How to Apply for an Apartment: The Process

You may have gone through the process of finding a roommate or multiple roommates already. Regardless of the challenge this may have been, or if it simply worked out in your favor, now its time for you to begin applying to apartments. There are some essential factors that go into this process and you must be on top of everything in order to secure a place that you and your roommates really want to live.

It is very important that you begin this process near that start of Cal Poly’s winter quarter. Once winter break is over, at least begin to do your research because it can be very competitive to get good housing. Note that some apartments require applications even earlier than this. “I’m living in Lee Arms and we began the application process around November to live there for the following year,” says track athlete, Dani Taylor. “It seemed really early but we were organized and knew we wanted to live there so it ended up working out,” she continued. It is crucial that you begin the process as early as possible and follow these steps for housing success.


Percentage from CSUMentor

Step 1: Narrow down your options
Choose the ideal apartment complex for you and your roommates. While you may not want to live anywhere else, you need to have a backup plan. I would recommend have at least two more plausible options because if you only apply to one place and it doesn’t work out, there is a possibility you will not get off-campus housing. Weigh the location, price, and amenities with your roommates. Do your research to find what suits you best. In total, you should have three definite places in which you will apply for. “Initially I was going to live with some friends in an apartment,” says first year Chanel Stricklen. “Then after some careful consideration, I decided living in my sorority house, Alpha Phi was the best option for me but it was definitely still a challenge to make that decision.”

Step 2: Contact the Landlord
Many apartment complexes in SLO can be found through a simple google search or even on the resources page of my site. Once you’ve located your apartments online there will usually be contact information for the landlord or property manager. You must contact them, typically via email to show genuine interest of you and your group. More importantly though, you must contact the landlord to obtain the official application and all other paperwork necessary to be considered as potential tenants. Even if the application is posted on the apartment website, my advice is to contact the landlord anyway, in order to explain your true level of interest.
Here is a template email that could be sent to a landlord:  Hello (Landlord’s name),We are currently
Step 3: Fill out the application and turn it in on time
When the landlord sends you an official application or directs you to the apartment website where an application can be found, you must now fill it out and make sure each of your roommates fills theirs out completely. Almost all apartments require each tenant to fill out their own application with various information including social security numbers. Be sure you have all this information prepared to write down. Also, you are required to have a guarantor, usually your parent, who is going to financially back you. This person will have to provide identification and bank information. Lastly, be sure to return any applications on time, or as soon as possible because most apartment landlords operate on a first come, first serve basis.
Step 4: Have patience but be persistent
It is important to remember that property managers/landlords likely manage several properties and are dealing with emails seeking interest and applications all the time. They will get back to you when they get a chance and you must respect their time. However, you must 1be persistent. If a landlord still has not acknowledged your email or application after 2 to 4 weeks, send a simple follow up email confirming they have received your information and reiterating your interest. This will show them that you really want it and that you are willing to work to get it. “Waiting was probably the hardest part of this process for me,” says freshman Allie Browning, “I was so anxious to see where we were accepted to and I didn’t even want to think about having to live on-campus in PCV if it really came down to that.”



Step 5: Make your final decision and sign your lease
If the landlord accepts you to your first choice, that is awesome. The only thing left for you to do is meet with them and sign your lease with all of your roommates. You are now a soon-to-be-apartment-tenant. However, if you are accepted to multiple places or you don’t get your first choice, you are going to have to sit down with your roommates and discuss what decision you all are going to make. Although this might seem stressful, it should all work out, seeing as you should have applied to back-up apartment options. Once you make your choice and sign your lease you’ll also have an apartment to live in.

Sample Tenant Resume/Rental Application and Apartment Inventory Checklist- Cal Poly 

Questions Tenants Need to Ask- Cal Poly 

Tenant Rights- California Department of Consumer Affairs 


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