How Long Does It Take to Rent an Apartment?

Written by Sunny | Edited by Dr Katherine Blake
11 minute read
Sunny’s AI summary
Navigating the apartment approval process can feel daunting, but this guide breaks down everything from typical timelines to actionable tips for speeding up your application. Whether it's understanding the factors that affect approval times or mastering communication with landlords, we’ve got you covered. Plus, we dive into how to prepare for verification and offer answers to common FAQs, ensuring you’re equipped to secure your dream apartment with confidence and ease.


Understanding how long it takes to get approved for an apartment can be as unpredictable as the weather, ranging from a swift 24-hour approval to a drawn-out two-week wait.

Knowing this is important, especially if you’re a new renter on the hunt for your first apartment. In this guide, we want to demystify the timeline and procedures involved with renting, offering you a crystal-clear perspective on what to anticipate and how best to navigate the path ahead.

Understanding the Approval Timeline

When it comes to answering the burning question, “how long does it take to get approved for an apartment,” the timeline is not set in stone.

However, we can certainly shed some light on what you might expect during this anticipatory period.

Typical Timelines for Apartment Application Approval

Generally speaking, the approval process for an apartment application can swing from a 24-hour turnaround to a multi-week limbo period. The variation can make the waiting game feel a bit like a roller coaster – without the fun and with all the anxiety.

Fastest to Slowest Approval Scenarios:

  1. The Speedy Response: Some lucky applicants might hear back within 24 hours. This is more common in less competitive rental markets or during off-peak renting seasons.
  2. The Standard Wait: The most typical scenario is receiving an approval (or denial) within a few days to a week. This timeline allows landlords to conduct necessary checks without leaving applicants in limbo for too long.
  3. The Extended Review: In some cases, particularly when multiple applications are being considered or additional checks are required, the process can extend to two weeks. This longer duration might also occur in highly competitive markets where landlords have the luxury of choice.

Understanding these timelines can help set realistic expectations and reduce some of the stress associated with the waiting process.

Factors Affecting Your Application Approval Duration

How Long Does It Take to Rent an Apartment

Navigating the apartment application process can sometimes feel like you’re trying to solve a puzzle without all the pieces. One crucial aspect of solving this puzzle is understanding the factors that could affect the duration of your application approval.

  • Landlord’s Responsiveness: Just like waiting for a text back, the speed at which a landlord responds can vary greatly. A landlord’s promptness in checking applications and conducting follow-ups can significantly influence the approval timeline. In busier periods or for landlords managing multiple properties, responses may take longer.

  • Volume of Applications: The rental market can be competitive, especially in sought-after locations. The number of applications a landlord receives for a single listing can impact how long you’ll need to wait for a decision. More applications mean more competition and a longer review period as each application needs to be carefully considered.

  • Application Thoroughness: A well-prepared application can make a world of difference. Missing information or documents can delay the process, as the landlord will need to follow up for additional details. Ensuring your application is complete and accurate from the get-go can help avoid these unnecessary delays.

  • Background and Credit Checks: These checks are standard procedure in the rental application process. The time it takes to complete these verifications can vary based on the service used by the landlord or property management company. Factors such as discrepancies in your credit history or delays in obtaining reference checks can extend the waiting period.

Communication with Landlords: Approval and Denials

Understanding and leveraging effective communication with landlords or property managers is pivotal in the apartment application process. Clear, strategic communication can significantly influence your journey towards securing an apartment.

Landlords’ Expectations on Notification

Landlords are generally expected to inform applicants of their decision regarding the rental application. This not only allows applicants to plan their next steps—be it moving forward with moving plans or continuing their apartment hunt—but also reflects professionalism on the landlord’s part, contributing to their reputation among future applicants.

Questions to Expedite Your Process

Being inquisitive can play to your advantage in the realm of apartment applications. Asking the right questions not only helps clarify expectations but can also potentially speed up the approval process. Here are some questions you might consider asking:

  • The typical timeline for application review: This helps manage your expectations about the waiting period.
  • Any additional information needed: Proactively offering further details can cut down on back-and-forth communication.
  • The preferred method for updates: Understanding whether the landlord prefers emails or phone calls can streamline communications.

The Impact of Communication Styles

The mode of communication with your potential landlord or property management company can significantly influence the application process. Each method has its pros and cons:

  • Email: Ideal for maintaining a written record of conversations and submissions, allowing for detailed messages. However, it might not elicit the fastest response.
  • Calls: Phone calls can express urgency and facilitate immediate clarification. But, they lack a paper trail, which could be necessary for tracking conversations.
  • In-person: Direct communication can be highly effective for making a strong impression and obtaining quick answers. Nonetheless, it might not always be feasible due to scheduling conflicts or a preference for remote interactions in current times.

In essence, understanding and adapting to the landlord’s preferred communication style can lead to a smoother application process. The key is to strike a balance between being proactive and respecting boundaries.

Tips to Expedite Your Rental Application

How Long Does It Take to Rent an Apartment

So, you’ve found your dream apartment and you’re eager to move in, like, yesterday. But there’s that little (okay, pretty big) hurdle of the rental application process. Her are some insider tips to help you turbo-charge that application and potentially cut down on the agonizing wait time.

Be the Early Bird

First things first, submit your application as soon as possible. “The early bird gets the worm” isn’t just a catchy phrase your grandma likes to say—it applies to apartment hunting too.

Landlords and property managers can’t approve what they haven’t seen, so get your application in quick-smart.

The Power of Preparation

A complete and prompt application submission is your golden ticket. This means having all your paperwork in order—ID, pay stubs, references, the works—before you even start filling out the application. Think of it as assembling your superhero team. Every document plays a crucial role in securing your new home.

The Might of a Co-signer

Not all heroes wear capes—some come in the form of a strong co-signer or guarantor. If your credit score is more “meh” than “wow,” having someone with stellar credit vouch for you can be a game-changer. This mighty ally reassures landlords that rent will be paid on time, making your application shine a little brighter.

Embrace Technology

In our digital age, using online applications and technology can significantly speed up the process. Many property management companies now offer digital application options, which can be faster to process than paper applications. Plus, uploading documents digitally can save time (and trees!).

Bonus tip: keep digital copies of all your documents on your phone or in a cloud storage service so you can apply on-the-go as soon as you find a place you like.

Follow Up (But Don’t Stalk)

After submitting your application, a polite follow-up email or call can show your enthusiasm and keep you on the landlord’s radar. However, there’s a fine line between interested and overbearing. Give it a couple of days before reaching out, and always be courteous in your communication.

Be Payment-Ready

Often, the application process includes fees for background and credit checks. Having a way to pay these fees immediately (like a credit card or digital wallet) shows you’re serious and ready to move forward.

Preparing for the Verification Process

How Long Does It Take to Rent an Apartment

The path to apartment approval includes passing through the gauntlet of verification with flying colors. This step is where the rubber meets the road, and being ready can make all the difference.

Have Your Ducks in a Row

Before you even think about hitting “submit” on that application, make sure you’ve got all your documents and information ready to go. This means having your ID, proof of income (like recent pay stubs), rental history, references, and any other required documents at your fingertips.

You wouldn’t charge in without your armor and sword, right? The same principle applies here. Being prepared shows property managers that you’re serious, organized, and ready to move forward in the process.

Steering Clear of Common Pitfalls

Even the most well-intentioned applicants can stumble on the path to verification. Here are a couple of common pitfalls and how to avoid them:

  • Incomplete Applications: Missing information can grind the whole process to a halt. Double-check your application before submitting it to ensure every field is filled out and every required document is attached.

  • Credit Report Issues: Unresolved disputes, inaccuracies, or simply not knowing what’s on your credit report can cause delays. Before you apply, pull your credit report (you’re entitled to a free report from each of the three major credit bureaus once per year) and address any issues.

  • Poor Rental History: If you’ve had issues with previous landlords or property management companies, be prepared to explain. Honesty is your best policy here. If there were extenuating circumstances, let your potential new landlord know.

  • Delays in Reference Responses: Ensure that your references are aware that they might be contacted and are prepared to respond promptly. A heads-up can go a long way in ensuring they don’t inadvertently delay your application.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the time it takes to rent an apartment can vary widely, but by being prepared and informed, you can streamline the process significantly.

If you’re looking to cut down on time and find a place that truly fits your needs, why not try our AI-powered apartment-finding platform? It customizes your search based on your preferences and budget, allowing you to efficiently explore options that align perfectly with what you’re looking for.

Take the hassle out of apartment hunting and make informed decisions faster. Start your personalized apartment search today.


Got questions? We’ve got answers! Here’s a rundown of some frequently asked questions about the apartment rental application process.

Q: Can I apply for an apartment before seeing it in person?
A: Yes, you can often apply for an apartment before seeing it in person, especially if you’re relocating or if the landlord offers virtual tours. However, it’s always best to see the space yourself, if possible, to ensure it meets your expectations.

Q: What can I do if my rental application is denied?
A: If your application is denied, ask the landlord or property manager for the reason(s) behind the decision. It could be due to a variety of factors like credit score, income verification, or rental history. Understanding why can help you address these issues for future applications.

Q: Should I apply to multiple apartments at once?
A: Applying to multiple apartments can be a smart strategy, especially in competitive rental markets. Just be prepared for the possibility of multiple application fees and the ethical consideration of promptly informing properties if you decide to withdraw your application.

Q: How important is my credit score in the rental application process?
A: Your credit score is a significant factor for most landlords because it indicates your reliability as a financial borrower. A lower score doesn’t automatically disqualify you, but you might need to provide additional documentation or consider a co-signer.

Q: Can I negotiate my lease terms or rent amount?
A: Yes, lease terms and rent amounts can sometimes be negotiable, especially if you bring value as a long-term tenant or have a strong rental history. It never hurts to ask, but approach the conversation respectfully and be prepared to compromise.

Q: How can I make my rental application stand out?
A: To make your application stand out, ensure all your documents are complete and accurately filled out, include a cover letter introducing yourself and explaining why you’re an ideal tenant, and provide solid references. Being proactive, courteous, and responsive throughout the process also leaves a positive impression.

how long does it take to get approved for an apartment
Meet our contributors
Dr Katherine Blake
Dr Katherine Blake
Content Editor
Dr. Katherine Blake is a content editor with Apartment List and Sunny, where she helps ensure our renter and rental management content is fresh and informed by the latest data. Holding a PhD in English Literature from Indiana University, Dr. Blake is not only adept at creating compelling narratives but also brings over a decade of experience as an academic researcher.
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