View a sample Maryland rental application form below and read further to learn more about what information should be included on rental applications in Maryland, what information a landlord CAN’T ask for, and what Maryland-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 Maryland
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
A landlord may charge a maximum of $25.00 for a tenant application if they choose to do so.
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.
Read further to learn more about rental applications in Maryland such as what fields should be included, what information a landlord can’t ask for, and what other Maryland-specific rental regulations apply to the rental application process.
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.
When a person wants to apply to get a rental unit, they are going to need to fill out a rental application is that all of their information can be on file in the same location. This type of legal document allows the landlord to look into things like their financial history, their rental history, and their credit score. One of the ways that an applicant can provide the information about themselves so that a landlord can see if they are a suitable tenant for the property or not is to fill one of these forms out.
A potential tenant cannot be turned away from a piece of property because of their gender, their race, or a disability that they may have. The landlord will be able to determine whether or not the credit of the applicant is acceptable or whether they will need to have a guarantor to cosign the actual rental application if it is a bit too low to guarantee that the prospective tenant will be able to make the rental payments on time. These applications are not designed to be too invasive, so they should be simple for the applicant to fill out. Some of the parts that this type of document should include are:
Basic Elements of a Maryland Rental Application
A Description of the Unit Being Rented
When a rental application is written, the first piece of information at the top of the document should be the information about the location of the rental property. This should include the type of rental unit it is as well as the size of the unit is square feet. Also, make sure to include how many bedrooms and bathrooms are going to be present in the space as well.
In addition, the full address of the property will need to be written in this section as well. Make sure to include the full address, which will include the street address, the number of the unit, the city, the county, and any other identifying information. Cross streets and whether or not there is storage of the premises should be included as well.
If there is anything that needs to be done in the unit before the applicant moves into the unit, the required repairs should be listed here as well so that the applicant knows that it is still being worked on. Also, add the date in this section as well or at least a line to place the date so that the landlord knows which applicant inquired about the property first.
The next portion of this document is intended to get the information about the applicant that is needed for the landlord to know who they are. The information that is requested in this section of the document will include the individual’s full name, their date of birth, and a phone number where they can be reached. So that the landlord can do a full credit check and background on the individual, they may also request their social security number and their driver’s license number. If the applicant does not have a license that can be used, then a state ID can be used instead. The form of ID will need to be from the state of Maryland for the background check to work.
In addition to this, the address of the applicant may also be requested so that there is another way for the landlord to contact the applicant if the phone number does not prove to be productive. Instead of an address where mail can be sent, some landlords will request an email address or an alternative phone number that can be used. Sometimes, this section will ask the applicant what the preferred means of contact is.
Personal information can also include whether or not the applicant has a significant other who will be living in the unit. The document may also ask about children who may be living on the premises so that the landlord can be aware of who will be living in the unit should the applicant be accepted.
In the next section of the rental application, the landlord will try to find out a little bit about the rental history of the applicant. This information will help the landlord determine whether the applicant is a good fit for the unit that is being rented and whether they should be selected as a tenant. In this section, there will be space for the applicant to write the last three places that they have rented from.
The information for each location that must be included should be the name of the landlord, the management company, the physical address of the unit, and a phone number where they can be reached. There may also be a line for the applicant to inform the landlord of the amount of time that they spent at the unit. The landlord is likely to contact the previous landlords to see what type of tenant the applicant was.
The landlord is likely to request two to three prior landlords to check out, but if there are not that many previous rentals, then less may be accepted. If the applicant has never rented property in the past, then a guarantor may be required for the person to be accepted as a tenant.
After the rental history has been discussed, the next part of the document will be dedicated to the financial history of the applicant. This information is requested so that the landlords can be sure that the applicant will be able to make their rent payment on time every month. The first part of the financial history section will ask about the current occupation of the applicant. The applicant can choose whether they work full-time, they work part-time, they are a student, they are retired, or they are unemployed.
Make sure that there is enough space for the applicant to file information pertaining to the last five years. They will need to include their employer’s name, the company that they worked for, the position held, and a phone number where a supervisor can be reached. The section will also need to provide a line where the applicant can explain how long they were with the company and the reason that they left the company. It will also ask about the amount of income that the applicant makes each month.
Other sources of income will also need to be included in this section of the document as well. Make sure to include annuity payments, lottery winnings, dividend payments, and pension payments. These could easily be significant enough that the applicant will not need to be working a typical job. This section may also ask about savings accounts that the applicant may have as well as credit card accounts that they have opened in their name.
In the state of Maryland, there is no law that states that all of the roommates that live in a unit have to be on the lease. That being said, if the roommate does not want their income to be considered for the rental agreement, then they do not need to fill out the application as a primary tenant. Some landlords may request that the applicants all fill out sections of the application so that they can all be on file as tenants of the unit if they are accepted, but it is not something that is required. Some applications will simply ask for the names of the roommates and their relationship with the primary applicant.
At a later time, the landlord can request the co-tenants to sign onto the lease, but at the time of signing, this is not required. One of the main reasons that a landlord may want a record of who is actually living in the unit is, so they are not liable for anything that happens to them on the property. If they get locked out of the unit and they are on the lease, the landlord will be able to let them in without an issue.
The next section of the document is going to be dedicated to those who have pets and wish to move into the unit in question. There may be rules that pertain to the type of pets and the number of pets that are permitted on the premises. Some landlords will only allow cats on the property. Some will allow all animals, but there may be a size restriction or a breed restriction when it comes to dogs. Sometimes a landlord will only allow animals to live in a specific part of the property so that the animals are all confined to the same space.
When the applicant has pets, they are going to need to know about any rules or regulations that are in place for the community. If there is something that the applicant will need to know before bringing their pets to the unit, that information will need to be listed here. If pets are permitted, the application may ask a bit more information about them before they allow them on the property. This could include their name, their breed, the size of the pet, and the color of their fur. This information can help the owners identify the animal while it is on the property.
When a landlord allows pets on the property, there may be a fee that the tenants will have to pay to make sure that there is no damage to the property. This fee can be charged just once and collected like a security deposit, or it can be collected each month with the rent.
The next section is designed to provide the applicant with personal references who will vouch for the applicant and let the landlord know about their character. In most cases, there will be enough space for the applicant to list three references. These references need to be people that the applicant has known for a long period of time. They can be co-workers, landlords, supervisors, or close friends, but family members are typically not a good option for this section. The name of the person must be provided as well as a phone number where they can be reached. In addition, the applicant will need to initial the space as well to indicate that they have given their permission to contact these individuals.
This section is to dive deeper into the personal history of the applicant. If they have ever declared bankruptcy, been evicted, or convicted of a crime, they will have the opportunity to explain the circumstances in this section of the document. Things that may have gotten them dismissed as a tenant, could be taken with slightly less importance, which could still allow them to get into the unit that they are seeking to live in.
The personal statement section of the document is a section that has been set aside for the applicant to tell things to the landlord that was not asked about in the application. Some applicants may need to ask about accessible parking on the premises. They may need a first-floor unit as well so that they can easily get into the unit without additional assistance. If the applicant has a service dog that they need to bring with them when they move in, then the animal may need to be mentioned to the landlord so that they are aware of an emotional support animal on the premises.
When an application for a rental unit closes, the last section that you will need to consider will be the signature section. Since this is an application, the only party that will need to complete this part of the document is the applicant. They will need to print and sign their name at the bottom of the document. Under that, the date will need to be placed on the document as well. This will indicate that all of the information was accurate on that date according to the applicant.
Applicable Law in Maryland
In Maryland, a landlord is required to screen applicants for their unit without being discriminatory towards the potential tenants. The laws are designed to make sure that the applicants are all screened fairly. A background check can be done, but the landlord will need to get written consent from the applicant. This is a step that a lot of landlords forget about, so make sure that the rental application that is used has a section that asked for consent. Official regulations for screening in Maryland include:
- Application fees must be paid in a separate payment than the first month’s rent and the security deposit.
- The state of Maryland does not limit the amount that a landlord can charge for their application fee.
- All application fees are non-refundable in the state.
Fair Housing Laws in Maryland
Fair housing laws in the state of Maryland are designed to make sure that every tenant gets a fair opportunity to live in the type of housing that they want. They cannot be denied based on their race, religion, color, sexual orientation, familial status, or a disability. These are both state and federal laws, so each applicant should be able to rent housing that has affordable prices and is located in an area with good education and opportunities for their children.
Learn more about topics that are off-limits with tenants here.
A landlord can never threaten an immigrant who is looking to rent a housing unit because they are not a citizen. A landlord cannot discriminate against pregnant women or those who have a disability that will require additional accommodations. Increasing the rent for a reason that only affects some or choosing a tenant because they possess specific qualities can also be a form of discrimination.