What to Put on Rental Application If Unemployed? [Tips on Filling It Out and Getting Approved]

If you are unemployed and wondering what you should put on your rental application when the landlord is asking about employment details, you are in the right place.

Everyone goes through challenges from time to time when it comes to their employment and not having a job is more common than you might think.

And if you fall into that category, you could be facing some serious obstacles when getting approved for a rental apartment.

But don’t lose hope. In this article, I am going to cover what you should put in your rental application about your employment status to put yourself in the best possible light and provide some tips on other steps you can take to improve your chances of getting approved for that coveted rental.

Let’s get into it!

The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only.  It is not legal advice.  You should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional before making any decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.

We may earn commissions from products and services that are purchased or recommended through our website as part of our affiliate partnerships. As an Amazon affiliate, we may earn from qualifying purchases.

What to Put on That Dreaded “Employment” Field

Most applications have a section entitled “Employment” with a field asking for your current employer. They also usually have fields for past employers, including the dates of employment.

Now you can always just put “unemployed,” but that’s such an unattractive word and not something that screams: “You should approve my application”.

So what are some better alternatives?

Well, it depends a lot on your current situation. For example, if you are thinking of starting a business, you could put entrepreneur and describe the business.

If you have taken concrete steps toward establishing this, you could put in the formal name of your LLC or corporation.

And even if you haven’t done all of that, you can still claim entrepreneur status as long as you are in the process of setting it up.

Now the drawback of this approach is that it sends the message that you are not interested in pursuing a job in your old field. And if your business has yet to make any money, that could make landlords nervous.

Another option is to indicate that you are an entrepreneur, but that this is a side gig that you are developing and you are in the process of finding full time employment in your area of expertise.

Or if you do not have any interest in a start up business, you can simply state something like the following:

“I am currently in a career transition phase, actively pursuing opportunities for full-time employment in my field of expertise. I am engaging with potential employers and am confident in securing a new role soon. In the meantime, I have savings to ensure my rent and living expenses are well-covered.”

If you don’t actually have a ton of savings, but have a co-signer, unemployment insurance payments, or other forms of income that can be used to pay rent, mention that instead.

Ok, so you now have at least an idea of what to say in that dreaded employment field. Let’s move on to some strategies you can use to improve your chances for getting approved on your rental application when you don’t have a job.

1. Demonstrate Your Financial Security

The main reason why landlords reject people who do not have jobs is because they fear that the person will not be able to make rental payments without any money coming in.

So you will need to show a landlord that you can get the money from a source other than a job or that you have enough money set aside that you can make rental payments while you are looking for one.

If you have some other sources of income, make sure you highlight them (and offer proof). It could include social security, disability, unemployment insurance, dividend payments, or even a co-signer (like a parent) who will be footing the bill.

Alternatively, you can offer other forms of financial security, such as prepaid rent or a large security deposit. In some cases, people who have been laid off do get a lump sum severance payment and you could use some of that to fund this.

2. Show That You Will Be Employed Soon

If this period of unemployment is a blip and you have been gainfully employed for most of your career, you should note that and provide proof (paystubs and tax returns can show this). It signals that you are a reliable worker and are not someone who is getting fired all of the time.

Also, if you are someone who has unique expertise or education that is in high demand, you can explain that to your landlord as well – this should give them some comfort that your eventual employment is simply a matter of time (and a short time at that).

If you have excellent letters of recommendation or good references from prior employers, that could also be used as evidence of your strong work ethic and desirability as an employee.

3. Use a Co-signer or Guarantor

We touched on this earlier, but if your financial situation doesn’t convince your landlord to approve your application, you can always try to find a co-signer or guarantor who will back you up on the lease.

Of course, the co-signer should have great credit and a strong income if they are going to take on this financial responsibility (or it won’t count for much with the landlord).

This option provides a safety net for the landlord and can really boost the strength of your application. It goes without saying that the co-signer should be fully aware of what they are signing up for and are willing to do this.

4. Show Your Efforts in Job Hunting

If you can show your landlord that you are really motivated to find a new job, that can go a long way in making them feel better about your application, especially if they have other safety nets like a large security deposit, prepaid rent, or a strong co-signer.

Provide proof of your active job search efforts, especially if you have interviews scheduled. Obviously, if you have letters of intent or even an offer letter in hand then you are in a really strong position to show that a job is pretty much guaranteed.

If you are looking to switch career paths, then provide them proof of solid steps you are taking to make that goal a reality, such as evidence of vocational training or classes.

5. Try to Work With an Individual Landlord

As you can imagine, huge property management companies don’t have a lot of patience for stories and they will simply reject you if you fail to meet their standard.

But individual landlords may be more understanding, so see if you can find a sympathetic landlord to consider your application.

6. Target Rentals That Have Been on the Market for a Long Time

Many renters tend to forget that landlords have their own problems in managing their rental business.

For example, if a rental has been sitting on the market for a long time, that is likely creating tremendous financial pressure for the landlord.

They still have to make mortgage payments and other bills. If no rent is coming in to offset those expenses, the landlord may be facing foreclosure. They may be desperate to find someone, even if their application is not pristine.

How do you take advantage of this? Go online to places like zillow.com. They will show how long a property has been on the rental market (you can sort by “Newest” and work from the bottom on the results)

Properties that have been on the market for multiple months can be great targets for you.

After all, they are losing money every day that the property sits vacant and you could be the answer to their prayer!

7. Draft a Compelling Letter

Finally, a well-crafted letter explaining your situation can go a long way toward convincing a landlord to take a shot on you.

In this letter, you can explain your unemployment status, express your commitment to paying rent on time, and outline your plan for future income.

Convey in clear terms that you are responsible (and have been throughout your life) and that you understand the importance of meeting your obligations.

If you have a solid credit score and a history of meeting your financial obligations, that’s a huge plus.

Remember, landlords (especially mom and pop operators) are human too, and sometimes a little empathy can go a long way in swaying their decision.


So there you have it – a detailed guide on what you should put in your rental application if you don’t have a job and some tips on how to improve your chances of getting approved. Hope this has been helpful and happy renting!