The Connecticut rental application form is a legal document that landlords send out to prospective tenants to help decide if they should rent to the applicant. The information requested relates to rental history, eviction history, and financial information that can be used for background screening purposes.
- Application Fee – in Connecticut, there is no limit to the application fees being charged. The application fee is non-refundable.
- Discrimination Laws – Connecticut Fair Housing Law provides specific state protections against discrimination based on factors like gender identity, military status, and legal source of income. Federal law protects race, color, religion, nationality, sex, disabilities, and familial status, with some exceptions.
- Consent for Credit Check – the Federal Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires a prospective tenant to provide written consent to check their credit history during the screening process.
Connecticut Rental Application Laws
The following laws apply to the screening process for leasing in the state of Connecticut.
Collecting an Application Fee in Connecticut
Connecticut does not impose limits on how much of an application fee can be charged to applicants. The fees are also non-refundable by default.
Illegal Housing Discrimination in Connecticut
Both federal and state laws are in effect in Connecticut to protect potential renters from illegal discrimination during the application process.
Fair Housing Act
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.
Connecticut Fair Housing Laws
Connecticut state laws add additional protections for the following classes:
- Marital Status
- Sexual Orientation
- Veteran/Military Status
- Gender Identity
- Lawful Source of Income (Public and/or Rental Assistance)
These criteria may not be asked about in writing or in person, and may not be used in the consideration of a rental application.
Exemptions to Fair Housing Laws
In Connecticut, the following exemptions are allowed:
- Age and/or Familial Status – landlords may ask for an applicant’s age or about the existence of children in the case of age-specific communities, such as senior housing. This is a federal exemption known as the “Housing for Older Persons” exemption while applies to certain housing developments.
- “Mrs Murphy Exemption” – 1-2-family dwellings where one unit is occupied by the owner are exempt from Fair Housing Laws, unless a real estate agent represents the landlord.
- Religious Organizations – religion can be used as a basis for giving preferential consideration to certain applicants for property that is owned, operated, supervised, or controlled by a religious organization as long as there is no commercial intent. However, other protected classes may not be the basis for making a decision as a result of this exemption. 42 U.S. Code § 3607
- Private Clubs – private clubs that operate without commercial intent or discrimination in membership may provide preferential treatment of applications for lodgings owned or operated by the club. 42 U.S. Code § 3607
Federally, race is a non-exemption criteria that cannot have an influence when considering applicants. (Civil Rights Act of 1866)
Consent for Credit 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 (example template).
Connecticut Security Deposit Law
If an applicant is approved, the following laws apply to the collection of security deposits in Connecticut:
- Standard Limit / Maximum Amount: 2 months’ rent. If the tenant is 62 years of age or older, the limit is 1 month’s rent.
- Receipt Requirements: Landlords are required to provide a written receipt of the location and amount held in the escrow account for a security deposit within 30 days of receiving the security deposit.
- Financial Holdings: Security deposit funds must be held in an escrow account.
Sending Rental Application Forms
Landlords can send rental application forms to tenants in one of two ways:
- Manually – using the PDF and Word templates available for free on our website (see the top right of this webpage), landlords can send a rental application form to tenants via a physical copy or email.
- With Software – most popular property management software services include an online rental application form that can automate the collection and screening process for landlords.
For reviews of popular property management software, click here.
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.
Connecticut Eviction Record Search
Evictions can be found in the state’s public record as a civil case, which can be accessed by anyone. In addition to third-party software that collects the information you need, the state’s Judicial Court Directory provides an on-demand record requesting system.
To access the eviction records:
- Go to the Connecticut Judicial Branch Case Look-Up.
- Select ‘Civil/ Family/ Housing/ Small Claims Case’ under ‘Superior Court Case Look-up’.
- Select the ‘By Party Name’ search option to access the Party Name Search page.
- Enter the potential renter’s name to access civil court documents. You may designate a county if you know which jurisdiction their previous rentals fall under.
Responding to Rental Applications
If an applicant meets all of your tenant screening criteria, then there’s nothing you need to do beyond notifying them and moving forward with the normal leasing process.
However, if you acquire a consumer report for an applicant (i.e. credit, eviction or criminal history) and you make an “adverse action” against them (EVEN IF the report’s information wasn’t the primary reason for doing so), you are required to provide the tenant with a notice letter that includes certain details, known as an “adverse action notice”.
An adverse action is defined as either rejecting the applicant or instituting additional/higher requirements than you have for another applicant (i.e. requiring a co-signer, larger security deposit, higher rent or an additional deposit).
In these cases, an adverse action notice is required to be sent to the applicant, and must include the following:
- The agency’s name, address and phone number that supplied the report.
- A statement explaining that the CRA didn’t make the decision for the adverse action themselves, and as a result, that they can’t explain why the decision was made.
- A statement explaining the applicant’s right to dispute such information and their right to a copy of the report in question within 60 days.
To learn more about requirements surrounding adverse action notices, see this article from the Federal Trade Commission. To get an idea of what an adverse action notice might look like, see this example letter.
Additionally, to protect against accusations of illegal discrimination, it is always recommended to include the exact reason why the application was not approved in the rejection letter.