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Rental Tips

The Rental Application

Before renting to you, most landlords will ask you to fill out a written rental application form. A rental application is different from a rental agreement. The rental application is like a job or credit application. The landlord will use it to decide whether to rent to you.

A rental application usually asks for the following information:

  • The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of your current and past employers.
  • The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of your current and past landlords
  • The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of people whom you want to use as references.
  • Your social security number.
  • Your driver's license number.
  • Your bank account numbers.
  • Your credit account numbers for credit reference.

The application also may contain an authorization for the landlord to obtain a copy of your credit report, which will show the landlord how you have handled your financial obligations in the past.

The landlord may ask you what kind of job you have, your monthly income, and other information that shows your ability to pay the rent. It is illegal for the landlord to ask you questions about your race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or age. It also is illegal for the landlord to ask whether you have persons under the age of 18 living in your household, whether you are married, or whether you have a disability.

The landlord may ask you about the number of people who will be living in the rental unit. In order to prevent overcrowding of rental units, California has adopted the Uniform Housing Code's occupancy requirements, and the basic legal standard is set out in-+ However, the practical rule is this: a landlord can establish reasonable standards for the number of people per square feet in a rental unit, but the landlord cannot use overcrowding as a pretext for refusing to rent to tenants with children if the landlord would rent to the same number of adults.