“I Need to Move In a New House in Like a Week”
Here is the formula: Drive to the apartment rental office, fill out an application, they run your credit, you sign a lease and move in next day — but wait, there’s more!
Hi, I’m the Marketing Team Leader for Royal Rose Properties. I answer the phone every day, taking calls from people who are interested in our properties when the rest of my team is otherwise occupied. And at least twice a week, I get a call from someone who is looking for a rental place and has a solid deadline that they need to move in a new house by…that is a week or less away.
So I asked the boss if I could step in and write a blog post, because I’m here to tell you, no matter how hard you try, it’s probably not going to happen. Not unless you do everything perfectly, and you’re quite lucky, and you’re a rock-solid applicant in the first place.
Let’s look at an idealized timeline:
• Monday: You submit your application and pay your application fee in full.
• Tuesday: Applications reviews your application and if you filled it out completely, they send you a list of documentation they need to complete the screening process.
• Wednesday: You get the documentation they need and turn it in to them. At this point, their stated goal of “get each tenant screened within 3 business days” begins.
• Thursday: Applications submits all of the paperwork to our screening service, and they call a bunch of people whose numbers you provided, including at minimum your former employers and your former landlords.
• Friday: The screening service returns your results, and provided that there are zero questions about your financial and personal qualities as a renter, that every one of the people they called actually answered the phone and talked to them, and you get the approval letter in time to put a deposit down on the house, you might be able to set up a lease-signing appointment for the next business day, meaning that
• Saturday: You can sign the lease and move into the house.
But that’s highly idealized. As you can see, there are a number of ways you can cause significant delays, like not filling out the application in full, not turning in the required documentation quickly or completely, or just not noticing that you’ve been approved quickly enough to move on to the final steps.
But there are also a number of things that can mess you up even if you personally do everything right. All it takes is one former landlord not answering the phone the first time we call, or one question about an old eviction or obscure item on your credit report, and that idealized timeline is blown out of the water. We try to be very understanding about those kinds of things, and allow our applicants to submit letters of explanation that tell us why those issues shouldn’t be held against them – but those back-and-forths take time.
If you’re confident that none of those issues are going to slow things down, you could call those old employers and landlords before we do, warn them that we’re calling, and beg them to answer the phone – that’s worked for a few people in the past. But by and large, the better answer is don’t wait that long to start looking for a new place to live.
I mean, we’ll always try to help anyone who pays the fee – but if it’s a ‘roof-or-sky’ kind of situation (that’s the housing equivalent of life-or-death, if you’re wondering), you should probably make some other kinds of plans first, and apply once you have a place to sleep safely for a couple of weeks.