Completing a rental application

Reviewed by Nina Knudsen

Updated August 31, 2022

Once you’ve found the place you want to call home, there are still a few more hoops to jump through. The landlord will want to check up on you! Normally, the landlord will want to call your current employer, a previous landlord, and perhaps run a credit check.

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Understanding the application

The landlord may do an initial telephone screening before you even see the property, to find out how many people would be living there, what you do for a living, whether you have any pets, and so on.

If you pass the telephone screening, you can arrange to see the property. After viewing the property, you’ll be asked to complete application form.

During the application process, landlords can ask questions to help assess the suitability of a tenant. But, they can’t ask questions that infringe on the rights of the tenant under the Human Rights code.

Landlords can ask for:

  • Where you work
  • Your annual income
  • How many people will be living in the residence and their names
  • Whether you have pets or if you smoke
  • If you will give permission in writing for them to obtain a credit check
  • Your references

Landlords cannot ask about:

  • Your age
  • Your citizenship or immigration status
  • Details about your ethnic background or religion
  • Your sex, your gender identity or expression, or your sexual orientation
  • If you plan to have children, more children, or if you’re pregnant
  • If your family will be visiting
  • Your current or planned marital status
  • Whether you’re on any form of social assistance
  • If you have a disability
  • Your social insurance number

As mentioned earlier, landlords can obtain, with your consent, a credit check from Equifax or TransUnion. They can also contact Rent Check Credit Bureau, a credit bureau strictly for the housing industry.

Common questions the landlord may ask your employer and references:

The landlord may contact your employer to confirm your employment status, and ask such questions as:

  • How long have you been employed at that company?
  • What is your current position?
  • Do you work full or part time?
  • What is your annual salary?
  • Do you always come to work on time?

You will need to provide references, including, if applicable, the name of your last landlord, and possibly 2 or 3 previous landlords. Your prospective landlord will be looking for some of the following information:

  • What period of time you were a tenant?
  • Were you late paying the rent at any time?
  • Did you own any pets?
  • Was the home damaged while you lived there, beyond normal wear and tear?
  • Did you give proper notice when moving out?
  • Would they rent to you again?
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Being prepared

All provincial government bodies have samples of various forms you may need as a tenant, including rental application, residential tenancy agreement, and more. Before you start looking for a place to rent, take some time to familiarize yourself with the rules for these topics in your home province.

Things you’ll need to know beforehand:

As a tenant, there are many important things you may want to know before they become an issue. Here are just a few items you may be curious about:

  • What happens if you need to break your lease?
  • How much can the damage deposit be?
  • How often and by how much can the rent be increased?
  • When does the landlord have the right to enter your suite?
  • Should I get a copy of the tenancy agreement?

The answers to these and other questions can be found at the links below. The laws vary from one province to another, so be sure you’re looking at the information for the correct province.

Buying tenant insurance

As a tenant, there are many reasons to purchase tenant insurance. Firstly, to protect your own personal property kept in the rental unit—that’s basically all the stuff you own, from your couch to your television.

Plus, tenant insurance can help cover your liability if a visitor, for example, slips and falls in your apartment. And, you’ll also have coverage for additional living expenses if you have to move out of your apartment due to an insured loss.

Tenant insurance can also cover certain types of accidental damage you may cause to the unit itself. For example, if your faulty toaster oven starts a fire that damages your unit and complex, you may be responsible for that damage. Tenant insurance is also used to defend yourself if someone slips and is injured at your premises.

Many landlords actuallyrequire you to provide them with proof of insurance before they allow you to move in. If you buy tenant insurance from Square One, we can even forward a confirmation of insurance right to your landlord.

Commonly asked questions

What is a credit reference on a rental application?

A credit reference is a way for a landlord to gauge an applicant’s financial situation, especially their ability to make consistent, on-time rent payments. Normally, a credit reference is in the form of a credit report from a firm such as Equifax or TransUnion. Alternatively, a landlord may accept documentation like bank statements or paystubs.

What are some common reasons a rental application gets denied?

Common reasons for a rental application to be denied include poor credit, a lack of references (or poor references), or a past eviction. It could also be that your application was received too late, or that you have a pet and the landlord would prefer pet-less tenants.

How long does it take for a rental application to be approved?

The length of time it takes a landlord to approve an application varies depending on the landlord and how many applications they received. Often, it takes between 1 and 3 days for the landlord to review all the applications, contact references, and make a final decision.

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Want to learn more? Visit our Renter resource centre for more tips and information about life as a renter. Or, get an online quote in under 5 minutes and find out how affordable personalized home insurance can be.

About the expert: Nina Knudsen

Nina Knudsen has 12 years of property management experience under her belt. Nina is part of the team at Royal LePage Sussex, bringing her experience to the company’s Property Management division as the Managing director of the Hello Rent team.

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