Questions to Ask on Your Rental Application Form

questions to ask on your rental application form

Do you have a rental property? Not sure about which renter’s application to use or what questions to ask. Sign to PreApproved Renter for your free rental application form.

We have two forms of rental applications. Our basic form provides fields to simply run background checks – name, date of birth, current address, social security number and email.

Our standard rental application form template asks a series of questions. These questions will help narrow down your search for the right tenant and give you more information about just who wants to rent your property.

Requiring a rental application is one easy way to not only avoid headaches in the long run, but to get a good idea of the kind of person that your potential tenant might be and whether or not they will be a reliable renter for your property.

Personal Information Fields

The first things we ask for on all our rental application forms is the tenant’s personal information.

This includes their full legal name, social security number, their date of birth, the address where they currently rent or reside. We also ask for their contact information such as a phone number and email address. This information helps us run a background check on the prospective client.

These are also requested for security purposes.  On rare occasions you may have an underage person applying for a rental home. More commonly, these items help prevent identity theft.

Asking for this information will also allow you to look at their credit report to see if there is a name match, social security match and address match. Transunion provides this information and it allows you as the landlord to compare the information on the application to what they have on file. If you suspect the applicant applying on your rental is using someone else’s identity this is a great way to see if the information on file with the credit beuro matches what they are supplying you.

rental application - applicants information

 

Residence History
We ask the renter to provide their residence history for the last two years.

We ask for the addresses, approximate move in and move out dates. This allows us to determine if the tenant’s like to move often or not. We find most landlords like long term tenants as it reduces vacancy and turnover costs. If the tenant has moved every year for the last two years it’s likely that may happen again.

We ask for the landlord’s name and for the landlord’s contact information.

This question gives us a glimpse at our prospective tenant’s history with rental property. Having a conversation with their previous landlords can give you vital information about whether they were good tenants who paid on time and didn’t abuse the property, or if they were delinquent on their payments and treated the home improperly.

Sometimes you’ll come across folks who owned their own home before renting. In this case, a credit check will reveal if they pay bills and debts on time. Often, those who owned property before renting make some of the best renters. As their credit report clearly shows if they paid their mortgage on time.

Googling their name and previous address or their name and previous landlords name is also a good idea. By doing this you may see court records showing if the tenant and landlord have been in housing court.

rental application form - previous address & landlord

Current Address

We ask for the prospective tenant’s current address and information. This may be the same address as listed above in rental history. It may be a home that they currently own.

This helps with both identity security as well as running a credit check and background check easy.

rental application form - current address and landlord contact

Co-Applicants and Occupants
It is crucial that you know who is moving into your rental home besides you applicant. In most cases a co-applicant will be a spouse or significant other, and perhaps their children.

At times renters will share a place with friends or roommates and it is not uncommon for people unrelated to rent a property.

There are several considerations for the landlord. One of course being income and employment and the ability of the tenants to be able to pay their rent on time and not bounce a check.

Another concern is criminal history. More specifically, if the applicant is a sex offender. If you own property near a school this could impact you and knowing who is planning to rent your property can prevent any legal or financial ramifications in the future.

Running a background check on every adult occupant is very important, and we strongly suggest doing so.

Children of tenants add a new dimension and depending on locations, landlords may be compelled to add safety measures to their property in order to ‘child-proof’ a home. Stove covers, sealed windows, outlet covers may all be required depending on location and local ordinances and law.

rental application form - co-applicants & occupants

Current Employment
The next field we ask for is Employment and Income

This is one of the most vital pieces of information we collect, it will demonstrate to us whether the tenant can A, afford the property and B, if they will still be able to afford to pay their basic living expenses while continuing to pay the rent.

Renting out your property to someone who has little income or unstable employment is a great risk for a landlord and can result in eviction.

According to transunion, the average eviction costs approximately $3500. Renting your property to someone who won’t be able to afford to pay their rent or who can’t hold down a job can cost you thousands of dollars in unpaid rent, upkeep, and legal fees.

On the flip side, finding a renter who has a good income and a solid employment history can give you enormous peace of mind and make renting your property a smooth, simple, and relatively easy process.

The rule of thumb when looking at someone’s employment and income is to find someone who makes 35-45 times the monthly rent in annual income. This would allow them to spend about a quarter of their take home income on rent without being rent burdened.

rental - present employer

Previous Employment

Anyone who has also been at their job for 2 years or more can be considered “stable”. Those who have just been promoted or left one job for a higher paying one are also stable employees and are valuable tenants for any landlord.

Being able to look at the length of previous employment is important. Another thing to pay attention to is when they started and quit. A tenant who left one lower paying job for a higher paying job is one thing, but a tenant who has bounced from job to job with long periods of unemployment should send up red flags.

rental - previous employer information

Assets and Income
In addition to proof of employment, we ask what the prospective tenant’s annual salary is. This salary includes their standard take home pay from their job or business annually.

We ask about any financial assets that the prospective tenant has. This includes child support, investments, and other income streams. No everyone who has an income needs to work a 9-5.

We ask for the total annual income of the prospective tenant. A renter that has a stable income, but only makes $12,000 a year will have a hard time affording $750 a month in rent.

rental application - assets and income

Pets

Even if you ask them on the phone or in person, this is an important question. If you allow pets, and they have pets, you already are aware of the fact going into the rental process.

If you do not allow pets, this gives them a chance to fess up to owning them one last time.

The breed and size of the pet is also an important question that we include to ensure that you are okay with an aggressive breed such as a german shepherd or pitbull in the case of a dog. Some people also own exotic pets which may be of concern for neighbors. This is a decision the landlord should consider prior to accepting a tenant.

You may be renting property in the countryside where a larger breed can do well in. But dangerous breeds in a suburban or urban environment can mean trouble.

rental form for tenants with pets

Attachments

This is where our rental application forms are unique. Our service allows you to ask the prospective tenant to attach information needed to complete the application process. This includes:

  • Pay Stubs – Their last two pay stubs or checks to prove their income and that they are actually employed.
  • Letter of Employment – a letter of employment or in the case of self-employed applicants – a CPA letter. The employer and income stated on this letter should match the pay stub, employment section and assets and income section of the rental application form.
  • Bank Statements – We ask that they include their last two bank statements. Landlords should look for deposits from their employer and see if it matches what’s on their pay stub.  A landlord should also consider if the tenant has sufficient cash to cover first months rent, security and potential loss of employment.
  • Tax Returns – tax returns should give you a snap shot of the applicants income last year.
  • Photo ID – A ID such Drivers License, State Issued ID, or Passport should suffice. Landlords should check to see if the address on their ID matches previous addresses on their credit report.
  • Previous Landlord Reference Letter – this should be followed up with a call to the landlord as a reference.
  • Verification of additional income – if the tenant listed additional income in their application above this should be verified with a statement of some sort.

You can add any additional Attachment you want to add under our ‘customized application’.

rental application form with attachments for paperwork

Emergency Contact

If anything should happen to your tenant, this emergency contact will allow you to get in touch with the person(s) designated to be their emergency contact.

tenants emergency contact

Broker Information

This information is only required if the prospective tenant is working through a broker to lease property. Not all tenants do.

rental application form - broker information

Any Additional Information?

This is a field where a prospective tenant can add any additional information they feel important to disclose in the application process.

extra info section for the rental form

Other Questions

Bankruptcy

We ask if our renters have ever had to file bankruptcy before.

Many people go through hard times, and it may be a case of a lost job or income from 10 years ago. Other people use bankruptcy to simply wipe out debt and move on.

As with employment, this helps assess the financial stability of our prospective renters.

Have you ever been evicted or refused to pay rent?

This question can help screen future problems. We ask if the tenant has ever been evicted. We also ask if they ever refused to pay rent.

As stated above, the average eviction costs $3500. Knowing a possible renter has a history of being evicted should give you pause, especially if it was a recent eviction.

Sometimes a refusal to pay rent is due to a landlord refusing to repair or maintain the property or repair a dangerous issue. This gives the prospective renter a chance to explain.

Do you Smoke?

Smoking indoors can greatly increase maintenance for you when the tenant moves out. Walls, carpets, even fixtures can smell strongly of tobacco and often require a thorough cleaning.

Requiring tenants to smoke outside can be an option. Some landlords don’t rent to smokers. Some states require the landlord to include a rider as to their policy for smokers.

rental app - other questions

Confirm Application. That’s it! This is the final step for a tenant to complete and sign a few disclosures in relationship to our terms of use and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

rental application with FCRA requirements

Other questions you could Add to your rental application form

Users of our site may want to add questions to our standard rental application form.  Our rental applications are customizable. You can add any other question or field that you feel is necessary to help you make a wise and informed decision during the rental screening process.