Whether you're moving into a new apartment or on your own for the first time, you have to impress the landlord. You'll go through an approval process, which means a phone call and a personal visit at the very least. Some landlords may require references and proof of income and most perform credit checks. However, there are ways to speed the process and tip the balance in your favor.

Pick Your Spots

Your choice of apartment makes a big difference in the approval process. A large complex owned by a company is more likely to run a credit check or call previous landlords for information. If your credit is questionable or your last landlord didn't like you, stick with a privately owned apartment. Making a positive connection with the landlord there can be all the approval you need.

Best Foot Forward

First impressions count. When talking on the phone, sound professional. If you're a student, emphasize your good grades or other accomplishments. Dress for your landlord interview as if you were applying for a job, news and information site MSN.com advises. Slacks and a dress shirt make a better impression than worn-out jeans and a ripped T-shirt. Be on time for the interview and bring a cell phone in case you get stuck in traffic.

Income History

Landlords like to see evidence of steady income, at least enough to afford the apartment. Be prepared to show some pay stubs. If you've held your job at least a year it's even better. Money talks and the landlord wants to make sure he gets his share. An apartment generally shouldn't cost more than a third of your income. The landlord may do a credit check, so make sure you're paying your bills. If you can, prepay three to six months' worth of rent in advance. That shows you're serious and it can cover up poor credit.

Pet Friendly

If you have a pet, introduce him to the landlord. This will assure him your pet will make a good neighbor, according to myfirstapartment.com. This especially helps if your pet is considered an aggressive or noisy breed. Good references from past landlords will also help get your paw in the door.

Reference Point

If you've rented somewhere before, a good reference helps. Keep the rent up to date and show you're taking care of the property you're in now, which improves your standing with future landlords. Use your best references -- employers, teachers, friends -- whether you have a rental track record or not. The landlord wants to know if you're a good, responsible person. References can vouch for you and if they're respectable it will reflect well on you.