A rental application form is completed by a prospective tenant who wants to lease a property. It’s used by property owners to screen tenants and decide if they qualify to rent the property. We’ve developed several free rental application templates that you can use for single-family homes, vacation rentals, or apartments.
Free Rental Application Template
The free rental application templates below help landlords compile prospective tenant information including contact information, employment history, rental history, and criminal background. There are three templates below, each for a different type of rental property. Based on the type of property you’re trying to rent, you can decide which template is right for you.
These rental templates are structured specifically to help screen prospective tenants for residential property. If you’re interested in leasing commercial property, be sure to check out our article on How to Lease Commercial Real Estate.
How the Free Rental Application Templates Work
The free rental application templates above can be used to gather relevant information from prospective tenants. Applicant information can be used to pull financial reports and conduct background checks so you can decide whether or not to approve a prospective tenant. Be sure to download the right template based on your individual needs.
The best times to use each template include:
- Single-family home template: The rental application template for single-family owners is ideal if your rental property is a detached single-family residence; the template can also work for row homes or detached cottages in certain circumstances
- Vacation rental property template: The vacation rental template should only be used if you’re renting a property for a short time; for longer-term leases, be sure to use one of the other templates
- Condo & apartment template: This rental application template is great for landlords who own multiple apartments or condos; even if these condos are in standalone buildings, the template helps you get the information to rent a unit within an association
These rental application templates should be used only as a basis to work from. Be sure to consult a real estate attorney to ensure you’re abiding by state and local landlord-tenant laws as well as the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), among others.
When to Use a Rental Application Form
A rental application should be used whenever you rent your property to a tenant. This can include a room in your primary residence, vacation rental property, or apartment. It’s recommended that you use a rental application form for a tenant who will be living in the property for one month or longer.
“Everyone who has apartments available for rent should be using a rental application. Not only is it a tool to determine a suitable renter but it is also a great tool to keep all your renters’ information handy.”
― Evan Peoples, Broker, Spaces Real Estate
A rental application is generally right for:
- Single-family properties
- Multifamily buildings
- Units in apartment buildings or condominiums
- Vacation rental property
- Rooms for rent in your house
If a tenant is renting your vacation rental property through a site like Airbnb or VRBO, a rental application form isn’t generally used. Instead, the site will collect a copy of the tenant’s identification, and they will collect the full payment for the rental period up front as well as a security deposit and cleaning fee. This is usually done in lieu of a full tenant screening.
What to Include in a Rental Application Form
A rental application form should include basic personal, professional, and financial information. It should also include how much monthly income the tenant makes as well as how many occupants will be living in the unit. Keep in mind not to include anything on the rental application form that is a protected class like race, religion, sexual orientation, and so on.
1. Date of Rental Application Completion
This should be at the top of the application and is not the date the tenant wants to move in but is just the date he/she fills out the information. This is important because you may have multiple qualified tenants, and you can choose the one who filled out the application first.
2. Rental Application Fee
The rental application fee is usually found at the top of the application and is typically filled out by the landlord. Application fees typically vary from $25 to $100, but some condo buildings and co-ops charge more. There are laws around how much landlords can charge for application fees which vary by state. For more information, you can consult a local attorney.
This is why it’s best for a property management software like Avail to set the rental application fee and screen the tenant for you. It complies with state and federal laws, and it’s one less thing you have to worry about. Contact the company today to screen your applicants, check their backgrounds, and help you draw up a state-specific lease.
3. Property Information
The next information on our free rental application template is the property information. This includes the property’s full address including unit number and building if there is one. This is often forgotten on rental application forms but is extremely important if you have multiple properties.
By having the tenant fill in the property address, they know which property and unit they’re applying for, and you can keep their application in the correct property file. You will also need to protect your tenant’s sensitive information so be sure to keep their paperwork under lock and key.
4. Applicant Information
The applicant information section should include the following:
- Applicant’s full name
- Applicant’s current address and how long they’ve lived there
- Phone number
- Email address
- Driver’s license or identification number
- Social Security number
- Name and phone number of applicant’s current landlord if applicable
- Criminal history including arrests, felonies, and convictions
Keep in mind, that age is considered a protected class under the Fair Housing Laws. Generally, you shouldn’t ask for the applicant’s age unless you’re verifying their identity after screening them, or if you’re renting a property in an age-restricted community like a community for residents 55 years of age and older.
One of the biggest advantages of getting this kind of information from prospective tenants is that background information will confirm quickly whether the information they’ve provided is truthful. This is another great reason to work with a company like Avail because they can coordinate tenant applications, background checks, and credit reports.
5. Applicant’s Employment
This section should include the applicant’s current employment status along with employment history if they have been employed in their current role for less than two years.
The applicant’s employment section on the rental application template should include:
- Employer name
- Employer address
- Supervisor name
- Phone number & email address
- Length of employment
- Gross monthly income
- Additional income
It’s important to find out the applicant’s work information so you can verify their employment with a tenant screening service. You can also find out if they make enough income to afford the rent. Typically, landlords require that tenants make three times the monthly rent or more to qualify for the rental property.
6. Additional Occupants
Generally, the additional occupant section is used for any children, 18 and under, living in the property. Keep in mind that it’s illegal to discriminate against a tenant based on their familial status including their number of children. However, due to fire hazards, you may not be able to accept an applicant with three children for a one bedroom apartment.
It’s typically recommended that you screen each applicant over the age of 18 who will be living in the property. That way you know who is living in your property, their credit rating, and their criminal history. You also know if they can afford to pay the monthly rental amount on their own. This is important for both couples and roommates. If one person moves out, you want to ensure the remaining tenants can still afford to make the rental payments.
Some buildings don’t allow pets but, if you own the property and the building does allow pets, it’s up to you if you want to accept them and if you want to charge a pet deposit. Keep in mind, that whatever pet policy you choose must be the same for each tenant in that unit.
In this section of the rental application template, information on the type, breed, and weight of each pet is gathered. This is because some areas like Miami-Dade County in Florida have certain breed restrictions and some buildings have pet weight restrictions.
The disclosure section should be worded according to the landlord-tenant laws as well as fair housing and credit laws in your state. However, it should state that the tenant is giving you permission to run their credit, a background check, and contact employers and landlords for references. It should also mention that you abide by the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Fair Housing Act.
9. Applicant Signature & Date
The application must be signed for it to be valid. The signature and the date signed should be the last lines on the renal application form. They acknowledge that the applicant has read the application and agrees to its terms.
Rental Application Template Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about rental application templates. If you have additional questions or would like to offer some insight on the topic, please visit the FitSmallBusiness forum.
Do I Have to Use a Rental Application Form?
You should use a rental application form whenever you rent property to a tenant. This allows you to know who is living in the property, their payment history and if they can afford the rent. A pro tip is that most evictions can be prevented by screening the tenant properly before renting to them.
“The information collected on a rental application is to help the landlord make sure this is a qualified candidate prior to running an applicant’s credit and background checks.”
― Nancy Wallace-Laabs, Owner, KBN Homes, LLC.
Does Each Tenant Need to Fill Out Their Own Rental Application Form?
Every prospective occupant age 18 and older should complete a rental application. This allows you to screen all prospective tenants and determine whether tenants can still afford the rent if another occupant vacates. Some landlords allow one applicant to be responsible for all of the occupants, so it’s up to the landlord’s discretion.
Are There Questions I Can’t Ask on a Tenant Application Form?
Tenant application forms must comply with landlord-tenant laws in your state, the Fair Housing Laws, and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. Your tenant application form should help screen the tenants on their ability to pay rent, criminal or eviction history, and credit report. It should not include questions related to age, race, or religion.
“Rental applications are a great way to demonstrate to a state or municipal authority that you’re engaging in unbiased rental practices. The theory being that bias is reduced when an objective standard such as an application is used. Each state offers housing protections to different groups. Some offer protections to LGBT people while others don’t.”
― Brad Biren, Attorney, Johnston Martineau
Do I Need a Standard Rental Application and a Lease?
If you’re going to rent property, you should use both a standard rental application and a lease agreement. A rental application helps screen potential tenants, while a lease is a legal document that outlines rental terms and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. A lease is signed after an applicant applies and is approved.
The Bottom Line
A standard rental application should be given to any prospective tenant so the landlord can screen them properly before they accept them as a tenant. It’s important to comply with landlord-tenant laws as well as fair housing, credit protection, and privacy laws when screening any potential tenants. A rental application template serves as a guide for what to include on your standard rental application.