Table of Contents
- Download a Free Rental Application Template
- Rental Application: The Basics
- How to Write Your Own – 6 Critical Sections
- FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
1. Download a Free Rental Application Template
We offer three free-to-download forms to help with your tenant selection. Each one comes in a different format, and are certain to fit any requirements you may have.
Template 1 – MS Excel
Our Excel document is perfect for both hand-writing and typing. With this, applicants are able to spread their information out over two pages with each question having its own distinct box for greater clarity.
This file can also be completely customized based on the preferences of the landlord.
Simply add or delete rows and columns as you see fit, and make this free form entirely your own.
Template 2 – MS Word
Our MS Word version is our most popular, having been downloaded hundreds of times. Spartan and straight-forward, it’s perfect for quicker applications and a no-frills process.
For a quick and easy process, we recommend that you simply use our free document creator that gives helpful tips along the way.
Otherwise, this document will work perfectly in all versions of Microsoft Word.
Template 3 – Google Drive
Our Google Drive version marries the best of both worlds, with boxes for information and specific questions delineated below.
Both clear and fast, and employing Google’s dynamic cloud technology, this document is perfect for those of you who are tech savvy.
Remember to save your own file. Then, you can edit it on the document itself, and simply share the link. Or, simply print it out and fill it in by hand.
Use this form to filter out tenant scams during the screening process to minimize the chances of leasing out to a bad renter!
2. Rental Application: The Basics
This document is used by landlords seeking to find responsible renters.
Before renting their home, condo, apartment, or basement studio, landlords should screen prospective tenants for trustworthiness and reliability. A standard form allows landlords to run a background check and credit check on each person who wants to live on their property. The landlord may charge a fee to cover the cost of checking someone’s criminal and credit history.
Put in the extra time to find a reliable renter to save yourself a headache later. Use a Rental Application before signing a Lease Agreement.
Landlords often use this form to find the best renter in the following situations:
- Rental properties are in high demand in your area
- Concern about the ability of renters to pay consistently
- Rent control or rent stabilization laws make it difficult to raise rent
- Eviction procedures in the area make it difficult to remove bad tenants
3. How to Write Your Own – 6 Critical Sections
To write your own complete and comprehensive rental application, follow these 6 simple steps:
Basic Applicant Info
Before anything else, your document should ask the applicant their most basic identifying information. This section should include:
- Identification numbers, including social security and drivers license numbers
- Phone numbers (mobile and residential)
- Other proposed residents and relationship to them
Be sure you include this section in your form – reviewing an applicant’s residence history gives you great insight into what kind of tenant they may prove to be. Include:
- Information on current address, as well as two previous residences
- Full address including city, state, and zip
- Dates of residency (i.e., when did they move in and move out)
- Owner / Manager, and contact information
- Reasons for moving and whether they were asked to move out
- Rent price, due date, and payment conditions (e.g., paid in full, in cash, etc.)
Considering you’ll be collecting rent, you will want to make sure an applicant can reliably pay it. The best way to ensure this is to make sure your document asks tenants about their work history. Include the following:
- Information for current employer, as well as the two previous
- Employer name (company name), contact information, and address
- Tenure as an employee (i.e., when did they start and when did they leave the company)
- Job title and responsibilities
- Supervisor name and contact information
- Monthly pay and nature of work (e.g., part-time, full-time, salaried, temp, etc.)
Applicants can provide recent pay stubs, a W2, or an employment offer letter as proof of income.
This section can be a little difficult to be certain of, but it’s still prudent to have an applicant list as much financial and credit info as possible. Make sure they include:
- Info for savings and checking accounts, credit card, and auto loan if they have one
- Institutions at which they have accounts, as well as current balance
- Authorization for you to run a credit check
Be sure to run a credit check on people you’re considering renting to. Doing so can save you from headaches and lost money.
Your document should ask renters to include references, preferably past landlords or neighbors. They should give information for:
- Name of reference
- Relationship to applicant
- Contact info
Extended Questions, Authentication, and Signatures
The rest of the form can be made up of questions pertinent to the property or related to tenant behavior. Some common questions that should appear on the application include:
- Why they are currently looking to move
- Vehicle information including make, model, year, color, mileage, and license plate number
- Whether the applicant or other tenants smoke
- Estimated length of stay
- Bankruptcy and criminal history
- Eviction history
- Problems with past landlords/ current landlord
- Notes regarding credit and criminal check
- Co-signer, or a guarantor who can loan money for rent should the applicant fall short.
Note that it requires the applicant to certify that they are telling the truth. If they have provided any false or incomplete information, the landlord can reject them.
At the end of the form, have them authorize you to run a background and credit check. They also must state that all of the information provided is correct and agree to you checking up on of all of that information. Finally, both you and the applicant can sign and date (along a co-signer if necessary).
Landlords should make sure to keep copies of the form filed in a safe place. Be sure to protect the privacy of others who give you their social security numbers.
4. FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: When should I use one?
A: As a landlord, you would benefit from using an application if one of the following situations applies:
- first time landlord concerned about finding a good tenant
- veteran landlord with bad luck from previous renters
- popular location or property that will attract many renters
- worried about the reliability or financial resources of an applicant
- screen for more serious tenants who are willing to move in soon
Renters should also do their own research. Ask the landlord questions like:
- How are the neighbors?
- Why did the previous resident leave?
- What is the longest period a renter has stayed on the Premises?
- Ask current or previous tenants about the landlord’s responsiveness?
Q: Are there questions you can’t ask?
A: Yes. A landlord may NOT ask questions that violate the Fair Housing Act.
For example, a landlord should refrain from asking questions related to the following:
- National Origin
- Familial Status (whether you have children)
- Physical or Mental Disability (including alcoholism or past drug addiction)
Many states and cities do not allow landlords to discriminate against renters for the following:
- Marital Status (single versus married)
- Gender Identity (transgender or gender queer)
- Sexual Orientation (straight or gay)
While these questions might be okay in Asia or other countries, landlords should avoid the following questions in the U.S.:
- Are you married yet?
- Do you go to church?
- Have you ever been arrested?
- Where are you (or your family) from?
- Are you two together? (if you are with your partner)
Q: What if I don’t use one?
A: You could cost yourself a lot of time and money if you don’t take the time to properly screen potential renters. Even after the potential renter fills it out, the landlord should put in the time to actually call previous employers and landlords.
Here are just a few of the preventable consequences:
|1. Lost Opportunity Cost of:|
|Finding a more responsible tenant|
|Renting to an easy and financially stable Tenant|
|2. Lost Money From:|
|Uncollected rent from an insolvent Tenant|
|Repairing damaged property|
|Defending yourself against a discrimination lawsuit|
|3. Mental Anguish:|
|Confusion about verbal agreement to raise rent|
|Fear of safety from a Tenant with a criminal background record|
Landlords should use this to avoid being accused of unfairly discriminating against a renter. If using one is part of your standard practice, all potential renters should get the same treatment.
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