Rental Property Application form

A Rental Property Application Form is a necessary component of leasing rental property. It's the beginning step in the all important background check phase of filling your vacancy. Tenants must agree to share some important personal information, in exchange for the landlord's consideration in leasing a rental property to them. Also commonly called Tenant Applications, these forms usually ask the same basic questions, no matter what state, rental management agency, or landlord. It's very important that tenants answer all questions honestly, and in full. And it's very important landlords use this tool to it's fullest extent, which will most assuredly help in avoiding future potential rental disasters!

Tenant screening starts with a good Rental Property Application Form.

The questions on this form, when answered honestly and in full, will give you (the landlord) the information needed to run a background check to include criminal checks, credit checks, check references and rental/landlord history, check job references and so much more. answers on this form are what is needed to begin a background check of any prospective adult tenant.

There are many tenant screening companies that, if you get permission from your prospective tenant, will run a background and/or credit report.

The questions on this rental property application form will give you the information you need to pick the most qualified tenant, prepare the lease, and if anything goes wrong during the tenancy (eviction? deficiency judgement?) this tenant application will have the information you'll need to provide to your attorney or collections agency.

Best Practices for Tenant Screening

Where do I start?

Once you've successfully advertised your vacancy, you'll have prospective renters calling you to get more information.

We recommend asking for the email addresses of all prospective tenants that call you, expressing interest in renting your property.

Then you are free to email the Rental Property Application Form (also referred to as a Tenant Application) to them. It's also a great way to streamline the back and forth with tenants who aren't serious (and scams!). In your email to them, with the tenant application form attached, ask them to reply with any questions they may have about the property. It's also a great way to handle your time more efficiently.


  • pre-screen prospective tenants when they call, and if they seem okay...
  • email prospective tenants with the tenant application, and if they seem okay...
  • schedule a viewing with them requesting the tenant application to be turned in then
  • if the viewing goes well, collect the tenant application and begin the background check process, letting them know it will take about a week to get back to them with an answer

Additional items to request from prospective tenant with their completed Rental Property Application Form:

  • pay stubs from previous 1-2 months
  • copy of driver's license
  • credit report


Scheduling showings with potential tenants becomes much easier if you do it through email, rather than on the phone. You can sit down and schedule them all for the same day in a two hour block. You have a written copy of that conversation and their reply in case you need to refer back.

With a completed tenant application in hand, we recommend doing the pre-screen yourself (before ordering a background check/tenant screening report):

  • do the math! is income 3x amount of monthly rent?
  • call references listed and verify information given
  • google, check linkedin/facebook/etc to make sure information given matches up

If you're comfortable with the information provided on the form, we recommend requiring the tenants to pay for/order their own background/criminal report online, and having the results emailed to you.

A word about police reports. For $5, tenants can get a police report at most any local police station. BUT... it's only for that particular county. It doesn't check for criminal infractions in the rest of the state, out of state, arrests, sexual predator registry, bad checks, evictions, foreclosures etc. Remember your goal: a tenant that will pay their rent on time each month, and take care good care of your property. Those tenants are responsible, and their credit scores are important to them. They won't jeopardize their legal rental agreement with you, as would a tenant that had nothing to lose. Be careful, protect yourself, pre-screen and get a background and credit report for any prospective tenant. It will help you to avoid costly issues in the future.

Most important elements of a
Rental Property Application form (and why!):

Rental Property Address and Rental Rate

Top first couple of blanks are very important, especially if you own or manage more than one rental property. Tenants will fill in the rental address they are interested in. They will also need to fill in the rental amount. If they write down the same amount as you are asking for (without trying to negotiate), you can usually assume they have accepted the amount.

Anticipated Move-in Date

Your goal as a landlord is to rent to the best possible (and lowest risk) tenant. However, also important to your bottom line is when your rental income is collected. Is the rental property currently vacant?  What if the tenant puts an anticipated move-in date of three months from now. Do you really want to keep your property vacant for that long?? That's a lot of potentially missed rental income. If you receive multiple tenant applications, you may want to consider sorting them first by this move-in date, soonest date goes on the top of the list. Start your screening process with the top form and continue down. Always email the prospective tenants back when you receive their rental property application form - with a nice thank you email, letting them know you received it and will get back to them in a timely manner with any questions.

Head of Household Personal Information

You will need the full legal name, date of birth, and social security in order to run most background checks. You will also want their driver's license number (and photo of their driver's license ID if they become your tenant) for additional tenant screening, ensuring they are who they say they are, and just in case they become your future tenant and you need to sue or evict them. You'll be asked for this information, and you'll definitely want it on file. When it gets to that point, it's too late to ask your tenant to give that information to you!!  You'll also want to know if they are married or single, which helps you to put all potential pieces of the Lease Offer Package together for a better understanding of everything.

Social Security Number

If you get the tenant's permission (and signature) to run their background check, you'll need the social security number for both a criminal and credit report. Keep in mind, if you have this SS#, you need to make sure it stays safe. We recommend setting up your tenant screening for criminal and credit with a third party online company, where the tenant can pay for their own background check directly, and a copy of the reports gets emailed to you.

Tenant Contact Information

Make sure to gather as much tenant contact information as possible. Cell phone number, house number, work number, emails are all important to gather in order to successfully do background checks. Also, if they do become your tenant, you'll want as much contact information as possible in case you need to track them down. We also recommend, because contact information changes over time, that for tenants that want to renew, have them fill out and submit a new rental property application form to you - so you always have their most up-to-date information on file.

Other occupants and pets

It's VERY important to know how many people plan to live in your rental. There are often condo association rules that limit that number, local ordinances that address this, and you also may just want to cut down on the wear and tear on your property that happens with over-occupancy. Use this section when preparing a lease to list the names of ALL occupants. For any minors not listed as the renters, make sure to put their name and age. This way if problems arise later on in a lease, there is a good record of who is approved to live there, and who isn't.

Pets and rentals are always tricky. Most landlords don't allow pets. So obviously, if you are a landlord that allows them, you have more tenants (those with pets) to choose from. Sometimes pet owners make the best tenants, so it would serve you well to allow them. However, there are exceptions. Make sure to consider the breed and age of the pet. For instance, puppies inevitably cause the most damage. They can eat the edges of doors, pee on the floors causing a lot of damage, tear up grass in the back yard. Similarly, big dogs and very old dogs can cause similar costly problems. Charging a healthy additional pet security deposit, separate from the normal security deposit, is acceptable and done regularly - especially for these circumstances.

Always document on a lease the breed and age of EACH pet you approve to live in the rental (even if they are outside cats or dogs). This way, in the event you discover during the lease term that there are more pets than you originally approved, you have the property documentation to take action.

Current address and occupancy history information

This section gives you information to use when working on tenant/background screening. It's always a good idea to call the current/previous landlord(s) to inquire if the days/times/information matches that which the tenant filled in. If it's off by a little, not a big deal. But if there are glaring omissions or issues not included on the rental property application form, consider it a red flag! Call the current and previous landlord(s) and ask how this tenant paid his rent. Were they always on time? Did they pay a lot in late fees? Did they leave the property in good clean condition? Were their any noise or other violations during the lease term?

Evictions, bankcruptcies, lawsuits

This is all information you want to know about. The rental property application form will ask the basic question about eviction and bankruptcy, but it won't give the detail that's most helpful. Look online at your local .gov website. Often, you can look up a prospective tenant and see if they were involved in any litigation, eviction, etc through the clerk of court search. Also, this information would normally come up if you pay a service to run a background check on the prospective tenant. You'll want to compare this rental property application form to the information you find in other ways. If it doesn't match, it's a red flag! Do more due diligence, because you DO NOT want a dishonest tenant!!

Personal references

Who are the comfortable with you calling for a reference?  Have a few key questions handy when you make these calls, trying to ask questions that tie into other information on the tenant application. Use the information gathered from these personal references to compare to the information given by the tenant on the form.

Bank references

This information isn't needed in most situations. However, if you leave it there - good tenants with nothing to hide will usually fill it in. This information can come in handy in the event you receive a personal check as rent that you find suspicious - it can help in some circumstances. Overall, this section is the least important on the rental property application form.

Employment information

This is a VERY important section. You'll want to verify that the tenant has stable income, and that their income is enough to pay their rent on time each month without difficulty. The general rule of thumb: rent should be no more than 30% of the household income.

Car information

Depending on the type of rental property, you may find it useful to document tenant's car information on the lease. Some communities require all vehicles to have current tags registered to the occupants on file. Also, if there are limited parking spots available, or assigned parking spots, you'll want to keep track of which car is authorized to be parked in which spot.

Spouse Information

If the rental property application form is filled out by a married couple, both adults are legally responsible for the lease and should BOTH be named as TENANTS. However, you do not need a full tenant application for the spouse also, if you don't want it - because the Head of Household information should be primary. You WILL want to require a separate rental property application form for EACH UNMARRIED ADULT that would be living in the rental property. And make sure to screen each one individually.

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