New York Rental Application Form

Last Updated: December 7, 2023 by Roberto Valenzuela

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A New York rental application form helps a landlord choose a prospective tenant who is well suited to rent a particular property. The form requests personal and employment information plus consent for a credit check (sometimes called a consumer report). Applications often collect a non-refundable fee, commonly equal to the cost of getting the relevant screening reports.

New York Rental Application Laws

New York limits application fees to the cost of completing the background check or $20, whichever is less. However, there is an exception for co-ops and condo buildings, and the prospective tenant may pay more than $20.  Additionally, the fee may only be collected if the applicant is given copies of the background and credit check paperwork and a receipt or invoice from the company that performed the background check. If the applicant has had a screening report dated within 30 days, this must be accepted in place of collecting a new fee.

Quick Guide To Process a New York Rental Application

After receiving a New York rental application, most landlords use the following process to evaluate the potential tenant:

  1. Verify Credit – Order a credit report for the potential tenant; a score of 600-650 is a common minimum requirement. A credit report can be as simple as a “pass/fail” result or can have comprehensive details, including criminal history. (NOTE: a credit report requires the tenant’s written and signed consent, on the application or separately)
  2. Verify Income – Check the potential tenant’s employment status and pay scale. This can be done through recent pay stubs and/or contacting the potential tenant’s employer.
  3. Check Rental History – Contact previous landlord(s) to confirm a potential tenant has in the past been a good renter and neighbor.
  4. Check Eviction History – Verify the potential tenant has honestly disclosed the details of any past evictions. An eviction check usually covers a longer period (previous 7 years) than a rental history check (previous 3 years).
  5. Check Criminal History – Confirm the potential tenant’s reporting of any criminal history, especially including a check of criminal databases like sex offender registries.
  6. Provide a Response – Approve the application if it’s a good fit, or, if rejecting the application, draft an appropriate adverse action notice to limit liability.

Checking Eviction History in New York

New York eviction cases are matters of public record which anyone can access. While third-party services often automatically check eviction history as part of a screening report, this also can be checked manually, with the following process:

  • Visit the New York State Unified Court System’s eCourts WebCivil Search
  • Select “Party Search” and complete the CAPTCHA to continue to case search
  • Enter the applicant’s name and other relevant information you may have, and applicable cases will pop up
  • Select the case number to be taken to case details (not all cases have comprehensive information reported)

Restrictions on New York Rental Application Questions

The sample rental application provided on this page complies with federal law restricting the information a landlord can request. In general, it’s illegal under the Federal Fair Housing Act to screen tenants by asking for information about the following, or using these as a basis for approving or denying an application:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin (nationality)
  • Religion
  • Sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity)
  • Familial status (i.e., having or not having children)
  • Disability (whether physical or mental)

New York also protects some additional categories at the statewide level, such as age, marital status, military status, and public/rental assistance status. There are narrow exemptions for things like senior housing or certain very-small scale landlords, but local regulations may still apply. Always consult an attorney before attempting to ignore state or federal requirements.

New York Tenant Blacklist Protection

New York tenants cannot have a rental application refused for being on the “blacklist” of tenants involved in disputes in the New York City Housing Court. Landlords who blacklist a tenant can face fines of up to $1,000. Using the blacklist as a reason to deny a tenant is a violation, regardless of whether the landlord explicitly asks about it on the rental application.

Rejecting an Application: Adverse Action Notice

When taking an action which may disadvantage a potential tenant, a landlord may have to provide an adverse action notice informing the tenant about the decision (sometimes called a “conditional approval,” if the application is approved subject to meeting additional conditions). Federal regulations require an adverse action notice whenever a landlord collects a credit report and takes one of the following actions:

  • Rejecting the potential tenant’s application
  • Adding a requirement for someone to co-sign the potential tenant’s lease
  • Demanding a larger security deposit than before, as a condition for renting
  • Asking for higher rent after receiving the report

Important Features of an Adverse Action Notice

An adverse action notice must contain the following details:

  • Note that the landlord took adverse action based on information in a consumer credit report
  • Details of the consumer reporting agency
  • Note that the landlord decided the adverse action, not the agency
  • Declaration of the applicant’s right to a copy of the consumer credit report
  • Declaration of the application’s right to dispute the report within 60 calendar days

While not legally required, it also is expedient for a landlord to explain the reasons for the adverse action, since this establishes a written record of issues with the application.

For an example, see this tenant rejection letter template.

Fees in New York

New York has the following regulations on fees relating to a new rental:

  • Rental Application Limit: $20 or cost of screening, whichever is less (some exceptions for co-ops and condos)
  • Security Deposit Limit: One month’s rent (some exceptions for rent-controlled units)
  • Pet Fee Limit: No cap

Local jurisdictions may impose stricter regulations than the statewide standard. Always check local laws.