Before you sign a lease with a new landlord, there are a few documents you'll need to gather and take with you in order to complete the rental application. If you're moving to another city in another state or country, then you'll need to make sure you have these documents in hand before you leave on your apartment hunting trip.
Proof of employment: Most potential landlords will accept pay stubs or an offer of employment letter as proof that you're employed. If you're like myself and my husband, who are contractors, then you'll need to find another way to prove that you can pay the rent. This might mean showing your contract with your clients or providing statements from your business account.
List of past addresses: All rental applications that I've ever filled out always required at least three references of past landlords. If you move a lot, like we do, then you'll need to make sure you have the correct contact information at hand.
Most recent tax return: Some landlords require a copy of your most recent tax return. This provides them with information on earnings over the past year. A tax return may be a replacement for employment records or if you're unemployed, the return will show how much you earn in a year and whether you'll be able to cover the rent.
Banking information: I'm always hesitant to share banking information, so if you need to, make sure you protect yourself by not revealing your bank account number. Black out portions that are private information and never provide originals. Always take photocopies.
Employer name and contact information: Some landlords will ask to speak with your employer. This is common practice so be prepared to share this information.
Current lease agreement: Some landlords will want to see your current lease agreement so they can know how much you've been paying in rent and your current landlords contact information. While not all landlords require this, I always take a copy just in case.
Reference letters: In case you don't have enough to back-up your application, it's a good idea to collect reference letters from past landlords or current employers. This is particularly true if you have pets. A new landlord wants to make sure you're a responsible pet owner and often that can be proven through a past or current landlord.
For more information on moving into an apartment, check out these articles: