What economic factors will an apartment complex evaluate you on?

June 15, 2020 by Ted Bauer

We do get questions about this consistently, so we wanted to organize it into a post in case you come across it. 

Credit check/credit score

You were likely familiar with this as a parameter that an apartment complex will look at. Score requirements are going to vary by complex. If you think your particular score is on the cusp or considered low, it's good to either (a) bring that up to us as we work with you or (b) ask the complex if they have a miniumum score requirement before you begin paying application fees. A new FICO score is rolling out this fall, which we covered the impacts of a little bit. That's important to have at least a passing understanding of. 

Criminal background

They will run a criminal background check on you; virtually 100% of apartment complexes do this.

Verification of rental history

Don't be scared by this if you have not rented before; almost all complexes will work with first-time renters. But typically, a complex is going to go back 3-5 rental agreements into your history and look at your payment history, any missed rents, any broken leases, or any evictions. These things are not necessarily deal-breakers, although they may create some red flags for the complex that need to be managed somehow. 

Verification of employment

Virtually 100% of complexes will do this as well. There are some tricky dances in here, especially with regards to COVID-19 aftermath and layoffs + furloughs. The short answer to the question "Can I get an apartment if I was laid off?" is "Yes, but it varies by where you can get a deal." Leases are, for better or worse, two-way economic agreements, and complexes do get skittish about people not currently employed -- that said, we've worked with complexes who are being great about helping people in tough job contexts right now. 

If you are self-employed, usually you need to show 1-2 years of income and you should be good.

Verification of income

Usually, this will be 3x rent, i.e. if rent is $1,100, you need to prove you make $3,300 per month. Some complexes in DFW have gone to 3.5x rent, so for $1,100 you'd need to prove $3,850. If you fall below the income requirement, some complexes will allow for a co-signer, and usually the co-signer needs to make 5x the rent; so $5,500/month needs to be proven for $1,100 rent. 

All of this is somewhat standard, but varies by complex

Depending on where you trying to rent, some of these numbers and thresholds and needs and parameters will be a little bit different. It all varies. But in general, the complex will want to have an idea of your income picture, your criminal history, your rental history, and your credit picture. 

Any questions, feel free to ask!

About the Author

Ted Bauer

Ted Bauer is a writer/editor for White Rock Locators focused on as much cool content about the DFW Metroplex rental scene as he can possibly find week-to-week.