Residential Rental Application Help Guide

LegalNature's residential rental application is designed to give you a thorough yet efficient application. The following information will help explain the document and provide instructions for easily customizing it to fit your needs.


Selection Criteria and Screening Disclosures

Note that states such as Washington and Texas require landlords to explain the selection criteria and screening process. This may be included in the application itself or by attaching your own separate form. To include these items in the application, you may do this on the last step when asked to include additional information or instructions.

If you include selection criteria, make sure that you explain the criteria that the applicant must satisfy in order to be accepted. Common criteria include credit score, rental history, references, and criminal history. Then explain the screening process in detail, including how long it normally takes to process the application, how the applicant will be notified of the decision, and any other items required by state law.

Authorizations

There are two authorization paragraphs near the end of the application. The Consumer Report Disclosure and Authorization allows the landlord to obtain the applicant's credit report. The Information Release Authorization and Acknowledgments allows the landlord to verify the rest of the information provided in the application, including rental and eviction history, employment and income, bank account information, public court records, and criminal background check. By signing, the applicant (and co-signer, if included) is authorizing the release of this information from those who have it, including any current or past landlords, current or past supervisors, personal references, bank representatives, or credit representatives, as applicable.

Discrimination Law

Remember that it is against the federal Fair Housing Act to discriminate against an applicant based on race, color, religion, sex, family status, and physical and mental disability. Furthermore, although the act does not explicitly ban discrimination based on age, courts will likely find that age-based discrimination is prevented under the broader prohibition against family status discrimination. Your state or local law may also define additional protected classes. Therefore, it is best not to discriminate against age, marital status, sexual orientation, or income source.

Execution

To finalize the application, the applicant (and co-signer, if included), must sign and date under the two authorizations. It is good practice to provide the applicant with a copy of the application submitted so that he or she can see what was agreed upon at this stage.

***Drafting Tip: Because LegalNature saves your answers in the form builder, each time you complete the form you have the option of simply changing the few questions that may vary between applicants, such as property address, rent amount, security deposit, and whether it is a fixed-term or periodic tenancy. In the event that you are simply trying to create a re-usable template, you can simply leave these items blank and allow the applicant to fill them in by hand.

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