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Understanding the Documents Involved

What You'll Learn

  • As part of the rental application process, it’s likely you’ll need to provide documents that verify your income and employment
  • Your lease is very important – be sure to read it carefully
  • Be sure to conduct a walk-through inspection of your home before signing a lease

Application documents

As part of your rental application process, it’s likely that you’ll need to provide documentation that verifies your identity, income and employment, as well as your rental and credit history. All of these documents help the landlord determine whether you will pay your rent on time and take good care of the property.

  • Identification. You'll need to verify who you are with some sort of identification, such as a driver’s license. In many cases the landlord will use your driver’s license to run a credit check, and possibly a background check.
  • Income Verification. Be prepared to provide copies of your pay stubs, tax returns, or bank statements. Some landlords may also want to contact your employer to verify your employment.
  • Credit Report. Landlords will typically pull your credit report and charge you an application fee to cover the cost. Some landlords may accept a recent copy of your credit report, saving you a few dollars.
  • Rental History. Write down your previous rental addresses and landlords contact information. It’s easier to have this list in advance rather than trying to find a previous landlord’s email address while sitting in the rental office.
  • References. Have a list of a few personal and professional references and their contact information. Let your references know that landlords may contact them.


Did you know that a driver's license number is sufficient to run your credit report and it's not necessary to provide your Social Security Number?

Leasing documents

  • Walk-through inspection report. Make every effort to do a walk-through inspection of the property with the landlord before you sign a lease. Request a walk-through inspection report that documents any damage or wear and tear before you move in to protect yourself from being held responsible later on.
  • Lease. The lease is a legally binding contract that spells out all the terms of your rental. Be sure to read the lease, carefully, line-by-line. Ask the landlord about any questions you may have and ask to modify the language, if needed. Be sure you are clear on what happens if you must break the lease early and what happens at the end of the lease term. For example, does it go month-to-month?

 Key Takeaways

  1. A lease is a legally binding contract. Make sure you understand all the terms in the lease before you sign it.

  2. Be prepared with copies all of the documents a landlord needs for a rental application

  3. Be sure to correct any errors on your credit history before you start looking for a rental

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