Most Craigslist ads violate the Illinois Real Estate License Act

The great majority of the tens of thousands of Chicago apartment ads you see on Craigslist are placed by rental services, also known as locators or finders.

Only a few of those ads comply with a basic requirement of Illinois law: real estate licensees must have written authorization from a property’s owner or authorized agent to advertise a property for rent.

Section 225 ILCS 454/20-20 (a) (26) states that grounds for discipline include:

… advertising by any means that any property is for sale or for rent without the written consent of the owner or his or her authorized agent.

Section 1450.785 (d) of the Illinois Administrative Code makes it clear that this provision is applicable to rental services:

Permission of Owner. A rental finding service shall not list or advertise any rental unit without the express written authority of the owner or agent of each unit.

Only a very few landlords – typically the smaller ones listing their units exclusively with a single rental service – grant rental services the written authority that a rental service must have before placing a Craigslist ad for a property.

Landlords can quickly clean up the repetitive bait-and-switch ads on Craigslist by insisting that rental services stop advertising property they’re not authorized in writing to advertise, and by filing complaints against rental services that don’t comply. The sheer volume of rental service ads on Craigslist has a simple goal: to deceive and frustrate renters into using rental services.

Renters want a better experience on Craigslist. Landlords can ensure that they get it.

Ask your landlord to help clean up Craigslist by taking a stand against unauthorized advertising. Ask any rental service you contact whether they have written authority to run the ad you’re responding to. If the answer is “no” or “don’t know” or is evasive, move on to a more law-abiding rental service – if you can find one. If the answer is “yes” and you’re talking to a rental service, the odds are very high you’ve been lied to. Lying is a core competency of most rental services.

You’re going to hear a lot more from YoChicago on this topic in the near future, when we formally launch a campaign to clean up Craigslist rental ads.

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