One life skill that isn’t taught in school is how to apply for an apartment for the first time. Similar to filing taxes, the process can seem confusing or down-right frustrating for those who have never gone through it before.

Filling out a rental application is one of your final steps in the process of renting an apartment. Completing it requires a little bit of detail work, but it means you’re in the homestretch and will be moving into your new home soon!

If you finally found the apartment of your dreams, but aren’t sure how to start the application process, don’t stress! We’ll teach you how to apply for your first apartment online, step by step.

Tips For Your First Time Renting An Apartment

The first time renting an apartment can be very daunting, especially for someone used to living with family. Here are some tips to keep in mind while searching for and moving into your new apartment. 

  • Be realistic with your rent budget. Renting an apartment is a major expense, so it’s important to make sure you’re not overspending. When budgeting for rent, make sure you’ll have enough left over for food and other necessary expenses as well as some discretionary spending. 
  • Look for apartments on and off-line. There a number of amazing online tools that simplify apartment hunting. Immersive features such as 360-degree tours can give you the feel of an apartment before you visit in person. You can also broaden your options by looking offline. Talk to friends and family to see if they know of any apartments available. You can even walk around your desired neighborhoods in search of “for rent” signs. 
  • Save up for furniture before you move in. Furniture is a major expense that many people don’t consider until they’ve moved into their new place. To ease the financial burden, start saving before you move. If you can’t afford brand new furniture, search thrift shops and online resale platforms. You can also ask family and friends for hand-me-downs. 
  • Know your rights as a renter. Before you start your apartment hunt, familiarize yourself with tenant’s rights laws in your area. When you know your rights, landlords will be less likely to take advantage of you
  • Spend time in the neighborhood. When searching for a new place, many people focus on the apartment and don’t think about the neighborhood until it’s too late. The surrounding area can make or break your living experience, so explore a few different neighborhoods before making a commitment. 
  • Take pictures of your apartment before moving in. After receiving keys to your new apartment, take pictures of every room in detail. This can protect you should disputes about damage arise. 

Questions To Ask When Touring Apartments

It’s important to ask plenty of questions during your in-person apartment tour. The more information you have, the easier it will be to make a decision about where you want to live. Here are some of the best questions to ask during your visit. 

  • How much is rent and when is it due each month?
  • What are the terms of the lease? Is there an option to renew? Is there an option to go month-to-month?
  • What methods are available to pay rent?
  • What does the application process look like? Is there a credit check or  background check
  • Is there a deposit, and if so when is it due? 
  • How are utilities handled? 
  • What maintenance services are available?
  • Are pets allowed? Are there pet fees?
  • What are the guest and sublease policies?  
  • Is parking available? 
  • Am I allowed to paint, apply wallpaper or make other changes to the apartment?

How To Apply For An Apartment For The First Time

Nearly all property management companies and landlords require an approved rental application before allowing you to sign a lease. The best property management companies offer the option for prospective residents to apply for an apartment online.  Alternatively, you can attend an open house or stop by the leasing office for an application.

Once you decide where you want to live, start the application process right away. Most apartment applications require background information (such as rental and employment history) and perhaps a credit check.

If you’re applying for an apartment for the first time, you definitely won’t have a rental history and you might not have a credit score. Some apartment management companies will be more flexible than others in this situation.  

Information Needed To Apply For An Apartment

  • Personal contact information. To get started, your property manager will need basic information like your name, phone number, email address and current address.
  • Social Security number. Most all rental applications will require your Social Security number or a copy of your Social Security card. Non-U.S. residents without a Social Security can often apply with an individual taxpayer identification number or with no number at all.
  • Driver’s license, personal identification card, or passport. These legal documents authenticate your identity. Your driver’s license may be required if you need a parking permit. Don’t worry if you don’t have a government-issued ID. Most management companies can use documentation such as a student or work visa to verify your identity as well.
  • Current address, previous addresses and landlord information. Providing information about the places you have lived is required to process your application.
  • Current and previous employer information. This helps verify income and is required in order to process your application.
  • Proof of income. Pay stubs or other official proof of income will likely be requested.
  • Roommate’s application. If you will live with another adult, they must also complete a rental application and provide the documents listed above.

Apply For An Apartment Online At Southern Management

Applying for an apartment has never been easier! At Southern Management, the entire process is available online. Here’s how to rent an apartment for the first time using our system. 

  1. Select an apartment community. Check “Pricing/Availability.”
  2. Select a floor plan.
    • Pick the unit layout that works best for you. Southern Management communities offer apartments ranging in size from studios to 4-bedroom units.
    • The online application provides a floor plan for the unit you select so you can view the details before moving forward with the application.
    • If your desired floor plan is not currently available, simply select “Add to Waitlist.”
  3. Fill out basic lease information.
    • Choose your move-in date
    • Choose your lease term (three to 15 month)
    • Verify the monthly rent. Typically, the longer the lease term, the less expensive the rent.
  4. Create an Account or log in if you already have one.
  5. Fill out your online application
    • Personal Information
    • Address Information
    • Employment Information
    • Screening Information
    • Pet Information
    • Vehicle Information
    • Emergency Contact
    • Bank information
  6. Upload required documents
    • Two consecutive pay stubs
    • Photo ID
  7. Add any other people who will live with you.
    • As the first person to complete an application, you will be considered the primary applicant, and you will be asked to provide information about additional occupants.
    • If you do not finish your application now, you can log in later time to complete it. 
    • You may also log in later to review completed application.
  8. Application Charges
  9. Lease Summary
    • You’ll receive an overview of the information you provided.

Credit History Concerns When Applying For An Apartment

Many first-time renters worry about the apartment rental credit check process. Some property managers place emphasis on coming in with a high credit score or have a strict credit requirement.

Building or fixing credit doesn’t happen overnight. What makes Southern Management different from other property management companies is that we understand this and are willing to work with residents who have less-than-perfect credit.

Financial Consultation

Searching and applying for no-credit-check apartments near your location will only put a bandaid on the underlying issue. While Southern Management runs credit checks, we don’t automatically turn away a potential resident because of information contained within the consumer report. We consider all credit, even if it includes bankruptcies, foreclosures or collection accounts.

Our team provides tools to help residents rebuild their credit and move forward.

Apply For A Southern Management Apartment

Stop worrying about the application process and start your new life in a Southern Management apartment. Browse our 75 apartment communities and find the perfect place to call your new home.

Applying for an apartment isn’t difficult when you choose Southern Management. If you have any questions about the apartment application process, call (703) 902-2000, or contact us to set up a tour of our apartment communities.