A rental application is a document used by landlords to screen prospective tenants. A well-written rental application helps landlords assess whether a tenant is trustworthy and responsible. Along with the form, landlords may charge a non-refundable rental application fee to cover the cost of a background and credit history check.
A rental application form is also be referred to as a:
- Tenant application
- Lease application
- Rental lease application
- Application for a rental property
- Residential lease / residential rental application
Put in the extra time to find a reliable renter to save yourself a headache later. Use a lease application before signing a lease agreement.
Sample Rental Application Forms
Below are several examples of various types of rental applications. Depending on what type of property you’re renting, you may need to use a specific type of form. All of these forms can be easily created in our rental application builder.
Basic Rental Application Form
Below is a sample of a simple rental application usable for any rental property. The tenant has disclosed basic information about himself and his co-applicant as well as their residence and employment history.
The apartment application form sample below was filled out by the prospective tenant. In this form, the tenant details all of the information necessary to be considered by the landlord to rent his apartment unit. In this standard rental application, the applicant has also included a $50 rental application fee.
House Rental Application
There is a lot to consider when evaluating potential tenants. That’s why the landlord below used a detailed home rental application to collect relevant information about the potential tenant.
If you’re planning on renting a room in your home, put effort into selecting the right person. The landlord used the room rental application form below to help decide if the tenant is reliable and trustworthy.
What to Include in a Rental Application
A standard rental application should address the following seven points:
1. Basic Rental Applicant Information
Before anything else, your tenant application should ask the applicant to provide basic identifying information:
- Social security number
- Driver’s license numbers
- Phone number/s
The applicant should also mention other proposed residents of the premises, and their relationship to them.
2. Rental History
Reviewing an applicant’s residence history gives you insight into what kind of tenant they may be. Request the following information about a potential tenant’s past residence:
- Full address including city, state, and zip – for their current residence, as well as two previous residences
- Dates of residency (i.e., when did they move in and move out?)
- Landlord/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.)
3. Employment History
Considering you’ll be collecting rent, you want to make sure an applicant can reliably pay it. A great way to assess the applicant’s financial stability is through the rental application form you provide.
Make sure your lease application form asks prospective tenants for the following information about their work history:
- Current and last two employers, plus their contact information
- Company name, phone number, and address
- Duration of employment
- Job title and responsibilities
- Monthly pay and nature of work (e.g., part-time, full-time, salaried, temp, etc.)
4. Credit History
Some landlords require applicants to consent to a credit check in order for their application to be considered. Although an Equifax credit report is useful, other forms of credit reference can supplement a rental application.
The following information can help you adequately review an applicant’s credit history:
- Bank account details and credit card statements
- 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) – these are both necessary to run a credit check
- Consent to a credit check
If you plan to run a rental credit check, it’s standard to charge a rental application fee to cover the credit report’s cost. Alternatively, you can hire a third party to request a credit check from your prospective tenant(s) and charge them directly.
Using an outside service addresses a tenant’s concern about providing sensitive information, such as their Social Security number, on your rental application.
5. Personal References
Your rental application should ask renters to include references, preferably past landlords or neighbors. Tenants should also provide the following information:
- Name of reference
- Relationship to applicant
- Contact information
It can be difficult for candidates to fill out their rental applications on site. Consider using an online rental application, so that applicants can collect all of the required information and submit the form at their leisure.
6. Background Check
Many landlords ask applicants to consent to a background check in addition to filling out a rental application. The information provided in a background check varies depending on the service provider, but most include:
- Personal details
- Income statements
- Credit reports
- Criminal records
- Eviction records
- Fraud indicators
- Employment history
- Public records
- Rental history
Given the overlap in content, you may choose to use a rental application background check instead of overlapping your form sections.
7. Extended Questions, Authentication, and Signatures
The rest of a lease application can be made up of questions pertinent to the property or tenant behavior. Some common question topics that should appear on your rental property application include:
- Why the applicant is looking to move
- Vehicle information, including the make, model, year, color, mileage, and license plate number
- Whether the applicant or other tenants smoke
- Estimated length of stay
- If bankruptcy has been filed
- Eviction history
- Problems with past landlords/current landlord
- Notes regarding credit and criminal checks
- Co-signer, or a guarantor who can loan money for rent should the applicant fall short
In order to stand out in a pile of applications, some candidates include a cover letter with their rental application.
Some states impose restrictions on landlords who use an application for rental property to screen tenants. For example, on a California rental application, a landlord is allowed to ask about an applicant’s source and level of income, but cannot discriminate against the applicant based on their source of income.
Moreover, if an applicant fails to disclose complete or accurate information on a Texas rental application, the landlord has the right to reject the candidate.
Complete Your Rental Application Form
Note that the candidate’s signature on the lease application acts as a certification that they’re telling the truth. If they provided any false or incomplete information, you could reject them.
At the end of the form, including an authorization to run a credit and background check. After that’s been confirmed, both you and the applicant (and co-signer, if necessary) can sign and date the rental property application.
Once you’ve informed your new tenant that you’ve accepted their application, don’t forget to send rental application denial letters to other pending applicants.
Selecting the wrong tenant to rent your property could lead to missed rent payments, damaged property, hasslesome eviction processes, and even legal issues. Do your due diligence, and protect yourself by asking prospective tenants to fill out a simple rental application.
Make sure you file the completed forms in a secure location – especially if you’ve asked candidates to provide their social security number on the rental application.
Frequently Asked Questions About Rental Applications
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
What questions should renters ask landlords?
Renters should also do their own research by asking questions like:
- How are the neighbors?
- Why did the previous resident leave?
- What is the longest period a renter has stayed on the premises?
- How responsive is the landlord? (A question for previous tenants)
Are there questions you can’t ask a tenant?
Yes. A landlord may NOT ask questions that violate the Fair Housing Act.
What if I don’t use a residential rental application?
You could cost yourself a lot of time and money if you don’t properly screen potential renters. After the potential renter fills out the tenant application, you should take time to review it closely, and contact their current and previous employers and landlords.