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Read further to learn more about rental applications in Iowa such as what fields should be included, what information a landlord can’t ask for, and what other Iowa-specific rental regulations apply to the rental application process.
What is a Rental Application?
In Iowa, the housing market can be very competitive, and as a landlord, it’s advantageous to screen out problematic tenants so that a property can be profitable and relatively worry-free. A rental application in the state of Iowa serves as a legal document that can help the landlord determine who the optimal lessees are when presented with a host of choices. These documents provide critical information that can illuminate details on the background of the prospective tenant so that educated decisions can be made by the landlord. Despite this, the information that these documents request is reasonably easy to furnish by the applicant, so it won’t take very long for the tenant to fill out and return. These can even be used to get an idea of the credit history of a tenant. Since these are legal documents, they also implicitly provide consent, which means a relatively reliable level of informational authenticity.
Iowa Rental Application Elements
One of the most important factors when writing one of these is that the information collected must be kept on file so that it’s easily accessible during the tenant-finding process. Here are some sections that will need to be included so that a full picture can be created:
The Description of the Rental Unit
The first thing that should be included in the application is a complete physical breakdown of the property that is being applied for. Since many properties have multiple types of units that can be rented, this section can have a blank space that can be edited so that different applications can be generated for the different properties and different applicants. Some examples of property types can include apartments, townhouses, single-family rental units, and condos.
Next, the physical address of the property should be clearly included. Usually, this will include the street address, building number, unit number, any side streets, the county, city, and the zip code of the property. If there are cross streets that can help make the property more identifiable for the prospective tenants, then this should also be included.
For a full picture, this section will need to include details about the unit so that the applicant will know if the rental property is a proper fit. For this reason, the section should outline the number of bathrooms, the number of bedrooms, the square footage, the amount of space in living areas, and any other identifying information that can help the prospective renter. Positioning this information towards the beginning of the document will help the applicant find the pertinent details more easily.
Finally, complete this section by adding the potential start date of the lease so that the applicant will have this information. Also, include the amount that is being asked for in rent.
The next section of the application is one of the most essential. The prospective tenant will need to include as much personal information as possible so that the landlord will be able to make an educated decision about their tenancy. As a rule, it’s a good idea to include this information in the front of the app so that it’s more easily accessible when it comes time to file the details and make tenancy decisions. When compiling personal info, here are a few pieces of information that should be gathered:
- The Name of the Applicant: For the sake of completeness, the prospective tenant should include his or her first, middle, and last name. Some applicants may prefer just to include a middle initial.
- The Contact Info of the Applicant: This is very vital because it grants the landlord a means to reach the applicant to alert them about the tenancy decision. Some points of info that can be used here can include the main number, email address, cell number, and work number of the prospective lessee.
- The State I.D. of the Applicant: For the sake of legality, some form of state I.D. is required, and the form of identification can be from any state, not just Iowa. Driver’s licenses, nondriver licenses, passports, and state-issued identification cards can all be used.
- The Date of Birth and Social Security Info of the Applicant: In Iowa, this information is required by the state from any applicant. This information allows lessors to run background checks on the prospective tenant(s).
If there is going to be any cotenants, a space for this information should also be provided on the application. In most cases, this will merely be the family (children, spouses, parents) of the prospective primary lessee.
Getting an idea of the rental history of an applicant can make it very easy to determine if the prospective renter has handled their rental arrangements responsibly in the past. This section should specifically request information about the relationships that the applicant has had with other landlords, management companies, and rental agencies.
If there are red flags, this doesn’t mean that the applicant will necessarily be exempt from renting on the property, especially if there are extenuating circumstances. Also, in this type of situation, a guarantor can be furnished. A guarantor is an individual that can be used as a financial fallback in case the tenant falls behind on rental payments.
For a full picture, the applicant can provide the last three properties where there has been a rental arrangement. If the prospective tenant has been renting at a single place over the span of several years or has been a property owner for an extended period, then at least part of this requirement may be waived. For those with the required three pieces of rental history, the numbers and addresses of the management companies or landlords will need to be furnished so that the prospective landlord can reach out to these parties.
Similarly to the rental history, the economic history of the applicant can also help paint a picture that illustrates the level of responsibility of the applicant. A history of paying bills on time, paying off loans, and having good credit is a major indication that the tenant can be a responsible renter. Some other information that will prove a candidate is stable is a steady work history, and a rental application should also provide a section where the prospective tenant can report their income so that there’s a degree of verification that they can afford to live on the property.
Contact information for supervisors, income history, the job title, and company name can all make verifying the financial stability of an applicant much easier. If there have been multiple jobs held over the years, information about each of these should be requested as well.
Also, if there are supplemental sources of income, then there should be a section where this can be reported. These can include pensions, dividends, side jobs, and even lottery winnings. Finally, information about savings accounts can also be provided so that it’s clear that there will be enough money to pay rent in an emergency.
In Iowa, when an applicant is applying for a unit rental, every potential roommate will not need to be reported on the application. This is due to the fact that most Iowa leases happen between a primary lessee and the lessor – they’ll just have to have the right income levels to support the payment of rent. If the income isn’t quite at the required standards, an applicant can apply with a roommate so that the levels are met. In this section, if there is a cap on the number of roommates or cotenants that are allowable on a property, then it must be stated here in the application.
Also, if there are roommates that aren’t submitting their financial and rental history info, then the landlord may still request that these individuals fill out at least part of an application for the sake of records. This will provide the landlord with information about the roommates that can be used when the roommates need services like key replacement or when the primary tenant is not available when the property needs to be serviced.
Pets are a common concern that many of the rental applicants who apply for a unit will be interested in knowing about. The information for each of the rental properties in Iowa will differ. So that an applicant is not expecting to bring in a pet to live in a property where pets are not permitted, all of the details about rules that deal with pets on the property need to be written in this section. Some of the landlords will only allow cats on the property, but others will only allow dogs. Make sure that any restrictions are listed here as well. These restrictions can deal with the breed of the dogs that are permitted on the property or the size of the animals that can be in each unit. The landlord can also limit the number of pets that are welcome to live in the unit at the same time.
Some landlords will allow the pets to live in the unit without any additional charge being added to the rental amount. The fee that can be charged may be something that is paid once as a security deposit or a fee that is added to the monthly rent each month. Typically, this amount is not going to be refundable, but it will still be used to clean up pet stains that accumulate in the unit over time. Even though this is a smaller fee that will not seem like much, adding up the fee when there are a few pets in the unit will add up quickly.
Personal or Landlord References
Most landlords will request the applicant to provide three personal references on the application. This is going to be individuals that have known the applicant for a long period of time. It can be a co-worker or a landlord, but a family member cannot act as a reference for the applicant. The idea of providing three references is designed to provide the landlord with a full impression of the type of person that the applicant is. The information that will need to be provided in this section will include the name of the references, a phone number where they can be reached, and the number of years that the individual has known the applicant.
When it comes to the applicant’s personal history there will be a section of the application that allows the landlord to ask the potential tenant questions. These questions can be about previous evictions or bankruptcy, which will allow the potential tenant the opportunity to explain the situation that made these negative events occur.
Previous convictions may also be asked about, and if there are any, the applicant can explain the conviction in detail. Since these are things that can often affect whether or not the applicant gets accepted to live in the unit, the information can change the outcome. This section will provide the landlord with the information that they need to make an educated decision.
Before the signature section of the document, there will be a section in the application where the potential tenant will be given a few blank spaces where they can let the landlord know about any critical information that is not covered anywhere else in the document. This could be a space where the applicant can mention the need for a service dog, mobility issues that will require special accommodations, or anything else that the tenant wants the landlord to be aware of before they move in.
When writing a legal document, the final part of the document that will need to be completed is the signature section. The applicant will need to sign their name as well as print it in this section to indicate that all of the information in the document is true. Their signature will also indicate that the applicant is giving their permission for the landlord to perform credit and background checks on the applicants. Underneath the signature section, a space for the date of the signing should be included.