Before admitting a tenant to a premise, it is definitely in the best interest of a landlord to assess the suitability of a particular tenant. This is the only way to know whether the tenant will indeed remit the rental dues in time and avert unnecessary tussles upon being hosted. The ‘residential rental application form’ comes in to solve this issue. It basically empowers the landlord to assess the employment history of the applicant, his credit score, background, and previous leasing history. He then uses these pieces of information to ascertain whether the applicant is ripe for leasing or not.
It is not uncommon for the landlord to ask for a fee to ascertain the background and credit histories of the applicant in question. Overall, this check takes 24-48 hours to execute.
Rental Application Forms (by State)
Reasons for a Landlord to Check the Tenant’s Background
Avert Unnecessary Disputes
Hosting a criminal, drug peddler, or a pedophile has the potential to land the landlord in trouble more so if the tenant in question is a runaway fugitive. Getting to know about his criminal past is certainly the most reliable way of averting the unnecessary legal tussles that ensue.
Protect the Income Stream
Landlords, like any other business entity, exist primarily to generate profits. Checking the background of an applicant before the residential lease is a sure way of protecting this stream. That is because the landlord will get to know whether the applicant is likely to pay up in time or not.
Guarantee Revenue Inflows
Lastly, a landlord will definitely want to guarantee a stable inflow of revenue in the long run. How else can he know about this save for ascertaining the credibility of the applicant in question?
What Does a Rental Application Form Include?
A typical rental application covers the following pieces of information or points:
Basic Applicant Identification Information
This refers to the basic pieces of information that concern the applicant. They include such issues as:
- Name of the applicant
- Social security number
- Driver’s license numbers
- Telephone contacts
- Rental History
As explained above, a landlord will definitely want to peek into the rental history of the applicant. This gives an insight into the nature of the tenant and the likelihood of him remitting the rental dues in time. The step might entail searching for the:
- Applicant’s full addresses
- Respective dates of residency, landlords, and managers
- Reasons for relocating
- Costs of renting
- Employment History
Apart from the rental history, the employment track record of the applicant also determines to a great extent, the likelihood of the applicant remitting his dues in time. A shrewd landlord also peeks into this history as well. To do this, the form requires:
- Addresses of the last two employers
- Company names and addresses
- Respective dates of employment
- Job title
- Duties and responsibilities
- Monthly pay
- Nature of work
In some instances, a landlord may have to inquire about the credit history of the applicant. This might entail heading to the credit reference bureau. While at the bureau, these pieces of information are sought:
- Bank account details
- Credit card statements
- Letters from former landlords to verify regular payments of rent
- Bank accounts and their present balances
- Social Security number
- ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number)
- Consent to a credit check
For the sake of knowing more about the applicant, the landlord may have to seek individual references from other people who are known to the applicant. These are mainly past neighbors and landlords. It involves furnishing the following pieces of information:
- Name of the referee in question
- His relationship to the applicant
- Contact information
Over and above the information we have furnished above, a landlord will definitely want more details to be able to make a firm decision. These might entail asking the applicant to provide:
- Reasons for moving into the premise
- Vehicles owned and their respective details
- Smoking habits
- Estimated length of stay
- Bankruptcy details
- Eviction history
- Past issues with landlords
- Criminal track record
- Co-signer, or a guarantor
Standard Rental Application Form
How to Run a Background Check?
Step I: Receive the application from the tenant
First and foremost, you have to receive the application from the tenant. As mentioned above, the tenant may have to pay for the check. If this applies, you have to request the same from him.
Step II: Search for the credit report
You now have to search for the credit report of the tenant. A credit of no less than 620 is necessary for the landlord to proceed to the next step. Some of the companies that may help alongside their rates are:
E-Renter.com – $32
MyRental.com – $30
RentPrep.com – $28
ScreeningWorks.com – $30
Step III: Verify the income and employment
As a landlord, you now need to verify the income and employment of the tenant to see to it that he can indeed afford the residence. To do this, you will have to seek the last two weeks’ paychecks or two years’ tax returns (Form 1040).
Step IV: Peek into the Rental History
You should now go ahead to peek into the rental history of the applicant in question. Go to the portion of the rental application marked ‘rental history’ to access the past landlords of the applicant in question. While here, seek answers to the following questions:
- Did the applicant ever delay paying rent?
- Was he ever served a notice-to-quit or eviction?
- Was he a loud tenant?
- Did he depart the previous residence in good standing?
- Was he nice to the other tenants around the premise?
Step V: Determination of Renting
After going through the list above, the landlord now has every bit of information he needs to make up his mind about whether to lease the premises or not. Generally speaking, a credit score of no less than 620 is mandatory to allow for hosting. This should culminate in drafting the lease and notifying the applicant of success. A letter of denial/rejection may have to be drafted if the applicant falls short of the threshold.