Rental Application Template

A rental application is a formal request to rent a residential property and is used to intake an applicant’s information in order to check their criminal history (background check) and credit report. The landlord will also verify the tenant’s employment and verify their income either through a recent paycheck or the previous year’s tax return. The landlord will commonly charge a fee to process the tenant’s information between $15 to $100 (depending on local and State regulations).

Rental Applications: By State

Rental Applications: By Type

Table of Contents

What is the Rental Process?

The rental process begins with a property being available for lease by a landlord with the intention of renting to a qualified tenant. The length of the process is determined by the credible demand for space and the landlord’s willingness to make a deal.

  • How long does the Rental Process take? -If a tenant is ready, able, and willing to rent and the landlord is prepared to authorize a lease, the process can take as little as 24 hours to 3 days complete.

Step 1 – Landlord Prepares the Property

The landlord, either through themselves fixing up the property or by use of a local real estate agent, prepares the property for rent. This consists of making a checklist and running through all utilities and making sure all sinks, faucets, heaters, and any other units that are part of the property are functional.

Taking Photos – To better market the property, it’s recommended the landlord or agent use a professional camera and “dress up” the property as best as possible to encourage possible tenants to view the premises.

Step 2 – Placing the Property for Rent

The landlord’s best bet is to place the property online on a listing website. The landlord may also be able to view other like-properties and determine the asking rent in relation to others that are similar. Below is a list of the best rental property websites for landlords and tenants for rental properties:

Long-Term Rentals (1-year or more)

Short-Term Rentals (less than 1-year)

Finding a Roommate

Finding a Sublessee

Due to some websites outperforming others in certain market areas, it’s best to do a quick Google search and see where most of the local listings are located. Try to choose the website that has the most properties in your area.

Step 3 – Showing the Property to Tenants

Now is the time for the landlord or their agent prepares to show the property to tenants. It’s important that the person showing the property knows all the details about the premises such as heating, air conditioning, utilities provided, services offered, where trash is placed, etc.

At the time of the showing, it’s important to have a rental application handy in the chance that the tenant would like to complete and begin the process. If the tenant chooses to apply, ensure to either get a completed application from them or their information. Also, if there is an application fee, to collect it at that time as well.

Step 4 – Screen the Tenant

Now is the time to conduct the tenant screening. If the landlord is only concerned with the tenant’s background (criminal) and credit check then the process can take just under an hour. If the landlord is going to verify the references listed on the application then it can take up to three (3) days.

Below you can find the best tenant screening websites recommended for landlords:

Step 5 – Approve or Deny the Tenant

After the landlord has reviewed the tenant’s credit and background information the decision to approve or deny the tenant should be immediate. Most landlords will have their own internal criteria about what qualifies a tenant or not.

Minimum Credit Score (FICO)

According to Experian, 670 is a “good” FICO credit score. A better illustration can be seen in the pie chart below:

How Much Rent can a Tenant Afford?

According to, a landlord should require that the tenant’s income is more than 40 times the monthly rent. Therefore, if the rent amount is $1,000/mo the tenant’s income should be at least $40,000/yr.

What is a Co-Signer?

A co-signer is an additional person, besides the tenant, that guarantees the performance of the lease. A co-signer is “co-signing” the lease as if it were their own. If for any reason, the tenant does not pay rent for a given period, the co-signer will be liable for the payments. Therefore, if the tenant defaults on the lease due to non-payment or non-compliance, the co-signer will be just as liable for any legal or financial judgments.

  • Co-Signing Agreement (Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word) – After the co-signer signs the agreement it should be attached and made part of the lease.

How to Reject the Tenant

If the tenant is rejected the landlord should notify them immediately and give notice to the specific reason. This avoids any confusion to the tenant and if there are any solutions it can be administered. If the rejection was financial related, the tenant may be able to offer pre-payment of rent (3 or 6 months) and request a second (2nd) look at their application.

Step 6 – Signing the Lease

If the tenant is approved the parties will immediately begin negotiations over the terms of the lease. A standard form should be used that is neutral to each of the parties outlining the obligations of the landlord and tenant. Upon signature, the tenant will be responsible for payment of the security deposit, first (1st) month’s rent, and any other required deposits or fees.

After the obligations of the tenant have been met, the landlord will be required to give access to the tenant on the first (1st) day of occupancy. Both parties will be required to uphold their responsibilities until the end of the lease term.