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Free California Rental Application Form

Prepare a printable rental application form to help you vet prospective tenants for your property. Create and customize your screening document with easy instructions and professional templates.

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Last Update May 19th, 2023


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What is a California Residential Rental Application

A California rental application is a legal form that is used by landlords and property managers to screen potential tenants before they sign a lease and move into a rental unit. This allows you to ensure that they will pay rent on time and not cause a nuisance.

Standard rental applications in the state of California can also be known by other alternative names such as:

  • Tenant application

  • Rental lease application

  • Lease application

  • Application for rental property

Having a professional and properly prepared rental application for your real estate is important to ensure that you choose the right person to live in your property. It allows both parties to securely and safely verify that an agreement can work out in the long term by providing crucial information up front in writing.

California Rental Applications by Type

There are a few types of California applications for rental properties that can be used to screen tenants. The type you use ultimately depends on the kind of property you are leasing and the types of tenants you are looking to house.

Standard/General Rental Application

This is a customizable form that can be used by private landlords for standard rental properties. Most rental applications used in the real estate market today are standard/general documents.

Department of Housing And Urban Development (HUD) Rental Application

This is a standardized form created by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that is issued by providers of public housing. These forms are specially prepared to properly offer rental properties to low-income tenants and those eligible for Section 8 housing.   

What to Include in a California Rental Application Form

There are many important questions and sections that should be included in an effective application form. A simple rental application will usually request the following details from the tenant:

  • Personal data

  • Rental history

  • Employment details

  • Income information

  • Credit history

  • Personal references

  • Permission for background checks

Additionally, the landlord must provide several legal disclosures on a standard rental application. They must report information on:

  • The condition of the property

  • Hazards the tenant may encounter

  • Shared utility arrangements

  • Rent control rules

  • Smoking policy

  • The security deposit

  • Associated fees

California Rental Applications Laws

California has many rules and statutes regulating its housing market. These must be fully considered when preparing an application for rental properties in the state. 

Failure to comply with these requirements could result in legal action from the applicant against you. Therefore, it is essential that your California rental application meets the correct legal standards.  

Application Fee

Under California law (Cal. Civ. Code § 1950.6), you can charge a prospective tenant up to $52.46 (as of February 2020) for the rental application. However, the price allowed may be adjusted yearly based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). You must also provide an itemized receipt for the costs incurred.

Security Deposit

Landlords cannot charge more than 2 months’ rent if they are leasing an unfurnished apartment under California law (Cal. Civ. Code § 1950.5(c)). However, landlords with furnished properties can charge up to 3 months’ rent.

Housing Discrimination Law

Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) you may not discriminate against potential tenants for a number of reasons. In California, you may not reject an application for any of the following purposes:

  • Race or ethnicity

  • Sexuality

  • Disability

  • Family status

  • Criminal record

  • National origin

  • Religion 

  • Gender

Consent Credit Check

If you want to carry out any credit or background checks you must first request the potential tenant’s permission on the application form. The applicant must sign and grant their express consent on the form or you will not be able to proceed with these forms of screening.

California Rental Application Sample

Looking over a readily prepared template of a rental application can make it much easier to create your own. Review our document sample below to get more familiar with what your application form will look like when it’s completed.

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Rental Application FAQs

Understanding what your California rental application can and cannot do is vital before you create your own from scratch. Find out more about how these screening documents work and what you need to know when writing them.

How to Fill Out a California Rental Application?

Creating a California rental application can be easily done with the help of our contract maker and template tools. When you fill out a rental application form you will usually request the following information from the tenant:

  • Personal data

  • Rental history

  • Employment details

  • Income information

  • Credit history

  • Personal references

  • Permission for background checks

You must also include important legal disclosures on the property and the lease agreement being proposed. This will outline details on the condition of the property, any hazards, and information on details such as security deposit and fees. Our template designer will help you add the data that must be added.

Why Do I Need a California Rental Application?

A California rental application gives you the opportunity to learn more about your tenant before committing to a legal contract with them. The application lets you collect data on your prospective rental resident so you may carry out important checks to:

  • Review their rental history

  • Verify their employment and income

  • Learn of any criminal history or credit issues

What Are Credit References on a California Rental Application?

A credit reference is a document that provides information on the credit history of an applicant for a rental property. This may be requested on California rental applications so that landlords can properly assess whether a potential tenant will be able to meet the rental payment schedule.

What Cannot Be Asked on Rental Applications in California?

You cannot ask tenants a number of questions when you are vetting them with a California rental application document. You must not request any of the following information from the applicant during this process:

  • Race or ethnicity 

  • Religion

  • Sexuality

  • Immigration or citizenship status

  • Arrest records

  • Marital or familial status

  • Whether they have children or not

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