Apartment Hunting? Here’s What You’ll Need (And Why)


If you’re searching for an apartment and you don’t know what you need to expedite and approve your application process, below is a short list we’ve compiled to help. It pays to be prepared so you don’t lose out on the place of your dreams, when you finally do find your new home. Here’s a list of  some common requirements and why building managers / rental agent ask for these specific items.

Once you understand that the entire reason that Landlords ask for these documents is to protect the building and community of renters,  it’s a little easier to swallow. So here’s the list of requirements and some reasons for why they are required:

An Application:

Most Landlords / Property Management companies will require an application to be filled out with some basic information, as well as some personal and background information.  This is  industry standard and common practice.  It allows the Landlord the ability to research information before renting out a unit, which is a form of extending credit.

Photo ID:

With an application, Landlords will require photo ID to make sure you are who you say you are. It is also in case an emergency were to occur and a Landlord needs to know everybody who lives in the building. Lastly, it’s also very handy if you lose your key and you’re asking for us to let you into your home. We’ve all heard of identity theft and photo ID is a lot safer than non photo ID.

SIN Card (number):

Many Landlords and Property Management companies will ask for your SIN card (number). There’s a reason for that. Your SIN number is the easiest and most accurate way to get your credit check. Yes, with permission, a Landlord can use your name and birthdate to check your credit, unfortunately sometimes without accurate information, even if you do have a credit history, no matching report comes back. This can delay the application process and ultimately moving in to your new place.

Credit Report:

Credit and past payment history is essential to any business and individual. By obtaining a credit report, Landlords can decide who fits their criteria of a financially stable renter, and also verify  employer and previous addresses using the credit report. This is valuable as it provides an independent source of information in an era of cell phone verifications and unverifiable job letters.

Income/Debt Ratios:

Just like a banker assisting with a mortgage, landlords  like to assess if an apartment is affordable for you. There’s a sizeable amount of people who would otherwise get into financial trouble if they were approved for payments that might be too expensive for their lifestyle. Yes,  housing is important but so are groceries and other payments.  A good industry wide rule of thumb is a renter should be paying about 30% of net income to rent (or less if you have other credit card debt or student loans). This amount is “likely” sustainable rent to pay.

Bank Letters:

Landlords, like other businesses that extend credit,  like to check if you have a bank account (hopefully with some money in it). Again this speaks to financial stability and the ability to pay the rent over time. Savings go a long way towards getting your application approved. If you’re a New Canadian with limited, or no job or credit history, this can be a deciding factor for a Landlord to feel assured of financial stability.

Employment Information:

Again, as all businesses that extend credit,  Landlords need to know that you have a source of income to cover the monthly rent and how stable that source is.  If you work for a larger company, speak to Human Resources before applying and fill out the form required by the Privacy Act so they can confirm employment properly. If you are self employed, you will be required to show some proof of income as well. Tax statements,  business bank statements that show regular customer deposits, etc will be requested.

Bottom line:

You Want To Rent and Landlords Want To Rent To You.

The bottom line is Landlords / Property Managers WANT to rent apartments, but cant afford to take risks of dealing with the negative consequences from not doing their due diligince.  It is not an easy process to deal with an eviction and many times could potentially affect other (otherwise good) tenancies within the building as well.

Unfortunately, for the same reason that your bank has you swipe your card every time you do a transaction and every store has security and loss prevention, Landlords also have to double and triple check every piece of information they get. So come prepared and make it easy for the building manager /rental agent to approve your application by providing the necessary documents for them to “approve” it.  Landlords  aren’t being nosey and trying to invade privacy, they just want to provide a valuable service and keep current residents happy. Once you move in, you’ll appreciate the hard work they do to ensure their residents the services they deserve.

Happy Apartment Hunting!

-The RentSeeker.ca Team

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