If you are a first-time landlord, you might not be up to date with the current rental application policies. Just looking at the income bracket isn’t enough to allow someone access to your apartment complex; there are multiple factors to consider to ensure you have the right tenants.
A standard rental application form contains all the necessary information, including a credit check, criminal check, rental history, etc. After checking the applicant’s background and verifying information, you can determine if they are a proper fit and start the paperwork process.
This article will discuss the rental application policies to understand all the moving pieces involved in a form and how to interpret it. Let’s get started!
1. Personal Information
Like a job application, the rental application form consists of all preliminary information that is useful in identifying the applicant and other critical pieces of information that can help landlords contact them in case of an issue or emergency. The following information is gathered in rental applications:
- First, middle and last name to verify identification.
- Other occupants that will occupy the unit in the presence or absence of the tenant.
- Date of birth
- Contact information such as phone number, email address, etc.
- Government-issued identification card
According to RPM Phoenix Valley you can also ask for a social security number, although it isn’t necessary. You can also add a section regarding references to see which previous tenants promoted your rentals and cross-question them to further verify identification.
2. Employment Information
Rental application policies involve asking about the employment and income situation of the applicants. For instance, does the applicant earn enough to pay the monthly rent, or is the employment situation stable and unlikely to change?
According to the standard rental application policy, an applicant’s income should be three times the rent, also known as the income-rent ratio. To gather proof of income, landlords must inquire about employer and position information and ensure the information matches up by verifying with relevant personnel.
The landlord reserves the right to reject an application on the following parameters:
- Insufficient income. The applicant can be considered if the applicant can show proof of successful rent payment with an income less than the 30% income-rent ratio.
- An unstable work environment or position record.
- Unable to verify employment
- Debts owed to past landlords.
3. Criminal History
Landlords also gather information regarding the criminal history of applicants to ensure the safety of their property and residents. A criminal history report contains information on a state and federal level and includes custodial arrests with charges, convictions, and pending criminal charges without a conviction.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a 10-page memo to guide landlords in the Fair Housing Act standards and ensure tenants have access to better rentals. Before this, landlords were free to create their own screening policies for applicants with a criminal record.
According to these Long Beach property managers , “A housing provider who denies housing to persons on the basis of arrests not resulting in a conviction cannot prove that the exclusion actually assists in protecting the resident safety and/or property.”
The landlord reserves the right to reject an application for the following reasons:
- Felonies reported less than seven years before the application
- Misdemeanors reported less than three years before the application
- Drug offenses as defined in the federal Controlled Substances Act
4. Property Details
Another critical thing to add to your rental application form is property details and residence history. For instance, if you manage multiple properties at once, it is better to list the address, security deposit, and rent requirements so applicants know what they are signing up for.
5. Applicant's Residence History
Reviewing an applicant’s residence history is the key to determining if they are the right tenant for you. You can gather information regarding current residence and previous residences. Knowing where they currently live, you can verify their information, discuss move-in/move-out dates and proceed with the application accordingly.
Moreover, you can learn what type of tenants they are. Do they pay on time? Are they good neighbors? Do they have a lot of parties? Finally, you can find out why they are moving out because it’s not always the landlord's fault. Such questions are necessary to identify red flags and save yourself from horrible tenants. An adverse housing history can be used to reject an application according to the rental application policies.
6. Pet Policy
It's also best to include pet policies in your rental application form. If you have a strict rule like “no pets,” your applicants should be aware of that. Similarly, some landlords allow some breeds and pets while restricting others. The same goes for vehicles. If your apartment complex has limited parking spots, ask applicants how many vehicles they have and then proceed accordingly.
Some apartment complexes even charge a pet rent for each pet living with the tenant. This fee could be a one-time fixed charge or variable monthly charge depending on the size or breed of the pet.
7. Credit History
Checking the credit history of your tenants is a must in standard rental application policies. Through credit history, you can find if the applicant was ever convicted, filed for bankruptcy, delinquent in paying rents, or involved in a lawsuit.
A landlord has the right to refuse an application based on the following discrepancies:
- Poor credit history
- Active bankruptcy
- Outstanding balances to landlords or utility companies
By gathering such vital information and setting clear rental application policies, you can find better tenants and increase the value of your property. But landlords do not have the adequate resources to gather reliable information or background checks. Here is where property managers come in.
They have the skills, experiences, and advanced tools to help gather information and carry out an extensive tenant screening process to save you from bad tenants. We hope this article helped!
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