In Illinois and particularly within the Chicago municipal limits, rental applications can be difficult to navigate for both landlords and tenants alike. With the area’s expansive rental market, it’s important to ensure that the tenant not only fits into the existing tenant pool but also meets all necessary legal requirements of a rental application. Here, we review some frequently asked questions about rental application forms in Chicago to ensure that both landlords and tenants have the tools necessary to guarantee a safe and successful lease agreement.

What Elements Should a Basic Rental Application Form Include?

Though specific regulations can vary from city to city, landlords should include the following important elements in their rental application forms:

    Information regarding the tenant’s identity: Full name, mailing address, city, state, and country

    Employment history for the last two years

    Income information, such as salary, commissions, and other sources of income

    Personal contact information, including email address and phone number

    Bank account numbers

    Previous rental history with contact information of former landlords

    Signed authorization for the landlord to run a background and credit check

    Statement that the tenant will abide by the lease agreement

The above-listed elements are the minimum necessary; landlords may wish to add their own particulars.

Are Landlords Required to Run Background and Credit Checks?

Landlords can, but are not always required to, run background and credit checks on potential tenants. In most municipalities, landlords must inform tenants of their right to a background check and must obtain written authorization from the tenant before proceeding.

Other municipalities prohibit landlords from screening potential tenants based on factors such as racial identity, religion, or sexual orientation. Landlords must confirm which regulations apply to their rental properties prior to running such checks.

What if a Tenant Fails the Credit Check?

In the event that a tenant fails the credit check, landlords are generally required to explain the issue to the tenant before denying their application. While some rental agreements allow the landlord to reject an application upon failure of a credit check, other rental agreements require the landlord to provide an alternate option. For example, the landlord may require a tenant to pay a larger security deposit on the property in lieu of a credit check.

Are Tenants Generally Required to Fill Out a Rental Application Form?

Generally speaking, tenants are expected to fill out a rental application form; this form is then used to verify their identity and other necessary information. Additionally, landlords may require tenants to include references from current employers or former landlords.

Are All Rental Agreements Enforceable?

Landlords should always create legally sound rental agreements that contain all the necessary elements and do not violate any local, state, or federal laws. Moreover, landlords should never enter into agreements with tenants that have fewer than 12 months of remaining rental periods, as this is generally not considered an enforceable period under most rental agreements.

Wrapping up

When landlords and tenants are well-versed in their rights and expectations, rental application forms and agreements can be mutually beneficial. Landlords should vet their tenants adequately, while tenants should be mindful of their right to privacy and should always read the terms of the agreement to ensure they are following proper legal protocol.

When in doubt, both landlords and tenants should rely on experienced attorneys to obtain sound legal counsel and maximize their rights under the rental agreements.


Chicago Rental Applications,

Legal Counsel,

Rental Applications