A thorough, standardized application form can help you weed out problematic renters and choose the best tenant for your rental home. Your application form should request relevant details about a candidate's income and rental history, to help you identify the most suitable and stable tenant. Avoid questions that may violate anti-discrimination, fair housing, state, and local landlord-tenant laws. If unsure about the acceptability of certain application criteria or questions, consult a real estate attorney well-versed in your jurisdiction's rental law.
Getting Personal Information
Select a word processing program to draft your application template. Include your name, as the owner, or that of the property manager, if a third-party deals directly with applicants and tenants. Include landlord contact information, such as a phone and fax number, e-mail address and mailing address for the tenant's reference. Also include the address of the subject rental property. Create a separate section for the applicant’s full name and the names of co-renters. Request personal information such as occupation, place of employment, length of time at current job, two years of employment history, monthly or annual income, Social Security Number, and current address. You can also ask if they have pets or smoke.
Requesting Rental History Details
An applicant's past performance in paying rent and caring for a rental property is a strong indicator of future habits. Research the applicant’s rental history to get an accurate picture of their previous renting experiences. Create a section with questions about the applicant’s current and former rental addresses, the duration of their residency and reasons for leaving the rental. Also, ask whether they have been evicted from a rental. Request names and contact information of current and former landlords over a certain amount of time, such as the past two-year period.
Video of the Day
Brought to you by Sapling
Checking A Tenant's Past
Include a section that states you can conduct a background check with the information provided on the application. This may include a credit report and criminal background screening, for which you need authorization from the applicant. Depending on state laws, certain credit reporting companies include conviction and arrest information on their credit reports, according to legal website Nolo. The personal information in the application allows you to run credit or criminal history checks. However, if the applicant doesn't have a Social Security Number, they must include an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN. You must also disclose any fees for running these checks and the screening fees must meet state legal limits.
Observe Legal Requirements
Include a certification statement at the end of the application, in which the tenant affirms that the information provided is true. Include space for the applicant to sign and date the form. Have an attorney review your application template to ensure your questions comply with landlord-tenants laws. An attorney may also advise you of additional clauses to include that can protect your interests and prevent liability. When the form is deemed satisfactory, keep the template on file and present the same application to each prospective tenant.
- scyther5/iStock/Getty Images