Since you already have all your personal, employment and financial data prepared, you can complete an application on the spot. Most rental landlords will make a decision in about 24 hours. If there is hesitation on the landlord's part, he/she is probably looking for a better qualified applicant, so keep looking and keep applying. Nothing’s a done deal until you sign the lease.
As part of the application process, the landlord will most likely charge you a credit report fee.
Credit Report fee - Typically, this fee is from $25 per person to $75 per person applying, including a credit report on the guarantor, if any. This fee is non-refundable.
Each landlord will want to run their own credit report on you and your co-applicants and guarantors for two reasons;
- To be sure that it is an authentic report and not one that has been doctored digitally to make it look better than it really is, and
- Because credit reports are a “profit center” for many landlords, helping to defray the cost of personnel that handle the apartment leasing.
TIP: Volunteer to add financial incentives to your application if you know you have a weak credit history. Offer to supply a guarantor or to prepay a portion of the rent as part of your application.
TIP: Volunteer more information on the application if you have weak credit due to a one-time lapse (for example, you were hospitalized or you lost your job). Have a pre-prepared cover letter as part of your application to explain what your difficulty was and how you have overcome it.
Renting in a co-op building
Renting a co-op or condo apartment is usually a two step process. The apartment owner will review your application. Then, if it’s acceptable, the apartment owner will ask you to prepare a second application for the co-op/condo’s Managing Agent.
Renting an apartment in a co-op is technically “subletting from the shareholder” and the application you complete is referred to as the co-op sublet package.
Each Managing Agent has unique application requirements and each package should come with a checklist of the necessary items for the co-op/condo Board to review.
Many landlords, condos, and co-ops require you to pay a processing fee that could be as much as $400. A processing fee is not unusual and is entirely legal.
Furthermore, there will almost always be significant delays in applying to rent an apartment in a co-op building, with one exception I’ll discuss towards the end of this section.