Apartment rental bedbugs – Yo’s do-not-call list

by Joe Zekas on 3/21/11

Southeast view from Superior at LaSalle, Chicago IL

Note: Consult the 2014 version of our do-not-call list.

New renters in Chicago are often confused or misled by Craigslist ads into believing that they’re contacting a landlord or management company when they respond to an ad by one of the apartment locators we call bedbugs due to their many noxious qualities.

Many bedbug-placed ads on Craigslist are for non-existent apartments or apartments only available at a higher price. When an ad does represent an actual apartment at the advertised price, it’s likely to be advertised by dozens of bedbugs, none of whom have any control over the property or knowledge of whether it’s still available for rent.

The bedbugs advertise their service as “free,” and that’s an appealing argument to renters naive enough to believe that they’re not ultimately paying the one month’s rent a bedbug receives as a commission.

Finding a good apartment in Chicago is relatively easy – unless you’re using a bedbug / locator service to find one. In that case, you’ll often be shown the difficult-to-rent dogs that landlords can’t rent on their own. As a bonus, you’ll be pressured into believing that these leftovers are the best available.

If you’re looking to rent in downtown Chicago or Lincoln Park, YoChicago’s Guides make it easy to see what’s available from all the major buildings and management companies. Searching the MLS at a reputable broker site and walking around your preferred area on the lookout for rental signs will expose you to almost everything else.

If Craigslist is your preferred source, we’ve prepared a list of bedbug / locator services to enable you to avoid being bitten. Here’s YoChicago’s bedbug do-not-call list:

  • American Realty Pros
  • Apartment and Condo Center
  • Apartment and Home Seekers
  • Apartment Connection
  • Apartment Guys
  • Apartment People
  • Apartment Savvy
  • Apartment Source
  • Apartment Vigilantes
  • Chicago Apartment Finders
  • Chicago Apartment Hunters, Inc.
  • Chicago Apartment Renters
  • Chicago Apartment Seekers
  • Chicago Apartment Solutions
  • Chicago Rent Finders
  • Chicago Signature Properties
  • Chicagoland Property Group
  • Chicagoland Rentals a/k/a Meyers Group
  • Chicago’s Property Shop
  • ChiLife Realty
  • Chicago’s Property Shop
  • Continuum Brokers
  • Crazy Steve
  • Downtown Apartment Company
  • Downtown Apartment Finders
  • Dwell Chicago Rentals
  • Elan Leasing
  • Exchange Apartment Finders
  • Fulton Grace Realty
  • Green Ivy Realty
  • Homescout
  • Homestead Group
  • HotSpot Rentals
  • HP Realty
  • Just Rent Chicago
  • Linear Realty a/k/a Linear Leasing
  • Live Well Chicago Realty
  • Loop Apartments
  • Luxury Living Chicago
  • Meyers Group a/k/a Chicagoland Rentals
  • My Chicago Flats
  • My Place Apartments
  • New City Rentals
  • New Urban Property Services
  • Premier Chicago Rentals
  • Prospect Equities
  • Red Door Realty
  • Rent Apartment Leasing
  • Rent Here Realty
  • Rent Proactive
  • The Rent Pros
  • Rent Smart
  • Renters Refuge
  • Rentology
  • Second City Apartments
  • Shaw Real Estate Group
  • Spaces Property Group
  • State Street Properties
  • Tricap Preferred
  • Trudo Realty
  • Urban Lux
  • Vesta Preferred Realty
  • VibeRent Real Estate
  • We Know Realty Corp

New bedbugs are constantly being spawned, so we’ve doubtless missed some. Add a comment to help us update the list.

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{ 98 comments… read them below or add one }

Downtown March 21, 2011 at 8:57 AM

I’m an educated purchaser, not in RE at all, just interested in Chicago RE. For a buyers side Realtor, would you apply the same logic?

The [Realtors] advertise their service as “free,” and that’s an appealing argument to [buyers] naive enough to believe that they’re not ultimately paying the [2-3% of total purchase price] a [Realtor] receives as a commission.

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Joe Zekas March 21, 2011 at 9:15 AM

Yes.

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ComingBack March 21, 2011 at 11:05 AM

I’m getting very frustrated with these posts. You regularly rag on apartment rental services but you fail to provide any alternatives. Instead, you regularly refer to searching ” the MLS at a reputable broker site” but you never name a single one or any way that an individual can find one.

I don’t doubt that these bed bugs are heinous, but I would like some concrete alternatives.

Also, I haven’t had any luck whatsoever finding a single apartment listing on your site.

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Joe Zekas March 21, 2011 at 11:48 AM

Fail to provide alternatives?

Have you failed to check out the Guides we invested a great deal of time and effort in – and linked in this and other bedbug posts? You’ll find every single downtown rental complex listed there, with links so that you can find their listings directly.

Never named a single reputable broker? A number of our Gudies, and many rental posts, have included this or similar langauge:

You can search condos, townhomes and single-families for rent in the area at sites maintained by established real estate brokers such as Coldwell Banker, Koenig & Strey and Prudential Rubloff.

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ComingBack March 21, 2011 at 1:28 PM

Ahh, gotcha. It’s just certain neighborhoods that you’re lacking guides for where you don’t list rental complexes. That makes sense.

Thanks for the help. Although I suggest you include the referrals to Coldwell Banker et al in every post that you do on bed bugs.

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Mike A August 30, 2011 at 10:01 PM

Joe, The landlords create these firms and hire them to lease their portfolio of rental property. They don’t advertise on MLS but instead send out lists of their inventory along with commission incentives (150% at Magellan Tides & Shoreham) to the leasing firms. Say what you will, but you have missed the boat here. The big management firms and developers do NOT use our MRED MLS!!!!! They don’t want to pay the fees or deal with the process. Realty Mortgage, Wirtz, Group Fox, Enterprise… the list goes on – these are your main supporters of leasing firms not to mention the downtown biggies like Habitat, Village Green, NNP, Magellan…even Golub and Fifield NONE OF THESE work with MRED MLS. None of them list their apartments with anyone but leasing agents. They work with leasing firms. Joe, I think your blog is fun and you have great home tours but this is nonsense . You are going after the wrong people. Take it up with your clients like PPM who throw monthly parties for the leasing agents. Why aren’t these companies using the MLS? Because THEY DONT WANT TO PAY FOR IT (well PPM does actually). And as such, traditional brokerages do not typically participate in showing these properties. The problem is this: A Realtor goes to MLS to find her client a rental home say in Streeterville. She presents all listed property. (The client doesn’t have time to consult your list of apartment buildings on yochicago we assume) But what about McClurg Court? What about Streeter Place? River Center? 420? Onterie? At least 50% of the rental portfolio in any given market does NOT use MLS. So you advocate your client leave her broker and go door to door at these properties? Rather than hire a licensed agent to take them around on your banned list? OR you could argue the traditional brokerages should get better at the rental game – but why should they? In their eyes – its small potatoes.

BOTTOM LINE – YOU HAVE MISSED THE ISSUE. But I still think you are great.

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Joe Zekas August 30, 2011 at 10:23 PM

Mike A,

I don’t think I’ve “missed the issue” although I certainly haven’t exposed every complex facet of it in this post.

As you point out, the larger management companies don’t list their vacancies in the MLS. There are a number of reasons for this, the primary one as you note being cost. MLS rules require the companies to have all of their licensed personnel participate and pay dues.

Some of the management companies have dozens of licensed people on their staff and the monthly expense would be substantial. Then there are the per-listing fees. In addition, there’s the not-insubstantial time consumed in entering listings into the MLS and ensuring that the data is current in compliance with MLS rules.

If a client has a broker s/he should work with that broker. The traditional brokerages do have people who are familiar with and work with the larger buildings, most of whom are happy to cooperate with any licensed agent.

I know a number of agents who don’t consider rentals small potatoes and for whom, in fact, it furnishes a very nice living. More agents are catching on to that.

See, for example, the recent survey data from Chicago Agent Magazine. Nearly 1 in every 4 respondents reported receiving more than 25% of their income from rentals, and nearly 1 in 8 received more than 50% of their income from rentals.

I learned earlier today from an old friend that one of the top-tier national sites will be integrating rental data from major management companies into the same search that surfaces MLS-listed rentals. My friend is in a senior management position with that site. Look for a public announcement and rollout in about a month. This should be a huge convenience for the consumer.

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Mike A August 31, 2011 at 8:07 PM

Here’s the issue if I could take the liberty of reframing with verifiable facts:

1) In house leasing agents at the big apartment management firms are NOT licensed 90% of the time. Northside management firms in Lakeview and Lincoln Park – the biggest landlords, the downtown big high rises, etc. On site agents representing the owner typically are NOT licensed (nor are they required to be). The director of leasing is NOT a licensed agent nor are the various agents who show the apartments because they work only for one landlord – Fact. Only the licensed broker/owner needs to pay MLS dues if they want to list, so its a small amount of money. But they don’t want to pay it, list, deal, etc. ***** Its a total sham so they can select a specific set of leasing agents as vendors*** they want to work with some and exclude the others at will. Most do. It would sicken you to know that owners of thousands of rental units refuse to work with many of the national brokerage firms with ethics rules but will work with the leasing shops because they can control the process. If they went with MLS any member of CAR could legally show and lease. The strategy is to restrict the type of agents to those they can manage (and not get sued by). Here is where you get your “maggot” type firm you love so much. If you call XYZ apartment owner in Lakeview to show a unit, they will politely tell you they are not taking any new “locators” at this time. The same is true across the board. This is true and verifiable information. The big landlords complain about the agents at the same time they send (unlicensed) representatives to their firm with donuts and coffee to present their portfolios and leasing process. And the process is not a process any self respecting residential real estate professional trained in ethics by a large professional organization would choose to support. It violates almost every aspect of client advocacy and forces the agent to work for the landlord like a car salesman.

2) MRED did away with the per listing fees years ago. Its all inclusive now as many listings as you want included in your dues. If you own 40, 400 or 4,000 units, you could list them all for the same annual fee.

Joseph Askins March 21, 2011 at 12:01 PM

Along with the guides, we regularly direct readers to the sites we use to gather info on rentals. Joe may not mention them in his bedbug posts, but we link to them a lot elsewhere — if you’re not reading every Yo post, you may be missing them.

1) Every Friday we use Coldwell Banker’s site to collect data on rentals listed on the MLS, and we often mention that site as being the easiest of all the city’s brokerage sites when it comes to finding rental listings.

If you really need help navigating that site, here are my quick and easy instructions: Go to ColdwellBankerOnline.com and click “Rental” under the front page’s property search field. That takes you to an advanced rental search where you can choose your desired neighborhoods or ZIP codes, price range, bed and bath counts, square footage, and more.

2) We often fall back on prices listed at Apartments.com and link to that site when we do. You can conduct a search by ZIP code on that site, and find prices, building details, and contact info for most buildings through there.

3) “I haven’t had any luck whatsoever finding a single apartment listing on your site.” That’s because we don’t offer apartment listings.

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ComingBack March 21, 2011 at 1:28 PM

This was very, very helpful. Thank you!

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Wilson March 21, 2011 at 11:31 AM

Wow, I had no idea there were this many bedbugs in Chicago. Odds are there’s probably even a few more you missed. Nice list though.

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movingtheresoon March 22, 2011 at 8:40 AM

I posted a couple of weeks ago about my frustration with these maggots because I would search Craigslist and it made me curious to go back and look at a spambot I referenced back then. Same antics. Search DIY Design. Same thing. Hundreds of ads for a horrible choice of words.

First: what the hell does that mean?
Second: what the hell does it mean?
Third: what the hell does it mean?

I realize spamming is a numbers game and perhaps it works but you people need to learn to economize. Glad to see that agency I referenced on that list hopefully they take note and STOP SPAMMING CRAIGSLIST!

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Stephanie March 23, 2011 at 9:16 AM

Another alternative to the locator services is a new Web site that offers renters a way to directly connect with landlords. Similar to a multiple list service, renters can search, save and compare properties for rent!

Check out Chicago Rentals Direct.

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boiztwn March 23, 2011 at 7:15 PM

I would definitely add American Realty Pros to this list. They’re all over Craig’s List, and their ads are absolutely deplorable.

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Joe Zekas March 23, 2011 at 10:19 PM

Thanks, boiztwn.

I’ve added them to the list.

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eddie March 24, 2011 at 4:01 AM

What’s your opinion on urbanrealestate.com?
Thanks!

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Joe Zekas March 24, 2011 at 6:56 AM

Not familiar with the company. Appears to be a brokerage rather than a rental service.

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Dan March 24, 2011 at 7:56 AM

Joe I’ll see your Coldwell Banker Online and raise you a Trulia.com. As an added bonus Trulia has an iPhone app.

Lesson to readers… Everyone has their preference.

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kyle t. March 26, 2011 at 1:05 PM

I feel like I should step in and come to the defense of Apartment Connection.

I’d run into several of the issues mentioned in this article with Apartment Savvy — I responded to a Craigslist ad which turned out to be Apt Savvy. The agent there, while seated at a computer and responding “no problem” to our apartment criteria, spent most of his time looking for apartments out of a 3-ring binder instead and scribbling addresses on a piece of paper with what literally might have been a golf pencil. When we walked out to his car, there was a parking ticket on it, and then he drove us around to three buildings that he ran inside and then returned to despondently mutter that they had no available units. Then he started making frantic phone calls to his buddies, looking for “leads,” before finally telling us that we were simply not going to find any 2-bedroom apartments in Lakeview or Uptown within our budget of $1200. We left his car without letting him drive us back to Apt Savvy HQ.

The next day, I responded to another Craigslist ad that turned out to be Apartment Connection. I told the guy I wasn’t interested in a “service” because of the experience I had the day before, but he assured me he had exclusivity with his landlord clients, so I agreed to meet him. His office isn’t much to look at, but he drove us around and showed us no less than 5 amazing apartments (including the one actually featured in the Craigslist ad) that were well within our means. Thanks to Robert, I’ve spent the last five years in my favorite apartment I’ve ever lived in.

My landlady says she likes working with Apartment Connection because she hates dealing with that stuff on her own, and of course all of my neighbors in this building had similarly positive experiences like mine. Perhaps things have changed in the last five years and now Apt Connection sucks. But I don’t know. They did right by me.

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Joe Zekas March 26, 2011 at 3:57 PM

You may be the only human being alive who remembers the names of rental services they dealt with five years ago.

I suspect many readers will perceive your comment, as I do, as a relatively creative work of fiction.

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Joe April 8, 2011 at 6:59 PM

Joe,

Why is “my new place” not on your list of “bedbugs”? Could it be, that “my new place” pays the $699 a month to advertise on yochicago? Yes!

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Joe Zekas April 8, 2011 at 7:17 PM

JOe,

You’re wrong – and wrong.

My new place is a national rental listing site, not a local bedbug.

And it’s not a YoChicago advertiser.

We do not accept ads from bedbugs, and have even blocked them from running ads through Google.

Do some homework before you begin babbling.

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Joe April 8, 2011 at 8:02 PM

Two of yochicago’s sponsors: Weichert Realtors Frankel & Giles, and See Chicago Real Estate would classify under your bedbug list. But, they pay you.

I don’t care, that your bashing these people. I would like to know why? And, if your going to call out the bedbugs on yo’s sponsors to the list too.
Some of the bedbugs are bad: not well organized, unexperienced “agents,” no contact with management companies. But, others work hard and should not be on the list.
In fact, the bedbugs save the renters money. If there was no bedbugs, management companies would have to hire full time agents, with benefits, gas budgets for driving the potential renter around. All of these expenses would force the management companies to rase rent. Not to mention, 9 out of 10 renters that come to view a unit do not end up renting. Management companies know this and don’t want to deal with it. Its cheeper for management companies to use the bedbugs and have them deal with the work.

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Joe Zekas April 8, 2011 at 8:27 PM

Joe

Weichert Frankel and Giles and See Chicago Real Estate are sales-oriented brokers of long standing.

They’re not rental services even though, as do most MLS participants, they rent apartments. But in a massively different manner than the bedbugs.

Your grip on the economis of landlords and bedbugs is equally tenuous.

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Joe April 8, 2011 at 7:07 PM

Secondly, the terminology “bedbugs” is a made up term to describe the companies listed. So, Google Adwords can scan the article, and run Ad’s about bedbug extermination. Also, they can run rental agency ad’s Ad’s. From which, you make a money per click, per page visit, or a combination of the two.

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Joe Zekas April 8, 2011 at 7:18 PM

Joe,

See my reply to your earlier off-base comment.

We have affirmatively blocked everyone on our do-not-call list from running Google ads on this site.

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Joe April 8, 2011 at 7:20 PM

Ok, one more thing.

Two of yochicago’s sponsors: Weichert Realtors Frankel & Giles, and See Chicago Real Estate would classify under your bedbug list. But, they pay you.

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Joe Zekas April 8, 2011 at 8:32 PM

Joe

Way to repeat what you said earlier. An I’ll repeat my response.

Weichert Frankel and Giles and See Chicago Real Estate are sales-oriented brokers of long standing.

They’re not rental services even though, as do most MLS participants, they rent apartments. But in a massively different manner than the bedbugs.

Either you need a remedial reading course or you’re desperately making up lies. Most likely both.

Sniveling anonymice aren’t going to get much sympathy from other readers here, Joe.

What’s your interest in all of this? You sound an awful lot like a starving bedbug.

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Joe April 8, 2011 at 9:43 PM

Personally, I’m in the management side of the game. With our family owning 600 units in various Chicago-land locations. I’m no “bedbug” however, I do use the “bedbug” service from time to time. Especially, in the “rent season” which is now. It is cheeper and more convenient, not only for our small family owned management, but for the renter too. My question is to you, what is your interest in this? You are bashing all of the companies. As I have admitted in the other comment, some of the companies are bad; not all are. I have worked with majority of the leasing companies on your list. The ones I like i reuse, the ones I don’t I wont list with them.

You have a few articles on this subject. I read this on, and thought; ok, he’s got his own opinion. But seeing, as that you have 4 articles (that I know of) on this topic. Even an article that singles out one individual? I find it hard to believe, that you don’t have something to gain from all of this. I would like to know your reason?

I would list my name and management company. However, I fear we would end up in one of you articles.

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Joe Zekas April 8, 2011 at 10:15 PM

Joe,

Thanks for your response / disclosures.

I’ve written far more than four articles on this topic over a period of many years.

And I’ve repeatedly disclosed what stake I have in this.

First, I’m genuinely interested in protecting renters from the depradations and lawless behavior that’s par for the course among the rental services. Second, my firm handles print advertising for a number of the largest and most reputable firms in the city. The grotesque behavior of the rental services firms tarnishes everyone in the real estate industry. I have a direct stake in making it clear that not all real estate firms are like the bedbugs.

Why not be the subject of one of my articles in a positive way – by joining my campaign to clean up Craigslist apartment ads?

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Joe April 8, 2011 at 11:02 PM

Thank you, for your honesty! I enjoyed our debate. Tonight, you have gained a new reader on yochicago. I will surly make some positive comments on articles I take a liking to. Who knows, maybe I can contribute to one of youtube videos :)

All the best,
Joe

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Mike A August 30, 2011 at 10:17 PM

Well done Joe and Joe. I too am a landlord and agree the debasing of these firms is out of control. But I do like YoChicago.

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Vera Perner May 3, 2011 at 11:28 AM

Joe,

As an agent, I can confirm most of what you are saying here. I do both sales and rentals, and in this market – lots of rentals. On all my listings I take great VHT photos and do a videotour, and I caught many times these bedbug companies shamelessly stealing and using my great photos in their advertising of completely different units!! I always call these agents or their managing brokers to stop it, but it’s pandemic.There are no mechanisms in place to regulate honest advertising on craigslist and other places like it. So, when my clients sometimes e-mail me links to these imaginatory properties, posted on craigslist, I respond that there are sex predators, drug dealers, others of these types, who use craigslist as their main pasture, so please don’t take what you see there seriously:))
I called on one of the craigslist listings a week ago, one of these bedbug agents was advertising 2bed/2bath condo in Streeterville for $2500 including parking. No address, no details, just his name. I checked this agent through MLS, saw that he only had 1 listing, small 1 bedroom in 800 S. Wells, and I called and left him a message saying that my client would love to see his rental listing… He calles me back next day, and was happy to offer to show Wells… I said I’d love to show Streeterville property, and by the way, what’s the address? And what a deal it is! We’ll write an offer now:)) He was very confused, did not know what to say and how to explain that he knows nothing about it. It was funny, but sad. And poor renters, who end up working with ignorant, dishonest and unprofessional agents, who cannot do better. If these guys were good, they would not need to invent all these cheap tricks to get business.

Thank you Joe for the brave and very informative post!
Vera Perner, Coldwell Banker

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Nick Gonzales May 10, 2011 at 8:29 PM

Vera, its called a watermark. Its a competitive world out there and in any business, if you use personal images for gain, you need to have your images watermarked… duh.

I currently work for a management company at a Gold Coast high rise and have done so for over two and a half years. I am currently a renter myself, and have used a few of these companies without issue during my previous apartment searches (no one wants to live where they work which is why I have used a locator.. I am knowledgeable about my competition, so in reality, I threw a locator a bone). Though, I can admit, my experiences in person on a daily basis with a few rental companies have deterred me from working with those specific companies in my search for my next place. I have developed friendships with some people in the rental business and understand their difficulties. I have read your other articles about the topic and it just seems that you do not seem to understand that these are rentals and not a house/condo for sale. You call out Luxury Living for an ad that is $50 more than advertised. What you fail to understand is that high rise rental buildings change pricing every day and there are some that even have systems in place that change the price of every unit in the building as soon as a unit rents or is taken off the market. It is entirely possible for someone to have an ad up and pricing change in the next 10 minutes after they post it to whatever site, so I understand the difficulty of maintaining 100% exact pricing within their ads. From my experience, many of these companies have individuals who are just as knowledgeable about my building than I am. I know the rental market is extremely rapid in comparison to the sales market and there isn’t a current platform to show exact pricing on every rental unit in the city at every exact moment. Every non-exclusive building would have to go exclusive and that’s not about to happen.

Have you personally gone out and went on showings with these companies? If you haven’t, then I don’t think you have any business writing a DO NOT CALL list about them until you have went out with all of them and then properly evaluated your experience. And, if you claim that you have, please let us know the name of the agent you went with and the properties you saw on your faux tour. I understand bait and switch happens, but I do not think that is the case in the majority of the situations that I deal with on a daily basis. Point is, not every agent at every agency is the same. Not one agency has all great agents and not one agency has all bad agents, rental or sales specific. Your notion about this topic is purely based on who is spamming Craigslist with ads. Also, if you are financed by sales-oriented companies, then you’re trying to take away a good name that a few of these companies are developing by trying to de-value them by calling them “bedbugs”.

I look forward to your counter.

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Joe Zekas May 11, 2011 at 12:19 AM

Nick,

I’m well aware of the fluidity of the rental market, and ask very specific questions when I contact management companies to verify rental prices and to exclude the possibility you raise. The pricing variability you cite may account for an occasional price discrepancy in ads. In every case I’ve examined and reported on, the discrepancy results from bedbug lies.

I’ve been familiar with the rental services industry in many ways over dozens of years, and also have people in that industry I count as friends. My advice to renters is based on a lot more experience than simply on what I see on Craigslist.

I don’t get in the car with bedbugs. I don’t think anyone who isn’t bone lazy – or looking to throw someone a bone – should do that, especially if they’re looking to rent in the Gold Coast or anywhere in downtown Chicago. It’s simply too easy to contact landlords directly without running the very real risk of getting in a car with someone you say you wouldn’t do business with.

If you want to be helpful to renters how about providing a list of the companies you won’t do business with, and explaining why?

Until I meet you at your Gold Coast high-rise and someone in authority there vouches for you, I will continue to suspect you’re not who you claim to be but are simply yet another anonymous bedbug apologist.

When and where can we meet?

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Nick Gonzales May 11, 2011 at 8:34 AM

Keep living in your world of paranoia. I don’t want to meet you personally and I have no interest in bringing you to or having you speak with anyone from my job. Very rarely have I read an article where you praise the work of a management company, so I’m not risking anything about my life to give you some minimal insight into our company. You are, however, quick to form a negative opinion… see the list above. Also, I’m not giving you the opportunity to seek more financing for your site from our people. And if my company turned you down for financing, I’m sure we would get that negative review because I do know there are other buildings in the city that do finance this site. And you quickly bash the competition of your site investors, obviously.

I asked to hear about experiences you have had with each of these companies and you countered to ask something of me. Get real

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Nick Gonzales May 11, 2011 at 8:37 AM

A near 60 year old just asked to meet up with me on the internet and rental company workers are “predators and drug dealers”, right Vera?

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Joe Zekas May 11, 2011 at 9:10 AM

Nick,

We have a lengthy public record here that doesn’t support your lame attempts to confuse readers.

I think you’ve made it abundantly clear to readers that you’re not who you say you are.

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Nick Gonzales May 12, 2011 at 2:37 PM

I’ve made it abundantly clear that I have no interest in meeting an old man who wants a story and money for his site.

What attempt have I made in my posts to confuse a reader? I asked what claims you had about every single company within your list.. and you declined to answer that and instead asked me a question about my job. The only statements I made were that I work for a GC management company (sorry I’m not risking my job for you) and mentioned that you are older man that tried to arrange a meet-up with me on the internet, both of which are true.

I asked for you to let the readers know why every single one of those companies deserved to be lumped together, other than they seem to be rental-focused and they post a lot on Craigslist or other sites.. and you failed to answer.

What you are doing to me is the same thing you have done to many other people who post who have had honest, rational questions. You try to de-value me as a person and previous posters because we won’t give you the personal information you “require” for an answer because we don’t want our names dragged through your mud. You then steer the conversation to that, instead of just doing your research and answering the inquiry that was made. Here, I will make this easier on you… please see next post.

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Joe Smith May 12, 2011 at 2:39 PM

Hey Joe,

I am moving here from another state and am looking to deal with a company that focuses on rentals. What have all of these companies done that they deserve to be called bedbugs? Please site specific examples about each and every one of them.

Thank you and god bless!

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Joe Zekas May 12, 2011 at 9:46 PM

Nick,

Take it from an old man: honest people need have no fear of being “dragged through the mud” here.

I’ve done my research. Every company on the list belongs on it. I’ve written extensively here, for years, about why people should avoid these companies.

Do some reading here and you’ll learn more about some of the individual companies on the list – including much more about Luxury Living. If you’ve read the threads about that company here you know I’ve challenged it on much more than a minor discrepancy in advertised rents. Much more.

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Joe Zekas May 12, 2011 at 9:53 PM

Joe Smith,

If you’re moving here from a different state how does it happen that you share an IP address with Nick Gonzalez who already lives here?

Give it up Nick. It’s been abundantly clear from the start that you’re lying about your identity.

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Nick Gonzales May 13, 2011 at 12:55 PM

This is how old and how slow you are man. I said, see the next post. That was me lobbing you a softball for you to hit this question out of the park as an anonymous Joe Smith from out of town who wanted to know what these companies had done to be lumped together. I posted it less than 2 minutes after my previous post and obviously my IP address is on it. You’re an idiot. I know it’s Friday, but try to keep up.

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Nick Gonzales May 13, 2011 at 1:02 PM

And, I’m not worries about Lux Living. I asked about everyone of them and you haven’t cited a specific example about EVERY company on here.. I’ve read your articles about rental-specific companies, not all of them are mentioned.

And your wrong, most honest people do not want to be brought into your mess of a blog. I have zero to gain from this.. you have everything to gain from this and you are the one who controls this site, outside of your investors.

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Wilson May 13, 2011 at 2:14 PM

Nick,

Joe’s list is one of the best out there and it’s too bad more renters in the area are not aware of it. These rental companies are indeed bottom feeders. Years ago I had the unfortunate experience of working with one but after some unsavory practices and a call from my lawyer that was enough from me to know better.

If all of the companies listed above were to disappear overnight (wishful thinking), I’m sure there would be no one the worse for wear.

Wilson

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boiztwn May 19, 2011 at 11:27 PM

“Wilson May 13, 2011 at 2:14 PM
Nick,

Joe’s list is one of the best out there and it’s too bad more renters in the area are not aware of it. These rental companies are indeed bottom feeders.”

I can agree with this in part (tardy for the comment party) but Nick is 100% right when he said that the majority of rentals in Chicago “are rentals and not a house/condo for sale.” That’s my one issue with Yo!Chicago — a site originally devoted toward brokerage/sales that’s now repositioning itself as a rental resource.

The two industries are very, very different. During the swelling bubble, many brokers would never deal with the “sad egg, low-class” rental market, but now it’s a very different story.

There are predatory lenders, predatory brokers, and predatory leasing agents. Where I agree with this blog is on the agencies abusing the hell out of Craig’s List and squeezing out the landlords and managing agents from having direct advertising access.

So I appreciate what Joe and the blog as a whole is doing, but I also get Nick’s point. Not all agents are bad, and a broker won’t automatically make it better. Most managers/owners will cut off bad agents, and — surprisingly — most will not deal with the holier-than-thou brokerage sect that now want to sit at the rental table..

Just my take.

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Joe Zekas May 20, 2011 at 12:45 AM

boiztwn,

In my experience the worst of the larger traditional brokerage firms are light years ahead of the best rental services when it comes to good business ethics and dealing fairly with consumers.

I don’t think it’s true that “most” management companies / owners will cut off bad rental agents. Most of them only find out who’s bad when they’ve been burned, “most” don’t have sufficient experience with rental agents, and “most” are simply more vigilant when dealing with the bad ones. They’re very fatalistic about the rental service industry.

Many landlords also have a well-justified fear of the thuggish behavior that many rental services will engage in if landlords refuse to deal with them. It gets pretty ugly when you get out in the trenches with the bedbugs.

It’s also not true, in my experience, that “most” owners/ management will not deal with what you refer to as the “brokerage sect.” What’s more true is that traditional agents are unaware that they’re welcomed by most management companies / owners. I’ve spoken with agents who’ve expressed shock when I told them that I’ve confirmed with management companies that they’re welcome.

You’re correct that the traditional brokerage firms have come late to the rental party – and most still don’t do rentals where they don’t have exclusive listings. There are lots of reasons for this, but going into them would require me to say more about the work habits and intelligence of all too many real estate agents than I care to.

For the record, we’re not repositioning as a rental resource. We’re simply expanding our coverage of real estate, in recognition of the fact that our historical subject matter focus – new construction in the city – has ground to a virtual halt and is likely to remain in that state for a number of years to come. We have to follow the market.

Going back in the company’s history we published a weekly real estate paper for a dozen years – Apartments & Homes – that covered rentals as well as sales, so it’s not a new area for us.

Thanks for offering your thoughtful takes.

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Johnny Grafft May 26, 2011 at 8:25 PM

I was absolutely appalled to find out that my company is listed on this list. I created my company after dealing with 5 of the companies you have listed above looking for my first Chicago apartment in college. I recognized there was no true service and that everyone was trying to up sell and hard sell every place they showed me. I saw an opportunity to do something different.

I would like to know the agent you went with that lead you to your opinion about my company. My company has even been libeled and attacked by the biggest company in Chicago because we are making a difference within this industry. We are a young company with a new way of doing things. Your accusations are libelous and your objectives are extremely questionable as hinted by previous commentators.

The idea of going to a conventional brokerage to find an apartment in Chicago is laughable. They do not have an extensive database, they deal purely off the MLS, and if you asked them three years ago to find you an apartment, they would laugh, “Rentals?! Not worth my time”. Now them and their arrogant ways are swarming in because they cannot pay their mortgage. I rented two apartments today that you cannot find on the MLS and you would only be familiar with if you have industry knowledge. Pushing the companies that advertise with you is unbelievably unethical and you have the chutzpah to bash companies you have no knowledge of for “questionable tactics?” Even resulting to name calling as if it was recess..

The list of management companies you created is very helpful, but you fail to acknowledge the many people in the following predicaments that are very grateful for the service we provide, at NO COST:

Someone…
relocating
without a vehicle
does not want to visit every building to find out for themselves which on is the best
does not want to spend days looking for a place
who put their trust in the right hands

The presumption that renters will get a better deal on their own is rational, but not absolute. Most buildings will not lower their rents because it hurts their perception, retention, marketability, valuation, and ultimately their refinancing opportunities. It does not affect them the same way to offer a commission to an agent. They also do not want tenants talking amongst themselves saying “You pay how much!?” I own/manage 19 buildings and will gladly pay a locator/broker/agent a commission to find me a qualified tenant. I would never think of reducing my rents for the argument “I came without a broker.”

I personally have an envious closing rate, and an admirable retention rate. I’ve put my previous renters into their first homes. I’ve had my clients crying at the closing table thanking me for my help. You think I don’t apply the same methods and approach to renters? I put my client in their fourth rental in four years last month.

This article is just infuriating as it is unbelievably myopic and undeniably layered with questionable motives. I request that you take my company, Renters Refuge, off your list, or tell me who you know that used our service and why they came to the conclusion they did so I can do something to change it.

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Joe Zekas May 26, 2011 at 10:40 PM

Johnny,

Sigh! Yet another rental service that’s – wait for it – not like all the others. And who wants to share the vast wisdom he’s gained during his year in the rental service business in Chicago.

You’ve probably noticed that I deleted the link to your Web site from your name.

I have the great good fortune of never – to my knowledge – having met anyone from your company. And I’ve never spoken with anyone about your company.

Your placement on the list is based solely on a careful review of your online presence – and in my judgment your firm has clearly earned a place on the list.

My motives are transparent if you spend enough time on this site. My advice to use an experienced conventional broker affiliated with a major company if you’re interested in an MLS-listed rental is sound – and far more people do just that every month than use your “service.”

Since you’re so interested in educating me, let me educate you a bit.

Read Section 36 of the MRED MLS rules and then look at your Web site.

You talk about my chutzpah and then bash my clients while disregarding the rule that requires you to disclose their names on their listings on your site!

I’ve sent appropriate links to your Web site to the compliance staff at MRED, and I think they’ll find those links interesting.

I am curious to learn how you put your “client in their fourth rental in four years last month” when the state database shows you only being licensed since January of 2009.

If you want to continue this exchange I’d be happy to take a closer look at your business and its level of compliance with state licensing laws.

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Francesca Rose May 27, 2011 at 10:19 AM

I am a licensed real estate agent who began my career in rentals, moved to sales, and am now doing rentals and sales.

My comment is not aimed at any individual on this post, but upon this issue. I do think that many sales/based real estate agents should take continuing education to bring better skills to their client, whether landlord or tenant. It would benefit everyone.

I do agree that competition brings the best to the marketplace, but not when it is based on lies. Regardless of how fast, quick, innovative, market-savvy a leasing agent might be, to me, all credibility is gone when they claim that they “are newly licensed” or awaiting “MLS application” when a quick check shows this is not the case. I think, if you lie about this, what else do you lie about?

Do yourself and the public a favor. Call yourself a “locator” not an agent or broker. If you are as good as you claim you are, then don’t resort to poaching my listings without my permission and posting on craigslist at a lower price, with the impression that you are the listing agent, and then have the nerve to call me to show a prospect. Build your own business, don’t steal my inventory.

I am not publicly naming names in this post because the matter is being handled through the correct legal channels. But if you engage in this practice, stop it. Just stop it. And get your license.

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Johnny Grafft May 29, 2011 at 4:39 AM

Joe,

By owning property, you do not have to be licensed to place someone. Turning tenant to client is not a common place occurrence either. I was raised in this industry, and have been involved in it actively for 7 years. I appreciate your review of my site, and we will make the appropriate changes. After review of our company, what “findings” justified our placement on your site? We don’t spam craigslist, we don’t change prices, we don’t mass hire anyone, we extensively interview and screen anyone before they every speak with a client, and we do the best job we can at what we do. What harm are we doing?

This will likely be my last visit to your site. I always thought it was good source of information, with relative and local topics, but after getting a clear picture into who runs it, it is not something I have an interest in supporting by adding another hit to your sales sheet.

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Joe Zekas May 29, 2011 at 5:08 PM

Johnny,

I’m not surprised that you don’t consider 1,000s of violations of a basic MLS disclosure rule sufficient reason to be on our list.

Would you have been moved to correct those violations solely on my suggestion or did you hear from the MLS?

I can’t find any record in the state licensing database that Renters Refuge is registered with IDFPR as an assumed name for Onward Realty. It’s registered with the Secretary of State Corporations Division as such. Does state law not require that you either register it with IDFPR or name Onward Realty on your Web site?

Your Yelp reviews were part of my placing you on the list. They didn’t pass my smell test.

Your first reviewer, for example, was based in Portland OR while having her hair cut for 5 years in Cincinnati. She used a company in Central Florida that had no outlet in Chicago or Portland to deliver and pick up her moving boxes. Etc.

Another one of the Yelpers that used you to find an apartment in Chicago apparently never left California, based on her other reviews.

Your Yelp property manager recommender’s tortured explanations about connections around the country are hilarious.

Here’s a screen shot of the featured property at your Web site, which you’ve also advertised on Facebook and Craigslist.

I can’t find a single Streeterville property that matches the description in your ads, and all of them are linked from our at-a-glance apartment list. I’m also unaware of any Streeterville complex that authorizes any rental service, in writing, to advertise their properties – as required by state law,

How about naming the property and / or sending me a copy (suitably redacted) of your written authorization to advertise this property?

There’s more, but it’s Saturday.

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boiztwn May 29, 2011 at 7:05 PM

“Regardless of how fast, quick, innovative, market-savvy a leasing agent might be, to me, all credibility is gone when they claim that they “are newly licensed” or awaiting “MLS application” when a quick check shows this is not the case.”

Francesca,

Leasing Agents are not required to know the MLS, or have access to it. In fact, no “licensed” Leasing Agent should have access.

I understand it’s probably just a technical slip=up on your part, but — in my opinion — requiring State licensure to Lease a basic city apartment is akin to unionizing a sales rep at Home Depot.

Rentals are different from sales. Owners are exempt from licensure, when they are often far more ignorant to the law (FFHA, CRLTO) than an experienced, unlicensed agent.

Again, I take many issues with locator firms. Licenses are nowhere near the top of my list.

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Joe Zekas May 29, 2011 at 9:23 PM

boiztwn

I know Francesca is fully aware of the licensing requirements for leasing agents and their MLS status.

Her point is that she was being lied to simply because they don’t have MLS access and therefore can’t schedule a showing through ShowingAssist.

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frequent reader June 28, 2011 at 9:15 PM

what about rent doctor? is that a bed bug company?

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Joe Zekas June 28, 2011 at 10:42 PM

frequent reader,

Doesn’t appear to be operating as a bedbug rental service, but is an operation I’d definitely shy away from.

I haven’t examined her site in detail, but the first of “our Chicago Rental Properties” – Unit 505 at 1260 W Washington – is listed with another broker, and there’s no attribution to that other broker. That’s an MLS violation, at the very least.

“The Medicine Cabinet” link suggests there’s a “Standard City of Chicago Lease” that’s “required by Cook County.” Those claims are wrong to the point of being idiotic. She’s charging $10 for a lease that you can buy for a fraction of that cost. She’s also charging $5 for a copy of the Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance that you can get online for free – and suggesting that the Chicago ordinance is “required by Cook County.”

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ANON August 13, 2011 at 4:19 PM

Illinois Real Estate State Law only requires a leasing agent to have to put the managing company’s name OR their managing broker who holds their license on the ad. I never claimed to know real estate law HOWEVER, I do know how to read and to do know how to research to find answers.

Mr Zekes, apparently is a person who is an uneducated person who apparently is unable to read and comprehend the english language, uses slander, unfounded, and erroneous accusations for your own personal and financial gain.

You inferred that you recommended Rent.com and Apartment people, when in fact I only mentioned it because I used them and NOT SAYING YOU RECOMMENDED them. The companies you did recommended, however, are the same companies who sponsored your company and I HAVE PERSONALLY visited a few of the companies you listed, asked for their help, ASSURED me they could help, gave them application fee after application fee only to find that they could not deliver what they promised. They had me spend hundreds of dollars in application fees, if anything those companies should be ridiculed. I do have a right to express my distain BECAUSE I WAS THEIR CUSTOMER and I went through the process of several different real estate agencies, NO ONE could help me but Shaw Real Estate Group.

I have read some of the other people’s complaints about your articles and have realized your stance as an ignorant and arrogant person to whom interprets the law and passes judgement on people with no bases other than your own financial gain.
Those companies that you recommend and who are sponsoring you, I wonder if they understand they are just as libelous as you and your company are for what you wrote. I wonder, if they knew what you were writing could result in a class action lawsuit if they would continue to sponsor you.

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Bea August 14, 2011 at 12:40 PM

Dear Mr. Zekas,
I noticed that my post was removed after I wrote it. I find that very strange. So, I have no problem re-posting what I wrote about your slander on Crazy Steve, My Place Apartments, and Shaw Real Estate.
In Short, I am insulted by what you wrote in your article Crazy Steve and Felonious Strippers. First of all, I am a nurse and spent the last 20 years of my life in the same apartment. I paid my rent on time and never missed a payment. I was forced out of my building because it was falling apart and was condemned. I spent the last 40 years of my as a nurse helping other people during a time that they needed help while they were sick and I pray I gave them comfort. Second, I am not a criminal. Third, I am not a stripper however, strippers are humans and to degrade and use them as sub human beings. Crazy Steve may not be the most professional person but, at least he gives people a chance to live and treat people as equals. I know alot of strippers in my line of work. Some ladies that I work with put themselves through school by being a stripper, and they are not bad people. Others are single mothers who have no other forms of support. They need to care for their children and financially support them. These women are upstanding citizens and should not be degraded as you insinuated.
You and your article disgust me. Shaw Real Estate Group helped me when ALL other failed me. Just because I had bad credit. I went to your sponsors to whom you seem to ONLY support. I ended up spending $2000 in application fee after application fees because the agents told me to apply and I would get an apartment. Let me tell you about the apartment they showed me were all slums and said that this was what I deserved because I simply had bad credit. I was so ashamed. In the end they still did not provide what they promised. I was out $2000 and literally was about to be homeless.
I read reviews like yours regarding Shaw Real Estate Group, My Place Apartments, and Crazy Steve I was terrified to go. But I was desperate. Had I listen to you and those other reviews, I would be homeless right now, they delivered what they promised, all within 24 hours of me walking into their office. They not only found me a decent place to live, a great landlord, that fit all my needs and then some but, they got me approved and $300 cheaper than what I originally wanted to spend. The team at Shaw Real Estate Group care about their clients, they deliver what they promised.
You basing your decisions on slandering them because of a few bad reviews… the few reviews I had read, of few of them never even walked into their office they describe events that is not the standard of the company. I know, having spend a day in the office to get me into an apartment you see and hear, and get a good understanding of how the business runs. Shaw Real Estate Group have helped hundreds of people with their testimonials and photos on the wall. Other reviews, the writer seems to be unstable mentally. For instance, the one Yelp review states they have a F rating on the BBB. When you click on the link it takes you to the BBB and thier rating is in fact A-.
You should NOT be so lazy, do you job, and actually go to these companies personally to see if they are as EVIL as you claim they are and NOT base your opinion on reviews from people you don’t personally know yourself.
Your articles disgust me, you serve no other purpose but to serve yourself financially when you write your articles. Scare off people who really need the help. I could have saved time that I could have spent with my patients and $2000 had I not been so scared to go to them.
Anon is right and I agree with them, your editor should be careful in allowing you to write articles because purposely trying to damage a company based on your assumptions or for your own financial gain can get you into a lot of trouble legally. You should be ashamed of yourself and do your job by being non bias to serve your readers not yourself.
Good luck and God Bless

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Joe Zekas August 14, 2011 at 3:15 PM

I should be ashamed of myself because I don’t buy your lying impersonation! That’s rich.

You posted the same comment on multiple posts, and you can’t even remember which false identity you used when doing that! You’re not even a very good liar.

Why is it that no one who says anything positive about these folks is willing to disclose their real name?

Do you really think that anyone believes that my clients, honest businesses, ripped you off while Crazy Steve did right by you?

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bea August 14, 2011 at 5:13 PM

Mr. Zekas has another article that I posted the same comment. He chose not to respond to my comment on this side. So I will do it for him. Since this man, if one wants to call him that, is so lazy that he could not bother doing himself.

He Writes:
Joe Zekas August 14, 2011 at 3:15 PM
I should be ashamed of myself because I don’t buy your lying impersonation! That’s rich.

You posted the same comment on multiple posts, and you can’t even remember which false identity you used when doing that! You’re not even a very good liar.

Why is it that no one who says anything positive about these folks is willing to disclose their real name?

Do you really think that anyone believes that my clients, honest businesses, ripped you off while Crazy Steve did right by you?

REPLY
bea August 14, 2011 at 5:05 PM
Dear Mr. Zekas,
I am not full of contradictions within anything I say. Anon is correct in saying you do lack the comprehension of the English language. As I stated in one of the post, I believed you removed my original post.

(I have only posted from the same email, so one more lie Mr. Zekas is imposing on his readers.)

When a person who who has low morality as yourself, why would anyone one trust them with their personal information. I am not the one who contradicted myself where by all accounts you have on a consistent basis contradicted yourself. People have caught you in a lie and instead of explaining yourself you attack them because you, yourself are hiding something.

We can see you are a proven liar with very low morality. Anyone who does a little research can find holes in your child like comments.

Please tell us, are you currently practicing Real Estate? Who is your broker? Are you a Broker? what’s your company’s name?

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Joe Zekas August 14, 2011 at 8:56 PM

bea,

You beautifully illustrate what people can expect if they were crazy enough to contact the companies you recommend.

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Bea August 14, 2011 at 9:36 PM

are you refusing to give us the information I requested? What are you hiding?

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Joe Zekas August 14, 2011 at 11:02 PM

Meet me in person and identify yourself and I’d be happy to give you whatever info you want. We’ll video the meeting so people can judge our relative credibility.

Fat chance of your being put in the position where you would have to tell the truth about anything, however.

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ANON August 15, 2011 at 3:13 PM

Mr. Zekas,
You should be ashamed of your accusations. I have seen Bea’s testimonial and picture on Shaw Real Estate’s wall amongst the hundreds of people they have helped . I don’t blame anyone who has a profession to meet with you. You seem like a miserable person, who knows what the extent you would do to hurt a person.

If you have nothing to fear or you feel that you have not done anything wrong, then publish your information that Bea requested. Your hypocrisy and accusations of other people not stating their information when they have, is astonishing.

So, please tell us, are you currently practicing Real Estate? Who is your broker? Are you a Broker? what’s your company’s name?

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Joe Zekas August 15, 2011 at 11:10 PM

ANON,

Why do you creeps never stop trying to confuse the issue?

If you read anything here you’d have the answer to your questions. If you did 2 seconds research on the Web you’d learn a lot about me.

Since you appear to be brain dead a) I do not practice real estate; b) I am not a broker; c) I do not have a broker; and d) my company name is Data Based Ads and YoChicago.com.

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ANON August 16, 2011 at 1:13 PM

Dear Mr Zekas,
Are you saying you own YoChicago.com? Who is your partner? Are you solely responsible for the content of YoChicago.com?
Thanks

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Joe Zekas August 18, 2011 at 2:14 PM

I’m solely responsible for the content of this site, including the materials our staff provides.

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Dr. Keyes August 18, 2011 at 1:42 PM

Dear Mr. Zekas,
I work with Bea and am shocked that you attack such a devoted person to the medical profession. I remember her situation and how frustrating it was for her. She did struggle for 6 months looking for an apartment and I was shock she went from agency to agency to ask for help. She even went through what you suggested and go on foot to find an apartment on her own. I can’t begin to tell you how difficult and time consuming it was for her.

I was relieved when she finally did find an apartment and since her success story through the for mentioned company in her story, we have sent other nurses and staff who have difficulties in finding apartments on their own.

I am surprised that you have difficulty understanding that if you have never used their service, known anyone personally who used their service, or even visited their faculties how you can use such blatant slander?

In any event, I have had the pleasure in meeting with the Shaw Real Estate’s president and their attorney who happens to be their managing broker. They are upstanding citizens, they do do things very legally and they provide a outstanding service.

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Joe Zekas August 18, 2011 at 2:12 PM

If you’re not a sleazy liar operating on behalf of this company you’ll furnish a traceable e-mail address and meet me for an interview. I don’t expect you to do that.

It seems that no one here talking about how wonderful these services are is ever willing to put a real name and a face behind their testimonials.

And the services never seem to recognize how transparent their lies are and that they’re only embarrassing themselves by planting them.

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Laura Monroe August 25, 2011 at 5:23 PM

Apartment rental services are free. When renting an apartment, one generally pays the first month’s rent and a security deposit, if the landlord/building requires it. The only difference in the case of an apartment finding service is that the first month’s rent goes to the service, as opposed to the landlord. I agree that some apartment finding companies are no good, but you are misrepresenting the facts in your article.

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Joe Zekas August 25, 2011 at 5:28 PM

You haven’t cited any fact I’ve misrepresented.

So, the renter’s first month’s rent goes directly to the rental service to pay for the “free” service. The tenant is paying for it – either in the form of higher rent or reduced service. No way around that fact.

You ought to have disclosed that you’re an agent with Rent Smart.

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