What Is a Rental Application?

Learn the basics of rental applications, the purpose is serves and standard rules landlords and tenants need to know about rental applications.

Question

What is a rental application?

Answer

A rental application is the key screening document that landlords give to prospective tenants. It covers a wide range of information, including the applicant’s employment, income, and credit; rental history; references from landlords, employers, and others; identifying information, such as Social Security and driver’s license numbers; past evictions, criminal convictions, bankruptcies; and more.  Federal anti-discrimination laws, as well as state and local laws, restrict the questions a landlord may ask on a rental application (such as an individual’s religion or national origin). Rental applications usually include a section in which an applicant authorizes the landlord to verify the information and references and run a credit report. The credit report is an especially key screening tool because it will typically indicate whether a person has a history of paying bills late, has filed for bankruptcy, or who might cause the landlord legal or financial problems. Landlords often charge prospective tenants a credit check fee, such as $30 or $40, to check their credit report.

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