Florida Rental Application Form

Download Sample Template: Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) / Microsoft Word (.doc)

The Florida rental application form is a document used by landlords to screen prospective tenants to help determine whether they are a desirable tenant. The information collected is about rental history, eviction history, and financial information, which is used for background screening purposes.

QUICK INFO
  • Application Fee – in Florida, there is no limit on what a landlord can charge as an application fee
  • Discrimination Laws – Florida does not have specific state protections against discrimination, but defaults to federal law which makes it illegal to ask about race, color, religion, nationality, sex, disabilities, or familial status, with some exceptions.
  • Consent for Credit Check – the Federal Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that prospective tenants give consent in writing to check their credit history during the screening process.

Florida Rental Application Laws

The following laws apply to the application and tenant screening process in the state of Florida.

Collecting an Application Fee in Florida

Florida is not a state that imposes limits on the sum charged as an application fee to prospective tenants.

Illegal Housing Discrimination in Florida

Federal laws are in effect in Florida to protect potential renters from unfair discrimination during the application process.

Fair Housing Act

The Federal Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate against the following protected classes:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin (Nationality)
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • 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.

Exemptions to Fair Housing Laws

In Florida, the following exemptions to Federal Fair Housing Act laws are allowed:

  • Age – landlords may ask for an applicant’s age in the case of age-specific communities, such as senior housing. This federal exemption, known as the “Housing for Older Persons” exemption can apply to 55+ or even 62+ communities.
  • Mrs Murphy Exemption” – a single family property where the owner lives in one of up to 4 dwellings is exempt from FHA laws, unless a real estate agent represents the landlord. However, race can never be a deciding factor as per the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and there cannot be any discriminatory advertisements to discourage applicants of a certain group.
  • Religious Organizations – landlords may give preferential consideration to certain applicants based on religion if the property is owned, operated, controlled, or supervised by a religious organization that does not make it commercially available. 42 U.S. Code § 3607
  • Private Clubs – a private club that operates without public access or commercial intent and does not discriminate when it comes to accepting new members may provide preferential consideration of applications for non-commercial lodgings owned by the club. 42 U.S. Code § 3607

Federally, race is a non-exemption criteria that cannot have an influence on any decisions, regardless of legal exemptions due to the Civil Rights Act of 1866.

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).

Florida Security Deposit Law

If an applicant is approved, the following laws apply to the collection of security deposits in Florida:

  • Standard Limit / Maximum Amount: There is no maximum amount or set limit by Florida, but cities and counties may impose their own limits.
  • Receipt Requirements: There is no requirement to provide a receipt for a Florida security deposit, unless the landlord is renting five or more units, in which case they must provide written notice as to how the security deposit is being held within 30 days, or include the holding details in a notice on the lease. The notice should include the deposit sum, where the deposit is being held or a statement about a bond being posted, interest rate information, and the following notice:
  • YOUR LEASE REQUIRES PAYMENT OF CERTAIN DEPOSITS. THE LANDLORD MAY TRANSFER ADVANCE RENTS TO THE LANDLORD’S ACCOUNT AS THEY ARE DUE AND WITHOUT NOTICE. WHEN YOU MOVE OUT, YOU MUST GIVE THE LANDLORD YOUR NEW ADDRESS SO THAT THE LANDLORD CAN SEND YOU NOTICES REGARDING YOUR DEPOSIT. THE LANDLORD MUST MAIL YOU NOTICE, WITHIN 30 DAYS AFTER YOU MOVE OUT, OF THE LANDLORD’S INTENT TO IMPOSE A CLAIM AGAINST THE DEPOSIT. IF YOU DO NOT REPLY TO THE LANDLORD STATING YOUR OBJECTION TO THE CLAIM WITHIN 15 DAYS AFTER RECEIPT OF THE LANDLORD’S NOTICE, THE LANDLORD WILL COLLECT THE CLAIM AND MUST MAIL YOU THE REMAINING DEPOSIT, IF ANY.

    IF THE LANDLORD FAILS TO TIMELY MAIL YOU NOTICE, THE LANDLORD MUST RETURN THE DEPOSIT BUT MAY LATER FILE A LAWSUIT AGAINST YOU FOR DAMAGES. IF YOU FAIL TO TIMELY OBJECT TO A CLAIM, THE LANDLORD MAY COLLECT FROM THE DEPOSIT, BUT YOU MAY LATER FILE A LAWSUIT CLAIMING A REFUND.

    YOU SHOULD ATTEMPT TO INFORMALLY RESOLVE ANY DISPUTE BEFORE FILING A LAWSUIT. GENERALLY, THE PARTY IN WHOSE FAVOR A JUDGMENT IS RENDERED WILL BE AWARDED COSTS AND ATTORNEY FEES PAYABLE BY THE LOSING PARTY.

    THIS DISCLOSURE IS BASIC. PLEASE REFER TO PART II OF CHAPTER 83, FLORIDA STATUTES, TO DETERMINE YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS.

  • Financial Holdings: When collecting a security deposit, landlords may:
    • keep the funds in a non-interest bearing account that is exclusively for security deposits
    • keep the funds in an interest bearing account, of which 75% of the interest or a flat 5% interest rate is to be credited to the tenant
    • post a security bond from a surety company in the same county as the property, contingent on the landlord complying with security deposit-related duties, and for the lesser of $50,000 or the sum of all security deposits held in the account. The landlord must pay 5% interest to the tenant on the held funds

If the landlord is renting 5 or more properties, they must provide notice of how these funds are being held within 30 days.

Sending Rental Application Forms

Landlords can send rental application forms to tenants in one of two ways:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Florida public records include eviction records, also knowns as “unlawful detainers” which means that anyone can access them. This can be done with a third-party screening program, or done manually.

To search for records on your own:

  • Go to the Florida Supreme Court Online Docket Search.
  • Select the ‘Party or Attorney’ option from the drop-down search menu.
  • 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.
  • Select the ‘count’ in the far right column to be taken to any existing cases, and click on the case number to be taken to a detailed breakdown of the case.

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.