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How to Create a Rental Application

Your rental application is designed to give you a very thorough yet efficient application for residential renting or leasing. It can easily be customized to fit your needs. The information below will help you complete your application using LegalNature’s quick and intuitive form builder.


Background Information

The first few questions concern the general background information for the application, including:

  • the landlord’s name and address,
  • the property address, and
  • the tenancy type.

By telling the tenant upfront whether you are offering a fixed-term or periodic tenancy, you can help filter out tenants who are not interested in your offering. The same goes for the rental payment amount and frequency.

Deposits and Fees

This section allows you to indicate the type and amount of any fees or deposits you require, including pets, security, and other fees and deposits. Note that state law may set limits on the amount of the security deposit (often one month’s rent or first and last month’s rent) or other fees or deposits you require.

If you choose to include additional fees or deposits, be sure to indicate whether it is a deposit (tenants generally are entitled to have these refunded) or a fee (tenants generally cannot receive a refund of fees).

Additional Inclusions

The following sections should be straightforward for you to complete. You can choose to:

  • indicate the landlord’s preferences on smoking and waterbeds,
  • allow the applicant to use a co-signer,
  • require references and verification letters, and
  • include your own custom questions or information.

Authorizations

There are two authorization paragraphs near the end of the residential rental application. The Consumer Report Disclosure and Authorization paragraph allows the landlord to obtain the applicant's credit report. The Information Release Authorization and Acknowledgments paragraph 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, or
  • 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 residential rental 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.

Selection Criteria and Screening Disclosure

Some states, such as Washington and Texas, require landlords to explain their selection criteria and screening process for applicants. This may be included in the application itself or by attaching your own separate page. 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 includes:

  • 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.

Future Applicants

Because LegalNature saves your answers in the form builder, you have the option of simply changing your answers to 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.

LegalNature can help you with all of your personal legal form needs. Let us help you get started today. Click here to create your residential rental application now.

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