Step 11: Rental Application

Before you sign a lease on a unit, the first step is the rental application. A rental application is used for rental companies to determine the eligibility of perspective tenants. Leases must be offered to the first person that meets the criteria for approval.

When you fill out an application, you will typically have to pay a fee that, by law, is not allowed to exceed $20. These are used to pay for the credit check landlords do on new potential tenants. The entirety of any excess money to the actual cost of the credit check must be returned to the applicant.

Do I have to pay the fee if I apply to multiple units?

When applying for multiple units you should not have to pay $20 for every application you put in. The $20 fee is usually paid to the first unit you apply for, each place you apply to after that, you should be able you provide them with a copy of your credit report. There is a 30 day time limit to provide copies of your credit report after it is used for the first application.

What does a typical application look like?

To get an idea of what to expect from a rental application, follow the link to WI Legal Blank, this website has the most updated versions of legal documents, such as a Wisconsin rental application.

996 Rental Application

What type of information is asked for on a rental application?

Be prepared to provide personal information when filling out a rental application, it is common for applications to ask for information like:

  • Social Security Numbers
  • Rental History
  • Employment History
  • Information about your finances
  • Banking information
What will I need if I want to apply for an apartment/house?

All your roommates and co-signers, proof of identity, social security number, checkbook to pay for application fee, and anything else the rental company may request – so make sure to ask! If you are unsure about what a landlord is requesting, contact the University Legal Clinic to get your questions answered!

Earnest Money

In some cases, landlords will tell prospective tenants that their unit is in high demand and may ask for ‘earnest money’. Earnest money is paid to a landlord to hold a unit until a perspective tenant’s application is approved or denied. The Neighborhood Housing Office strongly discourages using earnest money. If you have any questions about earnest money, contact the University Legal Clinic at 414-229-4140, ulc@uwm.edu, or in person at WG81 located in the Union.

Once your application is approved, it’s time for you, your roommate(s), and any cosigner(s) to sign the lease for the house or apartment of your choosing. By law, it is first come first serve to the first eligible renter. If you have completed and passed the approval application, the landlord must rent to you. If there isn’t an application process, then the landlord rents to whoever signs and returns the lease first. If you do not get approved for the unit you wanted, continue looking for a different place

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