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black man completing paper application - The Residential Tenant Applicatioin - what to ask

The Residential Tenant Application- what to ask

The residential tenant application form is a critical part of your tenant screening process. This important document provides information that will help you make an informed assessment of your potential tenant’s suitability.  

There are many rental application templates available to landlords. Online platforms such as and include free residential tenant applications on their websites.  Landlord/tenant organizations such as and have very comprehensive rental applications for a small fee, and Staples and the Law Depot also sell rental applications.

Whichever residential tenant application you choose, your form should request information in six key areas.

  1. Personal information
  2. Landlord references
  3. Previous addresses
  4. Employment history and references
  5. Authorization to run a credit check and if needed, a criminal record check
  6. Documentation to support the application such as government-issued identification, a recent pay stub, or proof of income from a financial institution or accredited authority such as an accountant or lawyer


This section of the residential tenant application is important to establish the tenant’s identity, confirm the number of people living in the property, and provide contact information. It’s a good idea to check the Alberta Human Rights Commission to ensure your application follows the Human Rights Act. The Personal Information section should include;

• Full legal name/s of applicant/s

• Birthdate (month/date/year)

• Present address, postal code

• Telephone number

• Email address

• Drivers license

• Make and model of car/s

• Occupancy request date

• Names of all people who will occupy the unit license, government id with a photo)


The landlord references section in the residential tenant application establishes rental history and provides you with contact information for the tenant’s previous landlords. Be sure to ask for a three to five-year history and the first and last names of the previous landlords. If the tenant has rented from a property management business, ask for the property management company’s name and the individual names and contact information of the person who managed the tenant’s building. Include:

• Previous addresses (3-5 years)

• Rental references (3-5 years)


Employment references are more credible than personal references. A personal reference will always provide positive feedback, but an employer is more likely to reply to your questions honestly since they represent themselves and their company. Typically, people’s work patterns are the same as their personal patterns. A reliable, dependable worker is frequently a reliable responsible tenant. Include:

• Employment information of current employer and previous employers 3-5 years; include supervisor’s first and last names, title, telephone number, and business address

• 2 work references (current, previous) with first and last names, address, phone number, and email address

• Monthly income from employment and other sources


A few years ago, a landlord colleague rented out a room in her house. The tenant’s employer called her one morning because the very reliable tenant didn’t show up for work, and he asked her if she saw the tenant leave the house that morning. She answered that she hadn’t seen him go and called the police. When the police arrived, they discovered the tenant had a heart attack and died in his sleep. Luckily, she had his emergency contact information and was able to get in touch with his family.  When you’re in crisis, that’s not the time to be tracking down emergency contacts. In case of an emergency medical situation, it’s good practice to have an emergency contact/s, include:

• 2 Relatives or friends who can be contracted in case of emergency


This is a section within the rental application where the tenant confirms all information provided on the application is true and that they authorize you to complete a credit check. This section of the application must be signed and dated by the applicants before your run a credit check.


Documentation to validate the rental application information is standard practice with landlords. You can request government-issued identification, a recent pay stub, or proof of income from a financial institution or accredited authority such as an accountant or lawyer to accompany the application.

A residential rental application covering the six key areas is a critical component of your tenant screening process and your success as a landlord. The residential rental application provides you with the current and past landlord, employment, and credit information that helps you to assess your potential tenant’s suitability.  

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Nelda Schulte is a property investor who is passionate about helping investors who self-manage have profitable investment properties through resources and education. If you struggle with the wrong landlord forms, or worse yet, no landlord forms check out Nelda’s 10 Essential Editable Landlord Forms that help you separate the good tenants from the bad and increase your property’s profitability.

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