Skip to Content

How Long Does It Take to Rent an Apartment?

*This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my disclaimer for additional details..

In many places around the country, the rental market is blazing hot. People are vying for spaces to live, and with all of the demands, finding the perfect place can be a challenge. In a lot of places, you’re going to have several applicants responding to an advertisement for a vacant apartment.

Getting there as early as possible, having everything filled out, a check for your first month’s rent and your deposit, and other steps can make you the best applicant. Once you’ve secured the place, how long does it take before you can move in?

The application process for an apartment usually takes anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.

Sometimes the landlord or the property management has to do things like paint, clean the carpets, and handle minor repairs from the previous tenant. They also have to run a credit check, call references, and review your application.

woman holding apartment key and house shaped keychain in new apartment

Knowing what’s involved in the application approval process can help you prepare all of the necessary items to get into your apartment faster.

Understanding how things will go can also help you plan appropriately so you aren’t left in the lurch in a new city or moving between apartments. Here are some things that will help you prepare.

What Are the Normal Steps in Apartment Approval?

It’s not complicated to rent an apartment. If this is your first place, just knowing what’s involved will help you know what to expect. Here is generally what happens.

customer signing on contract paper for renting new apartment concept

Step 1 – You must submit an application either online or via paperwork that the apartment management or landlord gives you. They can email it to you, or they’ll hand it to you after you tour the apartment yourself.

Step 2 – Sometimes applications come with an application fee. The fee goes toward paying for the time it takes to call references and run a credit check. Most of the time the application fee is around $25.

Step 3 – The landlord or property manager does a background check. They’ll call your employer, check your credit to look for any past evictions, and evaluate your ability to pay rent.

Step 4 – If this is your first apartment, they may require a cosigner. Parents often sign with children on a lease to guarantee the ability to pay.

Step 5 – You pay for the first month’s rent as well as the security deposit, which is typically equal to one month’s rent.

Step 6 – You and the manager/landlord agree on the day you will move into the apartment.

Deciding on the Move-In Date

Once approved, how long before you can move in?

After you’ve checked all of the boxes and you’re ready to move in, you can work with your landlord or property manager to find the best move-in day.

For many people, it’s easiest to move in on the 1st of the month. That’s because tenants have typically paid for an entire month in their previous apartment, or when the semester ends at school and it’s time to move out of the dorms.

Happy couple standing near the door of their new apartment with cardboard boxes on the floor

You don’t have to move in on the first. You can move on any day, really, you’ll just have to pay for it. When this happens, the landlord or manager will prorate your rent based on what your monthly bill is.

So, if you’re moving in on the 20th, you’ll have to pay for the 10 days or so that are left in the month and then pay a full month’s rent on the first of the next month.

Would most apartment owners prorate rent?

In most cases apartment owners will prorate rent to the first. Landlords and property managers have investment properties to make money.

Vacant apartments mean they are losing income. If they can get you into the apartment earlier, they’ll do what they can.

If you’re moving into a large complex with a ton of units, the property manager is going to be less flexible than if you’re dealing directly with the landlord in a smaller apartment building.

When you’re dealing with so many units, you have to keep things streamlined. They are less inclined to make exceptions because then it becomes harder to keep things organized.

Before a tenant moves in, apartments have to do a lot of prep work. They have to make sure that the apartment meets the conditions of the lease before you move in.

To get ready for the move-in inspection, they’ll shampoo the carpets, inspect the appliances, and do things like repair holes in walls. It’s got to be in good condition for a new tenant.

If you’re eager to move in faster, talk to them and let them know that you don’t mind if the repairs and maintenance are done while you’re in the unit. See what they say but don’t be surprised if it’s a “no”.

Paying Rent

Apartment rent doesn’t have to be due on the first, but it usually is. Again, it’s simply a matter of staying organized.

Property managers and landlords don’t want to have to keep track of different rent due dates for every tenant. When that happens, things get lost in the mix.

They’re not just sitting there waiting for the rent to come in each month. While you’re not looking, they’re fixing lights, repairing dishwashers, and handling other issues for tenants. Keeping things on the first makes it easier to stay organized.

hand of a woman holding walet and getting cash dollars

Most leases will stipulate that you have a grace period until at least the 5th of every month to pay rent. After the 5th, you’re considered late and could incur late fees.

If you are going to be late for whatever reason, let your landlord know ahead of time. If it’s a one-time thing, most landlords will be willing to be flexible with you based on your situation.

It’s important to read and understand your lease so that you know how long your grace period is and what the fees are if you pay late.

Renting an apartment is fairly easy, but to get a good unit in this market, you have got to be prepared. Have all of the paperwork filled out, and once it’s turned in, follow up with the management company. They’ll see that you want it badly and do their best to accommodate you.