Rental Application (Residential) FAQ
Important Note: LawDepot provides this article based on information available as of April 10, 2008. The information contained within this article should not be construed as legal advice. If you require detailed information about and/or advice about real estate law, please consult with an attorney in your area. LawDepot accepts no liability for errors and omissions contained within this FAQ.
Q. What is a Residential Rental Application?
A. A Residential Rental Application is used by landlords and property managers to collect information on potential renters.
Q. Are landlords required to obtain signed rental applications from potential renters?
A. Landlords can rent property to tenants without obtaining rental applications. However, rental applications can provide valuable information about a renter, such as the renter’s employment history and income. Also, landlords can not run credit checks on potential tenants without written permission, and rental applications can be used to obtain written permission. Thus, many landlords choose to use rental applications when screening prospective renters.
Q. Can a landlord reject potential renters for not filling out rental applications?
A. Yes. Landlords can reject potential renters for not filling out rental applications.
Q. If a potential renter signs a Residential Rental Application and the application is approved, is the renter required to sign a rental or lease agreement?
A. No. A potential renter does not have to sign a rental or lease agreement after being approved.
Q. What is a Landlord?
A. A landlord is an owner of land or a building who has leased some or all of the land or building to another person or persons for a certain period of time.
Q. What is a Property Manager?
A. A property manager is hired by a landlord and entrusted with the responsibility of attending to a real estate property when the owner is unavailable, unable, or uninterested in doing so.
Q. What if I don't know one party's name or contact information?
A. A blank space will be provided in the form that can be filled in later if you are missing information about one of the parties. We recommend, however, that you attempt to make the contract as complete as possible, for greater certainty.
Q. Is the Applicant obligated to provide a Social Security Number?
A. There is no obligation for an applicant to provide their social security number. While it may be more difficult, it is possible to do a credit check without a person's social security number. Notwithstanding the fact that there is no obligation, you are allowed to reject a person's application if they do not provide their social security number.
Q. What are some possible terms of tenancy?
A. Fixed End Date
A lease with a fixed end date gives certainty of term for both the landlord and the tenant. It specifies the exact day the tenancy will end. The advantage here is that neither party has to give notice to terminate the lease; it simply ends on the specified date. During a fixed term lease the landlord cannot increase the rent, or change any other terms of the lease unless he or she specifically reserves the right in the agreement, and the tenant agrees to the changes.
Example: June 1, 2010 to February 28, 2012.
Fixed Number of Weeks/Months/Year
A lease for a fixed number of weeks/months/years gives a start date for the lease and the number of weeks/months/years that the lease will run. In most respects this operates in exactly the same way as a fixed end date lease.
Example: The lease will commence on June 1, 2010 and continue for a period of 180 days.
A weekly/monthly/yearly lease with automatic renewal (a periodic tenancy) will continue so long as neither party wishes to terminate the lease. To terminate the lease the landlord or tenant must give notice of their intention to leave as specified by statute. A landlord can raise the rent, or change the terms of the lease in these types of agreements by providing proper notice as required by statute. At the end of the notice period the tenant must move out or the landlord can start eviction proceedings against them.
Example: Monthly lease starting June 1, 2010 and automatically renewing each month.
Q. What is a Security Deposit?
A. A security deposit is a sum of money that a tenant pays to a landlord to guarantee that the tenant will fulfill all obligations under the lease. The landlord holds the security deposit in trust for the term of the lease to ensure that the tenant does not default on the terms of the lease agreement or otherwise damage the property. Should the tenant damage the property (normal "wear and tear" excluded) or if the Tenant has not paid rent, the landlord is entitled to recover the amount owing from the security deposit. Usually the tenant must provide the landlord with the security deposit at the start of the lease term. At the end of the lease term, the tenant will receive the deposit back minus any allowable deductions for repairs/restoration/owing rent. Some jurisdictions do not allow deposits to be used for damages and the deposits would be called rent deposits in that case.
Q. How much can I collect for Security Deposit?
A. Some states have limitations on what can be collected for a Security Deposit. The following list details the statutory limits that different states place on security deposits. Please be sure to check your local law to see if there are any rent control or rent regulation rules for security deposit collection. Keep in mind that the following are maximum amounts, and you can certainly collect a smaller security deposit.
- Alabama - Landlords can request one month's rent as per Alabama Uniform Landlord Tenant Act.
- Alaska - Landlords can request two months’ rent. If the rent exceeds $2,000 per month, the property is exempt from security deposit laws.
- Arizona - Landlords can request one and one-half months' rent.
- California - Landlords can request two months' rent for an unfurnished rental or three months' rent for a furnished rental.
- Colorado - There is no statutory limit except for mobile homes. The owner of a mobile home park or his agents may charge a security deposit of one month's rent or two months' rent for multiwide units.
- Connecticut - Landlords can request two months’ rent if the tenant is younger than 62 and one month's rent if the tenant is 62 or older.
- Delaware - Landlords can request one month's rent if the term of the agreement is a year or more. There is no set limit for month-to-month rental agreements that have lasted over a year. The security deposit limits do not apply to furnished rental units.
- District of Columbia - Landlords can request one month’s rent.
- Florida - There is no statutory limit.
- Georgia - There is no statutory limit.
- Hawaii - Landlords can request one month's rent.
- Idaho - There is no statutory limit.
- Illinois - There is no statutory limit.
- Indiana - There is no statutory limit.
- Iowa - Landlords can request two months’ rent.
- Kansas - Landlords can request one month’s rent if the property is unfurnished and there are no pets. If the property is furnished, the landlord may demand one and a half months' rent, and if the rental agreement permits the tenant to keep or maintain pets, the landlord may demand an additional security deposit not to exceed half of one month's rent.
- Kentucky - There is no statutory limit.
- Louisiana - There is no statutory limit.
- Maine - Landlords can request two months’ rent.
- Maryland - Landlords can request two months’ rent.
- Massachusetts - Landlords can request one month’s rent.
- Michigan - Landlords can request one and a half months’ rent.
- Missouri - Landlords can request two months’ rent.
- Montana - There is no statutory limit.
- Nebraska - Landlords can request one month’s rent if the tenant does not have pets and one and a quarter months’ rent if the tenant has pets. These security deposit laws do not apply to housing agencies organized or existing under the Nebraska Housing Agency Act.
- Nevada - Landlords can request three months’ rent.
- New Hampshire - Landlords can request one month's rent or $100, whichever is greater.
- New Jersey - Landlords can request one and a half months’ rent. Whenever the landlord collects from a tenant an additional amount of security deposit, the amount collected annually as additional security cannot be greater than 10 percent of the current security deposit.
- New Mexico - Landlords can request one month’s rent for rental agreements of less than one year. There is no set limit for leases of one year or longer.
- New York - No set limit for non-regulated units. Deposits for regulated units are usually limited by law to one month's rent. However, if two months' security deposit was collected from a tenant by the landlord when the rental unit first came under rent stabilization, and the same tenant is still occupying the the rental unit, that tenant remains bound by the two months' requirement. The next tenant cannot be required to deposit more than one month's rent as security.
- North Carolina - Landlords can request two weeks' rent if a tenancy is week to week, one and a half months’ rent for month-to-month tenancies and two months’ rent if the term of the tenancy is longer than two months.
- North Dakota - Landlords can request one month’s rent if the tenant does not have any pets. Landlords can request up to $2,500 or an amount equivalent to two months' rentif the tenant has a pet.
- Ohio - There is no statutory limit.
- Oklahoma - There is no statutory limit.
- Oregon - There is no statutory limit.
- Pennsylvania - Landlords can request two months’ rent for the first year of renting. During the second or subsequent years of the lease or during any renewal of the original lease the landlord can request one month’s rent.
- Rhode Island - Landlords can request one month's rent.
- South Carolina - There is no statutory limit.
- South Dakota - Landlords can request one month’s rent under normal conditions. A larger deposit may be agreed upon between the landlord and the tenant where special conditions pose a danger to maintenance of the premises.
- Tennessee - There is no statutory limit.
- Texas - There is no statutory limit.
- Utah - There is no statutory limit.
- Vermont - There is no statutory limit.
- Virginia - Landlords can request two months’ rent.
- Washington - There is no statutory limit.
- West Virginia - There is no statutory limit.
- Wisconsin - There is no statutory limit.
- Wyoming - There is no statutory limit.