All About Rental Applications

Having your prospective tenant fill out a rental application is part of the screening process. The rental application is a good way of gauging interest for your unit. After receiving the completed application, it’s important to verify proof of income, run a credit check, and interview the tenant.

What is a Rental Application?

A rental application is a way for landlords to gather information about potential tenants. You’ll be able to see who is interested in your rental unit and learn about them. This is extremely helpful during the screening process because it will make narrowing down prospective tenants much easier. You’ll be able to see what kind of person they are, what their financial situation is like, and what kind of tenant they’ve been in the past.

Who Should Fill Out a Rental Application?

Every prospective tenant should fill out a rental application, no matter what. If someone approaches you and claims that they are interested in the unit, you should inform them that you require all prospective tenants to complete a rental application. This will show the individual that you are non-discriminatory and that you treat every prospect equally. Remember to always refer to the Fair Housing Act and state laws. Asking the prospect if they are okay with filling out the form will also give you insight on them. If they seem unwilling to fill out the form, they probably aren’t the tenant for you. They are probably not ready to commit to renting. Not to mention it looks a bit suspicious that they don’t want to disclose this kind of basic information.

What Do You Ask on a Rental Application?

  • Personal & Contact Information: You should ask for the applicant’s name, phone number, email address, social security number, and date of birth. All you need is their basic information so you can get an idea of who they are.
  • Residential History: Have the prospective tenant provide you with their current and previous addresses and landlords’ contact information.
  • Employer History: Ask for the tenant’s employment status and information — you’ll probably need to contact them to verify proof of income. You can also ask for a W2 for proof as well.
  • References: This is pretty straightforward. You’ll want some credible references to contact during the screening process.
  • Miscellaneous Questions: You should have some simple yes or no questions on the application for your prospect to answer, such as:
    • Have you ever declared bankruptcy?
    • Have you ever been evicted?
    • Have you ever been convicted of a felony?
    • Have you ever had an issue with a past landlord?
    • Do you have any pets?
    • Do you smoke?

After you receive the completed rental application, it’s time to run a credit and background check. Make sure to keep an eye out for red flags, some tenants, known as professional tenants, can be deceiving.

What it Should Look Like

Here's what you need to know about rental applications.

You can find lots of templates for rental applications online and customize them to your liking. Tailor your rental application so that it’s right for you and your rental property.

Jaleesa Bustamante