The Kentucky rental application form is a document used by landlords that is sent out to prospective tenants to determine whether they are a desirable tenant. The information collected relates to rental history, eviction history, and financial information that is used for background screening purposes.
Kentucky Laws on Rental Application Fees
In Kentucky, 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, if a tenant is approved, security deposits do not have a cap or maximum amount set by Kentucky state law, but cities and counties may impose their own limits. The tenant must know where the deposit will be held and the account number. The security deposit must be held in a separate account in a federally regulated financial institution.
What Kentucky 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 illegal.
However, exemptions from Fair Housing laws do exist. In Kentucky, 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 – Kentucky landlords may ask for an applicant’s age in the case of age-restricted communities such as senior housing. This is due to a federal exemption, known as the Housing for Older Persons Exemption can apply to certain 55+ and 62+ communities that meet the requirements.
- Owner Occupied Properties – nationally, dwellings with four units or less where one unit is occupied by the owner are exempt from Fair Housing Laws, unless a real estate agent represents the landlord. This is known as the Mrs. Murphy Exemption. Additionally, race cannot be a deciding factor as per the Civil Rights Act of 1866
- Religious Organizations – religion can be used as a basis for giving preference to certain applicants for property that is owned, operated, supervised, or controlled by a religious organization that does not rent for commercial purposes. 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 may provide preferential treatment of certain applications for lodgings owned or operated by the club. 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, 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.
- In Louisville, The Fair Access to Rental Housing decreases the use of criminal background data to only Class A and Class B felonies (and some other felony convictions).
Kentucky Eviction Record Search
Kentucky landlords can choose between using a third-party service to complete background checks and eviction record searches, or they can be completed using public records kept by the state.
- Access Kentucky CourtNet 2.0’s Registration, and select the option to search as a “guest” on the left side of the page. The page will then redirect you to the record search.
- Enter the potential tenant’s name and other information you may have to view any existing records.
- Find any applicable cases and perform a “Criminal Record Check” to retrieve the records.
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.