Who should fill out a rental application?

Written on November 8, 2017 by , updated on February 26, 2018

rental applicationOnly tenants who will be paying the rent need to fill out a rental application, right? Wrong.

All interested parties need to fill one out. That means every adult who will be living in the rental property. And sometimes, even adults who won’t be living there will also need to fill one out. Let’s explore this further with various scenarios.

All interested parties need to fill out a rental application.

The question of who needs to fill out a rental application often comes up when more than one person will be living in the rental property or when co-signers will be part of the deal.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

  • Anyone over 18 years old who will be living in the property for any length of time should fill out a rental application.
  • Anyone who isn’t living in the home but who is co-signing the lease should fill out a rental application.
  • Anyone who moves in at a later date should fill out a rental application.

The reason all those groups need to fill out a rental application is to let you know who is living in your property. You need to have contact information if problems should arise with the property. Also, having contact information on everyone means you will have more people to go after for rent if need be.

Confusing situations

When you’re dealing with people and living situations, arrangements are sometimes not obvious. Here are five examples that often cause confusion during application time and what you should do.

Scenario 1: Two people, one income

In this scenario, only one person of a couple works; the other goes to school. Both people still need to fill out a rental application. Note that if you require background and credit checks as part of your application process, you might choose to only require a background check for the person who will not be paying rent.

Scenario 2: Parents with college kids

Parents who rent your place and have children in college should have their college-age children fill out an application. Why? Anyone staying for an extended time, usually more than two weeks, should fill out an application. Plus, a summertime stay in your property could lead to a permanent residence.

Scenario 3: Roommates who find a replacement

Roommate situations aren’t always the most reliable long-term circumstances, especially if the roommates don’t know each other well. One roommate might leave before the lease is up. Sometimes tenants will just substitute the new person without telling the landlord. You can make this less likely to happen if you let your tenants know that it’s okay to find a replacement roommate, but you do ask that they fill out an application so that you can go through your normal screening process.

Scenario 4: Mom and dad co-signing for their college kid

Have everyone fill out an application in this case: all the college students who will be living in your rental as well as any co-signers. This way, if the college kids don’t pay the rent, you can get it from the co-signer. You should also have the co-signer go through your regular screening process, particularly a credit check.

Scenario 5: Parent with adult children

Even if the parent will be the one paying the rent, have the adult children fill out an application too. You’ll want to run a background and credit check to ensure everyone will pass your screening process.

The exception is minors

Minors who will live in the property do not need to fill out a rental application. Why? Because you can’t hold minors responsible for the rent. But ask for the names and ages of all minors who will live there so you’ll have that for your records.

The bottom line

Whenever you’re in the process of finding tenants for your rental property, let all interested parties know that they will be required to fill out a rental application (unless they are a minor). Besides letting you know who will be living in your property, this policy helps ensure that you treat all applicants the same way.

If interested renters walk away because of your policy, you’re probably better off. Usually, people who don’t want to fill out an application aren’t ready to commit, or they don’t think they would pass your screening requirements.

Do you require everyone to fill out a rental application? Tell us why or why not in the comments!

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