The Tennessee Rental Application Process
Some of the information that a rental application collects includes the applicant’s full name, current and previous addresses, and income specifications. While this information may seem intrusive to the applicant, it is needed for landlords to verify them as a qualified tenant. Landlords often use this information to perform a background check, including criminal history, and a credit check.
All rental applications must comply with both federal fair housing laws and Tennessee landlord-tenant laws.
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A Sample Tennessee Rental Application with Examples for Each Step
To write a Tennessee rental application form, first consider whether you'll allow married couples or couples who are part of a civil union to use only one rental application or if each party must complete a separate form. If you decide that the couple can complete one form together, make sure that you provide enough space in the application for both parties to give you the information you need to complete the screening process.
A rental application form needs the following sections so that a landlord can collect the proper information from the applicant.
- A section to collect personal contact information. Include the applicant's full legal name, birthday, social security number, cell phone number, work number, email address, and emergency contact information.
- A section for the applicant's rental history. Begin with their current full address (including their city, state, and zip code), how long they've lived in the current rental unit, and the amount of rent paid each month. Then, it includes a space for the name and contact information of their current landlord. Finally, it includes additional spaces for previous rental history and prior landlords.
- A section for the applicant's employment history. Start with their current employer's name and address, how long they've worked for the employer, the applicant's job title, the applicant's supervisor’s name, and the phone number for their supervisor or human resources. Include additional space for previous employment history.
- Next, request the applicant to provide information on every income source, including the type of income source (for example, a paycheck or disability check), how often the income source is received, and the amount of the income source. Include a request for the applicant to disclose whether they have checking or savings accounts and which financial institutions manage those accounts.
- A section to gather information about the vehicles they own. Include how many vehicles the applicant owns as well as a description of each vehicle. The vehicle description consists of the year, make, model, color, and license plate number. For rental properties with parking passes or limited parking spots, knowing which vehicles belong on the property can be very beneficial.
- Capture the name and age of each person who will reside on the rental property with the applicant.
- A section that asks the applicant whether they have any pets. If the answer is yes, ask how many pets, the type of pets, and their size.
- An authorization to run the background check and credit check after the applicant signs the rental application. Remind the applicant that the fee they paid is non-refundable.
- Create a signature line for the applicant and a blank space for the date.
Rental Application Resources for Tenants in Tennessee
If you're a renter in Tennessee, you're involved in a legally binding contract known as a lease agreement or rental agreement. Many renters feel like they have no rights. The Tennessee Landlord-Tenant Act does provide renters with several valuable rights. Here are some helpful websites that you may find useful:
- The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands provides renters with easy-to-understand information about what you should know before renting, how to get the landlord to make repairs, your rights and duties as a renter, and what you need to know about security deposits.
- Help4TN provides legal and social services resources for individuals and families involved in landlord-tenant issues. They provide a link to legal forms and TN Free Legal Answers, explain how you may qualify for free or low-cost legal representation, and explain your rights and responsibilities as a renter.
- The Tennessee Bar Association provides a list of legal aid services in Tennessee. Some offer assistance with landlord-tenant issues.
- Tennessee Fair Housing's website provides an easy-to-understand PDF that explains what you need to know about renting any type of residential property.
- The Knoxville Bar Association offers a web page devoted to free and reduced fee legal services.
TNCourts.gov provides a free program that provides free legal advice over the phone for landlord-tenant matters.
Tennessee Security Deposit Laws
No state law caps the amount that a landlord may charge as a security deposit. Additionally, for counties with a population of less than 75,000, there is no time frame that landlords must follow to return the security deposit to the tenant after they vacate the property. For counties with a population greater than 75,000, the landlord must return the deposit within 30 days (Tennessee Code Annotated § 66-28-301).