A California rental application is a form that landlords or property management companies use to find the right tenant for a rental property. This form usually asks for an applicant’s personal information, rental history, financial statements, and references from employers or former landlords. While there are general compliance requirements for any rental application, landlords must also consider explicit California laws that dictate things like the maximum rental application fee and what questions a landlord can ask an applicant.
RentSpree makes the application process fast, easy, and legally compliant for landlords and renters. You’ll find everything from an online rental application and tenant screening to renters’ insurance and insurance verification.
Maximum Fees ($)
- Application fee (§ 1950.6): The amount of the application screening fee shall not be greater than the actual out-of-pocket costs of gathering information concerning the applicant, including, but not limited to, the cost of using a tenant screening service or a consumer credit reporting service, and the reasonable value of time spent by the landlord or his or her agent in obtaining information on the applicant. In no case shall the amount of the application screening fee charged by the landlord or his or her agent be greater than thirty dollars ($30) per applicant. The thirty dollar ($30) application screening fee may be adjusted annually by the landlord or his or her agent commensurate with an increase in the Consumer Price Index, beginning on January 1, 1998.
- Pet deposit – Not mentioned in state statutes.
- Security deposit (§ 1950.5(c)) – Two (2) months’ rent for unfurnished rentals; three (3) months’ rent for furnished rentals.
In California, landlords are required to follow specific laws and regulations when screening tenants and reviewing rental applications. These laws are designed to protect both landlords and tenants and ensure that the rental process is fair and transparent. Informational only; not legal advice.
- Security deposits and other fees: This law sets limits on the amount of money that landlords can charge for things like security deposits and application fees. It helps protect tenants from being charged excessive fees when renting a home. California Civil Code § 1950.6.
- Housing discrimination: Under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, landlords are prohibited from refusing to rent to someone based on protected characteristics including race, religion, and gender identity.
- Consent to obtain credit report: This law regulates the use of credit reports by landlords to screen potential tenants. It requires landlords to obtain the tenant's consent before accessing their credit report, provide notice to tenants if they are denied housing based on their credit report, and disclose the reasons for the denial. California Civil Code § 1785.16.
- Use of criminal history for tenant screening: This law restricts landlords from using criminal history to deny housing to potential tenants, except in certain cases where the criminal record poses a safety risk to other tenants or the property. It helps prevent discrimination against individuals with a criminal history who may be trying to rent a home.
- Protecting a tenant's citizenship status: A landlord cannot be compelled by law to provide details about a tenant's citizenship status to a government agency. California Civil Code § 1940.3.
- Income and employment verification: There are specific requirements landlords must follow when verifying an applicant's income and employment as part of the tenant screening process. This helps ensure that landlords are treating all applicants fairly and not discriminating against individuals with certain employment or income types. California Civil Code § 1962.
- Written notice of FCRA rights: Landlords must provide written notice to prospective tenants about their rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when obtaining consumer reports or background checks. It helps tenants understand their rights and protections when landlords are checking their credit history or other personal information. California Civil Code § 1950.5.
This is not an exhaustive list of laws and regulations that govern tenant screening and rental applications in California. Consult with a licensed attorney to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.