View a sample Maine rental application form below and read further to learn more about what information should be included on rental applications in Maine, what information a landlord CAN’T ask for, and what Maine-specific regulations apply to the application process.
Disclaimer: the templates provided on this website are for reference & general informational purposes only. You should always speak with an attorney for all legal matters.
Quick Facts for Maine
Purpose of a Rental Application
Rental applications demonstrate good work ethic and give both landlords and tenants confidence in their final decisions. They also serve as helpful documentation and proof of the screening process, which can help protect landlords in the event of a lawsuit. Tenants should be wary of landlords who don’t use rental applications; you want to know all the right steps are being taken when filling a vacancy.
Rental Application Fees
In Maine, there is no limit on the amount a landlord can charge a tenant for a rental application.
Who Needs to Fill One Out
Prospects over 18 years old who will be living in the property for any length of time should fill out a rental application and anyone who isn’t living in the home but who is co-signing the lease should fill out a rental application. Tenants who move in at a later date should also fill one out.
Usually 48-72 hours; you should keep rental application records until the tenant is out of time for making a legal claim, which is 4 years for written lease agreements, and 2 years for oral agreements. After approving a tenant, remember to send them a copy of the lease within 15 days of signing.
Do You Need to Use a Rental Application?
Rental applications serve as helpful documentation for landlords. Not only will they help the tenant screening process easier it will also help protect your property and yourself. By choosing the best-qualified prospect, you will feel confident in signing a lease. At the same time, you will have proof to support your decision-making process. An applicant can sue a landlord if they deny them, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
If you are a renter, you should definitely look out for landlords who don’t use a rental application, especially if you are looking into multi-family or apartment complexes. You want to know the landlord is taking their time to screen potential tenants to ensure the security of the residence.
Rental applications are a demonstration of good work ethic and its the first step toward becoming a successful landlord.
What is a Rental Application?
A rental application is a form that allows landlords to screen potential tenants to determine if they are a good fit for a property by asking for a variety of personal information. Rental applications are a vital first step that a landlord must take prior to following through with a lease agreement. A well-designed, detailed form is a valuable tool that consolidates basic information about a potential tenant and streamlines the rental process for both parties. A rental application should be complete with a signature line to obtain consent for the landlord to run a credit check, background check or other verification processes on the applicant.
A valid rental application ensures equality in the screening process, provided that the same form is distributed to all prospective tenants. This is critical in adhering to the Federal Fair Housing Act. The Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on race, skin color, nationality, religious preference, gender, age, family status or disability.
Basic Elements of a Maine Rental Application
When a person is interested in renting a specific property in the state of Maine, they must fill out a rental application to make the inquiry legal. Before a rental agreement is even considered, the potential tenant will need to complete the rental application to make sure that they are suitable for the property. When the application is signed, it will permit the landlord to do a background check and a credit check on the applicant. References may also be called to ensure that the applicant has good intentions.
This type of rental application is not an extensive form; in fact, most of the information can be filled in with ease. When the application is filled out, the landlord will have all of the information on the applicant in the same location so that they can refer to it whenever they need. This will help the landlord determine whether the applicant is a good fit for the unit that is being rented. The parts of the application that should always be included are:
A Description of the Unit
At the top of this application, the first thing that will need to be detailed is the unit that is going to be rented. In this section, it is essential to include the type of unit that is being rented as well as any identifying aspects of the rental unit. Make sure to also include the exact address of the unit as well as the unit number. Typically, the square footage of the space and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms that the property has will be included.
This space is also designed to provide the applicant with an idea of what renting this property entails so that they can have a full picture of the property that they are interested in renting. Include the potential dates of the rental agreement as well as the amount of rent that is going to be due each month in this section. Also, make sure to include the condition that the unit is in at the time that the application is being submitted, and make sure to also add in any new improvements that the unit has received.
Personal and Contact Information
The first section that the applicant will need to fill out is the part of the application that will ask them for their personal information and their contact information. At the top of this section, the name of the tenant or tenants who are applying to live in the unit will need to place their full name. This will need to include their first and last name. In fact, some applications will ask for a middle initial or name as well.
In this section, the applicant or the potential tenant will need to provide their date of birth so that the landlord will know how old the applicant is. The prospective tenant will also need to provide their social security number as well as a driver’s license number or a state identification number. This information will be required so that the landlord can do a background check on the tenant before agreeing that they can move onto the property.
Another piece of information that will need to be included in this section of the application is the current address and phone number where they can be reached. If there is an alternate phone where the applicant can be reached, it can be listed in this section as well. When there are multiple numbers provided, make sure that there is a space where the applicant can indicate which number they will be available at different times during the day.
As the landlord, this section can be used to provide information about the rental property to the potential tenant. This can include the address of the management company as well as a phone number where they can be reached. In addition, the application can ask about the family members of other tenants that will be staying in the unit. This could include other adults as well as children who will be living there. Some landlords will require additional safety measures for children under a certain age, or they may have activities that they can enjoy, so being aware of them potentially moving in could be crucial.
To be eligible for a rental property, virtually all landlords are going to request the rental history from the applicant. This is going to be necessary, and it will provide an idea of how reliable the potential tenant is at paying their rent on time. Most applications will provide space for the last three locations that the applicant rented from. This is designed to help the tenant get an idea of how responsible the potential tenant will be when it comes time to pay rent. Make sure to list the names of the landlord, the property, and a phone number where someone can be reached.
Sometimes, there are not three previous landlords that can be listed, so if this is the case, list the one that do apply. If a home was owned, or there was not a rental property because of living with someone else, make sure to include that information as well. If there is not substantial rental history, the landlord may request the applicant to provide a guarantor so that they have someone to turn to when the rent is not paid on time. This is also something that may be requested for applicants who have been evicted in the past.
Another essential part of the application that will need to be included is the financial history of the applicant. Finances include the amount of money that the applicant makes at their place of employment as well as the money that they may have saved. The application will start by asking for the potential tenant’s last few places of employment. In general, most applications will cover the last five years, but sometimes more information may be asked. The applicant will need to provide the name of the company, the name of a supervisor, and the phone number where they can be reached. It will also ask how long the individual has been with the company and the amount of money that they made at the location annually.
In addition to this information, the landlord is going to want to know a little bit about other sources of money that the applicant is going to receive throughout the year. This will include any lottery winnings, any dividends, and any pension amounts that the individual will receive. All of this counts as income that can be used to pay the rent. There will also be a space for the landlord to ask about the amount of money that is in the applicant’s savings account as well as the number of credit cards that they have in their name. If the tenant keeps their accounts in order, the financial history is going to look much stronger.
If the applicant plans to move in with other individuals, they may need to inform the landlord of their intent to have roommates. In the state of Maine, only the primary applicant is going to need to be listed in this section. The roommates may not need to fill out the entire application; however, they may request that some of the sections of the application are filled out by the additional roommates. Namely, their full name, as well as their relationship to the primary tenant, will need to be listed in the application.
Later, when the rental agreement is written up, the landlord can request the roommates to put their name on the lease. This is a protection that many landlords will use to make sure that all of the individuals living on the property are covered by the lease. This means that if the roommate is locked out of the unit, the landlord will have it in writing that they have permission to be there so that they will be able to let them into the unit. When they are not on file, allowing them entry into the unit can be a liability for the landlord.
A landlord may request between one and three emergency contacts on the rental application to keep on file if needed. The landlord may also obtain emergency contacts when the residential lease agreement is signed.
A landlord may request an applicant’s vehicle information if there are assigned parking spaces or if there is limited parking available on-site. In the case of an overcrowded parking lot, the landlord can use this information on file to determine which cars belong in the lot and which do not. If a landlord requests an applicant’s vehicle information, they should obtain the make, model, year, license plate number and state for each vehicle that the prospective tenant owns. The landlord may also collect this information upon signing the residential lease agreement, if desired.
With any rental property, one of the things that a landlord will need to consider is whether or not they allow pets to be in the units. They must also consider whether or not there are going to be any restrictions on the type of pets, the breed, and the number of pets that are permitted on the property. If there are restrictions that apply to this specific unit, they must be listed in the application so that the potential tenant knows about them before signing a rental agreement. Doing so will help the applicant see whether or not this is a potential home for them, especially if they have pets.
Some landlords may ask a bit of information about the pets to have the information on file. This can include the name of the pet, their breed, their age, and even a picture of them so that they can be identified. This information can be used to help find a pet or recognize them if they wander out of the rental unit.
In the state of Maine, it is possible that the landlord will also collect a fee from the tenant for having pets. This fee will be used to repair any damage caused by the pets while living in the unit. The fee can be a single payment that is collected and used like a security deposit. It can also be a small fee that is added to the rent each month for the pets. Make sure this fee is known so that it does not make renting the property too prohibitive for the potential tenant.
In addition to this information, the landlord will also request personal references from the applicant as a means to get to know them as a person better before they are accepted into the unit. A supervisor, a landlord, or someone that the applicant has known for an extended period of time can be listed as a reference. However, family members cannot be listed in this section.
The application will typically request the name of the individual, a phone number where they can be reached, and the number of years that they have known the applicant. In most cases, a total of three references will be requested. There should also be a space the applicant to initial, stating that they give their permission for the references to be contacted.
Personal History and Statement
The next section is a part of the document that the landlord can use to find out things about the tenant. In this space, the tenant will have a chance to explain things that may have kept them from getting accepted into the unit in the first place. If the tenant has experienced bankruptcy or being evicted in the past, they will be able to explain the circumstances for the landlord to better understand what put them in that position.
If the potential tenant needs something from the landlord, it can be listed in this section as well. If they need to have a service dog or an emotional support pet in their home for their convenience, the information should be listed in this section. If there are any parking concerns or needs for the tenant to have first-floor access, make sure to mention it.
When the rest of the information has been completed, the last thing that will be needed is the signature of the applicant. This will make the document a legal one, and it will also indicate that all of the information on the application is true. The potential tenant will also need to date the document. If there are any application fees that the landlord requires the tenant to pay, then there should be a disclosure at the bottom to inform the applicant that the fee is not refundable.
Applicable Law in Maine
When an individual fills out an application to live in a specific unit, the state of Maine has some laws that will need to be followed to make sure that the landlord can find a tenant that fits their needs without being discriminating against the individual. In Maine, any landlord who would like to do a background check for an applicant will need to have their written consent to do so. The state does not limit the amount that can be charged for an application fee, and all of the fee that is charged will be non-refundable. To make sure that this is clear, the security deposit amount and the application fee amount will need to be paid with a separate check.
Fair Housing Laws in Maine
In the state of Maine, fair housing means that anyone will have an equal chance to get accepted into a unit. The decision to accept or to not accept the applicant into the unit cannot be made based on their race, their religion, their sexual preference, their familial status, their national origin, or a disability that they may have. These laws ane not just state laws; they are also federal laws that a landlord must adhere to when they are choosing a tenant. If a group is commonly discriminated against, then there may be additional protections that are in place for their applications. Threatening to report a prospective tenant’s immigrant status, refusing a family that has a disabled family member, refusing a pregnant woman, or refusing an applicant that is on public assistance can all be considered discrimination.
Learn more about topics that are off-limits with tenants here.