A Texas Lease or Rental Application form is a document landlords use to screen and vet potential tenants, to determine whether they are reliable and have the ability to pay rent on time.
What is a Rental Application?
A standard rental or lease application is a document that provides a landlord with the opportunity to screen for any red flags a tenant may raise before signing a lease agreement.
Red flags range from poor credit and rental history to inaccurate past employment.
With the information collected on a rental application form (including the applicant’s authorization signature), a landlord can conduct a background and credit check and contact references to inquire into a potential tenant’s character.
If you want to lease Texas rental property, use our customizable form to create a legally binding document that helps you thoroughly screen prospective tenants.
Texas State Law and Specifics
In the landmark 2015 United States Supreme Court case Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. regarding a rental application form and fair housing laws the U.S. Supreme Court held that disparate impact claims were included in the Fair Housing Act.
The ruling enforced that a disparate impact claim, an adverse effect on a protected class of persons from practices in housing, employment, and other areas conducted in a formal, neutral, and non-prejudicial manner, was covered under the Fair Housing Act.
Texas laws impose unique requirements on landlords screening potential/future tenants and state law is specific regarding tenant’s rights during the screening process.
For example, Texas statutes (Title 15, Chapter 301 and Title 8, Chapter 92 of the Texas Property Code) provide for the following during the rental application process:
Rejection of Rental Application
A Texas landlord is presumed to have given notice of rejection or acceptance of a rental application form when they have informed the applicant by telephone or sent a written notice in the mail.
Landlords may reject a rental application for several reasons including unsatisfactory information revealed during a credit check or various background checks.
Landlords should have objective rental policies and selection criteria and provide applicants with a written explanation for why they were rejected.
Failure to Disclose
A landlord may reject a rental application form when an applicant fails to disclose complete or accurate information.
Property owners or landlords may mention a security deposit during the rental application form process, but they typically do not collect this deposit until a tenant enters into a lease agreement.
Texas law does not limit the amount of security deposit a landlord may request from a tenant.
Rental Application Fee
Texas law does not limit the amount landlords can charge for rental application fees. Generally, most landlords charge between $15 and $30 and won’t consider the rental application form without the fee.
The application fee is used by the landlord to run a background check and credit report.
Discrimination on Rental Applications
Landlords may not discriminate against applicants who fill out a rental application. They may not ask questions regarding several areas such as race, religion, or familial status, where a child under eighteen (18) lives with a parent, legal guardian, or designee of the parent or legal guardian.
Federal Law and Rental Applications
No matter the state, the Fair Housing Act states that landlords cannot discriminate against future and potential tenants during the entire housing process.
Questions on an application form cannot be based on:
- Race or color
- Sex (gender identity and sexual orientation)
- Familial status
- National origin
Landlords can screen and vet tenants based on objective criteria that do not discriminate against a fundamental right.
Additionally, landlords can inquire about certain things on an application form to ensure the future tenant is reliable, trustworthy, and able to pay rent, such as credit and rental history.
They are legally permitted to inquire about a tenant’s:
- Full legal name, birth date, driver’s license information, and social security number
- Current and past employer’s contact information (employment history)
- Credit history and bank account information
- Salary details and proof of income
- Criminal history
- Past eviction and rental history (current and past landlords)
- Sex offender status
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
Credit History and Rental Applications
The Fair Credit Reporting Act governs consumer credit reporting and guides tenant credit inquiries obtained by landlords and property owners during screening and reporting. Both laws require:
Adverse Action Notice
A landlord must give oral, written, or electronic notice of adverse action after reviewing the tenant screening report.
Consumer Report Details
A landlord must provide the name and contact information of the consumer reporting agency that issued the credit report for the rental application form
A landlord also must disclose important information in the credit report including the numerical credit score and information (score range, score factors, score date).
Copy and Opportunity to Dispute
A landlord must provide the potential tenant with a copy of the report and an opportunity to dispute the veracity and accuracy of it.
How to Write a Rental Application in Texas
Follow the steps below to write a rental application in Texas.
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 – Gather Applicant’s Residence History
In this section, the applicant(s) provides their residence history including addresses, dates of residency, and reasons for moving.
Step 4 – Collect Applicant’s 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’s Financial History
This section provides the applicant’s bank account and credit card information.
Step 6 – Collect References
In this section, the applicant(s) provides personal references’ names 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.
Texas Rental Application Sample
Below is a free form (Adobe PDF and MS Word) you can use to screen tenants for your Texas rental. Alternatively, create a customized Texas rental application using our document builder.