What is a Rental Application?

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.

Fee ($) – The landlord will commonly charge a fee to process the tenant’s information between $15 to $100.



Rental Application – Adobe PDF (.pdf) & Microsoft Word (.docx)

To verify a potential tenant’s credit, employment, background, and previous rental history. Depending on the landlord, they may also require the tenant to provide references (non-family). The rental application also acts as a consent form giving the landlord permission to perform a credit and criminal background check. The landlord will commonly request a fee for the costs involved ranging anywhere from $15 to $100. The fee is non-refundable whether or not the applicant is approved or not.




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 nakedapartments.com, 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.

Sample Template

Download: Adobe PDF, MS Word (.docx)

How to Fill-Out a Rental Application

Download: Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word (.docx)

1 – Access The Rental Application To Dispense To Hopeful Candidates

The paperwork on this page will give you the ability to quickly review Applicants for a lease. Download it as a PDF, Word, or ODT file. You will need to prepare it before dispensing it.

2 – Prepare This Document With Some Information For The Applicant

The beginning of this paperwork is reserved to solidify some basic facts for the Applicant. Begin with the physical address of the property you intend to lease to the Applicant. Provide this Address using the first two blank spaces under the statement “Address Of Property To Be Rented” Now, locate the label “Rental Term.” You must check either the box labeled “Month-to-Month” or the box labeled “Lease” to define the terms of this lease. If this will be a lease for a set amount of time, then you must indicate what the time frame of the lease will be by entering it in the parenthesis. Notice in the example image below this will be a one-year lease. Next, you must document the dollar amount required by the Prospective Tenant before he or she moves into the premises should approval be granted. This information should be presented on the blank lines calling for “First Month’s Rent,” “Security Deposit,” “Credit Check Fee,” and “Other.” Then added to one sum so the value can be presented on the blank line labeled “Total.” Notice the “Other” line has a blank space just before the area calling for a value. If there is a sum the Prospective Tenant must submit that is not listed here, then name it on this space. Submit the resulting amount to the right of the dollar sign.

3 – Review This Application For The Items The Applicant Supplied

The Applicant will need to supply several pieces of information to satisfy this application. Make sure that his or her “Full Name” is recorded on the first blank line in the “Applicant Personal Information” section. This area should also include all the nicknames/aliases the Applicant has used. Below this make sure the Applicant submitted his or her “Home Phone,” “Work Phone,” Social Security Number and Driver’s License Number/State.  If the Applicant has a vehicle then its “Vehicle Make,” “Model,” “Color,” “Year,” and “License Plate Number/State” will be documented in the final spaces of this area.All “Additional Occupants” will be listed on the blank lines in the next section. The “Rental History” section will have several areas that require the Applicant’s attention. The minimum requirement for this section, in many cases, will be the “Current Address.” Here, the Applicant should have presented the physical address where he or she presently lives on the first two blank lines. Below this, the “Dates…” when he or she “…Lived At This Address” should be documented along with the “Reason For Leaving.” Naturally, there will be a space for the full name of the current “Landlord/Manager” as well as one for the “Landlord/Manager’s Phone” number. Below the “Current Address,” two additional areas, each beginning with the label “Previous Address,” have been included so the Applicant’s last rented addresses can be chronicled (with the most recent listed first). This report should include the dates when the Applicant lived at the address they reported, the reason they moved, and that location’s Landlord or Property Manager’s name and contact information. Your Applicant should have a filled out “Employment History” section in this paperwork. This section enables you to review the name, address, and phone number of the Applicant’s current employer beginning on the line “Name Of Current Employer.” Additionally, the Applicant should have produced the full name of his or her current Supervisor and that individual’s work number. The Applicant must also supply the “Dates Employed At This Job” with his or her “Position Or Title.”If this was not the Applicant’s first place of employment, then you should see the next area (beginning with the label “Name Of Previous Employer”) supplied with similar information regarding the places the Applicant worked before his or her current workplace. This information should appear in descending chronological order (most recent first).  The “Income” section will begin the sections where you can review the Applicant’s financial status. The prospective Tenant will need to produce his or her “Gross Monthly Employment Income (Before Deductions),” his or her “Average Monthly Amounts Of Other Income,” the “Sources” where he or she makes money, and the “Total Income” he or she commands. The next section, titled “Credit And Financial Information,” requires the information defining the Applicant’s “Savings Account,” “Checking Account,” and other items such as COD’s, Money Markets, or Mutual Funds the Applicant holds. There will be a table where the Applicant should supply the “Account Number,” “Bank/Institution” name, and “Branch” (location) of each account in his or her name. In addition to the above sections, the Applicant will also be required to have reported information defining his or her credit cards, loans, and any “Other Major Obligations” he or she may have. A brief table, similar to the one above, is placed to accept the Applicant’s “Account Number,” “Name Of Creditor,” “Amount Owed,” and “Monthly Payment” with all these items. The last section, titled “Miscellaneous,” will help the Applicant clear up some additional issues not covered thus far but will likely be considered important, nonetheless. If the Applicant has any pets that will be living on the premises (should he or she gain this tenancy), then each pet should be described on the first set of blank lines under this section’s title. The next items on this application are a series of Yes/No checkbox questions the Applicant must answer to indicate if he or she is a smoker, has ever filed for bankruptcy, been sued, evicted, or convicted (of a crime). If the Tenant answered “Yes” by marking any of the checkboxes this way, then he or she should give a further explanation using the blank spaces under the statement “Explain Any Yes Answers From Above.” Otherwise, this set of blank lines should remain blank. It will be assumed that you require a “Personal Reference” or two from the Applicant. That is, an individual who you can call to ask regarding the Applicant’s suitability for the rental. Two areas beginning with the label “Personal Reference…” have been supplied so the Applicant can list the name of two Personal References and one Emergency Contact, explain the “Relationship” held with each person, and submit their “Address” and “Phone” number. This section will also require the Applicant to give the address and phone number of an “Emergency Contact” as well as define the relationship held with this party. While this is not necessarily mandatory, it is a standard question.Finally, the “Signature Of Applicant” line should contain the Applicant’s signature while the space next to it should disclose the calendar “Date” when this signature was provided. This signature must be present. If not, then there is no guarantee from the Applicant that the information, he or she submitted is true. The “Notes (Landlord/Manager)” area will give you a distinct space where you can keep track of additional information not on this application that may (legally) concern the application process

Comments are closed.