Chicago rental service deceptions, net rent edition

Advertising a lower rent than what’s actually available in a building is only one of the many ways that Chicago rental services trawl for renters.

Advertising a “net rent” when a building is offering a month or more of free rent is another way to deceive unsophisticated renters into calling or emailing.

The typical free rent offer takes the form of not paying rent during for a period of time, e.g. a month. A “net rent” spreads the free rent over the term of the lease, lowering the amount paid each month.

The Craigslist ad pictured above for a unit at 420 East Ohio is from Jon Zolecki of Chicagoland Property Group, who we’ve previously singled out as a prolific Craigslist apartment ad spammer.

420 East Ohio currently has a 3-bedroom, 3-bath available for $3,970 and is offering a month-and-a-half free rent on that apartment, not the month stated in the ad. If you were to amortize the actual free rent over a 12-month lease, the net rent would be $3,474 a month, as advertised.

If you’re an unsophisticated renter who doesn’t read the fine print and simply responds to the headline price, you might think you qualify to rent the apartment based on the typical building policy that gross income must equal or exceed 36 times monthly rent.

Apartment buildings qualify renters based on the “market rent,” i.e., the rent before amortizing any free rent offers. An income of $125,064 would qualify you for this apartment if the market rent were $3,474. At the actual rent of $3,970, your income would need to be at least $142,920. That’s a 14.2% difference.

If you’re looking to rent in Streeterville, check out our our at-a-glance list of near north apartment buildings. You’ll find all of your available options there, and direct contact with the buildings will get you the straight answers you won’t often get from Chicago rental services.

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