The Washington Rental Application Process
Rental applications ensure that landlords collect the same thorough information from all applicants so they can choose the most financially stable and responsible tenant. Rental applications generally collect sensitive information, such as social security number, full address, rental history, employment history, and income specifics.
Since it is a tenant screening tool, the applicant usually pays a non-refundable fee that the landlord uses to pay for a background check, including criminal history, and the applicant's credit history. Rental applications must comply with federal fair housing laws and Washington landlord-tenant laws to ensure that all potential tenants are treated fairly.
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A Sample Washington Rental Application with Examples for Each Step
A Washington rental application is a screening tool used by landlords and property managers. It must collect the right information so that you can determine which potential renters are the best ones for your rental property. It should include the following sections:
Personal information of the applicant. Include their full legal name, birthday, social security number, cell phone number, work phone number, email address, and emergency contact information.
- Current and previous rental history. Start with the current rental address, how long the applicant has lived at the address, the amount of monthly rent, and the current landlord’s name and phone number. Then, there should be spaces to collect previous rental history, including the name and contact information for previous landlords.
- Current and previous employment history. Starting with the current employer, ask for the employer’s name and address, how long the applicant has worked for the employer, the applicant's job title, the name of their supervisor, and the phone number for their supervisor or human resources.
Income sources. Ask the type of income sources they receive (for instance, a paycheck or dividends from investments), frequency of payments, and the amount of each payment. Then, request the disclosure of every checking and savings account owned by the applicant and the name of each bank or credit union that manages each account.
- A section that notates how many vehicles are owned by the applicant and describes each vehicle. Each vehicle should be described by year, make, model, color, and license plate number.
- Request the name and age of each person who will reside in the rental unit with the applicant.
- Ask the applicant whether they own pets, the number of pets, the types, and their sizes.
Authorization for you to run a background check and to pull a credit report. Keep in mind that you can only do this if the applicant signs the form. This section is also ideal for reminding the applicant that the fee paid is non-refundable.
Rental Application Resources for Tenants in Washington
As a renter in Washington, you're part of a legally binding contract. Many renters feel as if they have few or no rights when compared to the landlord. However, Washington landlord-tenant laws do provide specific rights to renters. Here are some valuable links to help you better understand your rights:
- The Office of the Attorney General offers several residential landlord-tenant resources, including a self-help brochure that explains your rights as a tenant and links to several organizations that may help you with your dispute.
- The Tenants Union of Washington State provides information on how renters can get legal assistance to solve landlord-tenant conflicts in ways that are low-cost or free.
- The Seattle Housing Project may be able to help you if you're facing eviction or if your landlord refuses to make necessary repairs.
- The website for the City of Seattle has an entire page devoted to resources for renters.
- The Northwest Consumer Law Center provides a resource page of free and low-cost legal options.
King County Bar Association provides legal clinics in 34 locations that offer free legal advice for civil issues and assistance in answering papers, summons, and requests. They also make referrals.
- King County Law Library maintains a list of general legal clinics, some of which require an appointment.
Washington Rental Application Laws
On leases shorter than one year, Washington landlords must return the tenant’s security deposit within 21 days. There is no directive for leases longer than one (1) year.
Washington Revised Code Annotated § § 59.18.260 to 59.18.285.