View a sample New York rental application form below and read further to learn more about what information should be included on rental applications in New York, what information a landlord CAN’T ask for, and what New York-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 New York
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
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.
What is a Rental Application?
In the state of New York, a rental application is a document that a landlord uses as a legal means to check an applicant’s information to see if they are good tenant material. This form allows them to check out the applicant’s references, their ability to pay, and even do a background check before entering into a legal agreement with them for a specific unit. The application form is typically not extensive, which means that it will not require a lot of time to fill out.
Most of the information that is requested is pretty straightforward, so it will not require a lot of preparation for the applicant. With all of the information filled out accurately, the landlord can review it and decide if the tenant is acceptable and can be considered a reliable tenant. If the credit check does not reveal that the tenant has enough credit to give them a good rating, a guarantor rider or a cosigner may be requested before the applicant is accepted as a tenant.
New York Rental Application Elements
When writing a rental application in this state, the following parts should be included:
Description of the Rental Unit
In this section of the application, you are going to want to include all of the relevant information about the unit that the potential tenant wishes to rent. This is going to include the type of unit that is being rented. Is it an apartment, a townhouse, a single-family home, or a duplex? Make sure that the exact address of the unit is listing in this part of the application, and this includes the unit number for apartments as well.
In this section of the application, you will want to include details about the unit like the square footage of the space as well as the current condition of the property. Anything that has been updated recently in the unit should be listed here as well as anything that needs to be updated before the tenant’s move-in date.
Also, include a space where the date can be placed, the proposed beginning of the lease as well as the proposed end of it. Make sure also to include the amount of rent that is required each month to rent the unit and how much the security deposit is going to be.
Personal and Contact Information
The next section that will need to be included in the rental application is the personal information of the potential tenant. This will include their full, legal first and last name. Many landlords will also want to request at least their middle initial as well. Also, the date of birth for the applicant as well as their social security number. This is typically used for a background check. The applicant’s driver’s license number is often requested in this section of the application as well. If the potential tenant does not have a driver’s license, then a state ID can be used instead.
This information should include the applicant’s current address. Also, ask for a home phone number, a cell phone number, or a work phone number that the applicant can be reached. It is best to ask which number is the best means of contacting them so that they can be reached when you need to contact them. An email address can also be included in this section as an alternative method of reaching the applicant.
Sometimes, this section will ask about the current landlord or property manager and a way to contact them. In some cases, this may be the best way to contact a potential tenant. Though, if another method is preferred, it is often used. This section of the application may also ask about the family members that will live in the unit as well as any children that the applicant may have.
In this section of the rental application, the applicant will be able to inform the landlord of the last three locations that they have rented. If there are not three locations that can be considered, a guarantor may be required to make sure that the rent will be able to be paid in a timely fashion. This information will help the landlord determine whether there have been issues in the past with the potential tenant’s payment of the agreed-upon rent. It will also inform the landlord whether the applicant has broken a previous lease and whether an eviction has ever been carried out.
Ideally, this section should include at least two previous rental locations, but not every applicant is going to have as many, so the number of years that they spent at each location is also going to be important. In this section, it is important to request the current address of the applicant, their current landlord, the number of years at that address, and a telephone number where the landlord or the management company can be reached. Make sure that a phone number for each of the previous landlords is present on the application so that the proper research can be done into the potential tenant and their application.
This next section can be broken down into two parts. The first part of the financial section that you will want the application to include should be about the potential tenant’s employment history. Anything from the past five years should be included in this area, and the information about the employers should include the name of the company, the position that has been worked at the location, and the number of years that the applicant has been with the company. The address of the company will also need to be included so that the landlord knows which company location is being referred to in the application. Make sure to leave a location for a supervisor’s name and phone number so that it is easy to reach the employers of the applicant as needed.
The second part of the financial history in this application is actually going to be a breakdown of additional sources of income as well as what the annual income that is expected for the applicant. This section should include the projected income that is received each month, additional income that the potential tenant may receive in a given year, and the current balance of your savings account. Some rental application forms will ask for the information on two different credit cards. This will give the landlord an idea of how good the applicant’s credit actually is and whether rent will be paid in a timely fashion.
In the state of New York, not all of the tenants who are living in the unit need to be a primary resident on the application. This means that they will be residing in the unit, but their income is not what is used to determine eligibility for the apartment. Typically, a landlord will require the roommate to fill out an additional application, but how much of the application needs to be filled out is up to the discretion of the landlord. In general, the main information that will be required in this section includes the name of the individual as well as their relationship to the main applicant.
Roommates may be requested to be added to the lease at a later date; however, one of the main reasons that this is done is to have a detailed record of who will be living in the unit. If anything happens, the landlord will be able to tell the authorities who resides in the unit. This also gives the landlord or the management company permission to let the roommate into the unit if they forget their keys or get locked out. Without this information, the roommate would have to wait until the main tenant gets home to get inside the unit.
Not all rental units in New York allow pets, but if they do allow them to be on the property, there is going to be a pet section that must be filled out. In this section, it will typically ask for a description of the pet that will be living in the unit as well as their name, age, sex, weight, and breed. They may even ask for a picture of the animal so that it can easily be found if it gets lost. The landlord may also request that the potential tenant provide a list of the rabies tag numbers, which will allow them to make sure that the pet is up to date on their shots.
Some of the locations in this state may not allow animals of a certain breed to live on the premise. This is for the safety of the residents that already live on the property. If specific breeds are not permitted on the premise, they should be listed in this section. In addition, many units may only permit cats instead of both cats and dogs; if this is the case when it comes to the unit in question, make sure that it is clearly stated here.
Landlords are permitted to charge tenants a fee to have pets in the unit, so make sure that all of this information is stated clearly in this part of the application. This fee is used to repair any damage that the pets may cause while living in the unit, but not all landlords require the additional fee as long as there are not too many pets in the unit. If there is a limit on the number of pets permitted in each unit, make sure that it is also clearly stated in this section.
Personal or Landlord References
In this section of the application, the landlord is going to be attempting to get more information about the potential tenant from friends or co-workers who can give a character reference for the person applying for a rental unit. This can include former landlords, as well as supervisors, but they are already listed in other parts of this application. In general, this portion of the application is looking for long time friends that can vouch for the applicant.
The potential tenant will be asked to provide a bit of information about these references so that they can easily be contacted to give a reference. Anyone that is listed cannot be a family member or someone that the applicant is currently doing business with. The applicant will need to provide the name of three or more references and the amount of time that the reference has been known by the applicant. Also, make sure to provide a space for the phone number of each of the listed references as well as the best time to reach them.
At the bottom of this section of the application, there will be a space that asks if the landlord can contact the references to find out more about the character of the potential tenant. The applicant must sign and date this section to provide permission for the landlord to contact the references.
In this section of the application, the landlord can ask a few questions that will give them a better idea of who the applicant is as a person. They can ask whether or not they are currently a smoker. This will affect the atmosphere of the property, and some landlords will prefer that smoking is not done inside the unit so that nicotine stains do not get left on the walls and the surfaces in the unit.
This section may also inquire as to whether or not the applicant ever convicted a felony, whether they have filed for bankruptcy, or they have ever been evicted. If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then there will be a place for the applicant to explain the situation that occurred and the circumstances that cause them to get in the predicament in the first place. Sometimes these things happen to good, reliable people because of unforeseen circumstances that they were not prepared for, so this will help the landlord get a better idea of what happened and make a decision on the residency of the unit based on all of the facts. Sometimes, this will give a potential tenant a chance for residency in the unit that may have been rejected without this information.
This is a space that is often provided in the state of New York for individuals to make the landlord aware of things that they need to know about that is not already covered in the application. Things like a member of the household being disabled can fall into this section of the application. It will also need to state if there is an emotional support animal that is needed for an individual in the home. The potential tenant can also use this space to provide any additional information that they want to disclose. Information about past situations can be expanded upon in this section as well.
Typically, this is not a section that will be used by the landlord, but it can be used to provide advice to the applicant about things that may apply in the future like making additional keys for the unit and whether or not the landlord can accept a package for the tenant if they are not available to receive it.
The final section that will be present on most applications in this state is the signature section. It is likely to be the shortest section of the entire application, but without it, the application is not complete. The landlord may put a disclaimer in the text that states that the application does not guarantee acceptance into the unit, and that all of the application fees that are paid for the process are nonrefundable.
Married couples are often permitted to use the same application to apply for the unit, but that means that this section will require a signature from both parties and the date that it was signed. Any application fees or a deposit that was put down to hold the unit must also be stated in the signature section of the application.
If it is expected that a guarantor will be needed for the potential tenant to rent the unit in question, then this information can be asked in this section as well. The information that will be required from the applicant will include the guarantor’s full name, their relationship to the applicant, the date of the application, the unit that is being applied for, and the terms of the lease.
The guarantor will also need to provide their date of birth, social security number, home address, telephone number, and an email address. It will also ask for financial information that includes how much they make on a yearly basis, and a name and phone number of a supervisor who can confirm it. The guarantor must also sign and date the application, and in some cases, it will need to be given a state notary seal. If a guarantor is required, the information can already be looked into before a response is given to the applicant as to whether or not they have been accepted into the unit.
Applicable Law in New York
When a landlord has property that is vacant, the state of New York has some laws that they will need to abide by when they are searching for a new tenant to live in the unit. It is common for a landlord to do a credit check and a background check when they are selecting a new tenant, but to do so, the landlord must have written permission from the applicant. The landlord is also likely to verify the applicant’s criminal history and employment history to get a better idea of whether they will be able to pay the rent on time, or they are likely to be non-compliant. In New York the landlord is going to charge an application fee that is not refundable, but the most that they are permitted to charge for this fee is $20.
Fair Housing Laws in New York
When an applicant fills out an application for housing in New York, there are federal and state laws that are in place to make sure that no one is discriminated against. A person’s race, gender, national origin, familial status, disability, or religion cannot keep them from getting accepted into a housing unit. In New York, it is also illegal to discriminate based on marital status, age, and sexual orientation.