A rental service agent trashes his former rental service

by Joe Zekas on 6/24/14

Live Here Chicago is a rental service that’s on our our do-not-call list and our list of the top 10 Craigslist apartment ad spammers.

We’ve also written about the company in connection with fraudulent reviews at Yelp. A comment was added to that post yesterday from someone representing himself as someone who had worked at Live Here. That same person, who disclosed that he now works with a competitor, apparently posted a scathing review of Live Here at Yelp. The individual’s name surfaces in connection with Homescout Realty – another rental service that we’ve suggested has unleashed legions of shills at Yelp. The state license lookup database still surfaces his name at Live Here Chicago.

I’m betting that Jeremy’s review of Live Here Chicago will be removed from Yelp, so I’m reposting it here. Bear in mind as you read it that you’ve entered a wilderness of mirrors and should be deeply suspicious of what the writer has to say and of his motives for saying it. That said, Jeremy gives an accurate description of the problems that renters and the rental agents who work at them frequently encounter at Chicago’s rental services.

Listen up people! I’m a past employee here. After 6 months I moved on to a different company. I want to provide all of you potential customers with a few tips and warnings if you decide to do business here.

1. Never give them a check unless you’re 100% sure it’s the property you want. They’ll tell you it’ll take 3 to 5 business days to get approved and then push it through ASAP so that your check is no longer non refundable.

2. They charge a 400-500 dollar penalty if you back out after application, but before approval. Respectable brokerages don’t do this. This is a surefire sign that they care more about a quick payday than doing their best for you.

3. One of the many company policies beaten into our heads was, the client will screw you over in a heartbeat, so JUST GET THE MONEY!

4. You have management that is frequently intoxicated. If the guy helping you fill out an application smells like a bar, it’s probably because he just came from the bar across the street.

5. Absolutely ask to view the MLS listings. Those are the best properties and they avoid showing them to you because we only make half as much money on them. And don’t believe them when they BS you and tell you nothing is available.

6. Oh and if any of you are checking this out because you think you might want to work here? I’d think again. I left this brokerage over 2 months ago and I’m still owed $5100. Another past agent is owed $600. Another is owed $2100. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle

7. Also be aware that many of these reviews are fake. When we start, the owner Carolyn asks us to post a fake review or if we have any friends or family that would post a fake review to help their legitimacy, or lack thereof. If you don’t believe me, here’s a link to a website that called us out on it while I was still working there.

Keep in mind, I’m not saying that it’s impossible to have a good experience there. I’ve had several in my tenure as an employee. There are also a few quality people there. Like [names redacted]. (request one of them if you do work there) But if you don’t play 100% by management’s (somewhat underhanded/unethical) rules, well, you’re gonna have a bad time.

If you have any follow up questions or want more details, feel free to email me at [email address redacted]

Good luck, you’ll need it.

Jeremy is apparently young and naïve, so I’ll chime in with the voice of experience.

“Quality people” don’t remain at a company when they know it’s routinely asking its agents to engage in review fraud, cashing renters’ checks before applications have been approved and steering renters away from MLS-listed apartments. These practices are common at Chicago rental services and are just a few of the things they won’t tell you about how they operate.

Rather than run the very real risks of working with a rental service, set aside the time to find an apartment on your own. It’s really not that difficult, and you’re likely to get a better deal and have a less frustrating experience.

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