The Wrong Way to Fill Out a Rental Application

If you can’t fill out a rental application correctly or provide the requested documents, why would someone rent to you?

We recently shredded a rental application from a prospect interested in a property, without processing it.


Much of it was illegible, parts of it were blank and after waiting 3 days we still hadn’t gotten a bank statement.

Not a good first impression!

In our opinion, which is shared by many of the landlords we network with, if a prospect can’t follow the instruction to fill out a rental application correctly, it doesn’t bode well for them following the rules in the lease and paying rent on time.

Another way to make a bad impression is to challenge the landlord regarding the requested information on the application or that has to be included (paystubs, W-2’s, bank statements, etc.) in a negative way.

Asking questions is acceptable, but telling the landlord they don’t need this or that and whining about why you have to provide it, is not.  Most landlords factor in a lot more than you may realize when evaluating whether to rent to you or not.

The better looking the home compared to the others in the area, the more rigid & thorough you can usually expect the tenant screening process to be.  How else do you think the landlord keeps the property in such good condition?

What You Should Expect to Be Asked to Supply for a Rental Application

Landlords may do a lot of things differently, but most of the good ones will ask for much of the following:

  • Names and ages of everyone that will live in property
  • Where you’ve lived for the last 2 years and previous landlord contact information
  • Where you’ve worked for the last 2 years and employer contact information
  • Personal references
  • Proof of income
  • Bank statement
  • Driver license or state ID
  • Authorization to check with all of the above.
  • Authorization to check credit

Why so much information?

If you’ve ever applied for a mortgage loan, you’ll understand why landlords ask for so much information.  By leasing their property to you, they’re taking a risk that you’ll pay your rent on time and take care of the property.  All the requested information paints a picture about how good of a risk you are.

It’s important to remember the old saying, “he who has the gold, makes the rules.”  In this case, the landlord has the gold/home and they make the rules.  You have to meet their standards, not your own.  And remember, the landlord doesn’t know you at all.  You may know your a great tenant (or a bad one), but the landlord has no way of knowing this except by what they get and verify during the application process.

Bad Landlords

We used to be surprised by how many rental prospects love how nice our properties are, having nothing but bad things to say about their current rental property, but then don’t like our application fees and process.

Now, we’re grateful when these types of people remove themselves from consideration as they probably aren’t the best of tenants.

There’s usually a not so good reason they end up renting bad properties from bad landlords – they’re bad tenants!

Keep all this in mind the next time you’re looking for a home to rent.