Rental Application Form

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A Rental Application is a document that allows a landlord to make an assessment of a potential tenant’s employment, background, credit, and prior leasing history (through references) to make the decision of allowing him or her to lease their property. The form is made for residential tenants of which the landlord may request a fee (usually between $25 and $75) for performing a credit and background check. When complete, typically 24-48 hours, the landlord will have the decision whether to approve or disapprove the tenant’s application.

This form is for residential properties only. To perform a credit check on a business tenant use the Commercial Rental Application.

How to Run a Background Check – Use these instructions to learn how to run free credit report and conduct a criminal background check.

By State

How Does a Rental Application Work?

Simply speaking, a rental application allows a landlord to screen each applicant’s credibility. Each applicant will likely have to fill out an application and submit a few fees including a processing fee, application fee, and security deposit. The security deposit will be returned within a set time if the applicant is denied.

Landlords want to see that their renters are financially and socially responsible enough to live in the apartment or house in question. The application process allows them to ensure beforehand that an applicant can pay rent on time, live respectfully among other tenants, and adhere to any qualifications or rules the landlord might have. Rental applications are the best way to understand how responsible an individual is and their character.

Often, landlords will let the applicants know what materials are needed in order to make the application up front. Potential renters should expect to provide their SSN, present two or more pay stubs, have a few references handy, and pay a rental application fee. They may be asked to provide a deposit or other information about debts and bank accounts.

The applications themselves will ask for a few common things, such as:

  • The applicant’s name
  • A current address
  • Phone number(s)
  • Email address
  • Previous address information
  • Emergency contacts
  • Employment and income information
  • Background information (This may include questions regarding criminal charges or previous bankruptcies)
  • Driver’s license number
  • Vehicle information
  • Personal references
  • Pets (if applicable)

Legally, landlords cannot reject an application due to race, religion, ethnic background or nationality, gender, age, family status, or disabilities. The will do credit checks, criminal background checks, check rental history and verify past addresses, look at work history including income and financial position, and confirm personal references as a common part of the application process. This allows landlords to understand the renter’s background, history, and character. They will check if a potential tenant has ever been evicted, take a look at credit scores, verify identity, and call prior landlords and employers.

Landlords will further use the information an applicant gives them to check the credit information provided to ensure that it is correct and reliable. They look at income minimums and other financial conditions to ensure that the applicant is financially fit to live in the apartment. Landlords seem to care a lot about employment, wages, and track record, but this is only to make sure the applicants make enough money to pay rent and pay rent reliably.

Landlords don’t care about the type of apartment their tenants lived in last or if they have fancy jobs with important titles, but they do want to know that the tenant can and will pay on time. Answering all questions on the application truthfully will give any potential renter their best shot at getting the apartment. If a landlord finds major flaws with the validity of the application, he or she will be less likely to rent the apartment, but if the application reflects the truth, the landlord may choose to forgive minor problems a potential tenant had in the past.

Landlords may charge applicants a fee along with the rest of the application. This is to cover the cost of the credit check, and should be around $20-$30. Applicants that are looking at multiple apartments may find that getting a credit check themselves and making copies of it to give to landlords will cut down on costs. Some landlords may still require that they get the report themselves to make sure nothing has been altered, but some may take the provided report and save the applicant a little money up front.

Each landlord will have his or her own rules about smoking or pets within the apartment or house they are renting. They are legally allowed to enforce these rules, so it’s best to be upfront with any questions or concerns.

How to Run a Background Check

Conduct a tenant background check for a landlord or property manager to screen an individual’s criminal history, credit report, employment status, eviction history, and past rental references. This information can be obtained from the prospective tenant by requiring them to provide personal information which includes a consent waiver that allows the landlord to lookup their personal details.

The following will show a landlord how to conduct a tenant screening 100% free. When a landlord is accepting applicants for a vacant residential property the tenant is the person that will be paying for the service. This allows the landlord to give their time to committed tenants as well as not have out of pocket expenses related to tenants that don’t qualify.

Step 1 – Tenant Completes the Rental Application

Typically after the tenant has viewed the property and a verbal agreement has been made the rental application is completed. Attached to it is the required Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) Disclosure listing the tenant their rights. Once this form has been completed by the tenant it should be returned to the landlord and along with the application fee.

Fee – The tenant should be charged for conducting the following verifications (between $35 to $100). In addition it shows their level of interest in the property.

No Application From Tenant – If the tenant cannot fill-in the application for the landlord then the tenant is able to to fill-in their information online by entering their personal data into the background check service’s website directly.

Step 2 – Obtain Credit Report

Generally a credit score above 620 is credible by most landlords and property management companies.

All of the companies mentioned below allow the landlord to view the tenant’s criminal history and credit report. The landlord will have to choose which service to use based upon whether they received the completed and signed rental application from the prospective tenant.

If the landlord has received a completed application:

If the landlord has not received a completed application:

All fees listed above are charged to the applicant

Step 3 – Verify Employment / Income

The landlord will now need to verify employment and income to ensure the tenant can afford the monthly rent. Usually this requires the following:

Step 4 – Verify Rental History

Use the section of the rental application marked ‘RENTAL HISTORY’ to contact past landlords of the applicant and verify items such as:

  • Was the applicant ever late on rent? If so, how many months in the lease span were they late?
  • Was the applicant ever served a notice to quit or evicted? If so, what was it for?
  • Was the applicant a loud tenant?
  • Did the applicant leave the previous residence clean and in good standing when they vacated?
  • Was the applicant nice around the other tenants (if any)?

The above questions will give the landlord piece of mind that the individual they are allowing to stay in their residential unit is a good investment and will benefit the community.

Step 5 – Sex Offender Registry

The landlord may check the Sex Offender Registry in their State to determine if the applicant is listed. It is unlawful (Fair Housing Act) for a landlord to deny a potential tenant for being in this registry. Although, if the landlord can prove that the person poses a danger to others on the property then not only can the landlord deny the individual but if they are already moved-in they can have them evicted.

National Search Offender Query – Use in addition to your State’s Registry for best results.

Step 6 – Make a Decision

If the tenant generally has a credit score of 620, a stable job / income, with no blemishes on their criminal history then the tenant has a good chance of approval by the landlord.


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