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What Is an Ohio Rental Application?

A rental application form is used by a prospective tenant to give personal information to the landlord or property managers who will use it to determine whether or not they are a good risk to enter into a lease agreement. Rental applications request information from the applicant such as income sources, employment history, rental history, and evictions, and the landlord may also perform a background check. In short, this is a tenant screening tool.

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The Ohio Rental Application Process

Rental applications must conform to federal fair housing laws that prevent discrimination based on color, creed, sexual orientation, race, religion, or disability. They must also comply with Ohio landlord-tenant law.

Landlords and property managers generally charge a non-refundable fee for each application, typically between $25 to $75 each. The money collected is used to complete the background check and credit check on the potential tenant.

The landlord or property management company may also decide to complete a criminal background check as part of their screening process. However, it is vital that in doing so that they comply with state and federal law and do not inadvertently or purposefully discriminate against renters with a criminal history.

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A Sample Ohio Rental Application with Examples for Each Step

Before choosing a potential renter to enter into a rental lease agreement, you should use an Ohio rental application form to determine if they are a good risk for your real estate. Creating your own rental application form doesn't need to be difficult, but it does need to comply with both federal fair housing laws and Ohio landlord-tenant laws.

Also, consider whether you'll allow married couples or couples in a civil union to apply on the same form or if each person must complete a separate form. The rental application form needs sections to collect the following pieces of information:

  • A section for the applicant's personal information. Collect the applicant's full legal name, date of birth, social security number, cell phone number, work number, and email address. Ask for their emergency contact information.
  • A section for the applicant's rental history, starting with their current address. The current address should include the city, state, and zip code. Include a space for the current landlord's contact information, how long the applicant has lived at the property, and monthly rent paid. Include spaces for additional rental history and contact information for previous landlords.
  • A section for the applicant's employment history, starting with their current employer. Obtain the employer's name, address, the applicant's job title, how long the applicant has worked for the employer, their supervisor’s name, and the phone number for their supervisor or HR. Include spaces for additional employment history. Then, ask for all income sources, the source of income, how often the applicant receives those sources, and the amount of each source. Finally, ask whether the applicant has checking or savings accounts and which financial institutions manage those accounts.
  • A section for the applicant to list the number of vehicles they own and a description of each vehicle. Include the year, make, model, color, and license plate number. If your rental property relies on parking permits or has limited parking, keeping track of the vehicles registered to your renters is one way to ensure that the proper vehicles are using the parking area.
  • A section that collects the name and age of each person that will live with the applicant on the rental property.
  • A section that asks the applicant if they own any pets, how many, the type, and the size.
  • An authorization that complies with Ohio law that states that the applicant's signature allows you to run a credit check, a background check, and a criminal background check. You should also state that the application fee paid is non-refundable.
  • A signature line for the applicant and a space for the date.

Rental Application Resources for Tenants in Ohio

When you're renting real estate in Ohio, it may feel like you don't have any rights. Yet, landlord-tenant law provides you with rights. The following links are educational and may also prove quite helpful:

  • The Legal Aid Society of Cincinnati offers a plain English web page and a PDF download of landlord duties and tenant duties. They also have a dedicated page that explains your rights as a tenant.
  • The Children's Advocacy Project of Columbus, Ohio has a resource page that includes resources for tenants.
  • Franklin County Law Library provides a PDF explaining the Tenant Advocacy Program and Eviction Prevention Education Workshops. The site links to relevant Ohio laws, including how landlords’ retaliatory action is illegal, what you can do if the landlord does not fulfill their responsibilities, and help if you're involved in an eviction.
  • Community Legal Aid has a website that explains your rights and duties as a tenant and a free PDF that you can download.
  • COHHIO provides information related to mold, how you can request repairs, evictions, and even how to get help with your utilities.
  • Columbus Legal Aid offers a free PDF download that explains what a lease agreement should have in it, what should not be in a lease because it is illegal, everything a landlord must do, things a landlord cannot do, what you must do as a tenant, and more.
  • Moritz College of Law offers a civil law clinic that assists qualifying individuals and families with landlord-tenant law.
  • Capital University Law School has a legal clinic that assists with landlord-tenant issues to qualifying individuals and families.

Ohio Rental Application Laws

Ohio doesn’t have any state laws that dictate how much a landlord may request a security deposit. However, landlords must return the security deposit to a tenant within 30 days after they move out of the rental unit.

For residents whose tenancy lasts longer than 6 months, landlords must pay them 5% interest on their deposit per year (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 5321.16).

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