The Indiana rental application form is a legal document used to help screen rental applicants based on their rental and financial information and history so that landlords can choose who they want to rent their property to.
Indiana Laws on Rental Application Fees
In Indiana, 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.
Additionally, security deposits do not have a cap or maximum amount set by Indiana state law, but cities and counties may impose their own limits.
What Indiana 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)
Indiana state laws add additional protections for ancestry to the protections afforded to Indiana applicants.
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 illegal. These protected classes 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 Act laws do exist. In Indiana, 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 two-family owner-occupied buildings.
- Age – landlords may ask for an Indiana applicant’s age in the case of age-restricted communities such as senior housing. This federal exemption is known as the Housing for Older Persons Exemption which can apply to communities that meet the guidelines to be considered senior housing.
- Owner Occupied Properties -– dwellings with four units or less where one unit is occupied by the owner are exempt from Fair Housing Laws, also known as Mrs. Murphy Exemption unless a real estate agent represents the landlord. However, they may not discriminate in their marketing of the property or who they allow to apply.
- Religious Organizations – religion can be considered when screening applicants for property that is owned, operated, supervised, or controlled by a religious organization that does not rent commercially. 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 public access or commercial intent are exempt from adhering to FHA guidelines for their property, except in the case of race. 42 U.S. Code § 3607
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
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.
Indiana Eviction Record Search
Checking for evictions is a core part of the tenant screening process. When it comes to accessing this information, you have the option to either use a third-party service that will collect eviction records, or you may access the public record yourself.
To access Indiana eviction records:
- Go to the Indiana Courts Public Portal, and select the Search Cases option.
- Select the middle tab at the top of the page to search by name, and enter the potential tenant’s information.
- Select the case number to view any available information on the case. Documents that are available for viewing will be linked in .pdf format.
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.