Those planning to rent a property in New York must go through an application process to demonstrate their ability to pay rent before reaching a commercial or residential lease agreement. Therefore, landlords should know how to create a form to obtain information about a prospective tenant's finances or rental history.

Property managers or owners in New York can use a rental application to determine whether to rent a house or apartment to a third party. In addition, these documents can provide contact information or references when a tenant does not pay the monthly rent, disappears, or breaks any rules.

Read on if you plan to rent your property and want to know what you should include and avoid in your form!

New York Rental Application

Each rental application form in New York must include personal information about the potential tenant and other requirements or documents that could help you find out if they meet the desired profile. These are:

  • Personal data, including name and contacts
  • Employment details
  • income information
  • Consent for credit check
  • Permission for background check
  • Rental history
  • Personal references

Legal Disclosures

Landlords must also include several legal disclosures in the application form to report information on:

  • The rental property's condition
  • Shared utility arrangements
  • Rent control rules
  • Potential hazards to the tenant
  • Smoking policy
  • Security deposit
  • Other associated fees

What Not To Include

Federal and state laws in New York encourage landlords and property managers to avoid discriminatory practices during the application process. Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, it is illegal to discriminate against any potential tenant because of their:

  • Race or ethnicity
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • National origin
  • Family status
  • Physical or mental disability

Additional State-Protected Classes

Also, some federal and local laws add additional protections to these classes:

  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Military Status
  • Gender Identity
  • Gender Expression
  • Source of Income (public and/or rental assistance)

Landlords must refrain from requesting this information from prospective tenants in writing or in person. Additionally, it should not be considered in the application process or as a reason to reject an application. However, property management companies and owners may ask about such details when some exemptions to the Fair Housing Act apply. Check them out below!

Exemptions to the Fair Housing Act

There are some exemptions to the Fair Housing Act that may apply when it comes to renting properties in New York. These are:

  • Familial status: New York landlords may consider the tenant's familial status if children are to occupy the leased premises. However, this exemption only applies to owner-occupied two-family dwellings or room rentals within single-family properties occupied by any other person, including the owner.
  • Age: In this state, owners of rental properties may also apply and base their decision on an applicant's age. According to the Housing for Older Persons Act, this exemption applies in 55+ communities or in housing for older persons.
  • Sex: If the dwelling is established for the same sex, landlords could consider the potential tenant's sex to approve or reject the request.
  • Owner-Occupied Properties: Under Ms. Murphy's exemption, landlords who live in a unit within a single-family property are exempt from Fair Housing laws as long as they own four dwellings or fewer and represent themselves during the leasing process.
  • Religious Organizations: An applicant's religion may be considered in the leasing process if the property is owned, operated, controlled, or supervised by religious institutions. However, as outlined in 42 U.S. Code § 3607, this applies if the rent is not for a business purpose.
  • Private clubs: As explained in 42 U.S. Code § 3607, those who operate private clubs without public or commercial intent can give priority or preferential treatment to rental applications for their lodgings.

Background Checks

During the vetting process, landlords can carry out background checks, including:

  • Credit check: A potential tenant must give written consent to allow the owner to obtain a "pass/fail" credit report or full credit history during a rental application. This step helps you get information about an applicant's annual income, past addresses, employment, or credit inquiries.
  • Criminal history check: Criminal history checks allow landlords to obtain information about a tenant's state court criminal records or related databases.
  • Eviction check: Through the eviction check, landlords access a tenant's records in terms of eviction fillings or judgments against them.

New York Rental Application Laws

New York state has issued some rules related to applications to rent properties. Any landlord, real estate agent, or company that violates any of these laws could be sued by the potential tenant or face other legal actions.

Security Deposit

In accordance with New York State law's § 7-103 and § 7-108, landlords may not charge more than one month's rent to applicants. However, they can request a larger security deposit if the rental property is a seasonal dwelling or the sum is for an owner-occupied cooperative apartment.

Notice of Eligibility

A landlord must inform the prospective tenant of the screening criteria during the pre-leasing process and explain why their application was denied or approved. In these cases, a signature of acknowledgment is often provided within or attached to the application.

Consent Credit Check

Tenants must provide written consent to authorize a credit history check during the application to rent a property in New York, as required by the Federal Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Rental Application Fee Laws

According to New York Consolidated Laws § 238-A, an application fee is limited to the final cost of the background check or $20.00, whichever is less. However, an exemption allows a landlord to charge more than $20.00 if the tenant rents cooperative or condominium buildings.

Under these laws, rental application fees can only be charged if the applicant receives copies of criminal history or credit report and an invoice or receipt from the company that performed the check. In addition, property managers or owners do not have to charge a new fee if the prospective tenant had a screening report issued within 30 days.

Eviction Record Search

In New York, eviction records are considered public domain. Therefore, anyone can access them for a background check through a third party or the state court's online system.

Adverse Notices

Landlords must also provide tenants with adverse action notices when they obtain a consumer report for applicants and reject their application, require a co-signer, or increase their deposit or rent.

Build Your Own

Do you want to create your own rental application form but think the process is too complicated? DoorLoop is here to help you!

Landlords and real estate companies can find free templates to create their forms and streamline the application process to lease out their properties. If you don't have enough time, you can download one as a PDF or Word document. Also, if you want to make some adjustments, you can select the customizable alternative and adapt it to your needs!


What Documents Do I Need to Rent a Property in New York?

Rental applications in New York typically include several documents, such as pay stubs, bank statements, and a signed employment letter.

Why Do I Need a Rental Application in New York?

In New York or any other state, rental applications can help you learn about a potential tenant's rental or financial history, income, employment, or any criminal issues.

Do I Have to Pay Security Deposits?

Yes, you have to! If you want to rent a property in New York, you must pay a security deposit. However, they are limited to one month's rent.

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David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!