Renting your house to the right tenant starts with qualifying your prospective tenant over the phone. Afterwards, if you decide to show the property to them you may need to take a tenancy application with you to the showing. Below is a free residential rental application form in a pdf format that you simply print off and take with you.
Learning how to read a completed lease application is an acquired skill. Below is a brief description of;
- how to use your residential application form
- What type information is collected and why it’s important
- The most effective method of verifying the tenants information
- A brief discussion about background checks
- How and why credit scores can be a invaluable tool in your tenant screening arsenal.
Print your free residential rental application form
Simply click the button below to open and print your free lease application form pdf, Afterwards, come back and learn how professional property managers process their prospective tenant’s application. Print one for every person 18 or over who will reside in your rental property.
How to use your residential rental application form
Whether you are a professional property manager, have several houses or a single house, the rental application process is vital to your success. If your prospective tenant passed your qualification and showing test, the final steps is to let them fill out a lease application. Inform your prospective tenant that they should fill out every part of the rental application or it will be denied.
Be sure that every adult over the age of 18 fills out your residential rental application form. Also, be sure that they have signed and dated at the bottom of the application. Their signature gives you the permission necessary to verify the tenants information on their application. In many cases employers and landlords will require you to fax or email them a copy of the application to show that you have been authorized to receive their information. Having a scanner and printer is equipment every landlord should have, it just makes life so much easier.
Just a little bit of advice, never approve an application to rent your rental property without verifying the information. And, never be in a hurry to give them an answer. You will make better decisions when you’ve had time to properly and objectively verify the application.
What type of information is collected on your rental application form
Professional rental property managers have perfected the art of reading an application. No part of an application is useless information. Not all residential rental applications are created equal. The best applications should ask the following information.
The following information is used not only to identify them, but to gain valuable insight into their motivation for wanting to rent your property.
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Social security number
- Contact information eg; cell phone, work phone, email address etc.
- Current address and landlord contact information
- Previous address and landlord contact information
- Length of tenancy
- Reason for moving
- When do they need the rental property
- amount of rent
Knowing who all will be living in the property and how their related will help you determine if your property is a fit for them. The number of occupants may be too many for your rental property to accommodate. Relationship can give you some insight on potential problems down the road. An example would be a house full of friends is more risky than house with a single family etc.
- Full names
Pets can do serious damage to a rental property. Knowing which breed and what size will help you determine whether or not you want to rent to the prospective tenants. Some landlords limit the weight of dog to 25 lbs in order to minimize damage to property. The reason you need to know the age of a dog is to make sure they are already full grown, otherwise a dog that was 25 lbs might weigh considerably more when they are full grown.
As far as asking if they keep the pet indoor or outdoor, I find that even if they tell you the pet is outdoor, they will sometimes end up indoor. So my rule of thumb is to consider all pets indoor. If you don’t want to have pets indoor, don’t allow pets.
- Name of pet
- Indoor or Outdoor
There are a couple of reasons to ask vehicle information. First, if they have too many vehicles and not enough room to park, they could eventually be parking on your grass. Second, in some states you can actually lien their vehicle if they leave owing you a chunk of rent.
- Plate #
Although this is seems self explanatory, I will break it down just in case. There are to primary benefits of knowing this information. One, do they earn enough to afford to live and pay rent. Two, the length of time they have been on the job is directly related to the prospective tenants stability. And stability is one of the determining factors I look for in the entire application.
- Employers name
- Contact information
- Hours of work per week
- Years employed
The rule of thumb for most professional landlords is the prospective tenants total income needs to be at least three times the amount of rent. So if the rent is $1000 mo, their total income needs to be at least $3000 per month.
There is an exception in the case of low rent housing. In low rent housing you might want to charge four time the amount of rent. Why? Because everyone needs at least a certain amount of money to live on no matter how cheaply they live.
For example, if your rent is $300 per month and they earn only 900 per month, that only leaves them 600 to pay everything else, food, fuel, utilities and any payments they may have. That’s just not enough.
- Current Income amount per month or week or biweekly
- Source of income
- Do they have proof of income
Some people don’t understand why it’s important to ask personal financial information. The reason we ask is to determine if after making payments on everything else, will they have enough to comfortably pay rent. Some prospective tenants don’t like to give this information, especially their bank account information.
If they have a bank account, I give them a point for stability. Also having their bank account information could help you to levy their account in case they leave owing you money. Don’t feel embarrassed to ask this information. Remember, they are asking you to entrust them with a very expensive asset and that’s what you should tell them if they complain about it.
- Car loan
- Credit card
- Child support
- Bank account information
This is another set of intentional and useful questions to ask. Emergency contact is not only for medical emergencies. How about when they leave owing you rent and you need to find out where they are to collect of have them served court papers? Isn’t that also an emergency?
If an emergency contact is a parent, they may be very influential in getting you paid.
- Emergency contact name
Some of the following questions should have been asked during the qualification phase of the tenant screening process. However these questions dig in a little deeper and get it on paper. Besides stability, you are also looking to see if they are telling you the truth. If they have lied on their application, they will lie to your face when you have a problem in the future. Just deny them and move on.
- Has applicant ever been sued?
- Filed for bankruptcy?
- Broken a lease
- locked out of a house by sheriff?
- Left owing rent?
- Damaged a property?
- Do they have total move in amount now? Including rents and deposits
At the bottom of the residential rental application the prospective tenant will be asked to sign and date it. By signing the application, they are giving you authorization to verify all the data they gave, which is what I will be talking about next.
How to verify your prospective tenants information
Consider this, the more information you verify the more you will learn about who wants to rent your property. I call this drawing a mental picture. Once I have a good picture of who the prospective tenant/tenants are, the better decision I can make.
Trust the second landlord more than the first.
Not all but some landlords will tell little white lies if they want your prospective tenants out of their property. Therefore, that’s why you can trust the second landlord more than the first generally.
Testing the landlord
Clever tenants will use their friends to act like a landlord. Of course these friends will give them a high recommendation. So I test the landlord by asking them questions that every landlord should know, like “what is the address to the property that Mr and Mrs Tenant are renting from you?” Ask the same of the current and previous landlord.
Everything I verify with the landlord will be in the form of a question like;
- How much rent did they pay?
- What was their move in date?
- Did they always pay on time?
- Did they damage your property in any way?
- Do they have pets?
- Would you rent to them again?
As I’m asking the questions, I am verifying if the landlords answer matches what written on the application. If I find a tendency to lie, I deny the application.
Talk to the receptionist first, not the supervisor
Again, clever prospects use friends or family to act as their supervisor and lie about their employment. So if they don’t supply the company phone number, look it up. Call straight to the front desk and ask to be transferred to the Human Resources department.
Next, verify all of the information the prospect provided on the application and try to listen to how they answer. If they hesitate when you ask them “would you hire them again?”, then that could be a red flag. Ultimately you want to know if they told the truth on the application and do they have job security.
Should you do a background check?
Now, I’ve said before, but I think it’s worth repeating. The prospective tenant is asking you to entrust them with a very expensive asset. Therefore, background checks are invaluable.
Consider this, I have been all the way through the screening process and thought I had a strong applicant until I ran a background check. Some people are very talented at conning others. Well, I guess that’s the reason they’re called con artists, lol.
So yes, a background check is very important. Many areas have a free data base online that you can do a decent job of searching prospects background. However, they are not nationwide. Nationwide searches are more thorough but cost money to run. Fortunately, you can charge an application fee upfront to run report. Another important report is a credit check which we will discuss next.
Why credit scores are important
Credit scores are all about testing a prospects willingness to take responsibility. The attitude they have for paying their obligations to others will generally be the same attitude they have about paying you. I know life happens and some events may be out of our control and in turn our credit score can take a hit, but that is an exception to the rule. And, why take the risk if you don’t have to.
A good number for a C-class property is a FICO score of 600 and above. In properties that are B class and above, you might raise the minimum FICO to say 700.
There are several online tenant screening services that offer credit scores and background checks. The one I like is EZLandlordForms.com because they are reasonably priced, and give a FICO scrore. Some online services only give a pass or fail report, but EZ Landlord Forms does a complete background check and give FICO scores.
You can learn more about their tenant screening process and background checks here at EZLandlordForms.com
Take it slow
Now, after you’ve completed the qualification, showing, verification and credit/background check, you’re ready to make a decision. At this point, I want to remind you not to get in a hurry. Making a quick decision without considering your long term goals may cause financial loss, damage and a lot of stress. So, take your time, consider your goals and whether the applicant meets your criteria.
Do they meet your criteria
Personally, I have always wanted to rent to someone who I think will respect my property, someone who I think will be responsible. Also, tenants that want to stay in the neighborhood my house is in and be a good neighbor. And, because I’m looking for long term tenancy I look for someone who don’t like to move often.
So, these criteria are a few of mine, now consider what’s important to you. Once you have that figured out, ask yourself do these prospective tenants meet those goals?
The final word
I hope you get a lot of use out of the free residential rental application and the information I’ve shared here. If you have any questions, I will be happy to help if I can. If you have any useful tips that might help other fellow landlords and would like to leave it the comments below, that would be awesome.