Apartment application – 10 tips for success

Applying for an apartment: many rental apartments are highly sought after. If you’re fast, come across as likeable and have persuasive documents, you’re more likely to be successful with your apartment application. Our tips will help.

Most important questions:

What do I need for an apartment application?

For an apartment application, you need an appointment to view the property and the application form you receive when you’re there. You’ll also need a one-page letter of application, references from your employer and an extract from the debt collection register. It does, of course, make sense to ensure you make a good impression. However, ultimately there’s also an element of luck involved in being accepted for an apartment.

When should I enquire about an apartment application?

If a deadline has been set by the management company or the landlord, you should only enquire after that has passed. If you’re dealing with a previous tenant or a personal contact, it makes sense to alert them to your having sent your application on the evening of the same day. Otherwise, waiting a week is reasonable.

Before the move comes the apartment search

The times when all you needed for an apartment search was to know the right person are over. Today, it’s about facts, but also about personality if you want to win the hotly contested dream property. An application for an apartment can sometimes feel like you’re applying for a job. Only in this case, you’re applying to the landlord for the position.

Apartment application – 10 tips
An apartment application is much like that for a new job: it’s the whole package that counts!

Tip 1: When making contact, stick to the rules

If you come across an apartment that interests you during your search, be sure to stick to the requested form of contact when making your application. Don’t call if the first contact is explicitly requested to be made by email. However, if a phone number is available, try to grab an appointment as quickly as possible. Find out what is important to the landlord or the management company (e.g. quiet tenants), then you can explain during the viewing why you’re the right choice.

Tip 2: Make a good impression at the viewing

Be at the viewing on time and make a reliable, neat and respectable impression. Be prepared by bringing the documents needed for the apartment application with you. Show interest, but don’t be too critical about the rental property, and be careful not to come across as pushy.

Tip 3: Convince them with a complete application portfolio

Submit all of the required application documents (or application portfolio) for the apartment including a cover letter and, most importantly, do it as quickly as possible; alternatively, you can hand them over at the viewing. Many management companies consider comparable applications in the order in which they are received.

You’ll usually need to complete the landlord or management company’s application form and provide an original and recent extract from the debt collection register. It is also advisable to provide a personal cover letter with a photo and references, along with an employment contract and pay slip where applicable, but not an employment reference letter. For international applicants, it could be helpful to enclose your residence permit. 

Tip 4: The right registration form

For certain apartments, you should use the application form you receive at the viewing. These days, the application form can also be called up online via QR code, but usually you’ll only receive the form or the QR code if you were at the apartment viewing. This is especially the case for highly sought-after apartments in big cities. If no forms are available, you’ll find plenty of templates online. Complete the registration form neatly, clearly and in full. It’s best to make a few copies beforehand so you can start again if you make any mistakes. In the case of any questions that you feel are inappropriate, it’s up to you whether you answer them. But don’t get carried away and give incorrect information.

Tip 5: Extract from the debt collection register

It’s obvious why an extract from the debt collection register is required: the landlord or management company want proof that you can afford to pay the rent. So enclose an extract from the debt collection register with the application, even if it is not explicitly requested. You’ll be able to get this from your local debt collection office. If you’ve been in debt in the past, this doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be rejected. Every now and then, debt happens through no fault of our own (e.g. because of illness or an accident). Explain the circumstances to the landlord.

Tip 6: References are a must

You absolutely need to provide references (e.g. current landlord or employer). Your current landlord or employer might even be prepared to testify that you’re reliable, easy to deal with and considerate in a brief letter of recommendation. Don’t overdo it, however, as a future landlord doesn’t have the will or the time to wade through a torrent of information in an apartment application. It’s also important that you state the correct information of your employer, so you can be sure they are contactable. Regarding references, don’t forget to ask your referees for their permission in advance.

Tip 7: The right cover letter

Less is more. Landlords and management companies don’t have much time as they have a huge number of application documents to go through. The cover letter should be a maximum of one page long. It should cover the key points such as your family and professional situation. Make reference to why this apartment is right for you – for example, you could allude to your similarities to the current tenant. Important: avoid spelling mistakes in your cover letter and remain objective.

Tip 8: Follow up, yes – but don’t push it

In order to be remembered after the viewing, it’s worth discreetly following up on an apartment application. If the search for a tenant is being carried out by a previous tenant or the landlord, send them a short email on the evening after the viewing and reiterate what you like about the apartment, the advantages of having you as a tenant and how much you’d like to receive a positive response. If you’re dealing with a management company, a deadline will normally have been set for making a decision. If this is the case, you should only get in touch with the management company after this deadline has passed. Alternatively, you could pass by the management company on the day after the viewing to express your interest and your hope that they choose you.

Tip 9: Avoid blunders

Only apply for apartments for which you can afford the rent. In the case of cheap apartments in particular, don’t complain about everything and don’t make excessive demands. Cancel any agreed appointments that you can’t make in good time. When applying for an apartment, don’t ‘threaten’ to use your contacts, along the lines of ‘I know your manager!’ If you do have such a contact, you could give the relevant person as a referee. Don’t offer landlords or management companies ‘gifts’, as that could be interpreted as an attempt at bribery.

Tip 10: Always be contactable

Make sure that you are always contactable at the address, phone number and email address you provided. A landlord or a management company won’t go to the effort of chasing you as a prospective tenant if they’re able to reach other potential tenants.