Credit reporting agencies, which are governed by the Federal Trade Commission and the Fair Credit Reporting Act require that every landlord obtain a proper Acknowledgment and Authorization from a prospective tenant – prior to being legally able to acquire his or her consumer credit file.
Most rental applications sold online or in office supply stores do not contain the necessary language required by law! So unless you intend on having all of your applicants each signing separate forms to cover your legal requirements, you must add a standard Acknowledgment and Authorization to your rental application to ensure you are compliant with both the credit reporting agencies and the Federal Trade Commission.
The Acknowledgment has an applicant agree that he or she has received a copy of the FCRA Summary of Rights (free copies are everywhere, including this site). This is an essential federal disclosure, informing the applicant they have certain rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, while also having them acknowledge that—should they have falsified or omitted any information you have requested of them—they may very well forfeit any offer of tenancy. The Authorization, on the other hand, gives the landlord a clear legal approval by the prospective tenant to conduct a background check, in order to verify all information contained on the rental application.
The following is an example of a standard Acknowledgment and Authorization declaration, which should appear above the signature lines, at the bottom of a rental application:
[I certify and declare under penalty of perjury under relevant state and federal law that the information contained in my rental application is complete, true and accurate. I acknowledge that falsification or omission of any information may result in the immediate dismissal or retraction of an offer of tenancy. I hereby voluntarily consent to and authorize the landlord to obtain my consumer report. I further authorize all persons and organizations that may have information relevant to the processing of this rental application to disclose such information to the landlord. I understand that I have specific prescribed rights as a consumer under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and have received a copy of those rights titled FCRA Summary of Rights.]