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.
Connecticut Laws on Rental Application Fees
In Connecticut, there is no limit or maximum rental application fee a landlord can charge a prospective tenant. It’s advised to not charge more than the average out-of-pocket expense, but ultimately the determination of the fee is at the sole discretion of the landlord. Application fees are also non-refundable by default.
Additionally, Connecticut state law has a maximum cap of two months’ rent on collecting a security deposit, with the exception of tenants who are 62 years and older, the maximum amount of security deposit that can be collected is one months’ rent. Landlords are required to provide the tenant with a written receipt of the location and amount held in the escrow account for a security deposit within 30 days of receiving the funds and the security deposit funds must be held in an escrow account.
What Connecticut 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.
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.
However, certain exemptions to Federal Fair Housing laws do exist. In Connecticut, these include:
- 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 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 (like in our free template), or via a separate consent form (such as this one).
Processing a Rental Application
Evictions can be found in the state’s public record as a civil case, which can be accessed by anyone. The state’s Judicial Court Directory provides an on-demand record requesting system.
To access eviction records:
- 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.
Adverse Action Notices
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 you 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 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 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.