Apartment hunting is a stressful process that involves lots of time and paperwork including the rental application.
Nowadays, many renters find that their application asks a few intrusive financial questions. And you might have one in return: Just why is my rental application asking for a bank account number?
Here’s what you should know about why that happens and what you can do when it does.
Can rental applications ask for my bank account number?
Yes, rental applications can ask for bank statements, account numbers or other information that verifies your income. Landlords use this information to establish your ability to manage your finances and pay your rent on time.
For some renters, landlords having direct access to your bank account numbers is cause for concern. After all, that’s sensitive information.
Bear in mind that if a landlord becomes your landlord, they’ll have to access some of your account information if you pay your rent via ACH, paper check or debit card.
Here’s what else to know.
Why do apartments ask for bank statements and account numbers?
Apartment managers and landlords use your banking details to verify your income and the validity of your account. Having your details on hand just simplifies the process.
Landlords and property managers may also request bank account details to set up automatic payments online. Doing so early simplifies the rental experience.Enrolling in automatic payments could help you avoid late fees and potential check theft.
More commonly, a landlord or apartment will ask for bank statements or tax statements instead. As with your account number, they can use this documentation to prove your income, expenses and rent-worthiness. But instead of handing over access to your account, you give potential landlords or apartment managers a secure glimpse of what’s inside.
Other documents that rental applications ask for
Aside from various bank account details, rental applications may require other information to establish your identity and financial security. Other documents and information that are handy to have on hand include:
- Pay stubs
- Tax returns
- Contact information
- Driver’s license or other ID numbers
- Employment information
- Residential history, including evictions
- Social Security number
Remember that if you intend to rent with a roommate or co-signer, they may also be required to provide the same information.
Should I give my landlord my bank account number?
While the landlord has the right to ask for your banking details, you also have the right to refuse. But as a prospective tenant, that might put you in a tricky situation.
On one hand, you don’t have to make financial moves that make you uncomfortable. That includes putting your sensitive banking information on a rental application.
On the other hand, refusing to hand out your bank details could jeopardize your approval odds.
Alternatives to bank statements for apartments
If you’re uncomfortable handing out your bank account number on an application, many landlords work with alternatives. For instance, they may accept:
- W-2 forms. Employers file W-2 forms with the IRS to show how much they’ve paid each employee. W-2 forms are a reliable way to verify your income without handing over sensitive bank details.
- 1099-MISC forms. These tax forms file nonpayroll income data with the IRS. Many self-employed individuals, like freelancers and sole proprietors, use 1099-MISC forms instead of W-2s.
- Pay stubs. Some landlords accept pay stubs instead of bank statements or IRS tax forms. But because they’re easier to fake, landlords may prefer more concrete proof.
Why might a rental application be rejected?
Even if you hand over your bank account data, you’re not guaranteed to be approved for an apartment. Landlords and property managers can deny rental applications for a range of reasons like:
- Income that’s not equal to at least two to three times the proposed monthly rent
- Poor rental histories, such as a history of evictions or failure to pay on time
- References that give poor reviews or no references at all
- Poor credit histories, which may indicate poor financial management
You can address these issues for better chances of approval. For example, to improve your credit history, you can review and monitor your credit reports, identify any errors or discrepancies, and then take proactive steps such as paying bills on time and reducing debt.
PRO TIP! Building your credit is easier than you think. It starts with knowing and understanding your score, creating goals, and then monitoring your credit as you take steps to build it.
Don’t make financial moves you’re uncomfortable with
Renting an apartment or house is a big — and potentially costly — move, and protecting yourself is important.
Sure, prospective landlords have the right to ask for financial data — even sensitive data like your bank account information or bank statements. But that doesn’t mean you have to provide it without further investigation or even at all.
If you’re uncomfortable providing access to your financial accounts, ask your landlord about alternative proof such as copies of your bank statement or tax records. If that fails, you can reevaluate your position or move onto the next application.
Should I give my landlord my bank account number?
Landlords can request your financial information to ensure you’re a good financial fit. If you’re uncomfortable providing such sensitive information on an application, you can propose alternatives like your paystub or bank statements.
Why is my landlord asking for bank statements for an apartment?
Landlords use bank account information and bank statements to determine a renter’s ability to pay on time. If you provide your bank account numbers, they can also use this information to set up automatic rental payments — with your permission, of course.
Why would a rental application be rejected?
Rental applications can be rejected for several reasons, such as having a poor credit history, too low of an income or prior evictions. Even small details like having no or poor references can result in a rejected application.