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What Is a Pennsylvania Rental Application?

A Pennsylvania rental application form collects information from prospective tenants who wish to move into the empty rental property. A landlord or property manager will use the form to collect applicant information from all potential tenants.

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The Pennsylvania Rental Application Process

The information collected may be used to conduct a criminal history check, a background check, and a credit check. The applicant information also includes their employment history as well as their rental history.

These documents must conform to federal fair housing laws, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and Pennsylvania law to ensure that the tenant screening process is fair and does not discriminate. The applicant usually pays a non-refundable fee covering the cost of running the background check and credit check.

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A Sample Pennsylvania Rental Application with Examples for Each Step

Writing a Pennsylvania rental application form is a critical component of risk management for landlords and property managers. Determine whether you'll allow married couples or couples in a civil union to apply using one application form or if each person needs to complete a separate one.

If you plan to allow couples to apply using one form, ensure that your application form provides enough space for each applicant to provide the requested information. A rental application form should include the following sections:

  • A section for personal information. Their full name, birthday, social security number, cell phone number, work phone number, email address, and emergency contact information.
  • A section for rental history. This section should collect information on their current residential rental unit: the full address (including the city, state, and zip code), how long they've lived at that address, the amount of monthly rent, and the contact information for the landlord. Include additional space to request previous rental history and contact information for previous landlords.
  • A section for employment history. This section should collect their most current employment information: the name of their employer, the employer's full address, their job title, how long they've worked for the employer, and a contact phone number for either their supervisor or for human resources. Include additional space to request previous employment history.
  • A section for income sources, the types of each income source, the amount of each income source, and frequency of payments. This section should ask the applicant whether they have checking or savings accounts and which financial institutions manage those accounts.
  • A section for vehicle information. This section includes the number of vehicles owned by the tenant and a description of each vehicle. The description should consist of the year, make, model, color, and license plate number. Vehicle information helps you determine which vehicles belong on the property.
  • A section that asks for the name and the age of each person who will reside in the rental unit with the prospective tenant.
  • A section that requests pet information. Ask whether the applicant has any pets, how many, the type, and the size.
  • An authorization that allows you to complete the credit check and background check per Pennsylvania law once the applicant signs the form. You may also find it beneficial to remind the applicant that the fee paid is non-refundable.
  • Include a signature line and a space for the date.

Rental Application Resources for Tenants in Pennsylvania

If you're a party to a residential lease, it may feel like you don't have any rights and that the landlord has all the rights, but that's not true. Renters in Pennsylvania do have rights. Here are some helpful websites:

  • PALawHelp.org has several useful free PDFs, including A Tenant's Guide to Renting, Self-Help Handbook for Tenants, Tenants' Rights - Going to Court, and more.
  • Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network is a statewide assembly of independent legal aid programs that offers civil legal aid. They may be able to help low-income individuals and families struggling with landlord-tenant matters and evictions.
  • Penn Law's Civil Practice Clinic provides representation in state court for civil matters and may be willing to represent qualified individuals and families with landlord-tenant issues and evictions. The law school also maintains a page of pro bono assistance.
  • North Penn Legal Services provides both free online information for renters and the potential of representation for low-income individuals and families facing landlord-tenant matters and evictions. You can apply over the phone or online.
  • Legal Aid of Southeastern PA provides legal representation to low-income and vulnerable persons in select counties in Pennsylvania who are dealing with housing problems.
  • Philadelphia Legal Assistance offers landlord-tenant assistance to qualified individuals and families.

Pennsylvania Rental Application Laws

According to Pennsylvania law, landlords may request two month’s rent for a security deposit during the first year of tenancy. After the first year, that figure drops to one month’s rent. Additionally, landlords must pay tenants interest on their security deposit on their 25th month of tenancy. Once their rental lease agreement ends and they vacate the premises, the landlord has 20 days to return the security deposit.

(68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. §§ 250.511a to 250.512)

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