Drawing up a rental application form is the first step in the tenant screening process. Before permitting a potential tenant to occupy a residential unit, you can ask for their written permission to run a background check on them.
Although it is rather simple to prepare these legal documents, you must abide by the federal and state laws that specify what you can and cannot put in your rental application in Maine.
We'll provide all the information you need in this short guide.
What to Include
When drawing up your Maine rental application form, there are certain details you will need to be sure to request from a potential tenant and disclosures you must make. Let's take a closer look at this.
Obtaining Information from the Applicant
You will need to include space for the candidate to enter the following details:
- Personal details
- Credit history
- Information about their employment
- Rental history
- Income details
- Personal references
- Signature to prove that the applicant grants written consent for a background check
Additionally, you will need to provide the prospective tenant with more information about the state of the rental property and your rules concerning the lease of the unit. Here are some mandatory disclosures to add to your rental application:
- Potential hazards (environmental, health, or safety)
- The condition of the rental property
- Pet and smoking rules
- Rental control rules
- Shared utility arrangements
- Details about the rental amount and the security deposit
- Associated fees
What Not to Include
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate against people based on the following factors:
- Familial status
As a result, you may not request this information in your Maine rental application form. However, it is important to remember that certain exceptions apply to this housing discrimination law.
One of the common questions landlords and tenants in Maine often ask is whether there is a cap on the security deposit amount and application fee landlords may charge.
Application fees are required to cover the costs associated with running background checks. Unlike many other states, Maine does not place a restriction on the application fees landlords may request. However, we advise not charging exorbitant amounts.
In addition, if a potential tenant's application is accepted, the landlord is only permitted to demand a security deposit equal to two months' worth of rent. When the renter pays the deposit in cash, a receipt that serves as proof of the transaction is necessary. The security deposit must always be kept in a separate banking account.
Laws and Consent
The Federal Credit Reporting Act mandates that the candidate must grant written approval before a landlord can conduct a credit check based on the information provided on the signed rental application.
There are two ways to get written consent:
- Create a separate legal document
- Include a section in the rental application
Whichever option you choose, it is essential to obtain explicit consent before you access an applicant's credit report.
Types of Background Checks
You can run three main types of checks before accepting potential tenants. They are:
Criminal History Check
Criminal history records are available to the public and can be obtained from State Records. Visit the state's online database to conduct a search. Then, to perform a search, the requester must supply the subject's full name and birthdate.
Each name-based inquiry costs $31, and payment is accepted by credit card. The average internet database search takes approximately two hours to complete.
There are several resources available online for conducting this check. Results can be displayed as a comprehensive report or as a simple pass or fail.
Eviction Record Search
In the state of Maine, evictions, usually referred to as wrongful detainers, are public records available to anybody. The rental history public record system in Maine or a third-party business that gathers this data are the options available to landlords.
If you are using the public portal, go to the Maine eCourts Public Portal and use the smart search feature to find the information you're looking for.
Adverse Action Notices
Suppose you intend to reject an applicant, request a co-signer, or require a higher amount for rent or a deposit. In that case, according to Maine law, you will have to provide the candidate with an adverse action notice.
Here, you'll need to include the following:
- Details about the credit bureau
- A statement that tells the applicant that they are entitled to a copy of the report
- An explanation that the credit bureau didn't take adverse action on their own
- A declaration that the person may contest the results within 60 days
Build Your Own
To ensure that you have the information you need for the tenant screening process, you'll need to create a detailed application form.
However, an easy way to create a Maine rental application in just minutes is with DoorLoop. With a handy autofill feature, you won't have to enter information manually.
Now that you know how to create a Maine rental application that complies with Maine laws, you can build your own. To streamline the process, you can use DoorLoop and create flawless documents in just minutes.
Book your free demo today!
What are some tips for tenant screening?
Before screening a tenant, creating a checklist with the characteristics you are looking for in a tenant is essential. Then, when you receive applications, you can quickly tell whether a candidate meets these criteria or not.
Use property management software like DoorLoop to manage your rental business and conduct checks in one place.
Is there a limit on the amount I can charge for an application?
No, there is no restriction on the rental application fees in Maine.
What are the different types of rental applications?
There are two types of rental applications in Maine. They are:
- Standard applications
- Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) applications