The New Mexico rental application form is a document that collects personal, financial, and rental history information from a prospective client. The listing agent or landlord then uses the information collected to make a determination about whether or not to rent to the applicant.
- Application Fee – New Mexico does not limit application fees.
- Discrimination Laws – New Mexico offers specific state protections in addition to FHA protections. Protected classes include race, gender identity, religion, marital status, familial status, and more, with some exceptions..
- Consent for Credit Check – the Federal Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires a prospective tenant to give written consent to check their credit history during the screening process.
New Mexico Rental Application Laws
The following laws apply to the application and tenant screening process in the state of New Mexico.
Collecting an Application Fee in New Mexico
While other states specify a maximum amount to collect as a rental application fee, New Mexico does not have any limitations on who can charge the application fee, or how much this fee can be.
Illegal Housing Discrimination in New Mexico
Federal and state laws are in effect in New Mexico to protect against discrimination during the application process.
Fair Housing Act
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 not allowed.
New Mexico Fair Housing Laws
Additionally, New Mexico state laws add additional protections for the following classes:
- Marital Status
- Sexual Orientation
- Gender Identity
None of these protected classes of information may be utilized or asked for by the landlord or agent.
Exemptions to Fair Housing Laws
Exemptions from Fair Housing laws do exist. In New Mexico, the following exemptions are allowed:
- Familial Status – asking about and basing an application decision on if children will occupy the rented premises is allowed in any of the below cases:
- Two-family owner-occupied buildings.
- Housing for Older Persons Exemption – landlords may ask for an applicant’s age in the case of age-restricted communities. If the community is categorized as senior housing, it may be exempt due to the Housing for Older Persons Exemption.
- Mrs. Murphy Exemption – 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. Additionally, race cannot be a deciding factor as per the Civil Rights Act of 1866
- Religious Organizations – the applicant’s religion can influence an application decision for property that is owned, operated, supervised, or controlled by a religious organization that rents for personal 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 – clubs that operate privately with no commercial intent may provide preferential treatment of applications for lodgings owned or operated by the club, as long as membership isn’t discriminatory. 42 U.S. Code § 3607
Federally, race is a non-exemption criteria that cannot have an influence on the choice of whether to rent to an applicant or not regardless of existing exemptions.
Consent for Credit 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 (example template).
New Mexico Security Deposit Law
If an applicant is approved, the following laws apply to the collection of security deposits in New Mexico:
- Standard Limit / Maximum Amount: For rental agreements shorter than one year, New Mexico landlords may charge no more than 1 month’s rent for a security deposit. If the lease is for a year or more, the security deposit may also be increased, but the landlord will be required to pay interest to the tenant.
- Receipt Requirements: There is no requirement for a New Mexico landlord to provide a receipt for the security deposit.
- Financial Holdings: There are no specified holding requirements for security deposits in New Mexico.
Sending Rental Application Forms
Landlords can send rental application forms to tenants in one of two ways:
- Manually – using the PDF and Word templates available for free on our website (see the top right of this webpage), landlords can send a rental application form to tenants via a physical copy or email.
- With Software – most popular property management software services include an online rental application form that can automate the collection and screening process for landlords.
For reviews of popular property management software, click here.
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.
New Mexico Eviction Record Search
Landlords can choose to use a service that provides background checks for a fee, or access the public record cases online through New Mexico’s courts system for free.
To access the eviction records:
- Visit the New Mexico Courts Case Lookup.
- Agree to the disclaimer.
- Complete the captcha to continue to the case search.
- Enter the applicant’s name and any other applicable information you may have, and any cases involving the applicant will pop up.
- Select the case number to be taken to the case summary.
Responding to Rental Applications
If an applicant meets all of your tenant screening criteria, then there’s nothing you need to do beyond notifying them and moving forward with the normal leasing process.
However, if you acquire a consumer report for an applicant (i.e. credit, eviction or criminal history) and you make an “adverse action” against them (EVEN IF the report’s information wasn’t the primary reason for doing so), you are required to provide the tenant with a notice letter that includes certain details, known as an “adverse action notice”.
An adverse action is defined as either rejecting the applicant or instituting additional/higher requirements than you have for another applicant (i.e. requiring a co-signer, larger security deposit, higher rent or an additional deposit).
In these cases, an adverse action notice is required to be sent to the applicant, and must include the following:
- The agency’s name, address and phone number that supplied the report.
- A statement explaining that the CRA didn’t make the decision for the adverse action themselves, and as a result, that they can’t explain why the decision was made.
- A statement explaining the applicant’s right to dispute such information and their right to a copy of the report in question within 60 days.
To learn more about requirements surrounding adverse action notices, see this article from the Federal Trade Commission. To get an idea of what an adverse action notice might look like, see this example letter.
Additionally, to protect against accusations of illegal discrimination, it is always recommended to include the exact reason why the application was not approved in the rejection letter.