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Read further to learn more about rental applications in Florida such as what fields should be included, what information a landlord can’t ask for, and what other rental regulations specific to that state of Florida apply to the rental application process.
What is a Rental Application?
The Florida Rental Application form is used by landlords and property management companies to collect personal and financial on prospective renters to help determine whether they qualify to rent a property. Using a standard fill-in-the-blanks form provides the applicant with a place to easily input their information. It also serves as a guide to making sure all the required information is collected.
The form is created in a set layout where it can be easily reviewed and evaluated. Because sensitive personal information is collected, a standardized form allows the reviewer the ability to quickly review the information while maintaining a level of security to protect the applicant’s information.
The applicant’s signature on the form gives the landlord the authority to verify the information provided and to obtain a copy of the applicant’s credit report. The applicant also agrees to provide any additional information needed for the screening process upon request.
Florida Rental Application Form Sections
Below are the sections that should appear in an all-encompassing rental application. Landlords should instruct applicants to complete all fields in the rental application. Blank spaces or incomplete information should be considered for investigation.
Description of the Rental Property/Unit
The first section of a rental application contains the complete address of the rental unit that the applicant is applying to rent. It shall include the house/apartment number, street name, city, state, and zip code. It is important that the complete legal address is listed, and that the information is correct. Should there be any legal disputes in the future, the basis of the complaint will be contingent upon establishing proof that the right property is identified. Having the correct address listed is important for both the landlord and the applicant. For example, applicants have been known to file discrimination lawsuits claiming that landlords refused to rent them a particular house or apartment. An incorrect address could potentially eliminate a basis for their claim or in the least complicate the matter. If the landlord rents the property to someone else, the applicant will not have any proof to show that their application was being processed if the wrong address is listed on the application.
Note: Post office boxes are unacceptable to use as an address on the rental application form.
This section is where the first name, middle initial, and last name of the person applying to rent the unit is listed. Applicants who do not have a middle name or initial can write N/A or place a dash on the line for middle initial.
The applicant will provide a social security number. Some applicants may be reluctant to give their social security number for fear of fraud. Landlords should assure the applicant that they will do everything possible to keep their personal information secure.
Applicants must provide a home telephone number, an alternate telephone number (if one is available), and the best time to call. Applicants may use a work number or the number of a friend or family member as an alternate contact number. Having an alternate number is important in case the applicant is unable to be contacted through the primary phone number for some reason.
An e-mail address for the applicant should be provided. If the applicant does not currently have an email address, they can get one from one of the free online service providers.
The applicant must provide their driver’s license number or a state-issued identification number, to include the expiration date.
This section shall contain the applicant’s past three addresses or where they have lived for the past five years. All the addresses shall include the house/apartment number, street name, city, state, and zip code. If the applicant previously lived in an apartment, the unit number should also be included.
An additional page should be attached if needed. The applicant will list their addresses in the order of their current address first.
They will enter the number of years they lived at the current address.
The name of the manager or owner and their telephone number must be listed. The landlord will need to contact the applicant’s current landlord to verify the rental history and find out whether there are any landlord/tenant issues.
Next, list the most current previous address, including the city, state, and zip code. The applicant should list how long they lived at this address.
The name of the manager or owner for the previously listed address and their telephone number should be listed.
Applicants should list their employment history for the past five years, beginning with their current employer.
The first company listed is the applicant’s present employer. The supervisor’s name and telephone number should be listed. Next, list the street address of the company, including the city, state, and zip code.
The most recent previous employer (company) should be listed next. The applicant should state the position held and how long the applicant held this position. The supervisor’s name and telephone number of the most recent previous employer should be listed. Also, list the complete street address of the company.
Next, the applicant should list the second previous employer, if any. The position the applicant held at the company should be recorded and how many years they worked for the company. The supervisor’s name and telephone number should be listed. List the street address of the company, including the city, state, and zip code.
If five years of employment history has not been documented, a third previous employer should be listed next. This pattern should be completed until the applicant has reached five years of employment history. If more space is needed, add a continuation page.
For an applicant to be approved for a rental property, the applicant must be able to show that they can afford the rent. Therefore, the applicant must provide their financial history on the rental application form.
Beginning with the amount of their present salary, applicants should enter all income they receive from their employer each month or annually. They should also list any additional income (e.g., self-employment, child support, etc.) that they want taken into consideration in qualifying for rent payments.
In this section, the applicant must enter their current bank account information, including the name of their bank, the account number, and the current balance.
They should also enter the account number of their checking account. The name of the bank and the current balance of the checking account must be listed.
Following the income is a space for indebtedness.
Applicants should enter the information regarding their credit cards. There are spaces for at least two cards. The applicant will write the credit card numbers on the lines provided. Applicants should indicate the card types, whether they are Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or some other card. The creditor for the cards must also be listed.
The names of all persons who will be occupying the rental property and their relationship to the applicant must be listed on the rental application form. All occupants, except for minors, will be required to submit a rental application. The required background checks should be conducted on all persons over the age of 18 who will be occupying the property. Even if the additional occupants are not the responsible parties for the rent payment, they must still pass the required prequalification checks.
Applicants who have certain felony convictions, such as convictions for drugs and prostitution, may not be permitted to occupy certain rental properties. Applicants who have been convicted of child or sexual abuse and are required to register as a sexual offender are not allowed to be within a certain distance from children. If the rental property is occupied by small children, it may not be the best match for the applicant.
Landlords will not be able to check the information about the roommates unless they are listed on the rental application form.
The landlord must give written permission for a tenant to keep pets on the property. If the tenant has pets, they must provide a description of the pet. The description will include the pet’s name, age, sex, weight, breed, and whether the pet has been spayed or neutered.
Applicant must check the box to indicate whether they agree to pay an additional pet fee. They must also sign a pet agreement. To occupy a rental property and have a pet, tenants are required to pay a pet deposit fee. The amount of the pet deposit will be outlined in the lease agreement. The deposit usually is non-refundable. If there are no provisions for maintaining a pet in the lease, it will be added as an addendum to the lease agreement.
When a landlord allows a tenant to have a pet, the agreement applies only to the pet listed in the signed contract. The pet addendum may not be substituted or transferred to any other pet. Applicants must understand that landlord can exercise their right to terminate the pet agreement if the tenant does not abide by the terms of their contract.
Contacting character references is part of the screening process. Potential landlord/tenant problems can be avoided if the landlord takes the time to check the applicant’s personal references. They can find out information about the applicant’s character that will help them determine if that person is a good fit for the rental property. The personal references might inadvertently confirm information obtained regarding the applicant’s previous rental history and employment history. For example, a particular reference listed might mention meeting the applicant when they worked together at one of the applicant’s previous listed jobs. Generally, the personal reference checks will be a positive reference for the applicant and should help validate why the applicant should be allowed to rent the property.
The rental application form must have space for the applicant to enter personal references. The applicant must enter at least two (2) personal references. The information provided must include the reference’s name and complete address, to include the city, state, and zip code. The applicant will list the number of years they have known the reference. The occupation and telephone number of the reference should also be listed.
Applicant’s Vehicle Information
Vehicles owned by the applicant must be listed on the rental application form. The applicant may enter up to two vehicles that they plan to park on the property.
The form must include the vehicle make, model, and year. The license plate number and state should be listed.
The applicant should check a box for each vehicle, stating that the registration is current and the vehicle is insured. In some areas, storing unregistered or abandoned cars on the property is illegal. Vehicles cannot be registered unless they are insured. Property owners are not responsible for the tenant’s vehicle. Therefore, the applicant must show proof of insurance in addition to the registration.
Some apartment complexes have additional fees for parking. The applicant may be required to place a parking decal on the vehicle. The decal will identify the vehicle as being authorized to be on the property and alert tow company drivers not to tow the vehicle.
A personal history section should be included on the rental application form. The applicant will answer either yes or no to questions similar to the following to solicit this information:
- Is the applicant currently a smoker?
- Has the applicant ever been evicted?
- Has the applicant ever filed for bankruptcy?
- Is the applicant a convicted felon?
Additionally, applicants who answer yes to any of the last three questions will be asked to write an explanation on the spaces provided.
Applicants are asked to provide the name of someone to call in the event of an emergency. The contact information will include the person’s name and complete address, which includes the city, state, and zip code. The emergency contact person’s telephone number and their relationship to the applicant must also be listed.
If the landlord has emergency contact information, they will be able to contact someone if something were to happen to the applicant. Situations where the landlord would need to have an emergency contact would be in the event of a tenant becoming injured, the tenant’s death, or something happening to the tenant’s property, and the landlord is unable to reach the tenant. For example, if the tenant’s apartment is damaged beyond repair during a major fire and the tenant is unable to be reached because they are out of the country on vacation, the landlord will contact the tenant’s emergency contact person.
Space should be provided for applicants to be able to make a personal statement or comment. This information consists of any other relevant information that the applicant wants the landlord to be aware of about the applicant.
This personal statement could be about anything relevant to the rental of the property. For example, the applicant may want to state that one of the roommates listed is not responsible for the rent, although they must be listed on the application.
There may be information that the applicant is concerned about being disclosed during the employment or reference checks that the applicant wants to explain. For example, the tenant may expect their credit report to show negative comments if they previously were the subject of an identity theft. The applicant can avoid a potential rejection of their application by explaining this in the personal statement section.
Whenever the applicant writes something in this space, it can be used as documented proof that the landlord was informed of the information.
The last part of the form is a space for the applicant’s signature, the date, and the amount of any deposit money received from the applicant.
Applicants should review all the information they provided on the rental application before signing it. They should double-check all the information they filled in and make sure the answers they provided to the question are correct.
Finally, the applicant must understand that their signature on the rental application form represents that everything they have filled out on the form is true and correct. The applicant acknowledges that their signature on the form authorizes the landlord to verify the information provided and obtain a tenant history report. In addition, it authorizes the landlord to obtain a copy of the applicant’s credit report. The applicant also agrees to furnish additional information on upon the landlord’s request.
Regulations in Florida Governing Rental Applications
Rental applications may look similar across several states, but each state has its own set of tenant screening laws that may influence the details of an application. There are several regulations in the state of Florida that must be considered when a landlord creates a rental application for potential tenants. These state-specific regulations are listed as follows:
- In Florida, there is no limit to the amount of application fee that a landlord may charge. However, an amount not more than the average out-of-pocket expense is generally advisable.
- Landlords are not allowed to co-mingle any money collected from tenants–any fees or deposits must be kept in a separate account