Rental Application Form

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A residential rental application is a form that helps landlords decide whether to allow a prospective tenant to lease a property. This rental application template collects data about employment and credit background. Landlords often charge a fee (between $25-$75) for performing a background check and then make a decision on whether to approve the lease. You can download a blank printable rental application form here. The next step is to complete a lease agreement.

What is a Rental Application?

The best rental application will protect the landlord by helping them to figure out if a tenant is financially and socially stable.

The application will ask the prospective tenant for a lot of personal information, such as full name, address, social security number, and more. A credit check may also be included with the application to screen candidates.

Since a simple rental application is so important for both the landlord and the applying tenant, it must have all the required information from the start. Look over the application carefully to ensure you ask all required questions so your application is valid. 

What are the Components of a Rental Application? 

There are a few basic elements to a successful rental application:

  • Applicant’s Personal Information

    • It should include driver’s license information, date of birth, social security number (for conducting background checks), and whether or not any of the prospective tenants smoke. There should also be a section inquiring about the applicant’s current employment and employment history. Very often, income verification is required along with the application (standard practice is to include the two most recent months’ pay stubs). There should also be a section for the applicant’s current address, including questions as to whether the address is rented or owned, how long he or she has been living there, and contact information for the landlord (if applicable). 

  • Details of Address Being Applied For

    • If you are renting out multiple units, be sure to have applicants clarify which unit it is they are applying for and their desired date of move-in.

  • Prior Residences

    • This is fairly straightforward – include sections for previous addresses, the nature of living each living arrangement (rent vs. own) move-in and move-out dates, and contact info for each landlord.

  • Other Applicants

    • Here, the applicant should write the full legal names of any other applicants who plan to live in the apartment. Bear in mind - it is wise to make each applicant fill out a separate application, even if they are applying as a unit.

  • Pets

    • If you will allow pets in your building, require applicants to specify all pets in this section (species, number, ages, and any other information you will need).

  • Vehicles

    • This only applies if your rental includes parking. Applicants should describe the model, make, and size of their vehicle, as well as its condition. Vehicle information is important because it helps you know which cars should, and should not be on the property. Additionally, this will inform you of whether your property will accommodate an applicant's car, should it be electric, and require charging or require special parking due to its size.

  • Tough Questions

    • These include questions like “Have you ever been evicted?” “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” and “Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?” Provide your applicants with space to explain each answer.

  • References

    • Have each applicant provide names and phone numbers of at least two references. These may be professional references, such as a supervisor or coworker or personal references, like a relative or close friend, but they should have known the applicant for a reasonable amount of time.

  • Emergency Contact

    • Asking for an emergency contact is a way to track down tenants should they skip out on a lease. If they suddenly leave without paying rent, or cause severe damage to the unit and disappear, referring to who they listed as their emergency contact is a good start to tracking them down.

  • Signatures

    • As usual, the application must conclude with the signature of the applicant as well as the date that the application is completed.

Rental Application: 6 Easy Steps for Landlords

Step 1: Every Potential Tenant Must Complete a Rental Application

A rental application should be filled out after the potential tenant has viewed the property and shows interest in renting. If there are two or more adults who would be named on the rental agreement, each person should complete a rental application online or on paper. This document asks for basic information about the tenant, including their employment and rental history. It also asks about criminal convictions. 

You should attach a copy of the Fair Credit Reporting Act that explains what rights the potential tenants have during the application process. The potential tenants should return the application along with the application fee. The application fee is most often used to pay for the second step, running a credit report.

Step 2: Run a Credit and Criminal History Report on the Potential Tenant

A credit report and a criminal history report (also known as a background check) can help you determine whether the potential tenant can afford to rent the property and the likelihood that your property will be properly cared for. There are numerous options available for you to run these reports. RentPrep.com charges $28 per application. ScreeningWorks.com and MyRental.com charge $30 per application. E-Renter.com charges $32 per application.

If there was a reason that the potential tenant could not complete the application and you’re both exploring the possibility of creating the landlord-tenant relationship, there are credit and background companies that the applicant can pay to use. LeaseRunner.com costs the applicant $32. MySmartMove.com is owned by TransUnion and it costs the applicant $35. Cozy.com costs the applicant $40.

Step 3: Verify Both Employment and Income for the Potential Tenant

Make sure that you call the potential tenant’s employer (you’ll most likely need to request to speak with someone in Human Resources) to ensure they’re employed as well as to verify their income. You can also ask the potential tenant for their last two pay stubs. If the potential tenant is self-employed, ask for the last two copies of their federal tax return to show their income.

Step 4: Call Previous Landlords to Verify Rental History

Call the previous landlords or property management companies listed under “Rental History” on the rental application. Ask about:

  • Whether the potential tenant was ever late when paying their rent. If so, ask about how often this happened during the previous rental period.

  • Whether the potential tenant was served an eviction notice (or a notice to quit). If so, what was the reason?

  • Whether the tenant was loud.

  • How the potential tenant left the previous residence. For example, was it clean and in good repair (outside of normal wear and tear)?

  • How the potential tenant appeared to get along with others if the rental was a multi-tenant establishment such as an apartment complex.

Step 5: Consider Checking the Sex Offender Registry

You’ll want to consider their credit score, their job history, their income, their criminal convictions (if any), and previous rental history. Keep in mind that there are legal protections in place to stop discrimination. So, be very careful and make sure that, if you deny someone, that you’re doing so for a lawful reason. If you decide to rent to the individual, send them an approval letter, and collect the security deposit after you create the rental agreement. If you’re denying the application, send out a rejection letter. Keep a copy of the letter for future reference.

Step 6: Decide Whether They’d Make a Good Tenant

You’ll want to consider their credit score, their job history, their income, their criminal convictions (if any), and previous rental history. If you decide to rent to the individual, send them an approval letter and collect the security deposit after you create the rental agreement. If you’re denying the application, send out a rejection letter. Keep a copy of the letter for future reference.

What Should You Include in the Background Check?

A background check is an important component when deciding if you want to rent to someone. You should look at the potential tenant’s credit (including their credit score), current employment status, their income, their previous rental history (including whether they’ve been evicted), and ask for references.

Sample Rental Application with Examples for Each Step

Step 1 - Application Fees and Background Checks:

This portion of the rental application will describe whether or not a fee will be charged for applying with the landlord. If an application fee will be charged, indicate the amount that will be charged to the applicant.

Step 2 - Pet Provisions (Optional):

If pets will be allowed in the rental, indicate the maximum number of pets allowed in the apartment. Besides, specify the amount required to cover the pet deposit. These figures will specify the deposit required for one pet and two pets. Also, specify the non-refundable deposit amount.

Step 3 - Landlord Information:

This section identifies the landlord and provides his or her contact information. When filling out this section, be sure to specify the following:

  • Landlord's Name

  • Full Address (Including city, state, and zip code)

  • Landlord’s Email Address

  • Landlord’s Telephone Number

Step 4 - Rental Property Information:

In this section, the property is presented for rent is described, including the particular unit/rental information. Provide the following details about the rental property:

  • Property Address (including city, state, and zip code)

  • Number of Bedrooms

  • Rental Term

  • Amount of Rent Due and How Often

  • Security Deposit Amount

Step 5 - Applicant Information

In this section, the applicant’s details will be highlighted. These details include the applicants:

  • Date of Birth

  • Social Security Number

  • Date of Birth

  • Current Address

  • Phone Number

  • Email Address

  • Other personal information that will highlight their employment and rental history.

Step 6 - Employment and Financial History of Applicant:

This portion of the application highlights the employment and financial history of the applicant. This section gives the landlord an in-depth look into the applicant's life to help him or she determine whether or not the applicant will be a good candidate to rent the apartment or rental property. Information required includes current and past employers, positions held, and a period where the position was held.

Step 7 - Reference Checks:

In this section, the applicant will provide personal references that will back up, or give further account to who they claim to be on paper. In this section, the applicant will provide the following information for each person that can support their claims, and give the landlord further insight on who they are as a person:

  • Reference’s Name

  • Relationship to Applicant

  • Years Known

  • Telephone Number

Step 8 - Personal History:

This section highlights some personal details of the applicant and helps the landlord determine whether or not he or she will be a promising tenant. These details include whether or not the tenant smokes, or has been evicted. Additional details include whether or not the applicant has been convicted of a crime, or declared bankruptcy.

FAQs for Rental Applications & Landlords

What are the advantages of becoming a landlord?

So, why would anyone become a landlord? The basic answer is simple. The rental property produces income. This income may be supplemental to one's current monthly income, or it could help provide an investment income. The rental property may even serve as income for someone when they retire.

  1. Rental income isn’t the only way that someone can make money on rental property.

  2. Real estate ownership is a form of leverage for an investment portfolio.

  3. There are also tax advantages of buying property to use as a rental property. 

Several tax write-offs come from owning rental property. Of course, a landlord may not be able to take every deduction every year. If you purchase property to act as a rental, you must consult with a CPA to determine which deductions you can take on your taxes. The most common deductions are:

  • Interest paid on the home loan

  • Depreciation of the rental

  • The cost of ordinary repairs made to the rental

  • Travel did for rental purposes (either actual expenses or the IRS standard mileage)

  • Long-distance travel for rental purposes

  • Home office expenses

  • Wages of employees and independent contractors

  • Certain losses caused by casualty or theft

  • Insurance premiums

  • The cost of legal and professional services

What are the disadvantages of becoming a landlord?

For you to make an educated decision about whether you should enter into the real estate industry as a landlord, you should be aware of some of the disadvantages involved. Like all businesses, being a landlord has risks. In this section, we’re going to talk about some of the most common risks you would face as a landlord.

  1. Liability is one of the biggest risks.

  2. There are unexpected expenses that often pop up.

  3. Bad tenants are another disadvantage for landlords.

  4. Rental property that remains vacant is also a disadvantage.

How do you manage your risks as a landlord?

There are things that you can do to manage the risks you face as a landlord:

  1. First, make sure that your lease is legal. If your lease or rental agreement doesn’t abide by the laws of your state, it cannot be enforced by you or even by the court. For emphasis, we will say it again: leases and lease agreements are state-specific and must include certain terms. Make sure that you know the laws in your state related to the lease or lease agreement.

  2. Second, make sure that you have the right types of insurance to help you recover from any losses that you may experience. This may include homeowner’s insurance to protect the premises (your policy may need a rider for renting out the property), a business policy, which is often necessary since being a landlord is a business, a rental dwelling, or landlord policy, and an umbrella or extra liability policy.

  3. Make sure that you inspect the property. Of course, you need to have the property inspected when you first purchase it. You also need to inspect the property before the tenant moves in, during their tenancy (with proper notice in the lease or rental agreement as well as a reminder of when you will inspect the property), and when the tenant leaves the property. 

What is the role of tenant search and discrimination laws?

As you look for a tenant, you must be aware of and abide by both federal and state anti-discrimination laws. In this section, you’re going to learn about advertising to the tenant, the importance of a screening process, how to screen and legally reject applicants, how to screen tenants based on criminal history, and how to execute the lease package and transfer possession of the property.

Legal Forms Related to a Rental Application

  • Residential Lease Agreement: A document that sets out the legal terms by which a residential property is leased out from a landlord to a tenant.

  • Residential Sublease Agreement: If allowed by the original lease agreement, a sublease agreement allows a tenant to rent out the property to a subtenant, along with the same provisions of the main lease agreement.

  • Rent Receipt: A rent receipt is a form that provides proof of payment for rent by a tenant to a landlord.

Download a PDF or Word Template

Rental Application

A rental application is a tool to identify an ideal tenant who best fits the criteria of a rental agreement and helps the landlord find a tenant they can have the best relationship with.

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Lease Agreement

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Rent Receipt

A Rent Receipt is documented proof and protection for both landlords and tenants of rental payments having been made.

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Month-to-Month Lease Agreement

Month to month lease agreements offer flexible rental arrangements for landlords and tenants. Each party is only contracted to comply with the negotiated and agreed terms on a monthly basis.

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Sample Rental Application

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Sample Rental Application

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