Renters

If you are in the market to lease a home, duplex, townhome, condominium or apartment in the Dallas area, you have come to the right place for information about:

  • Qualifying to rent a home or apartment: What do landlords look for to qualify renters?
  • The Application Process
  • Needs List for Application
  • Tenant Rights in Texas

WHAT DO LANDLORDS LOOK FOR WHEN QUALIFYING APPLICANTS TO RENT HOMES AND APARTMENTS?

The criteria that landlords and leasing companies use to qualify renters vary from one landlord to the next.  Unfortunately there is no fixed set of standards, although there are some common guidelines that most individual landlords and leasing companies use:

  • Credit Check – In my experience, almost all landlords will require a credit report.  However, there is no master set of standards for credit score or credit requirements, so having a bad credit score doesn’t always mean you’ll be denied.   Some landlords require a certain minimum credit score, others may only require an applicant to have a satisfactory payment history for a certain length of time prior to leasing, such as 12 or 24 months.  If you have past credit issues, contact me to discuss your individual situation so we can create a plan to overcome those issues and find homes with landlords that are willing to work with people that have past credit challenges. 
  • Income Verification – If you are employed with a company and are paid a salary or hourly wage, most landlords will only require a recent paycheck stub that shows your income and has a year-to-date figure to show stability of income.  If you’re self-employed, they may require bank statements, tax returns or some other type of documentation that shows your income.  If you receive income from sources such as social security, child support, mineral rights, trusts, insurance settlement or annuity, they may require some additional documentation.   In addition to the paystub, most landlords will at least call to verbally verify your employment.   If you’re relocating from another city or state, most landlords will require you to have a job or other verifiable source of income prior to leasing.  If you plan to move prior to starting your job and receiving your first paycheck, most landlords will accept a letter of employment that shows your monthly income provided it is of a sufficient amount to qualify for the lease.
  • Income Ratio – Landlords will often have predetermined requirements for income ratios (and sometimes debt-to-income ratios as well).  Your income ratio is calculated by dividing the monthly rent by the total gross income of all applicants.  For example, an applicant with a verifiable income of $3,000 per month applying for a property that rents for $1,000 per month has an income ratio of 3-to-1 (or 33% expressed as a percentage).  In fact, a ratio of 3-to-1 is a very common qualifying standard used by landlords and leasing companies. 
  • Criminal Background Check – Landlords will also often conduct criminal background checks on all applicants.  If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor or especially a felony, make sure to be upfront and honest about your situation with the landlord and make an effort to explain the situation. 
  • Previous / Current Rental History – The landlord may want to verify that you have a satisfactory payment history with your current and often previous landlords if you’ve lived in more than one home over the last two to three years.  Again, it’s a good idea to write down and explain any past instances where you may have been late on your rent so the landlord can take the circumstances into account when making their decision.
  • Payment of Application Fee – Application for rental homes vary depending on how extensive the application process is that they require.  In my experience, an application fee of between $35 and $50 per adult applicant is common.  In some cases, landlords may only require one fee for married applicants.  Landlords will often accept personal checks but it’s a good idea to have cash on hand to get a money order.

APPLICATION NEEDS LIST:

  • Complete, written application on all adult occupants. 
  • Copy of government-issued photo ID, such as driver’s license, for all applicants.
  • Recent paystub.  Required for proof of income.  Self-employed and applicants paid in cash may need bank statements and/or tax returns. 
  • Letter of Explanation for all credit issues and evictions.  This is not required but is often very helpful in securing an approval for a tenant that has past credit problems or evictions.  Landlords will often make exceptions if the tenant will take a small amount of time and explain the reasons for past credit issues and evictions and .  For example, I once had a

Depending on your situation and each landlord’s specific requirements, you may need additional documentation. 

TENANT RIGHTS IN TEXAS:

The Texas Attorney General has a very informative page that explains your basic rights under Chapter 92 of the Texas Property Code which, along with various statutes and court rulings, governs relationships between landlords and tenants.   Topics covered on this page include:

  • Summary of your rights as a tenant.
  • An explanation of your right to “Quiet Enjoyment” of the property under the law.
  • An explanation of your rights to your Health and Safety under the law and
  • Security Requirements –
  • What to do if you have a problem with the landlord.
  • The Exact Steps you must follow if the landlord won’t make repairs needed to protect your health, safety or security as required by law. 

Texas Attorney General Info Page on Tenant Rights

SEEK LEGAL ADVICE FROM AN ATTORNEY!

I am not an attorney and cannot provide legal advice.  The attorney general advises tenants to consult with an attorney before taking any actions to deduct costs of repairs from their rent, attempt to end their lease or filing suit to force the landlord to make repairs.