What Can Disqualify You From Renting An Apartment?

Securing an ideal rental apartment can be complicated, as landlords have specific criteria to select responsible and reliable tenants. Fortunately, this article will explore some common reasons individuals may be disqualified from renting an apartment. By being informed about these factors, you can better prepare yourself and increase your chances of securing your desired apartment.

What Can Disqualify You From Renting An Apartment

Income and Employment Can Influence Qualification for Renting

Income and employment details can disqualify you from renting an apartment if they don’t meet the landlord’s criteria or raise concerns about your ability to fulfill your lease obligations.

Let’s focus on five detailed explanations of how income and employment can impact your application negatively:

Insufficient Income

Proprietors often have a minimum financial requirement (a rent-to-income ratio) to ensure tenants can comfortably afford the rent. If your income falls below this threshold, you may be disqualified because it suggests you might struggle to meet rental payments.

For instance, if your rent exceeds a certain percentage (e.g., 30%) of your monthly income, they may view it as a risk because you might struggle to cover other living expenses.

Unstable Employment History

A history of inconsistent or frequent job changes can significantly hinder your application since most landlords prefer tenants with a stable employment history, which indicates they are in a better position to meet their financial obligations (especially rent!).

Inadequate Proof of Income

Most landlords typically ask for documentation such as pay slips, employment letters, tax returns, or bank statements to verify your income. Failure to provide adequate or consistent proof of income can lead to disqualification because the landlord cannot assess your financial stability.

Seasonal or Temporary Employment

Landlords often prefer tenants with stable, long-term employment, which suggests a steady income source. Seasonal or temporary work, which may involve periods of unemployment or reduced income, can disqualify you from renting an apartment because it may raise concerns about your ability to consistently meet rent payments.

Recent Job Loss or Unemployment

Since most property managers typically place their trust in applicants with a solid capability to afford the rent required, a recent job loss or unemployment can disqualify you from renting an apartment because it elicits doubts about your ability to make timely payments over the long term.

Negative Rental History Can Disqualify You from Renting an Apartment

Since property owners want to minimize the risks associated with renting to people who may not fulfill their lease obligations, they consider rental history when evaluating potential tenants because it provides valuable insights into an applicant’s past behavior as a renter.

Below are four reasons how negative rental history details can impact your rental application:

Eviction History

A history of past evictions is a vital red flag, indicating that you did not meet your previous lease terms and were legally removed from the property.

Therefore, most owners will often hesitate to rent their apartments to someone with an eviction record because it suggests they have a higher risk of non-payment.

Unsatisfactory References

Property owners often contact previous landlords for references because they prefer tenants with a track record of successful tenancies. Unsatisfactory references may include complaints about noise, cleanliness, or failure to fulfill lease terms.

Therefore, if your previous landlord provides a negative reference, it can seriously harm your application since all owners tend to avoid dealing with tenants likely to cause problems.

Late Rent Payments and Outstanding Balances

Consistently paying rent late in previous rentals can signal financial instability and an inability to manage your finances effectively. Landlords may view late rent payments as a risk, indicating a potential for ongoing payment issues.

Additionally, Leaving a previous rental with unpaid rent or other outstanding balances can negatively impact your rental history. Proprietors may fear a similar scenario occurring if they rent their apartment to you.


Causing significant damage to a previous apartment can be a major disqualifying factor. It suggests a lack of care for the property and may result in the landlord incurring repair costs.

What Can Disqualify You From Renting An Apartment

Landlords Will Look at Your Criminal Record

Managers often consider an applicant’s criminal history part of the tenant screening process to ensure the safety and well-being of their property, other tenants, and the neighboring community.

Let’s look at five reasons why having a criminal record can lead to disqualification:

Safety Concerns

A criminal record can disqualify you from renting an apartment because it can raise safety concerns for the landlord and other tenants.

For example, a landlord is highly likely to reject the application of a potential tenant with a gang activity history. It’s due to the fear that the person may bring gang members into the property or that they will create a dangerous situation for other tenants.

Property Damage

Some criminal activities involve property damage or vandalism, resulting in costly repairs for landlords. Past incidents of property damage may lead to concerns about a tenant’s respect for the property.

Liability Concerns

Apartment managers may be legally liable for criminal activities on their property if they were aware of a tenant’s criminal history and still chose to rent to them. To reduce liability risks, they may disqualify applicants with certain criminal convictions.

Community Standards

Landlords have an interest in maintaining a harmonious community within their rental properties. Criminal activities can strain neighborly relationships and create a negative environment.
A history of criminal activity by a tenant can negatively impact the reputation of the neighborhood and the property itself. As a result, one may reject the application of a former convict to avoid this negative association.

Property Insurance Requirements

Some property insurance policies may have specific requirements regarding tenants’ criminal backgrounds. Since owners must adhere to such conditions to maintain insurance coverage, they will likely disqualify potential tenants with a history of committing violent crimes.

However, it’s essential to note that not all landlords will disqualify you from renting an apartment if you have a criminal history. It’s because the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on this factor.
Therefore, if you have a criminal record, there are still things you can do to improve your chances of getting approved for an apartment. Here are a few tips:

  • Be honest about your criminal history. Don’t try to hide it or sugarcoat it.
  • Explain the circumstances behind your criminal history. Explain the crime to the landlord if you had a legitimate reason for the crime.
  • Get positive references from people who attest to your good character and rehabilitation efforts.

Credit History Can Disqualify You from Renting an Apartment

Credit history details can disqualify you from renting an apartment because they provide insights into your financial responsibility and ability to meet financial obligations. Landlords often use credit reports and scores to assess an applicant’s risk as a tenant.

Here’s how credit history details can lead to disqualification:

Low Credit Score

This aspect indicates a history of financial difficulties, missed payments, or high debt levels. Apartment managers often have a minimum credit score requirement; if your score falls below this threshold, you may be disqualified.

Outstanding Debt

High levels of outstanding debt, such as credit card balances, loans, or unpaid bills, can raise concerns for landlords. It may suggest you have limited financial resources to meet your rent payments.

Late Payments

Late payments on credit cards, loans, or other debts can also be a red flag for some landlords. Consistent lateness indicates a pattern of financial irresponsibility, which may extend to rent payments.

Collections or Judgments

Having accounts in collections or facing legal judgments due to unpaid debts can be a significant disqualifying factor. Landlords view them as indicators of financial instability and potential future payment problems.


A recent bankruptcy filing can cause disqualification, as it indicates a recent financial crisis. Apartment owners may be concerned about your ability to cover rent and other expenses.


A foreclosure history on a previous property can also raise concerns for landlords. It suggests that you could not meet your mortgage obligations, which may lead to concerns about rent payments.

Limited Credit History

While having a poor credit history can be problematic, having no credit history or a limited one can also disqualify you. Landlords may find it challenging to assess your financial responsibility without sufficient credit data.

Apartment Managers Assess General Tenant Risk Factors

Landlords often use credit reports as part of their tenant risk assessment process. For instance, your credit history may reflect a history of defaulting or breaking previous lease agreements. This factor will contribute to a higher perceived risk as a tenant, significantly impacting your chances of being approved for a new rental.

Too Many Occupants

Apartment managers want to ensure that their properties are safe and habitable, hence why they have rules about the maximum number of occupants allowed per unit.

Here’s how having too many occupants can lead to disqualification:

Excessive Wear and Tear

An apartment that houses too many people is more likely to experience excessive wear and tear on the property. These effects often lead to increased maintenance and repair costs for the owner.
As a result, most landlords may reject the applications of people with large families or many roommates due to the fear that the high number of occupants in the apartment may result in significant damages or deterioration.

Overloading Utilities

Furthermore, having an overwhelming number of occupants can strain the property’s utilities and infrastructure, potentially leading to problems involving water supply, electrical systems, or sewage system disruptions.

Legal and Liability Issues

Landlords may be legally liable if their property violates occupancy regulations or an accident or injury occurs due to overcrowding. Apartment managers often enforce occupancy limits strictly to protect themselves from potential legal issues.

Insurance Considerations

Many landlords carry property insurance policies that specify occupancy limits and building guidelines. These policies often depend on factors such as the number of bedrooms or square footage.
To ensure their property is protected along with potential financial interests, they might turn down applicants who plan to accommodate too many people, which could lead to non-conformance with insurance requirements.

Conclusion: What Can Disqualify You From Renting An Apartment?

In short, the factors are income, employment, rental history, criminal record, credit history, and general risk factors. Consider these factors while you move through the stages of applying for rental apartments. Many of these factors relate to your credit situation. If your credit score is one of your biggest challenges, speak to one of our credit analysts to see what can be done. If you feel you’ve been unjustly denied a chance to rent an apartment, seek legal counsel.

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