Rental Application Form

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Rental Application Form

What is a rental application form?

A rental application form, also known as a tenant application form, is a document provided by landlords and property managers for potential renters to complete. It is used to collect information like personal details, employment status, references, guarantors, and more.

Larger property and letting agencies may also use rental forms to gather general information about would-be tenants so that they can match them with rental opportunities that are a good fit. When a new property becomes available, agencies can consult their database to find individuals that will likely be interested and run them through any necessary screening processes. 

Nowadays, it is not uncommon for landlords to use online rental application forms.

Can multiple people sign one form? 

In the majority of cases, individual rental application forms should be completed by one person. If you are expecting multiple tenants to occupy one of your properties and share the monthly rent, then it is standard practice to have each person fill out a separate form, irrespective of whether or not they will share a lease agreement or contract. Rental application forms are usually sent to potential tenants either before or immediately after viewing. 

What is a rental application form used for?

Rental application forms have several uses. First, they allow landlords to perform background and tenant screening checks on prospective renters to ensure that they are a suitable fit for a property, thereby avoiding issues, such as forced eviction, further down the line. Landlords can easily avoid headaches and legal issues by vetting potential tenants early in the renting process. 

Second, rental application forms are useful legal documents. Although not as essential as contracts, rental application forms signify consent on the part of the prospective tenant for the landlord to conduct background checks. They can also be used as supporting documentation to show that a tenant has falsified information, should the need ever arise. 

Third, rental application forms are useful for filtering candidates if you have a lot of interest in a rental property. It may well be unfeasible to arrange a large number of viewings. In this case, you can quickly eliminate interested parties based on the details they have provided. You can also select the most desirable prospective tenants if you receive more than one definite offer or contact “backup” applicants if somebody drops out before a rental agreement is signed. 

Is a rental application form the same as a tenancy agreement?

Rental application forms are not the same as tenancy agreements. Tenancy agreements are detailed legal documents that stipulate the contractual obligations between a tenant and property owner or manager. They relate specifically to how long an occupancy will last and on what terms it can be ended outside of this established time period. 

While not as essential as tenancy agreements, rental application forms are still very important and should not be overlooked. They can be used as supporting legal documents in the unfortunate case that a tenant does not make a payment or damages a property. They are also useful if you need to find emergency information about a tenant’s relatives or next of kin. 

If you are a landlord, it is standard practice to use both rental or tenancy agreements and rental application forms. 

What should a rental application form include?

Rental application forms will be unique to individual landlords and the information they require. Generally speaking, however, most application forms will contain the following sections: 

  • Tenancy dates – These are the dates when the prospective tenant wants to move in and how long they expect the tenancy to last. 
  • Personal details – The section requesting basic information should include form fields for the applicant’s date of birth, contact information like phone number, age, address, citizenship status, social security number, driver’s license, criminal record entries, and so on. 
  • Previous landlords and personal references – It is good practice to ask for information about an applicant’s rental history, including references from one or two previous landlords and the current landlord, thus allowing you to conduct background checks. You may also wish to ask for further references from past employers. 
  • Employment status and employment history – As a potential tenant’s employment status can affect their ability to pay, landlords should ask for information about their current job and working hours (full-time vs. part-time).
  • Financial details – If you want to perform a credit check to ascertain an applicant’s credit score, you will need financial details from applicants. You may also wish to include fields for credit card information so that any relevant application fees and security deposits can be charged. 
  • Guarantors – It is common practice for guarantors to underwrite a contract. Checking that an applicant has suitable guarantors will enable you to filter out individuals that are not a good fit. 
  • Secondary details – This section covers any information that you personally deem relevant and can relate to smoking, pets, intended periods of habitation (weekends vs. weekdays), and so on.
  • Signature field Applicants should always be asked to sign a rental application form to ensure that the information provided is correct. If you are requesting permission to access credit history or run a credit report, you may also need a signature to signify consent. 

Landlords tend to provide application forms to prospective candidates via email in the form of a PDF. Alternatively, you may wish to host a form online and provide a link, a practice that can cut down on processing times significantly.  

Should you use a template for your rental application forms?

Rental application forms (also known as tenant application forms) are useful from both a legal and a practical perspective and can help you quickly filter and perform background checks on applicants. Because of this, it’s good practice to have a detailed, comprehensive template from which to create specific forms. 

Because rental application forms are short documents, and because you will likely require the same or similar information from different applicants, a template will also save you significant amounts of time. It’s a good idea to start with a generic template, such as the one provided by PandaDoc, and adjust it to suit your needs. You can then use it for all future properties and potential tenants.