Tue. Aug 9th, 2022

Whether you’re a first-time renter looking for an apartment in Chicago, IL, or you’re looking for a new rental in Philadelphia, PA, this is how you can apply for apartments online. With the abundance of online resources today, securing the perfect space can be easier than you might think. From platforms to help with your search to tips on completing the online rental application, you can apply for apartments online in just four easy steps. Read on, and we’ll walk you through it step by step.

online rental applications

1. Start the hunt for your dream apartment 

Use online platforms and tools to narrow down your rental options

Once you’ve determined you need a new apartment, the first step is to investigate what’s available to rent. While the sheer volume of options might be overwhelming, there are several great tools to help focus your search. Start by listing features you’re looking for in your new apartment. 

Of course, your rental budget, desired neighborhood, and the number of bedrooms are essential, but there are many other elements to consider. Features such as available parking, access to laundry – either in the building or in the actual unit, proximity to public transportation, amenities such as workout space, or access to a common room for entertaining guests may all factor into your search. 

Once you have created your list of must-haves and nice-to-haves, it’s time to hit the keyboard and start searching. Online rental listing platforms like Rent have excellent filtering functions that allow you to select your criteria to help narrow down the options. You can filter by all your desired criteria and then sort the results to display in the order that best suits you – for example, price, distance, rating, etc. 

One of the great benefits of apartment searching in the digital age is the accessibility to interactive floor plans, 3-D tours, and virtual walkthroughs. ‘Touring’ from the comfort of your couch saves time and helps you refine your options so you can focus on those you’re genuinely interested in. 

Once you’ve narrowed down the choices to your favorites, your next step is to contact the rental agent, leasing office, or landlord to arrange an in-person tour.

Be flexible if you’re apartment hunting in a competitive rental market

If you’re searching for an apartment in a competitive neighborhood, you may need to be flexible with your apartment hunt. Be ready to reconsider your list of must-haves and floor plans, and you may even consider widening your search radius. You might end up finding your ideal apartment in another neighborhood.   

2. Contact the apartment community and set up a tour 

While your initial research, including virtual walkthroughs and 3-D tours, has helped narrow your list of contenders, nothing can replace an in-person tour of the rental property to give you a sense of space and whether it will work for you. But, again, today’s digital world has also made this step easier. Most apartment communities feature robust websites full of details about their properties. They often will even include contacting the leasing representative and booking an appointment right on the site. 

Tour different floorplans and check out the apartment’s amenities  

You may find it helpful to request tours of a few available units in a single complex during your visit. For example, the complex you’re interested in might have multiple layouts for the same size units or have different access points or views depending on their location within the property. All of these details can influence your impression of a space, and it’s worthwhile to take the time to explore as many options as you can.

While there, check out any apartment amenities that are important to you. Tour the laundry facilities, check out the workout space, walk the grounds and view the neighborhood. You can love your actual apartment, but if you dislike the rest of the area or the immediate community, this might not be the right apartment complex for you.

prospective tenants starting an online apartment search

3. Start your online apartment application  

Many apartments will offer online applications for future residents. Most apartment complex websites offer a one-stop-shop allowing you to apply for a specific unit right from their home page. This provides a convenient way to apply from anywhere and connects your application to the particular unit you’re interested in while you move through the approval process. 

Given that you have to disclose personal and financial information when applying for an apartment, it’s understandable that some might feel hesitant to do so online. You can verify that the site you’re on has a current security certificate – look for the padlock in the address bar – as an added level of comfort.

A major benefit of online applications is that it provides a bias-free screening process. As a tenant, this ensures you will be asked the same questions as every other potential candidate.

What you need to apply for an apartment 

Before filling out the rental application, do yourself a favor and get organized. Gather all the documents and information you’re likely to need so that you don’t have to stop midway through and search for something. This helps you to avoid guessing to fill in missing data, possibly supplying incorrect info, or having the system time out and make you start over.

Along with the basics like your name and social security number, the application will likely ask for details such as current and past employers and contact information for current and previous landlords. Some complexes will ask for your car registration information, or if you’re renting with a pet, you may be asked to provide proof that they are up to date on their vaccines. You should be aware that, similar to submitting an in-person application, there is a fee to submit your online rental application. The cost varies slightly from site to site, but the average fee is about $25.00.

While you may not need everything below, consider gathering the following before you begin:

  • Government-issued identification (driver’s license, passport, etc.)
  • Recent pay stubs
  • Bank statements
  • Letters of recommendation (particularly from former landlords)
  • Social Security number
  • Vehicle registration and proof of insurance
  • Rental history (addresses, dates of occupancy, landlord contact info, etc.)
  • Pet information, if applicable
  • Your bank account information or credit card to pay the application fee and deposit 

4. After you’ve submitted your online rental application

It’s a good idea to contact the leasing office or property manager once you’ve submitted to confirm that they have received your application and ask how long you should expect the approval process to take. During this time, the management team will likely verify your information, perform a background check and credit report, and possibly contact your references. Then, once approved, they will reach back out to you to have you sign your lease and arrange your move-in date.

Many apartment communities have online tenant portals that you can access once you’ve signed your lease. These websites can offer a variety of services to tenants, including the ability to pay rent, see a current balance due, submit repair requests, and even see upcoming events within the apartment community.

apartment properties

Follow these steps for a seamless application process   

Renting a new apartment can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be if you take advantage of all the available online tools and resources to complete your rental application efficiently when applying online. Invest the effort to consider what you’re looking for in a new space, and use all the online search portals and tools to help you save time in your search. Your future self will thank you when you can use that extra time for packing and moving

More articles on applying for apartments: 

Apartment Applications: What to Expect and How to Land the Perfect Pad

How a Guarantor Can Help You Secure an Apartment: Everything You Need to Know

How to Get Approved for an Apartment: 5 Things to Know

The post 4 Steps to Apply for Apartments Online with Ease appeared first on Redfin | Real Estate Tips for Home Buying, Selling & More.

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