The Louisiana rental application form is a document that landlords send out to a prospective tenant to collect personal and financial information to help determine eligibility. The information often includes rental history and eviction history to give an accurate profile of the applicant.
Louisiana Rental Application Laws
In Louisiana, 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’s application is approved, there is no maximum amount set by Louisiana state law, for security deposits, but cities and counties may impose their own limits. There are also no receipt requirements or holding requirements.
What Louisiana 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.
Louisiana does not have any additional state protected classes; however, exemptions from Fair Housing laws do exist. In Louisiana, the following exemptions are allowed:
- Familial Status – landlords may 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 applicant’s age or about any children in the case of age-restricted communities such as senior housing. This federal exemption, known as the Housing for Older Persons Exemption, can apply to 55+ or even 62+ communities that meet the requirements.
- Owner Occupied Properties– dwellings with four units or less where one unit is occupied by the owner are exempt from Fair Housing Laws in Louisiana, unless a real estate agent represents the landlord. This is known as the Mrs. Murphy Exemption.
- Religious Organizations – religious beliefs can be used as a basis for application decisions when the property 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 commercial intent or access to the public may provide preferential treatment of 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.
Louisiana Eviction Record Search
Louisiana eviction records are public domain and accessible from the state’s records, which means you can request a copy of a file on potential tenants for free or you can use a third-party service.
To access the eviction records yourself:
- Access Louisiana’s Fifth Circuit Court Record Search.
- From the dropdown menu, select the option to search by litigant name.
- Enter the potential tenant’s name and other information you may have to view any existing records. Dockets available for viewing will be denoted by the PDF icon next to the case number.
Limited records are available online. For wider access to court records, contact the Clerk’s Office at 504-376-1400.
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.