AptAmigo is not a friend of YoChicago

Early last week I received a follow-up email pitch from Dan Willenborg, Co-founder and CEO of AptAmigo.com, inquiring about ways we might “work together.” I had ignored his original email.

When I visited the AptAmigo site I was shocked to see scores of copyrighted building and neighborhood photos that had been pirated from YoChicago without permission and without attribution.

YoChicago has published more original images of Chicago neighborhoods and buildings than any other real estate site, and our images have frequently been stolen over the years – but never on the scale undertaken by AptAmigo.

I reached out to a number of buildings and photographers whose images appeared on the AptAmigo site, and none of my respondents had ever heard of the site or given permission to use their images.

I emailed AptAmigo’s Dan Willenborg and invited him to call me. He did, and claimed that his site’s piracy of our copyrighted images was “unintentional.” That is, of course, a claim that’s laughable and utterly destructive of the credibility of anyone who would make it. Over the course of several days all of our images were removed from AptAmigo.

AptAmigo is not YoChicago’s friend, but is it a renter’s or landlord’s friend?

According to AptAmigo’s recently-revised privacy policy:

If you submit an inquiry through AptAmigo for a property on our site, we may pass along your Identity Information to the leasing office at the property we work with to show units at that property. The leasing office may contact you with pricing and availability information as well as additional information about the property.

We work closely with certain business partners and service providers and we may provide certain User information to our business partners and service providers so that they can offer or provide services to you.

The privacy policy originally stated, per the above screen cap, that a renter’s info may be given “to the leasing office at the apartment or a broker partner we work with to show units at that property.” It’s been changed since we alerted property management companies to the wording. The revised wording is different, but the substance is the same: when you click on a Contact Building link at AptAmigo you have no guarantee that you’ll be contacting the building.

When you click on a Unit Info link in the Units Available section of many building pages at AptAmigo you’ll find links to ads for rental services. A number of those ads have been placed without the written authorization required by the Illinois Real Estate License Act.

Is AptAmigo a renter’s or landlord’s friend? Not likely, in our opinion, and it will never be YoChicago’s friend. We don’t like sites that pirate our images, and we don’t like sites that facilitate rental services’ deceptive advertising.

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