The Chicago rental service do-not-call list

New East Side and Streeterville, Chicago IL

New renters in Chicago are often confused or misled by Craigslist and other ads into believing that they’re contacting a landlord or management company when they respond to an ad by one of the many apartment locators / finders / rental services.

Many of the 10s of 1,000s of rental service ads on Craigslist are for non-existent apartments, apartments that lack the advertised features, and apartments only available at a higher or lower price. When an ad does represent an actual apartment, it’s likely to be advertised repeatedly by scores of rental services, none of which have any control over the property and some of which aren’t allowed to set foot on the property.

The apartment locators advertise their service as “free,” and that’s an appealing argument to renters naive enough to believe that they’re not ultimately paying the one month’s rent they receive as a commission and not foregoing discounts offered to renters who contact a property directly without a broker.

Rental services won’t show you some of the best deals in Chicago – sometimes because the properties don’t cooperate with brokers or with a particular broker, sometimes because they’re paying brokers a lower commission than other properties, sometimes because the broker is unfamiliar with a property or wants to steer you to a more expensive one.

Finding a good apartment in Chicago is easy – unless you’re using a locator service to find one. In that case, you may be shown only the more difficult-to-rent apartments that landlords can’t rent on their own. As a bonus, you’ll be pressured into believing that those apartments are the best available or steered into neighborhoods you’d rather avoid.

If you’re looking to rent along Chicago’s lakefront, YoChicago’s deals, lists and reviews posts make it easy to see what’s available from all the major buildings and management companies. Searching MLS-listed rentals at a reputable broker site and walking around your preferred area on the lookout for rental signs will expose you to almost everything else.

If Craigslist, Trulia, Zillow, HotPads or other sites are your preferred source, we’ve prepared an updated list of the rental services / locators / finders you should avoid.

New rental services are constantly being spawned, so we’ve doubtless missed some. Add a comment to help us update the list.

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