Some of Chicago’s rental services, also known as apartment locators and apartment finders, have been known to lie to renters about Chicago properties that don’t cooperate with them or pay less than a month’s rent as commission. I’ve also recently heard about rental services threatening to organize a boycott of a major landlord.
We’ve begun offering landlords the option of joining our campaign as “silent supporters,” and one of Chicago’s marquee landlords has recently signed on.
A silent supporter of the Craigslist Apartment Cleanup simply notifies us that a) no rental services have been given the written authorization required by Illinois law to advertise its properties, or b) provides us a list of specific exceptions. We will then meticulously document non-compliance on the part of any rental services and communicate that information to the landlord.
One of the goals of the Craigslist Apartment Cleanup is to eliminate all Chicago rental ads on Craigslist, Trulia, Zillow, hotpads and other popular sites placed by rental services without legal authorization. Eliminating those ads will make those sites much more pleasant and useful for Chicago renters and landlords.
We don’t believe our goal can be accomplished until the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (“IDFPR”) cracks down on the widespread abuses by Chicago rental services by levying substantial fines against them and revoking their broker licenses. Landlords who support the Craigslist Apartment Cleanup, publicly or silently, help us to assemble the documentation that is necessary to enable IDFPR to impose disciplinary sanctions. In due time, we’ll present that documentation to IDFPR. In the meantime, we’ll be giving Chicago rental services fair warning that they need to pay attention to what the law requires and change their long-standing ways of doing business.
We also don’t believe that a few fines, however large, and license revocations will be sufficient to eliminate the abuses. The survivors are likely to indulge in the “slithery dee” fantasy. We’ve begun reaching out through politically-connected contacts to identify state legislators who might be willing to support amending the Illinois Real Estate License Act to eliminate the Leasing Agent license and 120-permits on which the rental services rely heavily for staffing. More on that topic, later.
Like the Craigslist Apartment Cleanup Facebook page to show your support.
NOTE: YoChicago’s parent firm represents a number of Chicago’s reputable major brokerage firms and YoChicago competes at the margins for landlord marketing dollars with rental services. Make of any of that what you will.