Dozens of Chicago’s apartment rental services have joined the newly-formed Chicago Rental Apartment Partners, an organization dedicated to raising ethical standards in a notoriously sleazy industry.
“Industry leaders are rushing to join CRAP,” according to a spokesperson for the group. “They’ve been sickened by their own behavior and had a come-to-Jesus moment.”
CRAP members subscribe to a Code of Ethics. The Code prohibits a number of practices that rental services routinely engage in, including:
Hiring unlicensed agents Hiring agents with criminal records Advertising apartments without legally-required authorization Abusively repetitive advertising on Craigslist and other websites Fraudulent ads for unavailable apartments Planting fraudulent reviews on Craigslist and other websites Bait-and-switch advertising Lying about apartments that don’t cooperate with rental services Steering renters to apartments that pay the highest commission Lying to new recruits about earnings potential Cheating agents out of commissions Failing to give legally required notice of showings to existing tenants Accepting applications and pocketing fees for apartments known to be unavailable Cashing renter checks before an application has been approved Furnishing false credit, eviction history and employment reports to landlords
Some of Chicago’s larger apartment rental services a/k/a apartment finders a/k/a apartment locators aren’t joining CRAP, but are glad to see competitors signing on. “Any rental service that operates ethically and within the law will quickly go out of business, meaning more renters for us,” confided a principal of one of the firms. “Abusive advertising and deceptive business practices are our entire business model. Most people only use rental services because our ads have fooled or frustrated them into thinking it’ll be easier to find an apartment that way or they’ll get a better deal by using us.”
Joining CRAP would cause most of its agents to leave, according to the CEO of another rental service. “If we tried to make some of the thugs that work for us operate within the law,” he said, “they’d be gone in a heartbeat to a firm that lets them do what they do do.”