Landlord Tenant Q&A with LAURENE H. YOUNG, (B)
LAURENE H. YOUNG, (B), MPM, RMP, REALTOR
Young Hawaii Homes, Inc.
2011 President, Oahu Chapter
National Association of Residential Property Managers
This question has a two-part answer. Part one was published in the June 15 Homes section.
Q. I am trying to compose my own rental application. What should I include?
A. Applications should have two parts: the criteria and the actual application. The criteria were discussed in last week’s article. Here are some things you should include in your rental application:
(1) The applicant’s identifying information. This includes name, social security number, date of birth (you need this information to run a credit check), telephone numbers and email. You can also ask for a driver’s license number or other proof of identity.
(2) Residences. Ask for the applicant’s current address (street address and not P.O. Box number). You should ask the dates that they resided there, the rent paid, if they gave notice to their landlord and the reason for moving. Ask if they lived with family, owned their residence or rented. If they were renting, ask for their landlord’s name and phone number. Also ask for their previous address, including all the above questions. If this applicant is a problem tenant, the previous landlord is more likely to share that information than the current landlord.
(3) Employment history. Ask for the name of their employer, address, supervisor’s name and phone number, their position in the company, how long they have been at this job and their gross monthly income. Ask for verification of income, i.e. paystubs. If they are self-employed, ask for copies of their past two years Schedule C or tax returns. Also ask for their previous employer if they have been at the current job a short time (under 2 years is a suggestion). For military personnel, ask for the name and phone number of their First Sergeant and Commanding Officer, who may be able to help you if you have problems with the tenant.
(4) Ask for the source of other income they would like considered with this application. This would include child or spousal support, social security, disability or other income. (Some applicants may require a guarantor or co-signer and they should fill out a separate application). If the applicant is in the military, ask if they have a housing allowance. You could ask for bank account information, but this is difficult to verify, so you could ask to see a copy of a recent bank statement to make sure that they have adequate funds to pay the rent and don’t have a history of bounced checks.
(5) Ask some basic credit history questions. Ask if they have ever been evicted, filed for bankruptcy, or ever been late with their rent. Ask them to explain any credit problems. A divorce, military deployment or identity theft could be the cause of a drop in credit scores.
(6) Ask some basic criminal background questions. State that you will do a criminal background check. Ask if they had any convictions for burglary or robbery; drug possession or dealing/manufacturing illegal drugs; sexual assault, child molestation or battery. Ask for the dates of any convictions.
(7) Ask for the names of any other tenants who will be residing in the unit. Each applicant over the age of 18 should fill out a separate application. Ask for the relationship to the applicant. There should be no more than 5 unrelated persons residing in one unit, or 3 unrelated if there is a family living there.
(8) Other things you might want to have in your application include a personal reference. You could also ask if there are any special accommodations or property modification requests. (You cannot deny an applicant if they need to make modifications for a legitimate disability, but at least you will be aware of what you may have to do). Ask if anyone who will occupy the unit smokes. Ask if they have any pets. (Remember the service animals are not considered pets). Ask for a list of all the vehicles that will be parked on the property, including motorcycles and boats.
(9) Acknowledgment and Authorization. The acknowledgment should include statements that the applicant understands that providing inaccurate or incomplete information is grounds for rejection of the application; authorizes the landlord to obtain a copy of the applicant’s credit report at any time before, during or after their tenancy; authorizes current and former employers to release any information about their employment to the landlord; and authorizes current and former landlords and/or property managers to release any information about their rental history to landlord. Have the applicant sign and date the form.
You should have a policy in place to determine what your minimum requirements are to rent to any individual. Hawaii prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, ancestry/national origin, sex, familial status (presence of children), physical or mental disability, marital status, age, HIV infection or sexual orientation or gender identity. To prevent claims of discrimination, treat all applicants the same way and do not waive a restriction or criteria for one applicant and not another. Also have your attorney review all of your forms and policies.