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Read further to learn more about rental applications in Illinois such as what fields should be included, what information a landlord can’t ask for, and what other Illinois-specific rental regulations apply to the rental application process.
What is a Rental Application?
When a new person applies to live in a unit that is for rent, a rental application is often the form that is used so that the landlord can gather some critical information about the person before accepting them into the unit as a tenant.
A rental application can be very valuable for a landlord who is looking to find well-qualified tenants for a particular property. In fact, this type of document has become the industry standard thanks to its ability to help the landlord gather information about those that are looking to rent at a particular property. A good form will allow for the landlord to check references of a prospective renter, have an idea about their level of financial responsibility, and will even provide a background check.
These documents are easy to fill out by a tenant, and they are a great no-fuss method of getting a good look at potential renters. In situations where a prospective renter doesn’t have the right level of credit for a property, a guarantor or cosigner can be used to ensure that the financial responsibilities of rent are covered.
Illinois Rental Application Elements
Fortunately, this type of document is designed to be reasonably brief, but for the sake of legality, it should have a few crucial subsections. These include:
Description of the Unit
The application should thoroughly describe the unit being rented. Unlike other documents like leases, this information can help the prospective tenant decide to attempt a tenancy on the property, so one of the first things that should be included in this section is a description of the type of property the rental is. For example, is the rental for an apartment, a townhouse, a duplex, or a single-family home? Include as many details about the unit in question. Also, if there are multiple properties on offer, then a list of these can be provided.
After that, the physical address of the property should be provided. This includes the street address, the building number, unit number, the county, and the zip code of the property. Next, the square footage of the property should also be provided as well as any diagrams that might illustrate the features of the rental unit in question.
Outline the potential lease start dates for the unit. While this information can change, it helps illustrate for the tenant when a possible move-in can happen. Finally, the monthly payable rent for the unit should be noted here for reference.
Personal and Contact Information
In this section, it’s critical that the landlord get as much information about the prospective tenant as possible. This information should be placed at the front of the application so that the information is easy to find when the landlord is reviewing applicants. Here are the key points of information that should be requested:
- The Applicant’s Name: For this, the landlord should request the first, middle, and last name of the applicant. Some renters will prefer to only leave their middle initial.
- The Applicant’s D.O.B and S.S. Information: The date of birth of the applicant is required as well as the social security number. This will allow for landlords to run background checks on applicants.
- The Applicant’s State I.D.: Some form of state identification is required for most rental applications, and in most cases, this is a driver’s license. For those tenants that don’t have this, a state-issued identification card will be useable.
- Contact Information for the Applicant: In order for the landlord to reach the prospective renter, several points of information can be used. In this section, the landlord may request the applicant’s number or email address. If there’s an alternate phone number, this should be placed in this section as well.
Finally, information about any cotenants should be provided as well as the number expected to share the property. This can include the family of the applicant.
In this next section, the landlord should specifically ask about the history that the applicant has with other rental agencies and landlords. This makes it relatively easy for the new landlord to determine if there have been any red flags during any of the previous tenancies that the applicant has had. For example, if the tenant had issues paying the rent and was served a Notice to Quit, then this information is beneficial for a landlord who wants renters that can pay their rent on time.
In this section of the application, the landlord will ask for the past three properties where the renter has lived. If the renter has lived at a particular location for an extended period, then this requirement of three may be waived. Additionally, the phone numbers and addresses of these management companies should also be provided so that the landlord may contact previous owners about the applicant’s tenancy.
Sometimes, the applicant may not have three previous addresses where they rented a unit. If this is the case, then the landlord may require a guarantor to rent the property to the applicant. This effectively serves as another individual vouching for the renter. In a situation where the applicant has either ended their lease early or has been evicted, then a guarantor may also be used to ensure that there is a means for the landlord to recoup any potential losses.
Seeking out tenants that have a strong economic history is another way for a landlord to ensure that they are renting to responsible parties. To do so, a landlord can do research into the financial history so that prime renters can be found that will be able to pay the rent in a timely fashion. One of the best ways to provide this kind of information is for the applicant to report the income that they have received to ensure that there’s enough money to afford a tenancy at the property.
In the state of Illinois, it’s relatively common for landlords to ask about the last five years of employment. This will help the landlord determine if the applicant has had stability, and it will also provide information about the employer so that the landlord can reach out to them if needed. As a result, a space for the full address, telephone number, and the name of a supervisor should be provided for in this section of the application. A space for the amount of time spent employed at the current position may be added as well.
Additional sources of income are also helpful for a landlord to know about. For example, if an applicant has a second job or has a website that generates income, then this should be reported because this can help a landlord make a rental decision. In addition to these types of extra income, other sources like dividends, pensions, and lottery winnings should also be considered and accounted for on the application. Many Illinois landlords may also like to know about the applicant’s savings account and if there is more than enough money therein to cover the rent for an extended period.
To make things more affordable, some applicants in Illinois may want to add on another party to the lease. Still, in many cases, the applicant can serve as the primary tenant on a lease, and additional tenants may be considered roommates. Roommates, which can even legally be spouses, will count as residents of the rental unit, but their income doesn’t necessarily have to be tabulated into the required income for renting the space. Some landlords may request that any additional roommates fill out an additional application or at least part of one, but this is not always the case.
At a later date, roommates may be added to the lease; however, this is primarily done to ensure that there is a detailed record of the individuals dwelling on the premises. This is particularly useful in the case of an emergency where the landlord will be able to tell any concerned authorities the precise identities of those living in the rental unit. This also makes it easier when a roommate loses a key; they can simply approach the rental office and get a new one made or have the unit opened for them.
While not every property in Illinois allows for animals, many do. Even in those properties that do allow pets, not every unit on these properties are pet-friendly, so the application should clearly ask if the applicant has a pet or is looking to adopt a pet during the tenancy. For those that do have pets, identifying information should be provided in the application. This includes the name, sex, age, weight, and breed of the dog or cat that will be dwelling in the rental property.
In addition to this, evidence of shots, as well as rabies tag numbers, should be asked for so that this information is on the records. With the application, the landlord can even request a picture of the pet that can help the owner find the pet should he or she become lost during a tenancy.
All of this information is essential as it alerts the prospective tenant to the pet policies of their potential new home. In addition to this, many of these rules are designed to keep the pet safe, so most applicants will easily acquiesce to the request. Sometimes, there are policies that limit the number of pets in a unit, so this should be listed clearly in the pet section of the application. If there are exceptions for specific breeds, then this needs to be noted in this section as well.
Landlord and Other Personal References
To get more information about the applicant, a landlord may also consider attaining personal references. In many cases, personal testimonials from previous landlords, coworkers, or supervisors can be instrumental in deciding on the viability of a tenant. For the purposes of these references, due to a need to remain partial, family members are typically not allowed.
In most cases, at least three references are requested. For completeness, the full names, numbers, email addresses, physical addresses, and the number of years known should be included. Most applicants will have no problem providing a new perspective lessor with the information needed to contact personal references, but it’s crucial that the application explicitly attains written confirmation from the prospective lessee. At the bottom of this section of the application, the applicant will need to sign and date this section to verify consent.
It’s always a good idea to get to know the applicant as much as possible before making a decision. To facilitate this, many landlords include a few questions that will grant them some insight into the personality of the prospective renter. For example, questions asking whether or not the applicant smokes can help. This will let the landlord know if the atmosphere of the rental property will be affected by a renter’s habit.
Additionally, has the applicant committed a felony? Has he or she ever applied for bankruptcy or been evicted from a previous dwelling? If the applicant answers “Yes” to either of these, then there can be a small section asking for an explanation about the circumstances that led to these situations. It’s important to understand that sometimes these situations can occur to anybody, which is why it’s a good idea to review the explanation section.
It’s not uncommon for one of these applications to include a personal statement section that’s designed to provide supplementary information about the applicant. This can consist of simple statements about how the property fits the applicant’s needs, or it can also include information about special needs the applicant may have. For example, if an applicant requires a service animal, then this supplementary info is crucial for a landlord that owns a non-animal-friendly property. This is also an excellent place for an applicant to disclose any pertinent information about disabilities or other special accommodations that they might need.
Finally, for the sake of legality, both the prospective lessor and lessee will need to sign and date the application. In addition to this, each should also print their names at the bottom so that there is a clear record of who signed the document. In some cases, landlords may also want to note that the application doesn’t guarantee acceptance into the rental property and that the application fees are nonrefundable.