Apartment Leasing Questions & Answers  

Faqs and useful information  

Questions? Call Kathy Curtis 

Apartment Rental Questions and Answers

Apartment rental faqs, common questions and answers for apartment search, applying for apartments, leasing or renting an apartment. Your best resource for apartment rental search answers is AptExpert.com Qualification criteria, fees, examples of what to bring when touring properties, standard apartment application approval. Faqs and useful information for apartment leasing with my apartment locator and finder service.   

Faqs and Useful Apartment Rental Information

  • You will be required to provide a valid picture ID to tour apartment property when you visit the leasing offices: Driver License or Passport, and all adults (18+) must present acceptable identification for this purpose to tour the apartments, vacant units, models or community amenities.
  • Many property leasing offices aren't allowed to tour or show apartments during storm or inclement weather events due to liability issues.  


  • Most properties require that your gross income equals 3+ times the monthly rent or more as part of the qualifications for standard apartment approval; you may be asked to provide proof of your income with recent paycheck stubs, offer letter of employment or in some cases bank statements or IRS Returns, it varies by property. There are some properties that require only 2.5 times the monthly rent as income to qualify but they are not the majority.   

What is the criteria when reviewing my application?

  1. As part of the application process, apartment owners or owner representatives review a comprehensive report including credit history, criminal background, and public records search.
  2. Factors that can negatively influence a decision include but are not limited to FICO score, debt to income ratio, rent to income ratio, evictions, judgments, criminal convictions, collections, charge offs, payday loans, repossession, unsettled bankruptcies or recent bankruptcies, and current or recent rental and credit delinquency.
  3. Resident selection criteria include a credit check, background check, rental history check, and income verification. All occupants over the age of 18 will have a background check. Please note property management companies will vary in their qualifications. 
Contact Kathy Curtis 281-414-5258 to assist you with your apartment search today!     


Q. Do I need to come to your office or meet with you in person by appointment? 

A. No,  you can skip the trip and the traffic! You don't have to leave the comfort of your apartment home or office to use my apartment locator services! I can assist you wherever you are. AptExpert.com is fully online for your convenience. I'm a field agent and work remotely so I'm rarely at the Bay Area Boulevard location but I can meet you by appointment if that's your preference. Call me 281-414-5258 or 281-842-7965 or submit your contact form and I'll contact you to discuss your apartment search details. I'm available to you 7 days a week via phone, text, and email or with some advance notice by personal appointment at my office. Your contact information is not shared with anyone and comes directly to me via a secure server. I will supply every detail you need for your apartment search in an easy format tailored to your price, location and amenity preference requests. Each property listing is itemized with detailed information and will be updated with pricing, specials, or discounts prior to your touring or visiting the properties - please contact me to set up appointments for you

Lease through my service at a qualified apartment and report your rental information to receive a  "rebate or gift card"! 

Call for details 281-414-5258 today! 

Q. What do I need bring with me when I tour/visit the apartment communities?​

A. You will need a valid picture ID such as a driver's license or passport to view an apartment. To apply for an apartment, it's helpful to have your paycheck stubs or verification of income, or offer letter of employment, prior employment paperwork, landlord contacts and or copies of prior lease or rental history.


Q. What is an application fee; what is an administration fee and why do I have to pay them? 

A. An application fee is required when applying for an apartment and may require an administration fee also. The application fee is non-refundable;  the administration fee may be refundable however this varies widely by property and individual scenario.  Every property management company has different policies. It's always best to ask prior to filling out the application and submitting fees. Apartment leasing offices or landlords charge an application fee to process your rental application for running the credit check, rental history check, employment, income verification, and background checks. The apartment owner pays a third party to process the application and they're passed on to you.  There may be specials such as "look and lease" incentives offered. AptExpert.com is your best resource for finding these just as for finding your apartment and all that goes along with it. Applications are no longer processed by the leasing or management staff to avoid liability issues, legal problems in handling sensitive and confidential information and to maintain the fair and equal housing opportunity guidelines.  

Q. How Long Does It Take To Get Approved For A Lease? What Information is Needed?

A. As little as 10 minutes to 10 days, every apartment community or owner representative company can differ in the time frame. Applications are not processed by onsite leasing/management staff. Independent companies perform the process once application fees, administration fees and deposits are paid via the leasing office or their online website per their guidelines. Most apartment leasing offices now accept electronic or credit card payments for rent, many also accept electronic fees however there are some that require a money order or cashier's check for initial fees and deposits. Having all the required documents such as paycheck stubs, employment letter, driver license, copies of leases can expedite the application and approval process. Call 281-414-5258 with questions.  

Q. What are the qualifications or criteria considered to be approved for an apartment?

A. When evaluating and processing your apartment rental application - these items are considered: 

1. Credit History - acceptable credit history as a rule but varies by property,  may be approved with a higher deposit or fee depending on property or management company, as long as other financial criteria is met; 

2. Verifiable employment with income or proof of ability to pay rent - the standard is 3 times the "market rent" for the apartment as gross verifiable income to qualify but can be higher or lower - co-signers or guarantors will be considered but also varies by property;

3. Rental History - first time renters can generally be approved with a higher deposit or fee as long as other financial criteria is met, varies by property;

4. A Criminal History Background Check is required for every occupant over the age of 18 when applying for an apartment. Disclose and discuss prior to apartment search - this question is also listed on the rental application and if not disclosed can cause loss of admin fees and security deposits - application fees are not refundable other than application fee  - Disclose;

5. Broken lease  or outstanding landlord debt can negatively affect apartment approval and should be discussed prior to the apartment search with your apartment locator to avoid losing costly application fees.  Eviction will be cause for denial or negatively affect apartment approval, discuss prior with your apartment locator.

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Q. How much does your apartment search service cost?

A. Our service is 100% FREE to you. There's no catch, our service is paid for by the property owner after you lease and move into your apartment. Our business model could be compared to how a travel agent works or a realtor, it's standard real estate lease transaction. All that's required for me to be paid is that you let the leasing offices know Kathy Curtis, Texas Apartment Locators referred you when you visit in person, and if you lease online, select "apartment locator" and my name and company must be listed as the referral source or how you found the property on the rental applications/lease paperwork. Whether your applying online or in person, if there's no space provided, please contact me or the leasing office to confirm! Online applications can be super confusing, sometimes there's not a place to put my name and company, I'm always a text, email or phone call away.  281-414-5258 or [email protected]  

Q. My credit is not good, will you still be able to help me find an apartment? 

A. Yes is the answer in most cases, I'll do my best to help you. As an experienced apartment locator, I have access to properties with the flexibility to consider some prospective renters with credit issues. They are known as second chance properties.  They may charge a higher deposit or non-refundable risk fee depending on your particular credit or rental history situation. Most apartments have criteria for approval that includes good credit, some require average but approval is not usually based on credit score alone. The application is not processed by on site leasing or management office personnel, and the management representatives are also not at liberty to discuss credit score or make guarantees. During our initial consultation, I'll ask questions in an attempt to prequalify you:  questions about credit, income, previous or current rental history, background, etc. My goal is to help although you, although you may find the questions invasive! The more I know, the better I'm able to assist in finding apartments who are better suited for your needs relating to your situation. It's best to express concerns upfront with me.  I'm trying to avoid your losing costly application and administration fees, and the disappointment of finding out you're denied for an apartment without an explanation, time and wasted funds. Not all apartments qualify based on the same criteria but they all adhere to the Federal Fair Housing Act which requires them to treat everyone equally. The leasing and management representatives do not have direct access to your credit; rental history; or background history when your application has been processed; nor will they be able to provide you with a copy of your credit history. They cannot discuss detailed specifics of your denial nor can they guarantee approval! I'm also not able to guarantee your approval however if I'm given all the facts, I can point you toward the properties that can work with certain issues. 

Q. Why should I use your service to find my apartment instead of apartment hunting on my own? 

A. There are so many big online apartment listing sites and apps but they do not list all of the apartment, townhome and condo properties! They only list the communities that pay to advertise with their platform, that means you could be missing out on a property or a few that could be a perfect fit for you; they are not able to keep up with the constantly changing prices, availability or specials and sometimes no special is listed at all and not a word about qualifying criteria! I've had many customers tell me that it's confusing, overwhelming and time consuming to navigate the maze of information online. When you use my service at AptExpert.com I do all the work and research for you! I also have access to an extensive rental database similar to the MLS that Realtors use. You'll be provided with every detail of the property from the year it was built to how many units are in the community, assigned schools, pet weight, fees, amenities, maps, and so much more. Most importantly, my knowledge and experience will be invaluable to you. My apartment locator and finder service is hassle free, stress free and Free to you! That's a win, win, win! 

I'll narrow down your apartment search to a manageable list of properties that most closely match your requests, or you can search the database and tell me which properties are your favorites and I'll complete the details needed for you, and update the information prior to your visiting the community leasing offices.     

You may be thinking "nothing is free"! It's truly 100% Free! After you move in, pay your rent in a timely manner, and maintain your end of the lease agreement, our service is paid from the property's marketing and advertising budget. Using my service will not increase your rental price, in fact I can ordinarily find reduced prices, specials, look and lease incentives and discounts you wouldn't find on your own. I'm in constant contact with the apartment leasing teams. My broker company, Texas Apartment Locators, has done business with apartment owners in Houston, Texas since 1975 and is a trusted and reputable name in the apartment rental and locator industry.  

Q. What if I am a first time apartment renter? 

A. No problem! Most Houston apartments are able to work with first-time renters, providing other financial criteria or qualifying criteria is met. Some properties may ask for additional security deposits or 1st time renter fee as a one time charge; students may need a co-signer or guarantor. In this case, you would still be responsible for the rental payment, however if you default on the apartment lease payment or contract, your guarantor or co-signer is also held responsible. You will still be building your own rental history with a co-signer as the person or persons to sign an addendum guaranteeing payment for the apartment lease and rent payments. The guarantor or co-signer must also qualify; fill out required applications and pay the application fees to apply. This scenario is usually exclusive to students attending colleges or universities in the area but can also include cases such as insufficient income*. Co-signers or guarantors are held to a higher standard for income; cannot have broken leases or outstanding landlord debt; background issues; recent or current bankruptcy; recent or current foreclosure; and must have maintained a good credit score to be considered. Qualification guidelines for co-signers vary from community to community, excellent to satisfactory credit; excellent rental or mortgage history; and a gross monthly income equal to 4-6 times the amount of the monthly market rate. Contact me for more details, I'll do all the legwork for you and confirm special co-signer requirements prior to your application.   

Q. How Long of a Lease Will I Need to Sign?

A. Most apartments offer a year lease term for best price or specials. There are some properties that offer 13 to 18 months for best price or specials. Many offer 6 month lease terms however, prices can increase with the use of dynamic software which has become commonplace in apartment management. The price can increase significantly even with a 6 month lease term in most cases but varies property to property. There are some properties that offer a 3 month lease term but with a much high premium, if the property offers 3 months, it will be at market rate plus additional upcharges. There are also corporate apartments that may prove to be an alternate option. The corporate style apartment offers the convenience of move in ready with everything included but will also come at a premium rate. It's not possible to provide an accurate quote until the area, lease term and requested options are determined however it will still be less than an extended stay hotel and provide many more conveniences plus amenities and almost always are pet friendly.     

Q. I'm ready, what do I do next to get started using your service to find my new apartment?

A.Fill out the "Start Search" quick contact form, text or call 281-414-5258. I'll contact you as soon as possible to discuss more details to better assist you. ( 1, 2 or 3 bedroom, price range, location or area, pets, specifics that are important to you).

Q. Can I purchase a home through you now or in the future? 

A. My specialty is apartment locating, if you're looking for a new home, I can definitely assist you. If you're in the market for a resale home, I'll refer you to an experienced and reputable Realtor. I'm a licensed real estate sales agent but apartment locating is my niche! You deserve a highly recommended realtor for a long term investment that a home purchase brings, just as you deserve an experienced and highly recommended apartment locator to assist you in finding your apartment home!      

Fill out this form and we'll find your apartment for you free

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Did You Know when you lease an apartment in Houston . . . ?

There are fees to apply for an apartment, and every occupant over the age of 18 must also have a background check!

“One Time Fees”

(These fees may be required to be in money order/cashier’s check form, unless credit card/online payments are accepted upfront prior to occupancy).

Typical Examples of Fees:

Application Fee per adult, may be higher for a married couple

$35 to $65 is customary

(Non-refundable fee paid by applicant for processing and verification of application information).

Lease Fee/Administrative Fee

$75 to $250 is customary

(Non-refundable fee required to offset expenses incurred by management. If the application is rejected by management, the non-refundable lease fee will be refunded as long as information is deemed truthful. If applicant cancels after the standard set time listed on application, from 48 to 72 hours of submitting application, the non-refundable lease or administration fee can be retained by owner/management. If the application is canceled or rejected by apartment owner/management, the Reservation Fee is typically refunded).

Security Deposit or Reservation Fee

(Becomes a refundable Security Deposit upon execution of the lease agreement*. Amounts vary by property and floorplan. Deposit may be applied by apartment owner/management to satisfy all or part of the resident’s obligations upon move out.* If the application is canceled or rejected by management, will be refunded unless there is false information).*

OR

Sure Deposit – In lieu of a standard security deposit the apartment owner/management may require a sure deposit, this is non refundable.

Did You Know when you lease an apartment in Houston . . . ?

 There are fees to apply for an apartment? Everyone over the age of 18 must also have

a background check. 

(These fees may be required to be paid in money order, cashier’s check, or may be paid with a credit card on their property website if they have an online payment acceptance system, upfront prior to occupancy).

Q. I'm ready, let’s get started!?

Contact me to find out if I can help you find an apartment with a look and lease incentive to waive a portion of your application or admin fee or both - as an apartment locator, I know who offers specials! 

If you lease through my service I will reimburse your application via a rebate in the form of a gift card - contact me for details 281-414-5258  

Typical Examples of Fees:

Application Fee for anyone over the age of 18 to occupy the apartment

Fees vary property from $35 to $70  

(Non-refundable fee paid by the applicant for processing and verification of application information).


Lease Fee/Administrative Fee

$75 to $250 is the average 

(Also non-refundable. If the application is denied, the non-refundable admin or lease fee may or may not be refunded depending on the property. If the applicant cancels after the standard set time listed on the application, from 48 to 72 hours of submitting an application, the non-refundable lease or administration fee is usually retained by owner/management).


Security Deposit or Reservation Fee

(Becomes a refundable Security Deposit upon execution of the lease agreement*. Amounts vary by property and floorplan. Deposit may be applied by apartment owner/management to satisfy all or part of the resident’s obligations upon move out.* If the application is canceled or denied by management, may or may not be refunded, varies by situation and property).*


OR


Sure Deposit – In lieu of a standard security deposit the apartment owner/management may require a sure deposit, this is non refundable but considerably lower amount. 

Monthly Recurring Charges Paid to the

apartment owner/management where you lease, you are responsible for these fees. 

(Most  apartment communities do not include electricity although there are some that do. I can provide you with electricity provider contact information. You will be able to choose the electric provider and pay that company directly for your usage* unless sub-metered electricity or electricity is included in your rent*).

Examples shown below:

Rent – as agreed to per your signed lease.

+

Trash Fee – varies by owner/management of apartment, may be valet trash service.

$7 to $35

+

Utility Administrative Fee – standard fee for most properties

$3

(Monthly administrative fee that covers the cost of reading, billing and system maintenance for the utility billing systems).

+

Water Charges – Sometimes referred to as sub-metered water.

Variable could be $8.00 to $70+

(Monthly water usage measured and billed, based on the prevailing rates as established by the local municipalities and will vary based on consumption and property).

+

Pest Control – (ranges from $1.50 to $5.00 monthly as an average).

+

Gas – varies by property, only if the apartment community has natural gas (for hot water heaters, heating, ranges/stoves, etc.)


IF YOU HAVE A PET(S)

Pet Deposit/Pet Fee – Part of which may be non-refundable*, a one time fee and varies by apartment owner/management.


Pet Rent* – recurring monthly – varies by apartment owner/management.


Renter Insurance or Renter Liability Policy

Most apartment owners/management companies require proof of renter insurance/liability policy. Check with your leasing office prior to application and they will provide a link for the preferred company, I can also assist with contact information.

Examples shown below:

What are the differences in Townhouses, Lofts, Condos, High-Rise or Apartments?

Most communities are considered garden style apartments, 1 to 4 floors, usually with a pool, common maintained areas and amenities, manicured grounds and landscaping, and as a resident you'll enjoy free maintenance, 24 hour emergency maintenance, among other management staff services. 

Townhomes are usually situated within an apartment community.  They are most commonly split level floorplans, with no neighbors living above you or below you and rent like a traditional apartment. There are a few communities that are townhome only rentals scattered throughout greater Houston. 

 A High Rise apartment community is much more prominent in the urban areas, with multiple floors, almost always considered a luxury apartment rental with a wider array of amenities. Mid Rise apartments are newer built, luxury communities with 4 to 7 floors and amenities are similar to a Hi-Rise.

Lofts in Houston vary by location in their design. A traditional loft can be from a large open space to having exposed ductwork or brick accent walls, to a townhome floorplan with an open area or space upstairs, that allows you to view part of the ground floor of the unit.  

Condos are similar to apartments, depending on the area, and were either purchased by an investor or privately owned and managed by a company which provides some of the same amenities you get with an apartment rental. There are some condos in that started out for sale and were converted to apartments with a leasing office and 24 hour emergency maintenance. Privately owned condos don't usually have the same type of agreement.  

IS YOUR APARTMENT LEASE ABOUT TO EXPIRE?

Call me as soon as possible to search for your new apartment home 281-414-5258 or 281-842-7965  Most properties require a written 60 day move out notice, so be sure you have satisfied the terms of your current lease! If you do not give a written move out notice, you will incur a balance to the apartment you are moving from and that could interfere with being approved for your next apartment!

IS YOUR APARTMENT LEASE ABOUT TO EXPIRE?

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