An Ohio Lease or Rental Application is a form used by Ohio landlords and property managers to screen and vet potential tenants to determine whether they are reliable and able to pay rent on time for a specified rental property.
A standard Ohio rental application allows a landlord to check rental history, credit history, and employment history and screen for any red flags like criminal history (via a background check).
Landlords use our customized rental application to qualify tenants for their Ohio Lease Agreements.
Ohio Rental Application Law and State Statutes
Of the 3,059 discrimination cases handled by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission in 2016, approximately 14% were housing cases.
Ohio imposes unique requirements on landlords and property managers screening prospective tenants during the rental application process. For example, Ohio Statute provides for the following:
The Ohio Attorney general lays out recommendations for Ohio landlords when screening tenants for a rental property and processing rental applications:
- Prepare written, objective rental policies detailing the criteria for approval
- Train all assistants on relevant rental policies and fair housing laws
- Keep rental applications up-to-date and relevant to objective rental criteria
- Keep records
A Landlord may search for eviction proceedings commenced against a tenant up to seven (7) years before the rental application.
Rental Application Fee
Ohio landlords are not required to return rental application fees therefore applicants should consider rental application fees non-refundable fees.
Other fees may be involved in processing a rental application in Ohio, but security deposits are not one of them. A security deposit is not a fee but instead is a deposit a landlord collects usually upon signing a lease agreement.
This deposit covers damages tenants may do to the rental property.
Just like Ohio statutes do not mention the maximum amount for a rental application fee, they do not specify any maximum amount for rental security deposits.
Timeframe to File Complaint
To file a timely Ohio rental complaint, a charge of housing-related discrimination must be filed within one (1) year after the act of discrimination was committed (Ohio Admin. Code § 4112-3-01).
After the filing of a charge of discriminatory housing practice, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission has thirty (30) days to begin the investigation (Ohio Admin. Code § 4112-6-01).
If you are a foreign student looking to rent, or a person without a social security number, don’t sweat!
Nonresident aliens (those legally in the U.S. not intending to settle permanently) may use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) issued by the IRS as an alternate form of identification on rental applications
Landlords should remember that it is illegal under the Fair Housing Act to refuse to rent to persons without a social security number.
Regardless of your state, the federally mandated Fair Housing Act offers uniform protection for all buyers and renters from landlord and seller discrimination. The Fair Housing Act provides the following protected classes to safeguard against landlord discrimination:
- Race or color
- National origin
- Sex (gender identity and sexual orientation)
- Familial status
Landlords may inquire into certain objective criteria to determine whether tenants are a good fit to rent and pay rent in a trustworthy and timely manner.
With the applicant’s permission, landlords can screen a potential tenant’s rental application by inquiring into:
- Legal full name, birth date, and driver’s license or social security number
- Employer or past employer’s name, address, and contact information (employment history)
- Current or past landlords and eviction or rental history
- Salary specifics as provided through pay stubs or proof of income
- Credit history and information on checking or savings accounts
- Sex offender registry
- Rental or personal references
- Personal information like pet ownership
- Criminal history and other background check inquiries
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) governs consumer credit reporting and inquiries by landlords and sellers. The Act regulates prospective tenants’ consumer credit information obtained during tenant screening and requires the following:
Adverse Action Notice
Written, oral, or electronic notice of any adverse action a landlord takes after reviewing a tenant screening report.
Consumer Report Details
The name, address, and number of the consumer reporting agency that provided the screening report to the landlord. The landlord must also disclose the numerical credit score and information (score range, score factors, score date) to the applicant.
Copy and Opportunity to Dispute
The landlord must provide the applying tenant with a copy of the screening report and an opportunity to dispute the completeness and accuracy of the report.
How to Write a Rental Application
Follow the steps below to write a rental application in Ohio.
Step 1 – Fill in Property Address Information
Write the date of the rental application and the address of the rental property.
Step 2 – Collect Basic Rental Applicant Information
This section is for the applicant(s) to provide basic identifying information about themselves.
Step 3 – Collect Applicant Residence History
In this section, the applicant(s) provides their residence history including addresses, dates of residency and reasons for moving.
Step 4 – Gather Applicant Employment History
This section is for the applicant(s) to provide current and previous employment information and other sources of income.
Step 5 – Gather Applicant Financial History
This section is for the applicant(s) to provide bank account and credit card information.
Step 6 – Collect References
In this section, the applicant(s) provides personal references’ name and contact information.
Step 7 – Additional Questions and Verification
This section contains additional questions to determine more information about the applicant such as smoking or pets.
Sample Rental Application Form
Use the sample rental application form below to better understand what a typical rental application looks like or to screen prospective tenants. Instead of this free form, you can use our attorney-reviewed document builder to create a customized and legally binding Ohio rental application.