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Calling ex-rental service agents to speak out

Craigslist screen cap

Recruiting ads for new rental service leasing agents on Craigslist lure the naïve into thinking they’ll join a fast-growing elite firm, be trained for a career with high earnings potential, and be supported with the latest technology. The reality is that working at a rental service is a miserable experience for many new recruits, who ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on July 15, 2014

Are Flats Chicago’s Short Stay apartments properly licensed?

Airbnb Flats Chicago

Chicago’s vacation rental licensing ordinance (“Ordinance”) imposes a number of restrictions and requirements on short-term rentals for transient occupancy. For starters, it requires licensing and a payment of a fee of $500 per unit every two years. Flats Chicago’s Short Stay units at 4875 N Magnolia in Uptown are clearly subject to the ordinance, but ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on July 8, 2014

Some amusing Yelp reviews for Vesta Preferred’s Joe Rush

Yelp screen cap

A new agent starts at a Chicago rental service and, within a matter of days, is receiving five-star reviews at Yelp from people writing their first-ever review, and writing in a way that doesn’t seem to reflect an actual apartment renting experience. That’s a pattern you’ll see repeated time after time in Yelp reviews for ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on July 1, 2014

Bypass 1,000s of Craigslist apartment spam ads with a single click

Kardas aerial

Chicago’s rental services promise to make your apartment search swift and painless. To encourage you to use their services they attempt to make your Craigslist search time-consuming and painful. We’ve singled out the 10 worst Craigslist apartment ad spammers and find it difficult to understand why anyone would work with a company that’s so flagrantly ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on July 1, 2014

A rental service agent trashes his former rental service

Gold Coast view

Live Here Chicago is a rental service that’s on our our do-not-call list and our list of the top 10 Craigslist apartment ad spammers. We’ve also written about the company in connection with fraudulent reviews at Yelp. A comment was added to that post yesterday from someone representing himself as someone who had worked at ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on June 24, 2014

Stay in a new Streeterville high-rise with Airbnb

Streeterville aerial

Airbnb has been around long enough, been the conduit for enough rentals, and refined its policies and checks often enough that you might not have any qualms about signing up for a short-term rental through Airbnb. You should be wary. I recently saw listings for short-term rentals through Airbnb at 500 Lake Shore Drive and ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on June 23, 2014

If you’re smart, you’ll stay away from Renturway

Renturway

The public relations “profession” is notorious for making shotgun pitches to websites without having even the dimmest awareness of how a particular pitch might be received. Yesterday’s email included a pitch from a PR person on behalf of Renturway, a company touted as having a “remarkable business model which differs distinctly from other rental agents ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on June 19, 2014
DealsChicagoDowntown / Loop

The perks of high-rise living

K2 backpacks

The perks of living in one of Chicago’s high-rise rental towers extend well beyond lavish amenities, attentive on-site management, maintenance staff and 24/7 door staff, the creature comforts in the apartments themselves and a convenient location. There are welcome baskets for new residents, and a variety of goodies that might include complimentary umbrellas in the ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on June 19, 2014

Apartment People CEO admits to shabby business practice

Yelp screen cap

We’ve previously written at length about when a rental service should cash a renter’s deposit check. The short answer: not until the renter’s application has been approved by the landlord or management company. In my opinion, it’s outrageous conduct for a rental service to cash a check without knowing that a lease application has been ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on June 6, 2014

More enforcement capability for new Illinois Division of Real Estate

Pat Quinn

Chicago’s rental services have a long history of advertising abusively on Craigslist and in other venues in flagrant violation of a number of provisions of Illinois law. In a move that has received little public attention Governor Quinn signed an Executive Order on March 31 creating a new Division of Real Estate within the Illinois ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on June 6, 2014

ApartmentList.com is still a garbage dump

Lincoln Park

Just over a year ago we spotlighted ApartmentList, a website that claims the following mission: As renters and landlords ourselves, we understand the widespread frustration with the current rental landscape. Our mission is to turn the renter/landlord relationship into one of trust and transparency. Finding your next home should be a delightful process, and we’re ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on June 5, 2014

How to avoid the rental service wait-and-switch

Aerial view Lincoln Park

If you’re working with one of Chicago’s rental services and renting in one of the large, professionally managed apartment buildings on our at-a-glance lists, the on-site leasing staff takes control and shunts your rental service agent off to the periphery of the transaction. You can expect to receive straight answers and timely updates about the ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on May 27, 2014

Irish student programs offer differing takes on Chicago

Hop the Pond video

It’s the time of year when Irish students post housing wanted ads on Craigslist: Looking for a 5 bedroom house to rent from the start of June (8th) to mid-August around Lincoln park/Lakeview/Wrigleyville . 3 college graduates and 2 current college undergraduates from Ireland working in Chicago for the summer. Looking for fully furnished house ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on May 7, 2014

Lies Chicago rental services tell – nothing in your price range

Aerial view Chicago Loop

There are lots of things Chicago’s rental services don’t want you to know about the way they operate, and we’ve previously posted on twenty-five of them. It’s common for renters to be told that there’s nothing available in their preferred location for what they’re willing to pay. That may well be true, but it’s often ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on May 6, 2014
ChicagoDowntown / Loop

The smart way to search for South Loop apartments

South Loop aerial

A search for South Loop apartments on Craigslist will return over 700 new ads each day, almost all of them from Chicago rental services. Many of the ads will be for properties not located in the South Loop. Almost all of the ads for actual South Loop properties will be for one of the 12 ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on May 2, 2014

Search for your next apartment at a Facebook page

BJB Properties Facebook

BJB Properties, one of our advertisers, recently added an apartment search tab to its Facebook page. The search couldn’t be easier: select a neighborhood and apartment size and see a near real-time report of what’s available and what the rent is. You’ll find an equally-simple search facility at the company’s website. If you’re skeptical of ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on May 1, 2014
ChicagoDowntown / Loop

The smartest way to find a Streeterville apartment

Streeterville aerial

A search for Streeterville apartments on Craigslist will return over 500 new ads each day, almost all of them from Chicago rental services. Many of the ads will be for properties not located in Streeterville. Almost all of the ads for actual Streeterville properties will be for one of the 14 high-rise apartment buildings in ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on April 30, 2014

The smart way to find a River North apartment

River North

A search for River North apartments on Craigslist will return about 1,000 new ads each day, almost all of them from Chicago rental services. Many of the ads will be for properties not located in River North. Almost all of the ads for actual River North properties will be for one of the 14 high-rise ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on April 29, 2014

Vesta Preferred, where raw rental rookies rate rave reviews

Yelp screen cap

Vesta Preferred bills itself in Craigslist recruiting ads as the “Highest rated Real Estate Company on Yelp.” That statement simply isn’t true, as you can easily determine from a brief scan of the Chicago rental services reviewed on Yelp. Early last year we wondered whether the company’s reviews reflected actual consumer experiences or resulted from ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on April 24, 2014

High-rise spider talk starts early this year

Hancock aerial

Dan Goodwin, a/k/a SpiderDan, perched high on the John Hancock building’s façade only once, but spiders of another species do it annually. If you haven’t lived in a Chicago high-rise you might be unaware of the annual spider migration that annoys some residents, frightens others and amuses many who dwell closer to the ground. Various ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on April 22, 2014