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Before a landlord can lease a rental property to a prospective tenant, it is important to run a background check to learn more about their credit history, criminal history, and more. However, to do this, Illinois law requires landlords to receive explicit consent from the applicant in writing.

This is why drawing up an Illinois rental application form is an important first step in finding the right tenant to occupy your rental unit. Keep reading if you're new to the rental business and need more information on what to include.

We'll provide you with information about the laws governing these documents, so you can ensure that you're compliant. Here's what you need to know about the Illinois residential rental application.

Illinois Application

Illinois landlords and property management organizations use rental application forms to assess whether a potential tenant is qualified for a lease agreement. This document is designed to acquire fundamental, up-to-date information about the prospective tenant and ask for permission to verify their credit history.

The purpose of doing this is to determine whether the candidate is able to afford the security deposit and monthly rent and find out whether they have a good record of paying creditors. This will help the landlord decide whether prospective tenants qualify for the lease. Low-income tenants, for example, may not be eligible for a particular rental amount.

What to Include

All Illinois rental application forms should contain the following basic information:

  • The potential tenant's personal information
  • Employment and income details
  • Their rental history
  • Credit history
  • Personal preferences
  • Explicit written consent allowing the landlord to perform a background check

What Not to Include

Federal and state laws protect potential tenants against housing discrimination. As a result, these details may not be included in Illinois rental application forms.

Federal Restrictions

The following groups may not be discriminated against, according to the Federal Fair Housing Act:

  • Nationality
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Color
  • Sex
  • Criminal history
  • Disability
  • Familial status

State Restrictions

In addition to these federal restrictions, Illinois also prohibits landlords from including the following information in a rental application form:

  • Age
  • Pregnancy
  • Children
  • Ancestry
  • Marital status
  • Genetic profile
  • Sexual orientation
  • Veteran status
  • Order of protection status
  • Gender identity

Illinois Fee Laws

Here are some of the state laws governing rental applications in Illinois:

Application Fees

There is no cap on the amount a landlord can demand as an application fee in the state. Municipalities and cities might have their own regulations regarding application fees, so it's essential to check with local authorities. Although it's recommended not to charge more than the typical out-of-pocket price, the landlord has the last say in how much to charge.

The Security Deposit

Illinois state law does not set a limitation for security deposits. However, local governments may impose their own restrictions. Illinois security deposits and holdings are exempt from receipt requirements, but Chicago has separate rules.

Landlords in Chicago are required to give tenants a receipt for any deposits they receive. They must also save these deposits in banks covered by the Illinois FDIC and provide tenants with information about where the funds are held.

Background Checks

According to the Federal Credit Reporting Act, the prospective tenant must grant written approval before a landlord can perform a credit check using the data on the filed rental application that pertains to the potential tenant.

The rental application form may contain a declaration to that effect and a signature, or a supplementary permission form may be used to provide this signed consent.

Background Check Types

Here are some of the assessments you can do before determining whether a candidate is suitable for the rental property or not:

  • Credit history check. The results of a credit check will either be a comprehensive credit report or straightforward "pass or fail" credit reports. Detailed reports often include the applicant's credit score and details about their income, job, previous addresses, credit requests, and more, depending on the potential tenant's written approval. There are a number of online resources that you can use to conduct this check.
  • Criminal history check. A criminal background check will reveal records concerning the renter in databases like the state court criminal records or the national sex offender registry.
  • Eviction records. An applicant's history of eviction cases or judgments against them for the previous seven years is revealed by an eviction search. You can find more information on how to do this check in the section below.

Eviction Records

DoorLoop has a handy background check feature that you can use when screening applicants. Alternatively, you can use the public registry to find information about a candidate's previous evictions. Here's how:

  • Visit the list of Judici Participating Courts. 77 out of the 102 Illinois Court records are available on Judici. Choose the county from the menu if you know which one the tenant's former jurisdiction is located in.
  • Next, in the name search box, type in the applicant's name. There will be a list of all active cases.
  • To view any case-related information, click on the case number. Remember that free services offer limited access. With a six-month subscription, premium services can be purchased for $24.95 per month.

Important Notices

If you reject the application, request a co-sign if one wasn't included initially, or require a larger rental or security deposit amount, you must provide the applicant with a letter known as an adverse action notice.

Here, you'll need to include details about the adverse action, with proof of the credit check.

Building Your Own

Leasing a rental property can be a daunting task. Moreover, there are so many details to include in an Illinois rental application form that it can get confusing. This is why you'll need an intuitive tool to help you draw up rental applications.

You can count on DoorLoop's editing tool with an autofill feature to create the perfect Illinois rental application form quickly and easily. Plus, with features like tenant screening, lease management, and more, you'll have everything you need to run a successful rental business.

Alternatively, you can use our Illinois rental application form, available in PDF and Word versions.

eSignature

DoorLoop makes it easier than ever to create and sign Illinois rental applications and leases. With it, it's easy to save reusable lease templates, autofilling your new tenant's details into the appropriate fields whenever needed.

Once the lease agreement is created, it just takes one click to request eSignatures from your new tenants. From there, you're good to go!

How about finding those great tenants in the first place? DoorLoop syncs with websites like Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads, Apartments.com, and others so that you can market your listings and bring in prospects on autopilot.

You can also make sure you're bringing in the most reliable tenants by screening your prospects in seconds through an integration with TransUnion.

To get a closer look at DoorLoop, learn more or schedule a free demo.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have all the information you need, you can draw up your very own Illinois rental application. To find out more about DoorLoop's property management software or book a free demo, contact us today!

FAQs

What is the purpose of a rental application?

These documents are intended to help landlords and property management companies determine a candidate's suitability for leasing a property.

Can I run a background check without consent?

No. It is illegal to run a background check without obtaining explicit written consent from the potential tenant.

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David Bitton

David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!