Rental Application v20 Released: Big Upgrade

In early June we released version 20 of our rental application. This new Word document is a substantial departure from the previous Excel spreadsheet, making it easier for each of us to edit as necessary. We also provide several conceptual improvements, including checkboxes, room for detailed prior residences and the chance to describe educational attainment. Our rental application can be a primary tool for providing equal housing opportunity without relying on "gut feel" about whether a renter will succeed.

An iPad sits on a wooden desk. The iPad shows the MassLandlords rental application. The first few fields are on-screen.

New Checkboxes for Multiple Choice Answers

The previous application tended toward ambiguity for certain questions. For instance, previously we had written, "Driver's license number (if applicable)." This implied to many that identification was optional. (We recommend identification be mandatory.) The new application gives a list of valid and accepted forms of identification and clear checkboxes for "Which will you be providing?" Non-driver identification cards and international passports are allowed and fairly considered.

Expanded Prior Histories

It is unfortunate for renters, but as eviction becomes harder and harder, good renters have to jump through more and more hoops to distinguish themselves. Our residence history now looks back seven years. Renters must now explicitly indicate if they neither owned nor rented the place (e.g., were couch surfing). This helps us identify valid references (or lack thereof).

Since many households are working multiple jobs and also receiving public assistance, we now provide four primary areas for applicants to detail means of paying. This includes their first two jobs and first two forms of public assistance, including child support.

Because the application now requires so much information, we encourage applicants to fill it out once and reuse it with every landlord who accepts the standard MassLandlords application.

Educational Attainment

Nothing brings a landlord's face to their palm faster than a renter who wrecks their apartment through ignorance, like turning the heat off before leaving for a winter vacation. For those of us who do not specialize in life skills training for our customers, we now provide two different areas for landlords who wish to evaluate a renter's educational attainment. We accept information about formal degrees as well as all other non-academic licensure and training. For example, there is a space for a licensed cosmetologist or plumber to differentiate themselves by saying so. In-progress education can also be listed. So can returning citizen (post-incarceration) internships and other experiences. Our default applicant qualifier now for the first time weights formal educational attainment in certain contexts. Interested owners and managers can expand on this to award or deduct points specifically based on an applicant's demonstrated ability or intent.

"Ban the Box" Encouragements

Increasingly we are seeing pressure on housing providers to give equal housing opportunity by not asking certain questions (see for instance "eviction sealing"). We anticipate these possible negative outcomes by stating that not all prior histories are relevant. We still encourage renters to provide truthful and accurate information for discussion purposes in accordance with applicable law. It is much better for an applicant that they disclose and justify a prior incident before we see it. Lying remains a recommended disqualifier.

Fillable Fields

For the first time, our application now comes in three formats: word, PDF, and a third "fillable" PDF that can be typed into. This can be loaded into any software that recognizes fillable fields, like DocuSign, for a renter to complete online. The fillable version is not customizable unless you have your own Adobe subscription.

Latest Rental Application Summary

Overall, our latest rental application provides equal housing opportunity while helping you avoid the disaster of eviction. We encourage all landlords to join as a member to download our rental application.

Download the Application

Our latest rental application is now available on our dedicated page.

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Rental Application

A downloadable rental application, complete with helpful secondary forms and explanations for how to use it.
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