Being a newbie landlord

12 Replies

Hi everyone, I'm from Illinois and will be purchasing my first rental property very soon. Where do you guys recommend finding tenants? And what paperwork do I need, as far as lease agreements, applications etc.. And where do I get it?  Can someone please list all the forms I will be needing as landlord?

Thank you in advance!


Have you studied your state landlord tennat regulations. Knowing the law is step one.

Join your local real estate investing club and see what thy have to offer.

Hi @Elsa M.

Some great ways to find tenants are through:

• A local realtor (this may cost you, but takes the work off of you)

• Trulia (free posting)

• Craigslist

• Facebook Groups in your local area

• Hanging pamphlets on local bulletin boards 

• Local Newspaper

Be sure to properly screen them (Credit, Criminal & Background)  by using one of various screening services that are out there.

Best of luck!

Check out the Chicago Creative Investors Association (CIA) run by Jane Garvey. The meet on a Sunday night near Lombard. Great place to network, hear great speakers and pick up tips. I run a similar group in southern Illinois which is too far from Wheaton for you to want to drive down.

Be careful where you buy your forms. What works in Springfiled or Rockford WILL NOT work in Cook County.

Get a pre-paid legal insurance plan like LegalShield. That way you can ask an Illinois attorney any question you want and get good legal advice.

PM me for more information about LegalShield. My contact information is below.

What can be more important than finding tenants. SCREENING applicants. We use Rent Perfect which does a nationwide credit, criminal and residency search. 

If they pass the screening go see where they live now. That is the best picture of how your home will soon look. 

We accept Section 8 applicants and have had no problems because we screen heavily. If you are willing to try this contact the local section 8 / Housing Authority near your property

Good Luck and Good Investing.

You can search : landlord and tenant law in (state) . That will bring up a lot of related information. Then you will have idea how much late fee can be charged, grace period, ...etc

If you open a rental manager account with Zillow and post your property they send it out to multiple sites. Zillow, Trulia, and Hotpads I believe.


Placing a for rent sign in front of the property usually gets a great amount of hits.  Trulia/Zillow postings are great too.  Craigslist is good but be sure to re post often as there are so many postings every day your listing can quickly get lost.  Paying a fee to a Realtor to take care if for you is also an option as they will take care of all the work for you.  The best is a combination of Trulia/zillow, Craigslist and sign out in front of the property if you want to do it yourself.  Go online and print out an application to have ready to hand out and google your local laws regarding disclosures you have to provide.  


I would recommend posting everywhere you can for free. When I post on Zillow they put it up for free on like 20+ other sites. Craigslist and Facebook are also great and free. When creating my lease I just looked at a bunch of other sample leases and apartment leases I had signed in the past and just kind of Frankensteined mine together with all the pieces that I liked.

FInding people that want to rent a property is easy.

Knowing how to screen tenants is a skill.  Hire a realtor who specializes in investment properties.  It's worth every penny.

Thank you everybody and @George Skidis for taking the time to respond to my simple question : )

So, I think this really depends on the type of property you have and therefore the type of tenant you're going to be a good match for.  We have A/B property and truly, our best tenants come through real estate agents because they are working with an agent and if I advertise my place on my own and they want to rent--they're on the hook to pay the agent's fee (unless I note "broker protected" or something like that--but then I'm paying a realtor fee anyway, just less)

Also, not sure if you're going to be buying near you, but absolutely visit the municipality and talk to them about landlord responsibilities, etc.  We owned in Aurora and honestly, it's not a problem and not hard but the landlord has some very specific responsibilities, lease addendum, training, etc.  It can catch you off-guard.  I've only been in IL 7 years and only owned in Aurora and Naperville so I can't speak to other areas--but make sure you check because it will affect the documents you and the tenant need to sign.  We found out the hard way that the rental we owned in Baltimore City couldn't have a working fireplace if we were renting it out.  After we bought it.  As a rental.  That was one of our first rentals and a mistake we never made again.

At minimum, you'll need:

  • Rental application (BP has some samples)
  • Lease
  • Lease addenda (drug use, specific cleaning stuff, flammables in detail, pet stuff--whatever)
  • Walk-through forms that have room to write down any issues and initial it (btw--we take pictures and put the pictures and a scanned copy of the walkthrough in Dropbox and e-mail the tenants a link).  Make sure it notes any garage door openers, fireplace gas keys, fan remotes, every key you give them, etc.
  • An information sheet for your tenant... when is garbage day?  What's their parking assignment?  What mailbox is theirs?  What number do they call for emergencies?  Ours also lists the day their rent is due and where it should be sent.

There's definitely more, but these are the barebones.

Good luck!

I used Craigslist and Zillow when I rented my apartment.  That was before I became a Realtor.  So, if you want maximum exposure and you're new to the process, consider having a Realtor list it for you.  He/She will handle all the paperwork, lead paint requirements, etc, and the cost is usually just 1 month's rent.

Otherwise, check out  They provide all the forms you'll need, based on which state you live in.


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