Free Rental Application Form Template
A standard rental application form is a questionnaire or disclosure form wherein the landlord can ask prospective tenants for information relevant to picking a tenant. The usual information this form will ask for includes the applicant’s income (or combined income if more the application is for several people like a couple or a family), proof of such income, number of tenants, credit or background checks, and if there are references like previous landlords or a co-signee. Note, however, that while most people agree to filling out these forms, future tenants are not required to disclose any of this information.
Features of a Rental Application Form
- Property and rent information
A rental application form will contain basic information about the property that is up for rent. This may include information like the address in the case of house rent, the description (e.g. 2 bedroom flat), period lease, etc. With this, the property owner will have enough information about the property that is being applied for. This is very relevant, especially in cases where the landlord has many properties or it’s a leasing firm that manages different properties.
- Basic personal information
Have the applicant provide enough information so you can properly run background and credit checks and contact them. Common identification factors include:
- Phone number
- Email address
- Identification number
- Emergency contact details
Note that fair housing laws consider age a protected class, so only ask for an applicant’s age if necessary for verifying their identity or if your rental is in an age-restricted community.
- Tenant’s lifestyle habits
Property owners have individual preferences about the kind of tenants they want residing in their property. For example, a landlord may detest tenants who keep late nights, hold house parties and smoke or drink.
By asking relevant questions about tenant’s lifestyle habits, the landlord may decide whether he or she can be allowed to rent the property. Lifestyle habits are a very high determining factor in choosing whether to accept or reject a rental allocation form.
- Residential history
Applicants are required to provide a residential history for the past three years, including rentals, owned properties and other living situations. You’ll want to gather:
- Their current address and any previous addresses in the past three years
- The dates they lived in each residence
- Monthly rent or mortgage payments
- Names and contact information for previous landlords
- Their reason for moving
- Credit and criminal record
Most property owners will not rent out their property to a notorious creditor or someone with a previous criminal record. People with a previous criminal record are likely to commit other crimes, putting other tenants and the landlord at risk of being a recipient.
Someone with a high credit record may not be able to meet up with rent payment, which is why property owners deny their rental application.
- Employment record
It’s critical to verify that the applicant will be able to pay rent. This section of the rental application generally requires:
- Current employer’s name and address
- Applicant’s job title
- Applicant’s monthly gross income
- Additional sources of income
- Length of employment
- Supervisor’s name, phone number and email address
If the applicant gives their permission, you can contact their current employer to verify this data. It’s ideal for applicants to have monthly gross income that’s at least three times the monthly rent price, but their past payment history and rent amount may be a better indicator of ability to pay than a strict minimum income requirement.
How to Get a Rental Application
Typically, rental applications are available at the rental unit or apartment complex, although some landlords may have applications available online, or may only mail out an application once the tenant has expressed interest in the unit.
If a tenant’s unsure how to get a rental application for a unit they’re interested in, they should ask the landlord.
Because there are no national or state-level laws that require landlords to ask specific questions or look at set criteria, there’s wide latitude when it comes to choosing a rental application to use.
If a landlord feels comfortable enough with the discrimination laws and any state or local laws regarding the collection of fees and personal data, they can create their own form, as long as they use the same form for all applicants.
Many landlords use online templates and just change a few things to fit their specific state or rental unit. These templates may be available through realtor or landlord associations, state or local agencies, or on the web. (Full disclosure: We have a great template available for FREE for landlords!)
And some landlords work with attorneys to create a rental application form.
It’s really up to each landlord and what they feel comfortable and confident in using.
When should I use a Tenant Application Form?
As a landlord, you would benefit from using an application for your rental property if one of the following situations applies:
- You’re a first-time landlord concerned about finding a good tenant
- You’re a veteran landlord with bad luck from previous renters
- You’re in a popular location or property that will attract many renters
- You’re worried about the reliability or financial resources of an applicant
- You want to screen for more serious tenants who are willing to move in soon
Getting a Rental Application Back
There are no national or state-level laws that require tenants to return a rental application within a certain amount of time, but that doesn’t mean landlords can’t put a time-frame somewhere on the rental application, i.e. “Return within three business days for rental application to be considered.”
Once a landlord does get the rental application form back from their prospective tenant, it’s important to begin the screening process right away, so landlords don’t lose prospective tenants because it took too long to get back to them with an approval.
Of course, this doesn’t mean landlords should rush through the screening process, either—a lot of important information gets uncovered during screening!