How to Fill Out a Rental Application Form [Expert Guide]

A rental application is a form that must be filled by a tenant and submitted to the landlord for screening purposes. A tenant can get this form from the leasing office.

When looking for a rental property, potential tenants assume that it is all about paying rent and the security deposit then moving in. However, in an actual sense, there is a rental application process involved.

Tenants should understand that there is always a high demand for rental properties and that means that they will not be the only ones hoping to get the house to move in. They should keep in mind that landlords want high-quality tenants and hope to fill their vacant rental properties quickly.

With that in mind, it is necessary for tenants to fill the rental application to increase their chances of getting the rental property they want. Also, the prospective landlord will be able to screen them faster using the application; hence, their chances of qualifying for the rental property may increase.

However, if the rental property has been advertised online, a tenant should access and fill the application form online and then send it to the property manager for review.

Most landlords conduct the application process to vet their potential tenants and gather all the necessary documents a tenant must provide when looking for a house or apartment to rent. That is the reason tenants need to plan and present a legitimate application.

Step by Step Guide to Fill Out the Form

Every tenant needs to learn more about the rental application process. Landlords usually take this process seriously, and it is usually the difference between which tenants they accept and the ones they don’t. That is why a tenant should know how to fill out the form.

Here is a step-by-step guide that tenants can use to fill out a rental application form.

Read and understand landlord’s screening criteria

Filling out the form should only be done once the tenant has read, understood, and upheld the landlord’s screening criteria. The application documents usually aim to aid the landlord in screening tenants to determine if they can pay rent, take care of the rental property, and are responsible.

The landlord might have other screening criteria that the tenants should read and understand.

The application guidelines highlighted by the landlord must be adhered to by the tenant if they wish to excel in the screening process. Therefore, attaining the requirements highlighted by the landlord will help increase the chances of the tenant getting that particular rental property.

Fill in the application form

The next step is to fill out the application form. Again, the tenant should provide as much information as possible and be completely honest when filling out the form. Any wrong, contradicting, or misleading information in the form might discredit a tenant and cancel their chances of getting the house or apartment.

The credentials that must be included in the rental application are:

  • Personal information- The tenant should include their correct full name, phone number, and email address. This personal information is needed in case the landlord wishes to contact you.
  • Social security number (SSN) – Landlords will request their potential tenant’s social security number. This 9-digit number is essential as it helps the landlord to conduct a background check.
  • Vehicle detail- If a tenant requires parking space for their car, the vehicle details should be included in the form. These details include the vehicle’s name, model, vehicle’s number, and license registration number. This will help convince the landlord about the need for a parking slot.
  • Source of income- The tenant should also mention their source of income to convince the landlord that they can pay the required rent. The tenant can provide their tax returns and letter of employment to prove their source of income.
  • Professional and personal references- A tenant must also provide professional and personal references that will be reached by the landlord and asked about the tenant’s nature, character, and ethics. References might include the tenant’s manager or work colleague.
  • Rental history- The landlord will acquire information about the tenant’s rental history. Such details can only spawn from the tenant’s previous landlord and help determine the tenant’s character in maintaining a rented house or apartment.
  • Emergency contacts- Information regarding tenants’ emergency contacts is essential. A tenant must provide information about the person the landlord should contact in case of a medical emergency. The name, phone number, and email address of the individual are required.
  • Counterpart /co-signer- If the tenant wants to move in with somebody else, the co-signer should fill out a separate form.


The rental application form is essential and should be completed appropriately by all potential tenants.

Attach all necessary documents

After filling out the application form, there are some documents that the tenant must attach to the form before sending or submitting it to their potential landlord.

Here is a list of the necessary documents that must be attached to the application form.

  • Reference letters- The tenant must attach reference letters from people like their previous neighbors, former landlord, employers, and even real estate agents. These letters will help show if they are trustworthy as tenants, can pay the required monthly rent, and can maintain the rental property.
  • Payslips as proof that you can pay rent- The tenant should also attach their past payslips as they will act as proof of the ability to pay rent. In addition, the tenant will be able to convince the landlord that they are financially stable. Other proofs of income, apart from payslips, include bank statements and employment letters.
  • Proof of identification- As the landlord is screening a tenant, they may require documents that identify the tenant. Such documents include the Government Issued ID, passport, or a tenant’s driving license.
  • Pet reference- Some landlords may require a pet reference attached to the application form for tenants with pets. The reference is usually from the former landlord and highlights how the tenant left the previous house based on them having a pet and what kind of disturbance they caused (if any). Pet references are required since some landlords usually require their tenants to have pet liability renter’s insurance or place a pet deposit to minimize expenses that arise from damages caused by pets.
  • Rental ledger- At times, landlords may require a tenant’s rental ledger to understand their rental history, especially when paying rent. The duration of the rental ledger may depend on the potential landlord or may include the whole period the tenant was renting the previous apartment.

Apartment application form fee

The tenant must pay the application fee and it usually depends on the landlord, the area where the building is, and the apartment itself. However, it usually covers the cost of the screening that is conducted on the potential tenant.

Apart from the application fee, the tenant should pay the processing fee. It is best to pay all the applicable and required fees if the tenant asks the property manager.

Background and credit checks

By filling the form and providing the necessary documents, the tenant should be ready for background checks.

The landlord is bound to conduct a criminal background check to ensure that the tenant has good character and reputable conduct. The landlord will also check the tenant’s credit to determine if they can pay the security deposit and rent.

In case of a poor credit score, the landlord will require the tenant to include details about a guarantor with a good credit score who is willing to pay rent on behalf of the tenant in case the need arises. A tenant should maintain a good credit score since some landlords reject tenants’ rental applications with a poor credit score.

Show them that you are an agreeable renter

The landlord will expect to deal with a reliable renter. The tenant can show this by providing a letter from their previous landlord since it will help indicate their level of discipline and responsibility when living in a rental property.

Verify your application form

At this stage, the tenant is ready to submit their application form. First, however, a tenant should verify and proofread their application form before sending it to the landlord or property manager. Next, the tenant should review the form to confirm that they have observed the landlord’s criteria, have attached all the required documents and included accurate information.

Sign the lease

Once the form has been submitted, and the landlord has approved the application, the tenant can now sign the lease and get their apartment or house.

Follow up

In case, after submission and 72 hours (three days) of waiting have elapsed with no response from the landlord, the tenant should make a follow-up. The tenant should try and find out about this from the landlord. They should be respectful and try to mention that they are willing to add any more information since they desire to rent the property.


A potential tenant looking for a rental property should know that landlords will always vet them before considering them for the house or apartment. This process is known as the application process. The tenant will be required to fill out the application form and ensure that they have provided all the necessary documents.

Tenants who wish to be successful in finding and moving into their dream houses or apartments should observe the mentioned step-by-step guide on filling a rental application form. This way, they will be guaranteed a successful application process and increase their chances of getting the house or apartment.

About This Article

Terry M. Keller
Authored by:
Legal Contract Writing for Real Estate, Real Estate Law Specialist
Terry M. Keller, Principal and Managing Attorney at Keller Law Offices, is a distinguished expert in real estate law. With foundational experience at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tennessee, he founded his firm in Nashville and Chicago, rapidly carving a niche in legal contract writing and real estate legalities. Terry excels in drafting comprehensive real estate contracts and guiding clients through intricate transactions and disputes. His analytical skills, combined with adept negotiation tactics, make him a trusted advisor for a spectrum of real estate stakeholders. Recognized in renowned legal circles, Terry's dedication to client success and legal precision solidifies his reputation as a leading real estate law authority.

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