California Rental Application Form PDF

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California Rental Application Template PDF Free Download

California Rental Application

A California rental application is often used by a landlord or property management company when seeking a viable candidate for a rental property.

This application will help the prospective tenant to present their information in an organized manner for approval.

The landlord may require a non-refundable fee and should receive an answer from the landlord shortly (1-2 days).

Once approved, the tenant will be issued a lease to sign.


Application Fee – Initially, landlords could charge a maximum screening fee of $30.

This amount may be adjusted annually with the Consumer Price Index.

As of February 2020, the maximum application fee is $53.33 (Cal. Civ. Code § 1950.6, California Apartment Assoc.).

Security Deposit – California landlords cannot charge an amount exceeding two (2) months’ rent for unfurnished properties, or three (3) months’ rent for furnished properties (Cal. Civ. Code § 1950.5(c)).

As a result, asking about any of these items on a rental application form (and/or using them to base an application decision on) is not allowed.

However, certain exceptions to the Federal Fair Housing Act laws do exist. In California, these include:

Age – an applicant’s age can be requested in an application and used to make a decision regarding tenancy in the case that the dwelling is located in a senior housing development, where 100% of the units are occupied by at least one 55+ senior. (CA Civ Code § 51.3 (2019))

Mrs Murphy Exemption” – a single-family home where the owner lives that is renting to only one tenant is exempt from Fair Housing Laws, unless a real estate agent represents the landlord.

Additionally, race cannot be a deciding factor as per the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and there cannot be any discriminatory advertisements to discourage applicants of a certain group. (CA Govt Code § 12927(2A) (2019))

Sex – the sex of an applicant can be requested in the case of a shared living situation that exclusively houses single-sex or same-sex roommates only. (CA Govt Code § 12927(2B) (2019))

Religious Organizations – landlords can use religion to give preferential consideration to certain applicants if the property is owned, operated, controlled, or supervised by a religious organization that does not rent it commercially.

However, other discrimination may not be used to influence the decision. 42 U.S. Code § 3607

Private Clubs – a private club that operates without public access or commercial intent and do not discriminate when it comes to accepting members may provide preferential consideration of applications for lodgings owned or operated by the club. 42 U.S. Code § 3607

Consent for Background Checks

Before a landlord can run a credit check based on the prospective tenant’s information on the submitted rental application, the Federal Credit Reporting Act requires that written consent must be given by the applicant.

This written consent can be given via a statement of such and signature on the rental application form itself (like in our free template), or via a separate consent form (such as this one).

California public records include eviction records, which means that anyone can access them.

This can be done with a third-party screening program or manually.

To search for records on your own:

Go to the California Court Directory.

Choose the superior court for your jurisdiction or the previous home location of your tenant (or check multiple if you are unsure about specific jurisdictions)

Navigate to the “Civil” court division and find the “Portal” option, often located on the case information page.

Conduct a search using the tenant’s name and other filtering criteria to help you find the appropriate records.

Evictions are categorized as “Unlawful Detainers” for the purposes of finding eviction records.

Adverse Action Notices

If you acquire a consumer report for an applicant (i.e., credit, eviction or criminal history) and take an “adverse action” against them such as any of the following:

Rejecting the applicant

Requiring a co-signer (when they didn’t include one before)

Requiring a larger security deposit

Requiring higher rent

Then you are legally required to provide the tenant with a notice letter that includes certain details, known as an “adverse action notice”.

This is required even if the consumer report’s information wasn’t the primary reason for the action.

The notice must include details about the consumer reporting agency, an explanation that they didn’t take the adverse action themselves (and can’t explain why it was made) and a statement on the applicant’s right to a copy of the report and to dispute its contents within 60 days.

Additionally, when rejecting an applicant, it’s recommended to specify the reason (but not legally required).

Processing a Rental Application

The next step in the tenant screening process is to use the information on the rental application form to conduct a background check:

Credit Check– subject to the tenant’s written consent, a credit check will either provide a simpler “pass/fail” report, or a full credit report including the tenant’s credit score and information about their income, employment, past addresses, credit inquiries and more.

Under California law, the prospective tenant may request a copy of their credit report and the landlord must provide a copy to them.

Eviction Check– an eviction check aims to show the tenant’s history of eviction filings or judgments against them at any point in the last 7 years.

Criminal History Check– a criminal history check aims to show any records involving the tenant in state court criminal records or in databases such as the national sex offender public registry.

Additionally, cities can implement their own rules.

For instance, Berkley and Oakland prohibit a landlord from inquiring about a prospective tenant’s criminal background information.

When an application fee is paid, the applicant has a right to a copy of the report used to make the decision regarding tenancy.

The fees charged must also be itemized and provided on a receipt for the applicant. (CA Civ Code § 1950.6(d) (2019))

Language English
No. of Pages5
PDF Size2 MB

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