A rental application is the process of screening potential tenants based on his or her history. The first step involves a lease agreement form containing an applicant’s detailed information, which the rental property owner or property manager would use to conduct the tenant screening.
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Undergoing a rental or lease application is very beneficial to both the landlord and the tenant as explained below:
While much of the potential tenant’s information can be accessed online, most of the crucial information can only be obtained once they give their detailed disclosure.
|STATES||Max Application Fee||Security Deposit Laws|
|Alabama||Not limited||Alabama Code, Section 35-9A-201|
|Alaska||Not limited||Alaska Statutes, Section 34.03.070|
|Arizona||Not limited||Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 33-1321|
|Arkansas||Not limited||Arkansas Annotated Code, Sections 18-16-304 and 18-16-305|
|California||$53.33||California Civil Code, Section 1950.5|
|Colorado||Not limited (according to Colorado Revised Statutes, Section 38-12-903)||Colorado Revised Statutes, Sections 38-12-103 and 38-12-104|
|Connecticut||Not limited||Connecticut Revised Statutes, Chapter 831, Section 47a-21|
|Delaware||10% of the monthly rent OR $50||Delaware Code, Title 25, Section 5514|
|Florida||Not limited||Florida Statutes, Section 83.49|
|Georgia||Not limited||Georgia Code, Section 44-7-34|
|Hawaii||Not limited||Hawaii Revised Statutes, Section 521-44|
|Idaho||Not limited||Idaho Statutes, Section 6-321|
|Illinois||Not limited||Illinois Compiled Statutes, Chapter 765, Section 710|
|Indiana||Not limited||Indiana Code, Section 32-31-3-12|
|Iowa||Not limited||Iowa Code, Section 562A.12|
|Kansas||Not limited||Kansas Statute, Section 58-2550|
|Kentucky||Not limited||Kentucky Revised Statutes, Section 383.580|
|Louisiana||Not limited||Louisiana Revised Statutes, Section 9:3251|
|Maine||Not limited||Maine Revised Statutes, Title 14, Sections 6032 and 6033|
|Maryland||Not limited (the unspent fees over $25 must be returned to the tenant within 15 days)||Maryland Annotated Code, Section 8-203|
|Massachusetts||No application fee can be charged by the landlord||Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 186, Section 15B|
|Michigan||Not limited||Michigan Compiled Laws, Sections 554.602 and 554.609|
|Minnesota||Not limited||Minnesota Statutes, Section 504B.178|
|Mississippi||Not limited||Mississippi Annotated Code, Section 89-8-21|
|Missouri||Not limited||Missouri Revised Statutes, Section 535.300|
|Montana||Not limited||Montana Annotated Code, Section 70-25-202|
|Nebraska||Not limited||Nebraska Revised Statutes, Section 76-1416|
|Nevada||Not limited||Nevada Revised Statutes, Section 118A.242|
|New Hampshire||Not limited||New Hampshire Revised Statutes, Sections 540-A:6 and 540-A:7|
|New Jersey||Not limited||New Jersey Statutes, Sections 46:8-21.1 and 46:8-21.2|
|New Mexico||Not limited||New Mexico Annotated Statutes, Section 47-8-18|
|New York||Cost of the background check OR $20, whichever is less||New York Unconsolidated Laws, ETP Section 6 and Consolidated Laws, GOB Section 7-108|
|North Carolina||Not limited||North Carolina General Statutes, Sections 42-51 and 42-52|
|North Dakota||Not limited||North Dakota Century Code, Section 47-16-07.1|
|Ohio||Not limited||Ohio Revised Code, Section 5321.16|
|Oklahoma||Not limited||Oklahoma Statutes, Section 41-115|
|Oregon||Not greater than the landlord’s average actual cost of screening applicants||Oregon Revised Statutes, Section 90.300|
|Pennsylvania||Not limited||Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 68, Sections 250.511a and 250.512|
|Rhode Island||Not limited||Rhode Island General Laws, Section 34-18-19|
|South Carolina||Not limited||South Carolina Code of Laws, Section 27-40-410|
|South Dakota||Not limited||South Dakota Codified Laws, Sections 43-32-6.1 and 43-32-24|
|Tennessee||Not limited||Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 66-28-301|
|Texas||Not limited||Texas Statutes, Property Code, Section 92.103|
|Utah||Not limited||Utah Code, Section 57-17-3|
|Vermont||No application fee can be charged by the landlord for the residential dwelling unit||Vermont Statutes, Title 9, Section 4461|
|Virginia||$50 (excluding the costs of background, credit, or other pre-occupancy checks)||Virginia Code, Section 55.1-1226|
|Washington||Not limited||Washington Revised Code, Section 59.18.280|
|West Virginia||Not limited||West Virginia Code, Section 37-6A-1|
|Wisconsin||Not limited (for a credit check fee – up to $20)||Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations, Section 134.06|
|Wyoming||Not limited||Wyoming Statutes, Section 1-21-1208|
Rental applications should be detailed enough to encompass all crucial information about the prospective tenant. These would be the following:
The above information is further detailed in the actual rental application form below.
Once the potential tenant submits the rental application and its attachments, the landlord, broker, or property manager then goes through the tedious process of verifying the information. Don’t worry, though it involves a lot of talking and researching, the reward is in finding a good future renter.
Step 1 — Secure original copies of the paperwork.
Upon submission, landlords must check if the rental application is complete and if it bears the original signature. In exchange for the application form, landlords will then give their prospective tenants a copy of rights as stipulated in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). It is also best to let the potential sign a copy of the FCRA disclosure and attach this to the rental application. If the prospective renter is currently residing in another location, he or she can also fill out an online rental application instead of sending over a hardcopy.
Step 2 — Get the rental application fee.
Processing papers and conducting background checks not only take time and effort but a certain amount of money as well. It is therefore standard to ask the potential clients for a rental application fee, which falls anywhere between $18 and $100. Landlords may also choose to reimburse the excess rental application fee.
Step 3 — Check their credit scores.
Popular companies like RentPrep.com or E-Renter.com can do a credit check for landlords. While they charge a fee between $18 and $32, this significantly cuts the application screening time. A good credit score would be 620 and above, but you can set a higher standard for lengthier and more expensive lease contracts (e.g. commercial lease or long-term residential lease). If their credit scores do not meet your desired figures, you may also combine scores of the primary tenant and his/her co-applicant.
Step 4 — Verify other details and character references.
Now, it’s time to sit down and make calls. Landlords or brokers may then call the potential tenant’s current employer, previous employers, previous landlords, and other character references, to verify the details contained in the application. It is best to ask about the applicant’s income, spending behavior, integrity, rental history, employment history, and so on.
Step 5 — Check criminal records.
While most of these are confidential, a quick Google search can help you find news articles that match some details of the renter’s application. This would be easier, of course, if the applicant discloses this in the form. Aside from this, you may also check your state’s sex offender registry. However, do note that landlords cannot reject the application solely based on this.
Step 6 — Compare with other rental applications.
Usually, a rental property will receive several applications. Once all the potential clients are shortlisted based on the results of the rental application screening, you may then pick someone that best matches the profile you are looking for.
Step 1 — Download the Free Rental Application template.
Download a rental application template in PDF format or start filling it out in your browser. You can also try our document builder that will guide you through the process step by step and allow you to customize the application better for your needs.
Step 2 — Provide information about the lease.
Before supplying more detailed information regarding financial capacity, employment details, and character references, the lease application must contain the most relevant information—the basic rental information.
The landlord may take the initiative to fill out this part of the application for the prospective tenant before printing the form:
Step 3 — Write your personal information.
The prospective tenant must then provide general personal information as follows:
Step 4 — Provide your employer’s details.
The landlord will want to contact the current employer to confirm the tenant’s source of income as well as the tenant’s character references. For tenants who own businesses, they may provide details about their company. Otherwise, they must provide the following information:
Step 5 — Provide your previous employer’s details.
Similar to the format above, provide your previous employer’s details. Make sure the contact information is updated and will direct the landlord to the employer right before your current company. In order to save time, you may also provide a copy of your employment certificate.
Step 6 — Disclose your source of income.
In order to assure the landlord about your capacity to sustain the rental, you may provide the following:
Step 7 — Add your co-applicant’s complete information
If your credit score is not enough to secure the lease, you may want to add a co-applicant. However, if you are married, you will normally be obligated to add your spouse’s details.
You may simply follow STEP 3 when filling out the portion above.
Then, go back to STEP 4 and fill out the next section in the same manner.
Your co-applicant’s or spouse’s previous work information will also be asked. Follow STEP 5 for this portion.
Lastly, write your co-applicant’s financial information. You may refer to STEP 6.
Step 8 — Provide references.
The landlord will want to confirm your credibility through your references. You will have to provide both financial and personal references.
If you are currently renting, write the following in the section above:
Now, if you are more comfortable providing details of any existing mortgage, write the following:
For your character references, you may ask your friends or colleagues to verify your details by inputting the following:
Step 9 — List the possible occupants aside from the main tenant.
Fill out this section as follows:
Step 10 — Disclose any loans or debts.
The landlord will also do a background check on your current financial obligations, so it is best to include these in your rental application. By being transparent about these early on, the tenant will gain the landlord’s trust. Simply supply these three details for each of your existing loans or debt on the application form.
Step 11 — Clarify any criminal record.
It is best to disclose criminal history through the application form. By doing so, tenants will have a chance to explain their story. Write “NO” on the blank if you have never experienced the following cases, and write “YES” if:
Step 12 — Sign the rental application.
To complete your rental application, you must provide the following:
No, a rental application can be done without a form. However, using one is advantageous to the landlord, especially for background checking. Typically, tenant screening can be done within 24 hours, but since the landlord or broker will be handling several applications, a week’s processing is standard. Avoid choosing family members as they may hold some strong biases. Landlords are aware of this, so it’s best to cite an officer from your homeowner’s association, another parent from your child’s school, or anyone else that holds a position in your community. This will make your application stronger. Landlords should refrain from discriminatory questions, such as those touching on gender, LGBT families, race, language, and political stand. They must also be careful when phrasing questions and replies about sensitive topics like criminal records and socio-economic status. It is best to prepare a scripted list of questions during the interview stage of the rental application. No, tenants are not required to provide their Social Security Number (SSN), but it would be helpful for their landlord when conducting background checks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a rental application form required?
How long does it take to process a rental application?
Who to choose as a personal reference for a rental application?
What questions should the landlord refrain from asking?
Is a tenant obliged to provide their Social Security Number?
Though a rental application requires a lot of work both on the part of the landlord and the tenant, going through this process is crucial for the success of the lease. For your convenience, you may use FormsPal’s free rental application template and remember — using rental application forms will save you time during the background check and save your rental properties from being misused by unreliable renters.
No, a rental application can be done without a form. However, using one is advantageous to the landlord, especially for background checking.
Typically, tenant screening can be done within 24 hours, but since the landlord or broker will be handling several applications, a week’s processing is standard.
Avoid choosing family members as they may hold some strong biases. Landlords are aware of this, so it’s best to cite an officer from your homeowner’s association, another parent from your child’s school, or anyone else that holds a position in your community. This will make your application stronger.
Landlords should refrain from discriminatory questions, such as those touching on gender, LGBT families, race, language, and political stand. They must also be careful when phrasing questions and replies about sensitive topics like criminal records and socio-economic status. It is best to prepare a scripted list of questions during the interview stage of the rental application.
No, tenants are not required to provide their Social Security Number (SSN), but it would be helpful for their landlord when conducting background checks.