Apartment Living Tips

10 Signs That You Didn’t Get the Apartment and How to Improve Your Chances

Apartment hunting is an adventure filled with high hopes, excitement, and the anticipation of finding the perfect place to call home. But what happens when you don’t get that dream apartment you had your eye on? Rejection is never easy, but it can be a valuable learning experience to help you secure your ideal rental in the future. In this guide, we’ll explore the ten unmistakable signs that you didn’t get the apartment you hoped for, giving you insights into why it might have happened. More importantly, we’ll provide you with strategies on how to improve your chances next time you embark on your apartment-hunting journey.

Signs You Didn't Get the Apartment, apartmentSigns You Didn't Get the Apartment, apartment
Signs You Didn’t Get the Apartment

1. Poor Rental History

Your rental history is like a financial report card for potential landlords. It reflects your past behavior as a tenant, and a poor rental history can be a significant barrier to securing your dream apartment. Here’s an in-depth look at what constitutes a poor rental history and how you can address it:

Signs of a Poor Rental History:

  1. Late Rent Payments: Chronic late rent payments are a red flag for landlords. It suggests financial instability and a lack of responsibility. If you have a history of consistently missing rent deadlines, it’s a clear sign of poor rental history.
  2. Security Deposit Disputes: If you’ve had disagreements with previous landlords regarding the return of your security deposit, it can tarnish your rental history. Landlords want tenants who leave their rental units in good condition, and disputes over security deposits indicate potential neglect.
  3. Lease Violations: Violating the terms of your lease agreement, whether through unauthorized subletting, excessive noise complaints, or smoking in a non-smoking unit, can lead to a poor rental history. Landlords expect tenants to adhere to the agreed-upon rules.
  4. Evictions: The ultimate red flag in your rental history is an eviction. Evictions are legally mandated processes that occur when tenants fail to meet their lease obligations, usually due to non-payment of rent. An eviction on your record can make it incredibly challenging to secure a new apartment.

How to Address a Poor Rental History:

  1. Check Your Rental History: Before applying for a new apartment, obtain a copy of your rental history. You can use online portals like Rentredi.com or Smart Move to see what potential landlords might see. Review it for accuracy and identify areas that need improvement.
  2. Communicate with Past Landlords: If your poor rental history is due to late payments or disputes, consider reaching out to past landlords. Explain your willingness to address the issues and ask if they would be willing to provide a reference or amend their report.
  3. Provide Guarantors or Co-Signers: If your rental history is less than ideal, offering a guarantor or co-signer with a strong rental history can increase your chances of being approved for a new apartment. This provides landlords with added financial security.
  4. Offer a Larger Security Deposit: To mitigate concerns about your rental history, you can offer to pay a larger security deposit. This demonstrates your commitment to maintaining the property and covers potential damages or unpaid rent.
  5. Build Positive Rental History: If you’re struggling to find an apartment due to a lack of rental history, consider renting from landlords who may be more lenient, such as individual property owners or smaller management companies. Building positive rental history over time will improve your prospects.
  6. Professional References: Provide professional references, such as your employer or supervisor, who can vouch for your responsibility, reliability, and ability to meet financial obligations.

2. Slow Response

In the fast-paced world of apartment hunting, where demand often exceeds supply, a slow response can be the difference between securing your dream apartment and missing out.

Signs of a Slow Response:

  1. Missed Application Deadlines: Many landlords set specific application deadlines to streamline the tenant selection process. If you consistently miss these deadlines, it’s a clear sign of a slow response.
  2. Delayed Communication: Slow response can manifest in delayed communication with landlords or property managers. This includes taking too long to respond to emails, missed phone calls, or not promptly following up on inquiries.
  3. Failure to Act Quickly: In highly competitive rental markets, prime apartments can be snatched up within hours. If you hesitate to submit an application, gather required documentation, or schedule viewings promptly, it’s a sign of a slow response.

Consequences of a Slow Response:

A slow response can have several detrimental consequences when seeking an apartment:

  1. Missed Opportunities: The most immediate consequence is missing out on apartments that align with your preferences. In-demand properties can be off the market before you even get a chance to view them.
  2. Frustration for Landlords: Slow responses can frustrate landlords who are looking for tenants to fill vacancies quickly. It can create doubts about your seriousness as a tenant.
  3. Competitive Disadvantage: In competitive rental markets, other applicants who respond promptly gain an advantage. Landlords often choose tenants who demonstrate eagerness and a quick turnaround.

How to Improve Your Response Time:

  1. Prepare in Advance: To avoid delays, prepare a rental application package in advance. This should include a completed application, references, proof of income, and any required documentation.
  2. Set Alerts and Notifications: Enable notifications for property listings on rental websites or apps. This allows you to receive immediate updates when new apartments become available, helping you respond faster.
  3. Prioritize Responsiveness: Make responding to rental inquiries and messages a priority. If a landlord or property manager contacts you, aim to reply within hours, if not minutes.
  4. Schedule Viewings Promptly: When you find an apartment that interests you, schedule viewings promptly. Some landlords offer showings on a first-come, first-served basis, so acting quickly increases your chances.
  5. Keep Communication Clear: Ensure your emails and messages are clear and concise. Avoid unnecessary delays caused by misunderstandings or the need for additional information.
  6. Be Ready to Submit: Be prepared to submit your rental application as soon as you decide on a property. This includes having application fees and deposits ready.

3. Poor Credit Score

Your credit score is like a financial report card that landlords often use to evaluate your reliability as a tenant. A poor credit score can be a major obstacle to securing your desired apartment.:

Signs of a Poor Credit Score:

  1. Low Credit Score: Your credit score is a numerical representation of your creditworthiness, typically ranging from 300 to 850. A score below 600 is generally considered poor and may raise concerns for potential landlords.
  2. Late or Missed Payments: Past instances of late or missed payments on credit cards, loans, or previous rent can significantly impact your credit score.
  3. Bankruptcy or Collections: A history of bankruptcy or accounts sent to collections can severely damage your credit score and make landlords wary of your financial stability.

Consequences of a Poor Credit Score:

A poor credit score can have several consequences when you’re searching for an apartment:

  1. Application Denial: Many landlords use credit scores as a screening tool. If your score falls below their threshold, your application may be denied without further consideration.
  2. Higher Security Deposits: Some landlords may require a higher security deposit if they have concerns about your credit history. This means a larger upfront expense for you.
  3. Limited Housing Options: With a poor credit score, you may find it challenging to secure apartments in desirable neighborhoods or upscale buildings that have stricter credit requirements.

Minimum Credit Score Guidelines:

Apartment MarketMinimum Credit Score
Competitive Markets (e.g., New York City, San Francisco)700 or higher
Moderately Competitive Markets650 – 699
Less Competitive Markets600 – 649
Subprime Markets (e.g., with financial difficulties)Below 600
This table provides a general guideline for the minimum credit score that landlords in different apartment markets may expect from applicants. Keep in mind that these guidelines can vary by location and individual landlord preferences.

How to Address a Poor Credit Score:

  1. Check Your Credit Report: Obtain a copy of your credit report from one of the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion). Review it for inaccuracies, and if you find any, dispute them to improve your score.
  2. Pay Down Debts: Reducing outstanding debts can have a positive impact on your credit score. Create a plan to pay down credit card balances and loans systematically.
  3. Establish Positive Credit: If you have limited credit history, consider opening a secured credit card or becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit account to establish a positive credit history.
  4. Pay Bills on Time: Consistently paying bills, including rent, utilities, and credit card bills, on time can gradually improve your credit score.
  5. Seek a Co-Signer: If your credit score is a significant concern, you can ask a trusted friend or family member with good credit to co-sign the lease. This provides additional assurance to the landlord.
  6. Provide a Letter of Explanation: Along with your rental application, consider including a letter of explanation for any negative credit history. Be honest about the circumstances and steps you’ve taken to improve your financial situation.

4. Having a Pet or Lying About It

Pets are cherished members of many households, but when it comes to apartment hunting, having a furry friend can be a double-edged sword. Additionally, being less than truthful about your pet ownership can lead to significant complications in your quest for the perfect rental property.

Consequences of Having a Pet or Lying About It:

Having a pet or being dishonest about it can lead to various complications:

  1. Lease Termination: If your lease agreement explicitly prohibits pets, discovering that you have one can result in lease termination or eviction.
  2. Additional Fees: Some landlords allow pets but may charge extra fees, such as pet deposits or monthly pet rent. Lying about your pet can result in unexpected financial obligations.
  3. Property Damage: Pets, especially if not well-trained, can cause damage to the rental property. Lying about your pet may lead to disputes over responsibility for repairs.
  4. Future Rental Challenges: A history of hiding your pet can make it challenging to secure future rentals. Landlords often share information about problematic tenants within their networks.

How to Address Having a Pet:

  1. Be Honest: The most straightforward approach is honesty. If you have a pet, disclose it on your rental application and during any communication with the landlord. Honesty is often appreciated, and some landlords may consider pet-friendly arrangements.
  2. Ask About Pet Policies: Before applying for an apartment, inquire about the landlord’s pet policy. Some landlords may be open to pets, while others have strict no-pet policies. Knowing the rules upfront can save you time and potential complications.
  3. Provide Pet References: If you have a well-behaved and responsible pet, consider providing references from previous landlords or neighbors who can vouch for your pet’s behavior.

How to Address Lying About Your Pet:

If you’ve been less than truthful about your pet ownership, it’s essential to rectify the situation:

  1. Confess the Truth: Contact your landlord or property manager and admit that you made a mistake by not disclosing your pet. Apologize for the oversight and provide assurance that you are willing to comply with their pet policies.
  2. Offer Solutions: If the landlord is open to discussing the situation, offer solutions such as paying any required pet fees, providing references, or addressing any concerns they may have.

5. Lying on Your Rental Application

Honesty is paramount when you’re applying for an apartment. Lying on your rental application can have serious consequences and jeopardize your chances of securing your dream rental property.

Signs of Lying on Your Rental Application:

  1. False Information: Providing inaccurate information about your rental history, income, employment, or personal details on your application is a clear sign of dishonesty.
  2. Fake References: Using fake references who don’t actually exist or who aren’t genuine contacts is another sign of deceit on your application.
  3. Fabricated Documents: Submitting forged documents, such as fake pay stubs or employment letters, to support your application is a serious form of deception.

Consequences of Lying on Your Rental Application:

Lying on your rental application can lead to a range of negative consequences:

  1. Application Rejection: Landlords and property managers conduct thorough background checks, and inconsistencies or false information can lead to immediate rejection of your application.
  2. Lease Termination: If you manage to secure the apartment through deception, your lease may be terminated once the truth is discovered, potentially resulting in eviction.
  3. Legal Consequences: Providing false information on your application can have legal repercussions, including fines or even legal action from the landlord.
  4. Damage to Rental History: A history of dishonesty can tarnish your rental history, making it challenging to secure future rental properties.
  5. Financial Penalties: Some landlords may require you to pay penalties or fees for the misrepresentation, such as covering the costs of background checks.

How to Address Lying on Your Rental Application:

If you’ve been dishonest on your rental application, it’s crucial to take immediate steps to address the situation:

  1. Admit the Truth: Contact your landlord or property manager as soon as possible and admit that you provided false information on your application. Acknowledge your mistake and express remorse.
  2. Provide Accurate Information: Offer to provide accurate and verifiable information to correct the inaccuracies on your application.
  3. Explain Your Actions: Be prepared to explain why you lied on your application. While there may not be a valid excuse for deception, providing context may help in resolving the situation.
  4. Offer a Solution: If the landlord is open to discussing the matter, propose a solution. This could include paying any required penalties or addressing their concerns in a transparent manner.

6. Having a Criminal Conviction

Having a criminal conviction in your past can present a significant challenge when you’re applying for an apartment. Landlords are often cautious about renting to individuals with criminal histories, especially if the conviction involved actions that could affect the safety or well-being of other tenants.

Signs of Having a Criminal Conviction:

  1. Disclosure of Conviction: If you have a criminal conviction, you should disclose this information on your rental application when asked about your criminal history.
  2. Background Check: Landlords typically conduct background checks that may reveal any criminal convictions in your history, even if you haven’t disclosed them.

Consequences of Having a Criminal Conviction:

Having a criminal conviction can lead to various challenges during your apartment search:

  1. Application Rejection: Some landlords may have strict policies against renting to individuals with certain types of criminal convictions. As a result, your application could be rejected solely based on your criminal history.
  2. Limited Housing Options: A criminal conviction can limit your housing options, as many landlords may be hesitant to rent to individuals with certain types of convictions, such as violent offenses or drug-related charges.
  3. Higher Security Deposits: In cases where landlords are willing to rent to individuals with criminal convictions, they may require a higher security deposit to mitigate potential risks.

How to Address Having a Criminal Conviction:

  1. Honesty is Key: When asked about your criminal history on the rental application, be honest and provide accurate details about the conviction.
  2. Explain Rehabilitation: If your conviction is in the past and you’ve since demonstrated rehabilitation and a commitment to leading a law-abiding life, consider including a brief explanation in your application or a separate letter to the landlord.
  3. Provide References: If possible, provide character references who can vouch for your reliability and responsible behavior since the conviction. These references can help landlords gain a more comprehensive view of your character.
  4. Offer to Pay More: If a landlord expresses concerns about your criminal history, you can offer to pay a higher security deposit or take additional measures to ease their worries.
  5. Know Your Rights: Familiarize yourself with local and state laws regarding housing and tenant rights, as some areas have regulations that protect individuals with criminal histories from discrimination.

7. Insufficient Income

One of the fundamental criteria landlords assess when considering rental applications is the applicant’s ability to afford the rent. Landlords want tenants who can consistently meet their financial obligations without strain. If your income falls short of the required threshold, it can be a significant obstacle in securing the apartment you desire.

Signs of Insufficient Income:

  1. Income Below Threshold: Your income, as stated on your application, is below the landlord’s minimum income requirement, typically set at a multiple of the monthly rent (e.g., 3x the rent).
  2. Debt-to-Income Ratio: Landlords may also evaluate your debt-to-income ratio, considering all your existing financial obligations in relation to your income.

Minimum Income Guidelines

To provide a clearer picture, here’s a table showcasing minimum income guidelines based on various rent levels:

Monthly RentMinimum Monthly Income Required
$1,000$3,000 or more
$1,500$4,500 or more
$2,000$6,000 or more
$2,500$7,500 or more
$3,000$9,000 or more
$3,500$10,500 or more
$4,000$12,000 or more
$4,500$13,500 or more

Consequences of Insufficient Income:

Insufficient income can result in various challenges during the rental application process:

  1. Application Rejection: Landlords are likely to reject your application if your income does not meet their minimum requirements.
  2. Cosigner Request: In some cases, landlords may ask you to secure a cosigner (guarantor) who meets the income criteria to vouch for your financial responsibility.
  3. Higher Security Deposit: Alternatively, landlords may require a higher security deposit to offset the perceived financial risk.

How to Address Insufficient Income:

  1. Provide a Cosigner: If your income falls short, consider asking a trusted friend or family member with a stronger financial profile to act as a cosigner on the lease.
  2. Offer a Larger Deposit: Be willing to offer a larger security deposit to demonstrate your commitment and financial stability.
  3. Seek More Affordable Housing: Explore housing options with lower rent that align with your current income. Finding a more affordable apartment can make your rental experience less financially burdensome.
  4. Increase Your Income: Take proactive steps to increase your income, such as seeking higher-paying employment or additional sources of income.

You May Also Like: The Top 5 Cheap Apartments in Chesapeake, VA

8. Lack of Professionalism

When applying for an apartment, first impressions matter significantly. Landlords want tenants who are responsible, reliable, and easy to work with. Any display of unprofessionalism during the rental application process can be a red flag for landlords.

Signs of Lack of Professionalism:

  1. Tardiness: Arriving late for appointments, such as property viewings or meetings with the landlord, demonstrates a lack of respect for the landlord’s time and sets a negative tone.
  2. Inadequate Communication: Failing to respond promptly to emails or phone calls from the landlord can be perceived as disinterest or unreliability.
  3. Inappropriate Attire or Behavior: Dressing inappropriately or exhibiting disrespectful behavior during meetings or interactions with the landlord can leave a negative impression.

Consequences of Lack of Professionalism:

Demonstrating a lack of professionalism can lead to several undesirable outcomes in your apartment search:

  1. Application Rejection: Landlords may choose to reject your application if they believe your unprofessional behavior is indicative of future difficulties or conflicts.
  2. Difficulty in Communication: Landlords may be less inclined to engage with applicants who have shown a lack of professionalism, making it challenging to address any concerns or negotiate terms.
  3. Competitive Disadvantage: In highly competitive rental markets, where multiple applicants may be vying for the same apartment, professionalism can be a differentiating factor that sets you apart from other candidates.

How to Address Lack of Professionalism:

  1. Punctuality: Always arrive on time for scheduled appointments, whether it’s a property viewing or a meeting with the landlord. Being punctual demonstrates respect for their time.
  2. Effective Communication: Respond promptly to emails, calls, or messages from the landlord. Clear and timely communication conveys your commitment to the rental process.
  3. Professional Attire: Dress appropriately for meetings or viewings. While you don’t need to wear formal attire, dressing neatly and presentably is essential.
  4. Respectful Behavior: Maintain a courteous and respectful demeanor during interactions with the landlord. Avoid any behavior that could be perceived as disrespectful or unprofessional.

9. Failure to Follow Directions

In the competitive world of apartment hunting, attention to detail and adherence to instructions can make a significant difference in whether you secure your desired apartment. Landlords often include specific directions and requirements in their rental application processes, and failing to follow these directions can be a red flag.

Signs of Failure to Follow Directions:

  1. Incorrect Application Submission: Submitting an incomplete or incorrectly filled-out rental application can indicate a failure to follow the provided instructions.
  2. Ignoring Viewing Procedures: If the landlord specifies viewing procedures, such as scheduling appointments or visiting during certain hours, disregarding these instructions can be a sign of non-compliance.
  3. Missed Documentation: Neglecting to include necessary documents, such as identification or proof of income, as requested in the application guidelines, is another indicator.

Consequences of Failure to Follow Directions:

Not following directions during the apartment application process can lead to several adverse outcomes:

  1. Application Disqualification: Landlords may disqualify your application if they perceive that you cannot adhere to simple instructions, as it may raise doubts about your ability to comply with lease terms.
  2. Wasted Time: Your time, as well as the landlord’s, can be wasted if you neglect to follow instructions. For example, showing up at the property unannounced when appointments were required can be a significant inconvenience.
  3. Competitive Disadvantage: In competitive rental markets, where landlords have multiple applicants to choose from, those who demonstrate attention to detail and compliance with instructions are more likely to stand out.

How to Address Failure to Follow Directions:

  1. Thoroughly Read Instructions: Begin by carefully reading and understanding all instructions provided by the landlord or property manager. Pay close attention to details regarding application submission, viewing procedures, and required documentation.
  2. Create a Checklist: Create a checklist to ensure you have gathered all the necessary documents and information before submitting your application.
  3. Set Reminders: If appointments or deadlines are involved, set reminders or alarms to ensure you don’t miss any important steps or dates.
  4. Seek Clarification: If any instructions are unclear or if you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to the landlord or their representative for clarification.

10. Disarray in Your Vehicle

When you’re on the path to securing a new apartment, it’s not just your personal appearance and interactions with the landlord that matter. The condition of your vehicle can also leave an impression on the landlord. Many landlords view the state of your car as a reflection of your overall organization and cleanliness.

Signs of Disarray in Your Vehicle:

  1. Visible Clutter: If your car’s interior is cluttered with personal items, trash, or belongings, it can indicate a lack of organization.
  2. Unpleasant Odors: Lingering odors, such as from fast food wrappers, can create a negative impression, as they suggest a lack of cleanliness.
  3. Lack of Maintenance: An unkempt vehicle, with dirt or neglect, may signal a lack of attention to detail and responsibility.

Consequences of Disarray in Your Vehicle:

The condition of your vehicle can have several consequences during the rental application process:

  1. Negative Perception: Landlords may perceive a messy or disorganized vehicle as an indicator of your potential behavior as a tenant, causing them to question your cleanliness and responsibility.
  2. Reduced Trust: Your landlord’s trust in your ability to maintain the rental property may be diminished if your vehicle appears neglected or chaotic.
  3. Application Disqualification: In highly competitive rental markets, where landlords have numerous applicants to choose from, a disorganized vehicle can be a factor in the decision to disqualify your application.

How to Address Disarray in Your Vehicle:

  1. Clean and Organize: Prior to meeting with the landlord or viewing the apartment, thoroughly clean and organize your vehicle’s interior. Remove clutter, trash, and any unnecessary items.
  2. Eliminate Odors: Address any unpleasant odors in your car by using air fresheners or cleaning products designed to remove smells.
  3. Regular Maintenance: Keep up with regular vehicle maintenance, such as washing and vacuuming, to ensure your car maintains a clean appearance.
  4. Use Storage Solutions: Consider using storage solutions, such as organizers or bins, to keep your car’s interior tidy and well-organized.


Apartment hunting can be both thrilling and challenging, and recognizing the signs that you didn’t get the apartment you desired can provide valuable insights. Whether it’s a less-than-ideal rental history, a lack of professionalism, or other factors, understanding these signs can empower you to refine your approach and enhance your chances of finding your dream apartment in the future. Remember, each experience, even those that might seem discouraging, brings you closer to discovering that perfect place to call home. So, armed with this newfound knowledge, continue your apartment search with confidence, knowing that each sign is a stepping stone on your path to finding your ideal living space.

By being aware of these signs and taking steps to address them, you’ll be better equipped to secure your next apartment successfully. Remember, persistence and professionalism are key in the competitive world of apartment hunting. Happy searching!

Frequently Asked Questions: Signs You Didn’t Get the Apartment

What are the signs you didn’t get the apartment?

Signs that you didn’t get the apartment can include a poor rental history, slow response, a low credit score, having a pet (if not allowed), lying on your rental application, having a criminal conviction, insufficient income, a lack of professionalism, failure to follow directions, and a disorganized vehicle.

How does a low credit score impact my ability to get an apartment?

A low credit score can make landlords cautious, as it may indicate a history of financial irresponsibility. Some landlords may require a higher security deposit or reject your application altogether.

Are there resources or websites where I can check my rental history before applying for an apartment?

Yes, several online services allow you to check your rental history and identify any potential issues that may affect your application. Websites like Rentredi.com and Smart Move offer tenant screening background checks.