The New York Rental Application Process
In metropolitan areas, there are often dozens of applicants for only one available rental. A rental application allows decision-makers to thoroughly vet an applicant, getting an in-depth view of their credit, employment history, all sources of income, background check, credit check, and rental history. Decision-makers use this information to determine if a tenant is qualified or trustworthy enough to enter into a New York state rental lease agreement. A rental application must comply with both federal fair housing laws and New York landlord-tenant laws.
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A Sample New York Rental Application with Examples for Each Step
Writing a New York rental application form is an important part of being a landlord or a property manager. Creating a rental application form requires using blank spaces that capture the information of the prospective tenant. Since the applicant may be married or part of a civil union, you must decide whether both applicants may apply on the same form or fill out separate applications. If you plan to allow the applicants to use the same application, create enough blank spaces and room for both applicants to provide their information. Rental applications should include the following sections:
- A section for the applicant's personal information. Obtain their full legal name, birthday, social security number, cell phone number, work number, and email address.
- A section for their rental history. The rental history starts with the current rental address, including the city, state, and zip code. Request contact information for their current landlord, the length of time they've lived at their current address, and the amount they pay in monthly rent. Include additional space for previous rental history, including contact information for their previous landlords.
- A section for their employment history. Begin with their current employer: the employer's name, address, job title, how long they've worked for the employer, their supervisor’s name, and the contact number for either their supervisor or for HR. Include room for the applicant to list previous employers.
- Request the application to list all income sources, how often the income is received, and the amount of income that comes from each source.
- Ask the applicant whether they have any checking or savings accounts and which banks or credit unions manage those accounts.
- A section for a description of the applicant's vehicles. Include the number of vehicles owned by the applicant as well as a description of each. The description generally consists of the year, make, model, color, and license plate number. This information can help New York landlords who rely on parking passes or have limited parking ensure that only authorized vehicles are parking on the property.
- Ask for the emergency contact information for the prospective tenant.
- A section for the applicant to list the name and age of each person who will reside in the rental with the applicant.
- A section that asks the applicant if they have pets, the number of pets, the types of pets, and their size.
- A section that acts as an authorization to run a credit check and background check on the applicant. This authorization should comply with New York state law. It tells the applicant that they authorize you to conduct the credit check and the background check when they sign and date the application. This section also informs the applicant that the application fee is non-refundable.
- Create a signature line for the applicant to sign and include a space for the date.
Rental Application Resources for Tenants in New York
If you're a renter in New York, it may feel like the landlord has all of the power. As a tenant, you have rights. Here are some helpful links:
- Legal Service NYC offers legal assistance, helps tenants get their rental units (and buildings) repaired, provides training and education for your rights as a tenant, and offers services in several languages.
- New York Legal Advocates Group has a web page devoted to explaining tenants' rights related to tenants facing eviction who may end up being homeless because of it. They offer representation for individuals and families involved in eviction hearings in housing court and may also help with getting a rent subsidy.
- The City of New York City has several rental assistance programs.
- New York State Unified Court System offers free lawyers for tenants involved in housing court. They provide an online service to help determine if you're eligible.
- The ACP provides free legal representation to seniors who are facing eviction.
- New York Law School has a Housing Rights Clinic that offers representation to clients who need to protect their housing rights.
New York Rental Application Laws
New York state law has no cap on the amount that landlords or property managers may charge for a security deposit. Applicants are encouraged to check their city and county laws, as some apartments and rentals in New York are subject to rental control or rent stabilization.
New York also doesn’t specify precisely when a landlord must return the security deposit to the tenant. However, it does dictate that a landlord must return the deposit within a reasonable amount of time. A “reasonable amount of time” implies 21 to 45 days.
On non-regulated apartments with more than six units, the landlord must pay the tenant interest on the security deposit. The tenant can have the interest deducted from the rent, paid annually, or paid when they move out (N.Y. General Obligations Law § § 7-103 to 7-108).