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Rental Application Questions

A rental application is an important document that helps a prospective landlord assess a potential tenant’s past history and current earning capacity before he decides to rent to him/her. Apart from basic questions on an application form like a tenant’s name, address, and social security number, income information including details of how long a tenant has been at his/her current job helps to judge his/her financial stability.

Listed below are a few questions answered by lawyers on rental application related questions.

I filled out a rental application and paid a prospective landlord $550 to hold an apartment. Later, I decided not to rent the place. The landlord went ahead and cashed my check and now, won’t return the money. How can I get my money back?

You will have to examine the rental application and see if the deposit was refundable. If the payment was made to hold the unit, it is possible that it may not be refundable. It all depends on the terms that are outlined in your rental application.

A landlord recently denied my rental application and the agent says that she is not required to explain why. Is this legal?

Your agent is right. But if you feel that you were discriminated against on the basis of race, sex, religion, ethnicity, disability, and so on, you could file a claim against them. Otherwise, they do possess the right to accept or reject applications without explaining why.

A rental application I received today is from a person with a Mexico driver’s license and passport. I don’t have evidence of his work visa and want to know if it is legal to rent to someone who provides minimal information and doesn’t seem to have all the paperwork required.

As a prospective landlord, you are allowed to check if the person that you are planning on renting to can legally stay in the country. If the individual is in the country illegally and breaches your lease or gets deported, you would be the one to lose money. What you could do is request him that paperwork like a work visa or extended stay visa be provided to show that he has a legal presence in the country.

I received a rental application from a person who does not qualify to become a tenant based on his income and rental history. However, his father says that I must allow him to co-sign the agreement and rent the property out to his son. I don’t want a co-signor on my rental and want to know if I am legally bound to rent to his son.

You are not allowed to discriminate on a rental application based on religion, race, national origin ,and so on. But it is absolutely legal to discriminate based on income and rental history. So the answer is no. You are not legally bound to rent to the son.

On a rental application, what qualifies as unlawful questions?

It is difficult to list every single unlawful question. In general, it is considered unlawful to ask questions regarding religion, race, or national origin. Also, many jurisdictions consider it unlawful to ask about children, marital status, and sexual preferences.

A few of these prohibitions come from Federal anti-discrimination laws while the others are more local in nature. If you ever have a doubt about an unlawful question, it would be best to contact your local housing authority and check with them.

Rental applications are not allowed to discriminate on factors like race, religion, national origin, and so on. A tenant should be well aware of what is expected of him/her when filling out a rental application in order to make a good impression. A landlord, on his part, should know what questions to ask to get a clear idea of a tenant’s financial status when asked to hand out a rental application.
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