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Applying for a rental property has never been easier, with online applications and background checks putting you within an arm’s reach of landlords. One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is the stress that comes with the waiting game: Has your rental application been accepted or denied? If the worst-case scenario has happened to you, take a step back and evaluate what might have been the reason.

Insufficient or inconsistent income. According to landlords across the country, the No. 1 reason why they reject applications is unverified or inadequate income. As a general rule, landlords hope to see verifiable proof that their tenants make at least three times the monthly rent, to ensure that you will able to afford rental payments. Can’t guarantee a consistent monthly income? Perhaps subletting on a month-to-month basis is better for the time being.

Poor credit. If your credit score is dismal, landlords will view this as a sign of financial irresponsibility and be less likely to consider you as a prospective tenant. Similarly, if you have significant debt, you are unlikely to score points in their eyes. Fortunately, there are many ways to boost your credit score. Pay off debt and get back on track before you submit your next application.

Inadequate references. If you left your previous rental property on bad terms with your landlord, don’t expect him or her to speak of you highly. If you include bad references, or your prospective landlord can’t get in touch with any of your references, you’ll be placed further down on the list of potential tenants.

Evictions. It goes without saying that a past eviction will reflect poorly on your rental application, whether you were evicted due to late payments or destruction of property. An eviction is not necessarily the end of the world, especially if it occurred a long time ago, but if you were recently forced to vacate, you’re unlikely to score many points with your new landlord. 

Unexplained gaps. Whether they’re gaps in rental history or employment history, they will reflect poorly on you as they suggest you might just be irresponsible. To a landlord, a gap in rental history indicates you were not able to afford to rent for a period of time.

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