do Landlords Choose Between Tenants?


Being denied an apartment is not the end of your renting journey. When you understand rental criteria and learn what your landlord is looking for, it becomes easier to get approved.

What Does a Landlord Want in a Renter?


Ultimately, landlords want reliable tenants who will pay their rent on time, stick to the communal rules, and maintain the condition of the apartment until the end of the lease. Don’t rush your application. Pay attention, show up to your appointment on time (if you get a call back from the landlord), and be transparent about your personal history. Think about why you are interested in the specific apartment should your future landlord ask.

Do Apartments Really Verify Income?

Yes. Landlords or property managers want to know that you can afford the rent and the deposit. They also want to know that you can afford to pay for any damages you may cause to the property.

Apart from affordability, the verification of your income for a tax credit property is a legal requirement.


If you have started a new job and wish to secure an apartment, consider getting a co-signer to assist in improving your financial position.

Remember, your employment income is not the only source of finances that landlords consider. Savings and interest on investments can also serve as welcome contributions and count towards the verification of your income.

Do Apartments Call Your Employer?


A landlord will contact an employer to check whether you are really working for the company. All the information that you enter on your apartment application must be verified. Not all tenants are honest about the details they present in their paperwork. Landlords will ensure that all contact details are up to date. Understanding the questions that landlords will ask an employer will help you in your application.

What Landlords Ask Employers When Verifying Your Application?

Along with verifying your employment, landlords will determine how long you are working for the company along with proof of income. You should let the employer know that a potential landlord or property manager will be in contact to ask about employment history.

Can I Lie on a Rental Application?

I know what it feels like to have your heart set on an apartment and then to have it denied! If you have poor credit or a previous eviction, you may be tempted to hide a few details. Unfortunately, lying on an apartment application could leave you denied and placed in a bad light.


For those who have been accepted as a tenant, signed a lease, and then the landlord discovers a dishonest application, you can be evicted.


It is simply not worth the risk to enter false information.


A hand completing an application.
Your Completed Rental Application Will Determine Your Approval/Denial.

How You Can Improve the Success of Your Next Apartment Application?

You can feel disappointed that your application was denied but get yourself back up and trying the next one until you find a place to call home. If you do get denied, look at where and how you can improve your interest in a future lease.


Honesty is the best policy, and this applies to your future rental. Provide accurate information, prove to your potential landlord that you will be a valuable tenant, and complete all the questions in the application. Not only does this place the rental application in a positive light but it also helps process and verify the information much faster!


From your rental history to background checks, prepare for an apartment application and you could be signing a new lease in no time!


two hands signing paperwork
Be Sure to Track Why You Were Denied, So You Can Address That Issue.