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.

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 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:

Step 3 – Verify Employment

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

  • Employed Applicants – Last two (2) weeks’ pay stubs
  • Self-Employed Applicants – Last two (2) years’ tax returns (Form 1040)

Employment Verification Letter (Adobe PDFMS Word) – To verify the length of employment, hourly rate ($/HR) or salary, and job title by the employer.

Income Verification Letter – If the income cannot be verified by an employer then this letter may be used to contact an administrator in charge of an account that pays the applicant.

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 (in accordance with the 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 this as well as your State’s Registry for best results.


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