What You Need to Bring Before Signing a Lease: Your Complete Checklist

What You Need to Bring Before Signing a Lease: Your Complete Checklist

What You Need to Bring Before Signing a Lease: Your Complete Checklist

Signing a lease for your apartment is an exciting time, whether you’re moving into your first place or upgrading to a better apartment.

But before you get too excited, don’t forget about the things you need. Your new landlord needs certain documents to verify your information and make sure you’re a good tenant.

The specifics that you need may vary depending on how picky the landlord is. Check with the landlord to find out for sure what you need.

To be on the safe side, have these documents ready when you’re renting an apartment.

Recent Pay Stubs

Your future landlord wants proof that you can afford the rent. If you don’t have a job or if your income is too low, you’re a risk for the landlord.

The general recommendation is to spend no more than 30% of your gross income on housing. Gross income is the amount before taxes and other deductions. If your gross income is $5,000, your max rent should be $1,500.

Landlords may have other requirements, such as a salary that’s two or three times the rent.

Grab your most recent pay stubs to prove you have a job and that your income matches what you put on the application.

If you don’t have pay stubs, go to this page for a pay stub generator to create your own.

Other Proof of Employment

Some landlords may accept other proof of employment. A common option is a letter of employment.

This document should come from your employer on company letterhead. It should include your position, what you do, salary, and how long you’ve worked there.

Bank Statements

Another financial check the landlord may want is a copy of your recent bank statements. This can take the place of pay stubs to show that you can afford the place.

Tax Returns

Yet another possible financial document you may need is a copy of your last year’s tax returns. This can replace other forms of employment verification. Some landlords may want to see your tax returns in addition to your pay stubs. If you have any questions about your tax return, you can connect with a network of tax experts online via TurboTax Live right from the comfort of your home in Philadelphia, Tulsa, Los Angeles, or anywhere else in the country.

Photo Identification

It’s always a good idea to keep a photo ID on you at all times. You may need it to prove your identity and to provide proof of your current address. A driver’s license or passport will work.

You’ll also need your social security number. If you don’t have it memorized, bring along your social security card.

Past Residency Information

Landlords typically want your most recent addresses. If you have your old addresses memorized, you’re all set. If you’ve moved a lot, you may want to write down those past addresses so you have the information handy.


Some landlords want references to show your character as a renter. You can usually just provide the contact information from past landlords, so make sure you have the information handy. Some landlords may want reference letters, but that’s rare.


You’ll also need a check for any application fees the landlord charges. You may also need a deposit or first month’s rent when you sign the lease.

Find out the exact amount and the type of payment accepted. You should be able to use a personal check, but you may need a cashier’s check.

Signing a Lease

With all of these documents in hand, you’re ready to rent your apartment. Signing a lease is quick and easy when you’re prepared with the necessary items. Explore the rest of our blog for more helpful information.

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