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Rental Application

Rental Application Form

Utilize our Rental Application to assess and screen potential tenants before entering into a lease agreement for your rental property.

In the dynamic world of property management, landlords and property managers rely on the Rental Application as a pivotal tool to screen and evaluate prospective tenants. Understanding its nuances is crucial for fostering successful and lasting landlord-tenant relationships.

Table of Contents

Understanding the Rental Application

A deeper comprehension of the Rental Application reveals its role as a precursor to the Lease Agreement, marking the standard operating procedure before tenants formally enter a dwelling unit. To facilitate the processing of applications, landlords often charge a non-refundable fee. This fee covers essential background checks encompassing criminal history, creditworthiness, and rental track record. Proactively engaging in this process helps landlords identify reliable tenants, ultimately preventing potential issues that may arise during the tenancy.

Rental Application Examples

Below are several examples of types of residential rental applications for landlords and property managers.  Review these examples below if you wonder what a tenant application looks like.

Depending on your rental unit, you may need to use a specific tenant application form.

1. Basic Rental Application Form

This is an example of a basic Rental Application.

In this simple rental application example, the tenant disclosed pertinent personal information like name, date of birth, social security number, and information about additional occupants.

Each additional rental application for the same unit should also request the applicant sign off on a credit and background check (with a criminal history).

basic rental application form

2. Apartment Rental Application Form

The Apartment Application sample below includes information the prospective tenant provided. 

When considering how to fill out an apartment application, remember the tenant details section contains all the required information for a landlord to consider the applicant for the apartment unit (such as full name, date of birth, social security number, and rental history).

The applicant has agreed to a $50 residential rental application fee (to cover screening reports) in this standard application.

apartment rental application form

3. House Rental Application Form

There is much to consider when evaluating potential home rental tenants. So, using a House Rental Application like the one below is helpful.

In our example, the landlord used an online property application to collect relevant information about the potential tenant (such as full name, date of birth, and social security number) to run screening reports and research the applicant’s financial and rental history.

house rental application form

4. Room Rental Application Form

If you plan to rent a room in your home, select the right person.

The property owner in our Room Rental Application example below used the application to collect information to run screening reports that help landlords decide if a prospective tenant is reliable and trustworthy.

room rental application form

Approving or Declining a Rental Application

The decision-making process following background checks is crucial. Once applicants have been assessed based on credit reports, general and criminal background reports, and the information provided in the rental application, landlords are tasked with communicating their decisions effectively.

Sending a Rental Application Approval Letter to successful applicants not only formalizes the acceptance but also sets a professional tone for the relationship. Equally important is the courtesy of sending denial letters to unsuccessful applicants. Selecting the right tenant is paramount in avoiding complications such as missed rent payments, property damage, and legal disputes.

Protecting Your Investment:
To fortify property owners against potential risks, due diligence is imperative. Beyond background checks, requesting potential tenants to complete a comprehensive property application offers additional insight. Ensuring the secure storage of completed applications, particularly those containing sensitive information like Social Security numbers, is essential for both privacy and compliance with data protection regulations.

Post-Approval Procedures

Beyond the approval phase, landlords delve into the preparation of lease agreements. This stage demands a comprehensive understanding of landlord-tenant rights, state-specific rental laws, and security deposit regulations. Equipping oneself with essential documents, such as Rent Receipts, Late Rent Notices, Notice to Vacate, Eviction Notices, and Early Lease Termination Letters, ensures preparedness for potential situations that may arise during the tenancy.

  • Prepare lease agreements, understanding landlord-tenant rights, state-specific rental laws, and security deposit regulations.
  • Equip yourself with essential documents for potential use during the tenancy, including Rent Receipts, Late Rent Notices, Notice to Vacate, Eviction Notices, and Early Lease Termination Letters.

How to Write a Rental Application

Standard applications to rent residential property address the following points as first steps:

Step 1 – Fill in Property Address Information

On the top of your application, include the following:

1. Date of Application

2. Property Address

rental application property information

Step 2 – Enter Basic Applicant Personal Information

Before anything else, your basic rental application should ask the applicant to provide identifying important information:

3. Full Name

4. Date of Birth

5. Social Security number

6. Phone number(s)

7. Email address

8. Driver’s license number

On a basic tenant rental application, the potential renter must also mention other proposed residents of the premises and their relationship with the applicant.

rental application applicant information

Step 3 – Collect Tenant Rental History

Reviewing applicants’ residence history gives you insight into what kind of tenants they may be.

Request the following important information about potential tenants’ past residence(s):

9. Full address, including city, state, and zip code 

10. Dates of residency (i.e., when they moved in and moved out)

11. Rent price, due date, and payment conditions (e.g., paid in full, in cash, etc.)

12. Reasons for moving (including whether they were asked to move out)

13. Landlord/property manager name and contact information

Get your tenant to fill out this information for previous addresses to cover as many years as appropriate.

14. Prior evictions

15. Prior broken leases


Step 4 – Gather Tenant Employment History

Considering you will collect rent , you should ensure an applicant can pay it reliably. An online rental application is a great way to assess the applicant’s financial stability.

Make sure your application form asks prospective tenants for the following information about their work history:

16. Current employer plus position at the company

17. Company address and phone number

18. Name of supervisor

19. Duration of employment

20. Monthly pay 

Collect this information for previous employers to cover as many years as appropriate.

21. Have your applicant provide information about additional annual or monthly income sources.


Step 5 – Enter Tenant Credit History

Some property managers require applicants to consent to a renters credit check to consider their application for a property.

Although a credit report from Equifax, Experian, or Trans Union is helpful, other credit references can supplement a property application.

The following information helps you adequately review an applicant’s credit:

22. Bank account details and credit card statements

Additionally, you should request the following:

  • Letters from former landlords confirming regular rent payments
  • Institutions at which the applicant has accounts, as well as their current balances
  • Social Security number or ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) (one of these is necessary to run a credit check)
  • Consent to a credit check

Certain states limit or prohibit rental application fees (refer to the chart below). 

Maximum Residential Rental Application Fees

State Maximum Rental Application Fee (as of publish date) Law
Alabama None
Alaska None
Arizona None
Arkansas None
California $52.46 CA Civ. Code § 1950.6(b)
Colorado None CO Rev. Stat. § 38-12-903
Connecticut None
Delaware Fee cannot exceed the greater of $50.00 or 10% of the monthly rent 25 DE Code § 5514(d)
District of Columbia None
Florida None
Georgia None
Hawaii None
Idaho None
Illinois None
Indiana None
Iowa None
Kansas None
Kentucky None
Louisiana None
Maine None
Maryland $25.00. Landlord must return any fees exceeding $25.00 within 15 days following date of occupancy or receipt of written communication that no tenancy will occur MD Real Prop. Code § 8-213(b)(1)(i)
Massachusetts Not allowed. Landlord may not collect rental application fee from applicants MA Gen. Laws ch. 186 § 15B(1)(b)
Michigan None
Minnesota None, provided the fee is reasonable and used to perform tenant screening/background check on the applicant for an available rental unit MN Stat. § 504B.173
Mississippi None
Missouri None
Montana None
Nebraska None
Nevada None
New Hampshire None
New Jersey None
New Mexico None
New York Fee must be the lesser of $20.00 or actual cost of conducting background and credit check NY Real Prop. Laws § 238-A
North Carolina None
North Dakota None
Ohio None
Oklahoma None
Oregon None, provided the fee is not greater than the average actual cost of screening applicants OR Rev. Stat. § 90.295
Pennsylvania None
Rhode Island None
South Carolina None
South Dakota None
Tennessee None
Texas None
Utah None
Vermont Not allowed. Application fee for residential property is prohibited 9 VT Stat. § 4456a
Virginia $50.00, which excludes any actual out-of-pocket expenses for background screening VA Code § 55.1-1203(C)
Washington None, provided the fee consists of only the actual costs incurred in obtaining the tenant screening report WA Rev. Code § 59.18.257(1)(b)
West Virginia None
Wisconsin Landlord cannot require more than $25.00 to obtain a consumer credit report WI Stat. § 704.085
Wyoming None

Alternatively, you can hire a third-party company to request a credit check from your prospective tenant(s) and charge the applicant directly for this service.

Using an outside credit application service addresses a tenant’s concern about providing sensitive information on your application, such as their Social Security number.

rental application tenant credit history

Step 6 – Get Tenant References

Your residential lease application should ask renters to include references, preferably a past landlord or neighbor.

Applicants should also provide the following information:

23. Name of reference

24. Contact information

25. Relationship with the applicant

It’s important to include a statement in your rental application where the applicant gives you permission to contact landlords and employers for references.

rental application tenant references

Step 7 – Conduct Tenant Background Check

Many landlords ask applicants to consent to a general and criminal background check and fill out a residential rental application.

The information provided in a background check varies depending on the service provider but usually includes the following:

  • Personal details
  • Income statements
  • Credit report(s)
  • Criminal background record report
  • Eviction report
  • Fraud indicator report
  • Employment history
  • Public record check
  • Rental history check
  • National Sex Offender Registry check

Take these steps to run a background check:

a. Ensure the tenant has completed the application

b. Applicant and landlord sign application

c. Pull a credit report (check the applicant’s credit score and history)

d. Order a history report on the potential tenant (did they pay rent on time?)

e. Conduct employment verification (is the applicant employed, and when was the start date?)

f. Reach out to references, including previous landlords

g. Check the National Sex Offender Registry

h. Check your state’s public website for sex offenders

Federal and State Sex Offender Registry Public Websites

Federal Alabama Alaska
Arizona Arkansas California
Colorado Connecticut Delaware
District of Columbia Florida Georgia
Hawaii Idaho Illinois
Indiana Iowa Kansas
Kentucky Louisiana Maine
Maryland Massachusetts Michigan
Minnesota Mississippi Missouri
Montana Nebraska Nevada
New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico
New York North Carolina North Dakota
Ohio Oklahoma Oregon
Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina
South Dakota Tennessee Texas
Utah Vermont Virginia
Washington West Virginia Wisconsin

Mastering the rental application process is the cornerstone of successful property management. By adhering to best practices and leveraging comprehensive background checks, landlords can streamline tenant selection, mitigate risks, and establish a foundation for positive and enduring landlord-tenant relationships. Whether you're a seasoned property manager or a first-time landlord, a well-crafted rental application process sets the stage for a smooth and successful leasing experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Landlords Charge a Fee for Processing a Rental Application?

Yes, landlords commonly charge a non-refundable rental application fee. This fee helps cover the cost of background checks, including criminal history, credit checks, and rental history inquiries.

How Do Landlords Approve or Decline a Rental Application?

Landlords typically review the information provided in the rental application, conduct background checks (credit, criminal, rental history), and then communicate their decision. Successful applicants receive a Rental Application Approval Letter, while unsuccessful ones receive a denial letter.

What Risks Can Landlords Avoid by Using Rental Applications?

By thoroughly screening tenants through rental applications, landlords can mitigate risks such as missed rent payments, property damage, troublesome eviction processes, and legal issues. This proactive approach helps in selecting reliable and responsible tenants.

Rental Application Sample

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Related Landlords Contracts
  • Texas Residential Lease Agreement : Utilize our Texas residential lease agreement for a legally binding contract between the landlord and the tenant and outline the terms and conditions of renting a property.
  • Late Rent Notice : Utilize our complimentary Late Rent Notice template to inform a tenant that their rent payment is overdue.
  • Condominium Lease Agreement : A condominium, often referred to as a condo, is a type of housing where individuals own their individual units, but there is shared ownership of common areas and facilities within the property.
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