If you’re applying for a rental soon, you’ll need to fill out a rental application. Your rental  application will help your landlord decide if you’re a good fit for the property in question. You’ll want to make it stand out from the crowd

You might be wondering exactly what kinds of questions are on a rental application. Not every rental application will be the same, because they’re written by the landlord or property manager. However, whether the rental home you want is a single-family home, a one-bedroom apartment, a studio, a condo, or something else entirely, there will be a number of standard questions. Below, we’ll provide you with a description of the different types of questions rental applications will normally ask.

Personal/Contact Information

This stuff is the standard fare you’d expect on many applications: name, birthday, phone number, current address, and the like. Be sure to use information that you’d want the landlord to contact you through––so maybe not your spam email.

Financial Questions and Employment

There will also be many different types of questions about your financial situation, because your landlord wants to be sure you’ll be able to make rent. Some of these questions will be about your employment status and history, as well as your current income. Most landlords will be looking for someone who is making three times the rent. If you don’t, you might want to consider a roommate. You might be asked to prove that you make the amount you write through bank statements, pay stubs, tax returns, or other documents.

Sometimes, but not always, landlords will ask if you’ve ever declared bankruptcy. If you’ve since repaired your credit, you likely have nothing to worry about. Make sure you’re honest, though––if you lie, it could come out during your background check.

There will also be questions ensuring that you’re able to pay the application fee and the security deposit.

Rental History

Your landlord will also want some information about your history as a renter. They might ask why you’re moving and if your landlord knows you’re moving. You’ll likely be asked for your landlords’ contact information for the past few years so that they can be contacted for a reference. 

You’ll probably also be asked if you’ve been evicted before or broken a lease. If this is the case, be sure to take the time to explain why––it doesn’t necessarily mean a strike against you as long as your reasons are sound.

credit check rental history

Background Checks and Credit History

Your landlord will want to run a background check on you before renting to you. It’s likely that your rental application will include some space for you to explain anything that may come up.

Your landlord will also want to pull your credit score. We have some tips for you if you have no credit history and think you might need a cosigner. There are sites where you can check your credit score. This way, you can be proactive and explain your situation if your score ends up becoming a problem.

Lifestyle Questions

There might questions on the application about your lifestyle. These include the number of roommates you plan to have, whether you have pets, and if you smoke.

Note on the pets front that a landlord legally cannot ask you if you have a service animal or an emotional support animal.

What Landlords Cannot Ask

There are a number of questions your landlord cannot legally ask you due to the Fair Housing Act. The FHA is in place to ensure that renters are not discriminated against based on certain characteristics. Characteristics landlords cannot discriminate against include:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • National Origin
  • Familial Status
  • Physical or Mental Disability

There should be no questions on your rental application or in any interview which bring up any of these characteristics. If such questions are asked, simply decline to answer. You can file a complaint online with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

We hope that you feel prepared to tackle your rental application now that you know more about what’s in it. Best of luck with finding the perfect rental home!

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