What Do You Need to Rent A House: Things to Know

Whether you are renting a house from a landlord who owns one property or a management company that owns many, there is a certain amount of information about yourself you will be required to supply. For instance, you will likely have to fill out an application, provide proof of income, allow a look at your credit report, furnish references, and maybe even consent to a background check.

Different landlords will have different requirements, so once you know what your prospective landlord wants from you, you can start preparing for the process.

A word of advice: Let your references know in advance that you have given the landlord their names and alert your human resources department at work that they will be getting a call to verify your income. That way, no one will be caught off-guard.

Here are the things you need to know when you are ready to rent a house:

You will likely have to satisfy income requirements

The essential requirement to rent a house is the ability to pay the rent. As a rule-of-thumb, many landlords require that you spend no more than 30 percent of your income on rent. For example, say you make $60,000 a year and rent is $1,200 a month, you would qualify because 30 percent of $60,000 equals $18,000 per year or $1,500 per month, so you are comfortably above the requirement.

Remember that the 30 percent limit is not a hard-and-fast rule, and many small-time landlords will rely on their instincts if you are spending more than that amount. They might put more emphasis on a clean credit record, or it could be that you have convinced them that you are hardworking and know how to control your spending.

Your credit score will show if you pay your bills on time

Renting a house is like buying on credit: you will be expected to make your monthly payments on time. If your credit score is high, a landlord will see that you take your financial obligations seriously, and they will be much more comfortable renting a house to you. On the other hand, if you have a history of late payments—or not paying at all—you could be rejected as an unacceptable risk.

Your recent credit history is typically more valuable to a landlord than history from the distant past. If you have been dependable in paying your bills for the last year or two, it will ease a landlord’s mind, even if you had problems years ago. If your credit score is less than excellent, you can always offer to make a larger security deposit or pay an extra month’s rent upfront.

Your background could come under scrutiny

Most landlords believe past behavior predicts future behavior, so they perform a background check to look at your criminal record and find out if you have ever been evicted. If you have domestic abuse, violent crimes, drug dealing, or evictions on your record, it will be extremely challenging for you to find a house to rent. Although you might have personally evolved and will never do any of those things again, many landlords are not willing to take the chance of you continuing that past behavior on their property.

The landlord could ask for verifiable references

Most landlords will ask you for references, and they generally do not  want to talk to your best friend, your parents, or your favorite aunt. The references should include your present employer or previous landlords. The employer can verify that you work there and if you are a stable and reliable employee. The landlord can ascertain that you paid your rent on time and were respectful of their property.

Certain qualifiers are off-limits

Although anyone may need to fill out a rental application and agree to a credit and background check, landlords may not discriminate against seven protected classes: 

  •     Race
  •     Color
  •     Religion
  •     National origin
  •     Sex
  •     Disability 
  •     Familial status

For example, a landlord may not ask you about the country in which you were born or the church that you attend.  Even if the rental has a “no dogs” policy, you may not be denied your service or emotional support dog. Make sure you submit the appropriate paperwork with the application to guarantee there is no lapse in communication.

What else do you need to rent a house? Renters insurance!

No, your landlord probably will not mention renters insurance to you. They own the property and have it covered with homeowners insurance. But, their policy does not cover your belongings, so if the things you will have inside your rental house are important to you, be sure you protect them with a renters insurance policy.

Talk to one of NSI Insurance Group’s experts today to determine how much coverage you might want based on the value of your belongings. Fill out our contact form, call us at 305-556-1488, or send us a message at info@nsigroup.org. We’re always happy to provide you with guidance.  

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