Chicago’s rental services are high-turnover operations. New agents are suckered in by promises of high pay, a fun working environment and a clear career path. Almost all of them quickly learn that the business offers little compensation, is no fun and is a dead-end career that very few persevere in.
High turnover means that many renters wind up working with rookie agents who don’t know the neighborhoods, don’t know the relative value of the apartments they’re showing, don’t understand how unscrupulous their employers may be, and don’t understand the process well enough to ensure that renters get the apartments they apply for in a straightforward fashion.
Renters are ultimately paying the cost of a rental service, and they should insist on working with an agent who has at least two years’ experience and has been properly licensed for that length of time. It’s easy to check an individual’s licensing status and tenure at the IDFPR database. Select “Real estate” from the Board list.
There’s no guarantee of competence or integrity when you work with an experienced, licensed rental service agent –but at least they’re likely to be able to find their way around the city and have some familiarity with what you can afford and the apartments you qualify for.
It’s a sad fact that a number of rental service agents have criminal records. Research the individual you decide to work with before your appointment. You may or may not feel comfortable getting in a car and going to vacant apartments with someone who’s been convicted of dealing drugs or domestic battery.