Almost every Chicago rental service a/k/a apartment locator a/k/a apartment finder claims to have the largest database of listings in the city. They can’t all be telling the truth, and it’s likely that nary a one of them has any factual basis for making the claim.
If you evaluate the rental services’ listings by a traditional broker’s most common definition of a listing – an exclusive right to sell or lease a property – you’ll find that almost all of them have either no listings or very, very few. The rental services are all competing to advertise, show and rent the same properties.
Almost all of the repetitive rental service ads you see on Craigslist, Trulia, Zillow, HotPads and other sites are placed without the written authorization from the property that Illinois law requires. Many of those ads are placed by rental services that have no relationship whatsoever with the property they’re advertising. Some of the rental services aren’t even allowed to set foot on the properties they advertise. You’re being asked, as a renter, to believe that you’ll save time and get a better deal by doing business with someone who’s breaking the law and wasting your time with repetitious ads that may be pure bait-and-switch.
You can read many horror stories of the problems experienced by renters who’ve worked with rental services. You can spare yourself the risk of becoming a victim by dealing directly with landlords and management companies.
If you’re looking in one of the neighborhoods covered by our at-a-glance lists, you’ll find virtually every managed rental property on those lists. You won’t find many of those properties in the rental services’ “largest database of listings” because a number of large landlords don’t allow any of the rental services to show their properties. When you work with a rental service, you’re taking a pass on some of the best apartments out there.