A Residential Rental Application is a form that is filled out by a prospective tenant who wishes to rent a residential property. This form is used by a landlord to aid in the process of choosing an applicant they wish to rent to. The information it provides can be used to do background checks and credit checks on the potential tenant. A Residential Rental Application is important for the landlord because they want to ensure that the tenant they choose will be reliable when it comes to paying the rent on time. This application is also a protection for a landlord against false claims that they chose an applicant for improper or discriminatory reasons. A Residential Rental application can be customized by a landlord to suit their needs, but it is important for some key information to be included.
Information in a Rental Application Form
- Name(s) of prospective tenants
- Social Security Number(s)
- Current address
- Telephone number(s)
- Rental history
- Current and previous place of employment (This may also include proof of employment such as a recent paystub or letter from their place of employment)
- Year, Make, model, and color of car(s)
- Driver’s license numbers
- Information about pets (including but not limited to: number of pets, breed, proof of shots and proof pet was neutered/spayed, etc).
- Criminal history
- Bank Reference (including the name of the Bank and account number)
- Credit Reference(s)
- Personal Reference(s)
Sometimes, new tenants have little or no credit score, are between jobs, or are recent graduates looking for a place to live. This will be reflected in the rental application, at which time the landlord and potential tenant should have a conversation about the tenant’s plans to pay rent, and why their credit score appears low or nonexistent. Normally, landlords use these metrics to gauge how dependable a tenant is, and without immediate answers, getting a feel for the applicant can be trickier. Some landlords may not wish to take the risk, while others will ask the tenant to find a cosigner, who is often a parent or relative. If there is a cosigner for the rental application, that person must fill out a separate application.
If the applicant has bad credit, makes less than three times rent in a month, has gone into bankruptcy, or has pets, then the landlord may request a higher deposit, first and last month’s rent (if that is not part of the original rental application), or some other financial surety. Rules on what and how much a landlord can ask for vary by state.
If the tenant has any criminal background, landlords may choose not to rent to the individual, but there should be a section on the rental application allowing the applicant to explain what happened.
Legal Issues with Rental Application Forms
According to fair housing laws at both the state and federal level, landlords are not allowed to discriminate based on race, national origin, gender, sexuality, familial status (children), physical or mental disability, creed, or religion. State laws and landlords can limit the number of tenants allowed in a building, which is the only legal form of familial discrimination, and has more to do with emergency safety than discrimination. Otherwise, landlords are legally allowed to set their own rental rules for tenants and potential tenants, as long as they do not violate these laws. This includes their costs of business being covered by the rent, or requesting specific references for the rental application.
Why to Use a Rental Application Form
Use our free rental application form to get started. This form can be modified to fit specific circumstances, but if you have any questions regarding legality of certain questions, research your local laws or speak with a tenants’ attorney.
Free State Specific Residential Rental Applications