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As a landlord or property manager, you want the best possible tenants for your rental properties. You need to find someone who can afford the rent, will pay on time, and who won’t damage your property or provoke noise complaints. The process of finding this ideal tenant begins with an online rental application form.

Online forms make the application process simple for both you and potential tenants. They’re easy for applicants to complete—even on their smartphones—and easy for you to collect, review, and compare.

Let’s take a look at how you can make renting your apartment or property simple with a tenant application form.

Starting from scratch can be intimidating, but SurveyMonkey removes the worry by providing pre-built examples of many frequently used application forms, including a rental application form template. Once you select the template, you can edit the existing questions, add and delete questions, duplicate questions, and use skip logic to streamline the application process.

Online forms allow your rental application process to be totally paperless—but that’s not the only benefit. An online tenant application form provides a secure method for collecting data from prospective renters, offering significant time savings and a streamlined rental process.

According to Pew Research Center, 31% of US adults are almost constantly online. A rental application form created with SurveyMonkey can be accessed from anywhere, on any device, at any time. Your online form is compatible and easy to use on computers, cell phones, and mobile devices, making it a breeze for potential renters to provide their information.

Using a digital form that is accessible from anywhere means you can strike while the iron is hot, encouraging rental applicants to complete your tenant application form on the spot after taking a tour of your unit—and before they have a chance to look elsewhere.

When you collect applicant data online with SurveyMonkey, it’s all stored in one easily accessible place and doesn’t require additional data entry or shuffling papers. All the relevant information is at your fingertips, ready for your informed decision-making.

This is your opportunity to gather all the necessary information to find your ideal tenant, so there are several components that are essential for an effective rental application form. Including these elements and fields in your form are critical for maximum usefulness.

While most applicants likely reached your application from a resource that outlined the property details, it’s important to also include them at the top of your rental application form. This way, prospective tenants can review the information again to ensure the property is suitable for their needs.

Make clear all the information of the unit being rented, like the date available, monthly rent, square footage, bedrooms, bathrooms, and included amenities. Also consider including helpful information such as school district, distance from local businesses, and other neighborhood information. After all, a happy tenant is less likely to cause you any problems.

TIP: SurveyMonkey allows you to include images, so include high-quality photos of the main living spaces and any important features.

Your rental application form should include fields for full contact information—but be aware that it is illegal to ask for certain information. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of race, color, national origin, religion, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, familial status, or disability. 

Personal information you can ask for includes:

  • Full name of applicant
  • Number of adults/children who will be living in the property
  • Current address
  • Date of birth
  • Social security number
  • Driver’s license number
  • Consent for background check 
  • Emergency contact
  • Vehicle information

Asking for a social security number and driver’s license number is necessary if you are planning to run a background check. Because this is sensitive information, it’s a good idea to include a statement about your reason for asking and an assurance that you’ll keep the information secure.

All data collected via SurveyMonkey is safe and protected.

Include fields to collect necessary contact information, including the applicant's preferred method of communication.

Contact details should include:

  • Phone numbers (home, cell, and work)
  • Email address
  • Work and/or other important alternate addresses

Validating a prospective tenant’s current employer will help you ensure that they have the means to pay rent. Employment history provides insights into their work and income. In fact, this section is very similar to what would be asked on a job application form.

Since you’re looking for an ideal tenant for your property, it makes sense to find out what kind of tenant they’ve been in the past.

Rental history information includes:

  • Previous landlord names and contact information
  • Previous amount of rent paid

Clearly state your pet, smoking, and waterbed policies for your unit on your rental application form.

If you accept pets, you may want to gather information such as:

  • Types of pets
    • Breed
    • Maximum weight
    • Proof of vaccinations
  • Number of pets
  • Whether pets are housebroken/litter trained, if applicable 

Check your local jurisdiction to determine whether it’s legal in your area to request a pet fee to cover any damage to the property caused by pets.

If you prohibit smoking in your rental, state this clearly, along with penalties related to smoking and the location of designated smoking areas.

It’s within your rights as a landlord to forbid the use of waterbeds in your rental unit. If you approve waterbed use, you may ask for an additional security deposit as insurance against leaks, mold, or damage caused by the bed.

Ready to create your online rental application form? We have a few pointers for getting the most out of your form.

Rental regulations vary greatly depending on local laws. As we mentioned earlier, follow the guidelines set out in the Fair Housing Act and check local requirements for what information you can ask for by law. These resources should also explain what processes you legally have to follow for making decisions on tenants in your area.

Protected classes under state and local laws can include discrimination based on:

  • Citizenship
  • Age
  • Veteran or military status
  • Genetic information
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity or expression
  • Source of income 
    • State or local rental assistance programs
    • Temporary rental assistance
  • Criminal history

Provide privacy and legal statements that outline your compliance with data privacy, housing, and nondiscrimination laws. Be clear about what will be done with personal data, why you are asking for it, and how it will be protected.

If you request fees associated with processing applications or background checks, you can accept them right within the rental application form with one of our payment integrations. This simplifies the process of collecting fees in a secure manner.

If collecting fees is a part of your form, make it clear how you’re going to use them and whether any part of the payments is refundable.

Specify the length of the lease you’re offering, the cost and frequency of rent payments, and the amount of the security deposit. If your leasing area has specific leasing laws, be sure to follow them and outline how your lease is in compliance with those laws.

In cases where there will be roommates or more than one person responsible for paying rent, ask both parties to complete a rental application form. This way, you’ll understand their combined incomes, abilities to pay, and both of their past tenant experiences.

An online form is the best way to collect and review information from prospective tenants for your rental property. Whether you start from scratch or customize our rental application form template, you’ll be able to quickly and easily get the data you need to make an informed decision.

It’s easy to get started. Just sign up for a SurveyMonkey account today and choose the right plan for your rental business.

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