Applying for a Rental Unit
Most landlords will ask you to complete a rental application form, which is not the same as a rental agreement. The rental application is similar to an employment or credit application.
The application will typically ask for the following information:
- Name, Address, and Telephone
- Current and Past Landlords, Current and Past Employers, and References
- Social Security Number or Driver’s License Number
- Bank Account and Credit Card Information
- Financial information regarding your ability to pay the rent (e.g., monthly income)
- Names of people who will be living in the unit
A landlord may ask about information that reflects on your ability to pay the rent.
The landlord is likely to use your rental application to check your credit history and past landlord-tenant relations. Many landlords use a credit bureau or a credit-reporting service in making the decision to rent to tenants.
A landlord will not ususally give a reason for refusing to rent to you. If the decision, however, is based on negative reports from a credit bureau or credit reporting agency, ask the landlord to give you the name of the credit bureau or credit service so that you may check the accuraty of the report and correct any errors.
Some landlords may ask you to pay for a credit report. You should ask the following questions before agreeing to pay a credit-report fee:
- Will the fee be applied to your first month’s rent if your credit report is positive and the landlord selects you as a tenant?
- Will the fee be returned to you if your credit report is positive but the landlord rents to somebody else?
- How long will the credit report take?
- Is your fee refundable if the credit check takes too long and you are forced to rent another place?
- If you decide to pay the credit report fee, any terms regarding a refund or credit should be in writing. This will help avoid any potential disagreement with the landlord about a refund.
The landlord must provide a receipt that itemizes how the money is spent, give the applicant a copy of the credit report if requested, refund any unspent portion of the fee, and return the entire fee if a background check is not performed.