Rent Here Realty’s Chardonnee Cunningham has five glowing reviews at Yelp, the most recent from two weeks ago. The earliest of the remaining four, all of which were flagged as suspicious and filtered by Yelp, was on January 21 of last year. A filtered Yelp review of Cunningham at a different Rent Here office dates to December of 2011 and other reviews at that office from August and September of last year.
On April 11 of this year, 16 months after she was first documented as working as a leasing agent, Cunningham was issued a leasing agent license by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
Section 5-5 (d) of the Illinois Real Estate License Act provides that “a person may engage in residential leasing activities for which a license is required under this Act, for a period of 120 consecutive days without being licensed…” Section 20-22 of the Act makes it a Class A misdemeanor to act as a leasing agent without a valid existing license or permit.
Pursuant to Section 1450.240 (d) of the Illinois Administrative Code “A person shall not practice under a 120 day leasing agent permit more than once in any 24 month period.”
Section 1450.110 (a)(2) of the Code requires a leasing agent’s sponsoring broker, upon issuing the agent a legally-required sponsor card, to certify that “the applicant has not practiced under a 120 day leasing agent permit for more than 120 days.”
Read the License Act and the Administrative Code together with the Yelp reviews and it’s difficult not to conclude that serious violations have occurred in Cunningham’s case.
If you visit Rent Here Realty’s website you’ll find numerous properties advertised without the written authorization required by the Illinois Real Estate License Act.
The take-away: An agent who disregards the law is unlikely to serve your interests and likely to create problems for you. Although you’re far less likely to encounter problems with a major brokerage firm than with one of Chicago’s rental services, you can’t rely solely on the firm’s reputation. Your best bet for managed apartment buildings is to work directly with the building. If you do work with a real estate agent, seek out one who has at least three years’ experience and holds a broker’s license rather than a leasing agent license.