Ohio Rental Application Form

Download Sample Template: Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) / Microsoft Word (.doc)

The Ohio rental application form is a document that property managers and landlords use to collect information about potential tenants. This includes rental history, income, and other factors used to determine whether the applicant is a viable tenant.

QUICK INFO
  • Application Fee – there is no limit to how much a landlord in Ohio can charge as an application fee.
  • Discrimination Laws – Ohio offers state protections in addition to federal protections stemming from FHA laws. Race, religion, ancestry, disabilities, and familial status are just a few protected classes in Ohio.
  • 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.

Ohio Rental Application Laws

The following laws apply to the application and tenant screening process in the state of Ohio.

Collecting an Application Fee in Ohio

There is no limitation in place that determines how much an Ohio landlord or agent may charge applicants to complete the screening process.

Illegal Housing Discrimination in Ohio

Ohio protects potential renters from unfair discrimination during the application process with both state and federal FHA laws.

Fair Housing Act

The Federal Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate against the following protected classes:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin (Nationality)
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • 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.

Ohio Fair Housing Laws

Additionally, Ohio state laws add additional protections for the following classes:

  • Ancestry
  • Military Status

Asking about any of these items on a rental application form (and/or using them to base an application decision on) is not allowed.

Exemptions to Fair Housing Laws

Exemptions from Fair Housing laws do exist. In Ohio, the following exemptions are allowed:

  • Familial Status – it is acceptable to ask about and base an application decision on if children will occupy the rented premises 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 such as senior housing. This federal exemption, known as the “Housing for Older Persons” exemption, can apply to 55+ or even 62+ communities that meet the requirements.
  • Religious Organizations – religion can be used as a basis for giving preference to certain applicants for property that is owned, operated, supervised, or controlled by a religious organization that does not rent for commercial 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 – private clubs that operate without public access or commercial intent can provide preferential treatment of applications for lodgings owned or operated by the club. 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.

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).

Ohio Security Deposit Law

If an applicant is approved, the following laws apply to the collection of security deposits in Ohio:

  • Standard Limit / Maximum Amount: There is no limit to what an Ohio landlord can charge as a security deposit. If a landlord charges $50 or one month’s rent (whichever is greater) and the tenancy is for a period longer than 6 months, the landlord must pay 5% interest annually. Ohio Revised Code § 5321.16
  • Receipt Requirements: There is no requirement for an Ohio landlord to provide a receipt for a security deposit.
  • Financial Holdings: There are no specified holding requirements for the security deposit.

Sending Rental Application Forms

Landlords can send rental application forms to tenants in one of two ways:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Ohio provides evictions as part of public record, which may be accessed through the Ohio Supreme Court record search directory. Or, agents and landlords may elect to use a third party service.

To access the eviction records:

  • Visit the Ohio Supreme Court Public Docket or search for the county court that the applicant’s previous jurisdiction would fall under.
  • Select ‘Show Party Search Options’.
  • Enter the applicant’s name and any cases involving the applicant will pop up.
  • Select the case number to be taken to the case details. Available documents will be linked in pdf format on the leftmost column of the docket.

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.