An Ohio rental application form is the document that landlords and property managers use to collect data about potential renters. It's part of the tenant screening process and can include rental history, employment, income, and other factors.

Your rental property helps you make money, and potential tenants can do significant damage. Rental applications are crucial to get details about them and know whether you should sign a lease with them. Let's learn more!

Ohio Rental Application

Landlords and tenants need appropriate information to determine if a rental property is suitable for them. However, a landlord must go a step further with tenant screening to ensure that they comply with state and federal laws.

You can ask an applicant for:

  • Permission to background checks
  • Personal references
  • Personal information
  • Credit history
  • Income information
  • Employment details
  • Rental history data

However, landlords must disclose these things:

  • All fees
  • Security deposit information
  • Smoking policies
  • Rent control rules
  • Shared utility arrangements
  • Potential hazards to tenants
  • Property conditions

What Not to Include

Ohio protects potential tenants from unfair discrimination throughout the application process through FHA (Federal Fair Housing Act) and state laws. Therefore, landlords cannot discriminate against these protected classes:

  • Religion
  • Disability (mental or physical)
  • Sex
  • Race
  • Familial status (having/not having children)
  • National origin (nationality)
  • Color

Additionally, Ohio state law adds more protection for these classes:

  • Military status
  • Ancestry

You cannot ask questions relating to those items on rental applications. It is illegal to do so.


There are exemptions to the FHA laws, including:

  • Familial Status - It's possible to ask about or base your decision to rent to someone on if children will be present for two-family and owner-occupied buildings.
  • Religious Organizations - Religion is allowed as the basis for a decision to rent on property owned, supervised, controlled, and operated by a specific religious organization that doesn't rent for commercial needs. However, landlords can't use other protected classes because of this exemption.
  • Age - Ohio landlords can ask the applicants' age if renting space in age-specific communities, such as 55+ and senior housing options.
  • Private Clubs - Private clubs must operate without commercial intent and public access to offer preferential treatment to applicants for lodgings that are managed/owned by that club.

Ohio doesn't include the Mrs. Murphy exemption or acknowledge it.

Regardless of the exemption that applies, you cannot use race to influence your choice of renting to an applicant.

Rental Application Fees

Ohio does not have a maximum rental application fee or a limit to how much a landlord can charge the potential tenant. This is considered a non-refundable fee. Generally, it's best to avoid significant amounts, averaging what you pay.

Since the application fee is non-refundable, it's important for the Ohio landlord to recoup some of that cost.

If the rental application fee is paid and the application is approved for the prospective tenant, the landlord can then charge a security deposit. Ohio state law says that there's no limit for security deposits, so landlords can do what they see fit.

However, per Ohio Revised Code 5321.16, the landlord is required to pay five percent interest each year if they charge $50 or one month's rent as the security deposit (the greater amount) for a tenancy longer than six months. There are no holding or receipt requirements, though.

Background Checks

The tenant screening process wouldn't be complete without conducting a background check. You can look for these things:

  • Criminal History - The criminal history check shows the landlord records that involve the tenant in databases and state court records. You can determine if applicants are on the national sex offender registry and more.
  • Eviction Check - This shows eviction filings and judgments against the applicant within the last seven years.
  • Credit Check - You must get written consent from the tenant to look into their credit history. Request a pass/fail report or something that indicates income, employment history, past addresses, and more. Tenant screening is crucial to know what you're up against!

Laws and Consent

Before the landlord can run a credit check on the applicant, they must get written consent. The Federal Credit Reporting Act set up this rule to protect potential tenants and is required in all states. This can be part of the application as a statement within or a separate consent form. Regardless, a signature is necessary.

Eviction Record Search

Evictions are part of the public record, and you may access them from the Ohio Supreme Court search directory or utilize a third-party service. The tenant screening shouldn't be complete without this step.

Here are the steps to take:

  • Visit the Supreme Court Public Docket (Ohio). If you know the county court the applicant would have used, search for that.
  • Choose "Show Party Search Options."
  • Add the applicant's name to see what cases show up.
  • Select the case number and view the details. They are given in PDF format and found in the left column.

Adverse Action Notices

It is important to send tenants an adverse action notice or letter if you get a consumer report on them and decide to take an adverse action. These include:

  • Requiring a co-signer now when you didn't before
  • Rejecting the applicant
  • Requiring more rent
  • Requiring a higher security deposit

The notice should include these things:

  • Details about which reporting agency you used
  • An explanation that you didn't take the adverse action against the applicant and don't know why it occurred
  • Inform the applicant that they can get a copy of the report to dispute the contents

It isn't required by law to give a reason for rejection, but it's recommended.

Build Your Own

Are you interested in learning how to make your own rental application in Ohio? You know it must not ask certain things but still provide you with a background on the possible tenant. Landlords have an obligation and right to see who's suitable!

There's no need to do it yourself when Doorloop is available. It helps you create an application in minutes. You can find a PDF or Word document, but there are ways to customize it from the website (though this requires a small fee).

If you're ready to make it easier to organize your rental property needs, Doorloop is the best option. You can get a demo of its project management software or create a new lease agreement to use all the time. The possibilities are limitless!


Why Do You Require an Ohio Rental Application?

You want to learn about a person's rental history before you enter into a lease agreement with them. The application helps you do this by verifying employment/income, finding out about credit issues, and more.

What Are Credit References for the Ohio Rental Application?

This document gives information about the applicant's credit history. A landlord can request that to assess whether they are able to meet the payment schedule.

What Should You Not Include in the Rental Application Form in Ohio?

You can't ask about the tenant's race, religion, sexuality, and other things. However, you may request a driver's license number, but this isn't required for most of the background checks or processing.

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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!