So you’re looking at moving to Austin, or maybe you already live in this awesome city and are just looking for a new apartment to call home. Welcome! I’m glad you’ve found our site and this article. Taco street is an apartment locating business dedicated to helping our clients find the perfect home for their needs and lifestyle.
The application process when applying to an apartment can seem daunting, especially if it’s your first time. But it doesn’t have to be! I wanted to write this guide to help you get through that process with all the information in once place. Here are the basics of what to expect when applying to an apartment in Austin.
Apartment applications are very easy. Every apartment has an online portal where you can apply directly to the unit you want. It takes 15-20 minutes to fill out and you don’t have to go in to the leasing office. The most annoying part of applications are application fees which are usually around $100 per person. Some buildings mercifully waive them, but you do see them more often than not. If you have a roommate, both of you will need to apply and be screened separately.
As you’re filling out your rental application you’ll need a few specific things outside of your general information, having them ready in advance will just make the process that much easier. Applications will request your social security number and driver’s license number. Some personal references wouldn’t be bad either! It may seem like common-sense, but I hate when I’m filling out some kind of form and then have to stop everything to go find my license somewhere. So unless you’re one of those amazing people that has your driver’s license number memorized, it’s good to have all that ready to go.
You need to show you make 3x the monthly rent. So if rent is $1500, you need to show you have a monthly income of at least $4500 per month flowing in. Proof of income can be demonstrated in a few ways. Bank statements, W-2’s, recent pay stubs, and employer letters. There is lots of flexibility here.
If you’re a student and don’t have income – don’t worry! You can often show your scholarships or aid income assistance as proof.
In the case of no income, apartments generally accept bank statements showing 3 times the monthly rent times 12 months. For example, $1000 rent would mean $36000 would need to be in the bank to qualify without income.
With roommates it’s easier. You both can combine what’s in your bank in order to reach the totals above.
Background checks are done by third party companies hired by the apartment. They look for past criminal history that is on your record like felonies and misdemeanors. They also bring up past rental history like evictions and unresolved broken leases. If you have something in your past that can be expunged, I highly recommend doing so. Any of these that come up during the background check will make it very, very difficult to quality for an apartment. And unfortunately, the apartment staff will not be able to help you out here.
Pro Tip: Don’t kill anyone! Don’t get caught operating a multinational drug empire. Don’t get evicted! Do pay off any broken lease payments owed to past properties.
Apartment deposits in the city of Austin are comically low. They range from only about $99-$400. Our out-of-state clients are always relieved when they don’t have to pay three months worth of rent just to move in.
For houses, the security deposit renters have to pay is usually 1 full month of rent’s worth. Sometimes it can jump to three; however, depending on the property. Private market homes are much less standardized and so you’ll see a lot more variation there.
As part of the application process apartments are going to perform a credit check. Apartments generally look for a credit score over 600, so it is important to have good credit, but many do make exceptions for lower credit. With lower credit, you have a few different options, but usually you’ll just need to provide a larger deposit (typically around 1 month’s rent).
If you’re having trouble getting approved based on your credit report or perhaps previous rental history, many apartments allow a cosigner or a guarantor. Cosigners will be responsible for the rent payment when it is due while a guarantor only becomes responsible if the renter becomes unable to pay their rent. This can also be helpful for students who don’t have an established credit score and are moving in to their first apartment on their own. It also builds credit! Making renting a new apartment that much easier in the future.
Keep in mind apartments can take between 1 and 3 days to approve an application. While I’ve seen some applications be approved within an hour of applying, often it does take a little bit longer. This can feel very stressful, especially if you’re in a hurry to move or have another time constraint.
My advice would be to look for that new apartment early on so you can get that application process started quickly. You’ll find the whole process runs more smoothly that way and makes life so much easier for yourself – especially if you’re moving to Austin from out-of-state!
Standard lease terms are for 12 months – and definitely what I would recommend if you’re planning on living here long-term. Shorter term leases are harder to find, though there are some options to do 6 month leases, but they are usually much more expensive. The great thing about a 12 month lease is that it provides a locked-in rental rate for that full year. This is what makes it typically less expensive, renewing every 6 months can make your rental rate vary significantly.
Apartments typically require you to give 60 days notice to renew an apartment. That is assuming they remember to send it to you! I have often heard concerns about rent increases when renewing a lease, but don’t be too concerned! Lease renewals don’t necessarily result in higher rent. In my experience, I haven’t had a rent increase in any of my leases the whole time I’ve been in Austin.
In some rare cases I’ve seen bumps of $200-$400 over the course of a year. But usually larger bumps in rent happen when an older building goes through a lot of renovations and investors want to re-coup their investments. And those renovations generally make it worth the increase, you’ll be living in a much nicer place without having to go through the hectic and annoying process of moving.
Work with Us!
I hope this article has given you everything you need to confidently go sign that lease!
But if you’re still looking for your dream apartment and want some help, get in touch with us at Taco Street here!