The Arizona rental application form is a document that is used by landlords to collect information from prospective tenants, which is used to determine if they are a viable tenant based on factors like eviction history, income, credit score, and other non-discriminatory factors.
Arizona Laws on Rental Application
The following laws apply to the application and tenant screening process in the state of Arizona.
While some states specify a maximum application fee, Arizona does not have any limitations on who can charge the application fee, or how much this fee can be. If the fee is nonrefundable and must be noted on the application.
Additionally, Arizona state law limits the amount of security deposit that can be collected, which is the equivalent of one and one-half months’ rent unless it’s for mobile home spaces, in which case the limit is higher and can charge up to two months’ rent.
Arizona landlords are not required to provide a receipt for the security deposits, nor do they require security deposits to be held in a separate account.
What Arizona Rental Application Forms Can’t Ask About
The Federal Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate against the following protected classes:
- National Origin (Nationality)
- Familial Status (Having or not having children)
- Disability (Physical or Mental)
As a result, asking about any of these items on a rental application form (and/or using them to base an application decision on) is not allowed.
In addition to the Federal Fair Housing Act laws, Arizona state laws add additional protections for citizen status. Landlords are not allowed to inquire about immigration or citizenship status as part of their screening process.
Exemptions from Fair Housing laws do exist. In Arizona, the following exemptions are allowed:
- Familial Status – it is acceptable to ask about and base an application decision on if children will occupy the rented premises in any of the below cases:
- Housing for Older Persons Exemption – landlords may ask for an applicant’s age in the case of age-restricted communities such as senior housing. This federal exemption, known as the “Housing for Older Persons” exemption, can apply to 55+ or even 62+ communities that meet the requirements.
- “Mrs. Murphy Exemption” – dwellings with four units or less where one unit is occupied by the owner are exempt from Fair Housing Laws, unless a real estate agent represents the landlord. Additionally, race cannot be a deciding factor as per the Civil Rights Act of 1866.
- Religious Organizations – religion may be used as a basis for giving preference to certain applicants if the property is owned, operated, supervised, or controlled by a religious organization that does not rent it commercially. However, race and other protected classes may not be used to influence the decision. 42 U.S. Code § 3607.
- Private Clubs – private clubs that operate without public access or commercial intent and do not discriminate in gaining membership may provide preferential treatment of applications for lodgings owned or operated by the club. 42 U.S. Code § 3607.
Federal Fair Housing laws do not apply to single-family houses rented without a broker or agent (rented by owner) as long as the owner does not own more than three houses.
Consent for Background Checks
Before a landlord can run a credit check based on the prospective tenant’s information on the submitted rental application, the Federal Credit Reporting Act requires that written consent must be given by the applicant. This written consent can be given via a statement of such and signature on the rental application form itself, or via a separate consent form (such as this one).
Processing a Rental Application
The next step in the tenant screening process is to use the information on the rental application form to conduct a background check:
- Credit Check – subject to the tenant’s written consent, a credit check will either provide a simpler “pass/fail” report, or a full credit report including the tenant’s credit score and information about their income, employment, past addresses, credit inquiries and more.
- Eviction Check – an eviction check aims to show the tenant’s history of eviction filings or judgments against them at any point in the last 7 years.
- Criminal History Check – a criminal history check aims to show any records involving the tenant in state court criminal records or in databases such as the national sex offender public registry.
Arizona Eviction Record Search
Evictions in Arizona are public record, which means they can be accessed by anyone. There are third-party programs and businesses that can collect this information, or it can be accessed through the state’s Judicial Court Directory which provides an on-demand record requesting system. The Arizona Judicial Branch provides information on 177 out of 184 Arizona courts.
To access the eviction records:
- Go to Arizona Supreme Court Case Search.
- Enter the potential tenant’s name and date of birth to access the civil court documents.
- Select the appropriate civil case to review eviction records.
Adverse Action Notices
According to the Federal Trade Commision (FTC) and the Federal Fair Housing Act (FCRA), if you acquire a consumer report for an applicant (i.e., credit, eviction or criminal history) and take an “adverse action” against them such as any of the following:
- Rejecting the applicant.
- Requiring a co-signer (when they didn’t include one before).
- Requiring a larger security deposit.
- Requiring higher rent.
Then landlords are legally required to provide the tenant with a notice letter that includes certain details, known as an “adverse action notice”. This is required even if the consumer report’s information wasn’t the primary reason for the action.
The notice explains and notifies the applicant that they were denied due to the information on a consumer credit report. The notice must include details about the consumer reporting agency, an explanation that they didn’t take the adverse action themselves (and can’t explain why it was made) and a statement on the applicant’s right to a copy of the report and to dispute its contents within 60 calendar days. Additionally, when rejecting an applicant, it’s recommended to specify the reason (but not legally required).
For an example, see this tenant rejection letter template