Important Questions that Should be on a Rental Application

If you’re new to being a landlord, creating a rental application may seem like a daunting task. The good news is it doesn’t have to be. To help you cover all the bases, here are some basic questions that should be on your rental application. 

Personal Info

This section is extremely important as it enables you to contact the applicant if necessary and gives you the information you need to verify some details. You should gather their name, contact info, and birth date. There really is no need to gather their social security number. 

Employment and Income

In this section, you’ll ask the applicant to provide his current employment status, past employment history, and income. You’ll want to include a spot to provide a work contact so you can verify employment. Be sure to leave room to provide additional information should the applicant be self-employed or have other sources of income. 

Residence History

Ask the applicant about his previous residential history. Ask for addresses and dates of move in and move out for each one. Be sure to get the current landlord’s name and contact info if there is one. 

References

In this section, the information provided will help you verify that what the applicant says is true. Ask for at least two references such as coworkers, supervisors, former landlords, etc. 

Emergency Contacts

While this info isn’t necessary to actually rent the apartment, it may come in handy later should there be an emergency. Get the contact information for a family member or close friend. 

Pets

In this section, you can specify your rules concerning pets. If you allow pets, the applicant should list the pets he plans to bring with him and a bit of identifying information about each one. 

Bankruptcies

Although not a requirement, you may want to ask the applicant if he’s declared bankruptcy in the last seven years. Bankruptcies show up on credit reports for up to ten years, so be sure to leave space for the applicant to explain the circumstances of a bankruptcy if he says yes. 

Previous Evictions

You don’t have to ask but finding out if a potential tenant has ever been evicted or has refused to pay rent might help weed out problematic renters. If an applicant indicates that he has been evicted before, find out the circumstances surrounding it. If he has refused to pay rent, ask why to determine whether it was justified or not. 

Criminal History

Has the applicant had any felony or misdemeanor convictions in the past? This is especially important if the convictions were drug-related or were violent in nature. Traffic and parking violations don’t matter here but keep in mind that all this information is available on a background check as well. 

Smoking

Does the applicant smoke. This section is where you’ll explain your rules for smoking in and around the rental property. 

More Information

It’s always a good idea to gather as much information as possible about a potential tenant before deciding whether to rent to him or not. Background checks and credit checks are great tools for determining a person’s ability and willingness to be a responsible citizen and tenant. To conduct either of these will cost you money, but in a lot of cases, is well worth the expense since the information may help you avoid problems later on.