Is Downtown Apartment Company a lawyer-led scofflaw?

by Joe Zekas on 1/28/14

According to Downtown Apartment Company’s (DAC) website, Benjamin W. Creamer, the company’s managing broker, is an attorney who formerly practiced with one of Chicago’s most prestigious law firms.

Creamer’s background might lead you to expect that DAC would strictly observe the Illinois Real Estate License Act requirement that his firm have written authorization before advertising a property for rent on its website, on Craigslist, or in any other venue.

You’d be wrong in making that assumption.

Creamer’s background might lead you to expect that DAC would strictly respect the owner’s rights in the copyrighted images posted on a property’s website.

You’d be wrong in making that assumption.

Several property managers have informed me that DAC has not been given the legally required written authorization to advertise their properties, and has copied their photos without permission. A representative of the owner of several properties advertised on DAC’s website told me he had never heard of the company.

Creamer’s background might lead you to hope that DAC wouldn’t pollute Craigslist with 100s of repetitive ads each day in clear violation of Craigslist’s unambiguous terms of use.

Wrong again.

My take is that DAC and other “finder” services are apartment losers – they want you to get lost in the swamp of ads they place on Craigslist and the incomplete information on their websites in hopes that you’ll misunderstand just how easy it is to find an apartment in downtown Chicago.

Our at-a-glance lists of downtown and near north apartments will connect you to the same properties advertised on DAC’s website. Most of those properties will have near real-time information about prices and availability on their website. Dealing direct with the property will spare you the guesswork and risk that result from dozens of rental services advertising and showing the same properties. If you schedule an appointment online directly with some of the properties, rather than through a rental service, you’ll receive a discount on your rent.

According to DAC’s website:

With us as your trusted advisors, you can be confident that you’ll be getting the best deal out there.

I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that claim. My take is that it’s laughable. DAC is currently advertising for leasing agents – no experience is required for the “trusted advisors” who will get you “the best deal out there.”

If you are or have been a Downtown Apartment Company “client,” did you receive the agency disclosure required by Illinois law?

Finally, if this is the behavior you can expect from a lawyer-led rental service, consider what you can expect from the rest of them.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jose January 28, 2014 at 1:25 PM

Jesus.. give it up already.. it’s boring us to tears.. Take a vacation enjoy your old age. stop whining and complaining!! No wonder why your looking so old and tired!!

Reply

Joe Zekas January 28, 2014 at 3:07 PM

Jose,

If you’re bored, you can go out and look for an honest job.

Reply

Peter February 10, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Joe,

I’m looking to rent and all the ads on craigslist are 15-20% cheaper than the prices listed on the buildings’ websites themselves. Are you telling me that these rental services are flat out lying about price, or is there something I’m missing? The absurd price differential does not make sense to me.

Reply

Joe Zekas February 10, 2014 at 2:16 PM

Peter,

There are several possible reasons for the discrepancy, the first being dishonesty in the Craigslist ads.

It’s also possible that the rental services are advertising rents net of free rent incentives offered by a building while the building is reporting the gross price before incentives on its website.

It’s also not unusual for brokers to advertise higher rents than buildings do. In some cases that’s because the landlord charges a higher rent to tenants who use the “free service” of a broker. In other cases a broker might be overstating prices at a building to steer renters to buildings that are paying a higher commission.

If you’re looking at building websites, why bother with Craigslist? In downtown lakefront areas our lists have all the buildings, with links to their websites. You can also get legit price info on condo rentals from an MLS search at a reputable broker site.

Reply

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