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.


  • Jenny 3 years

    Elan Leasing – is this the same as Elan Realty Group? I’ve been seeing a lot of postings on padmapper that seem like great deals… not sure if this one is a scam or not. Any idea?

    • Same group.

      • Jenny 3 years

        Thank you! I’ve been having a difficult time looking for apartments on the west side of the city (Logan Square) and I’m desperately trying to avoid these rental services. If you were me, what approach would you take?

  • Jenny,

    I’d start at domu, which is a site that does a reasonably good (although not perfect) job of policing out rental service ads.

    I’d search condo rentals at the website of a major, full-service brokerage firm. Condo rentals are often very competitive with managed rental buildings. Sorry, but my other firm manages ads for too many competing brokerages for me to recommend particular ones.

    I’d also walk or drive the area I’d like to live in, keeping an eye out for FOR RENT signs on the buildings. Many smaller buildings find their new renters with site signage. I’d note the names / phone #s of property management firms on the exterior of buildings and reach out to the firms that appear to have well-maintained buildings

    • Jenny 3 years

      Thanks Joe – extremely helpful! Sounds like I’ll be taking a few drives/walks around the neighborhood!

  • Char 3 years


    It is difficult to avoid these rental services. The successful ones are very good at deceiving apartment seekers and hooking them into their service. If you see a listing on craigslist, make sure you ask the agent if they are exclusive listing agent. Often, there is an unlicensed listing manger at the rental service. The listing manager gets the listing and shares the listing with everyone in the office. You will never meet the listing manager which eliminates any direct contact with the landlord. The agents are usually unlicensed and inexperienced.

    Keep in mind, these rental rats also advertise on domu. Domu is a great resource but I’ve seen these rental rats advertise there too. Fulton Grace, Elan, State Street Properties, Live Here Chicago and Spaces to name a few.

    Good luck on your search!

    • Jenny 3 years

      Thank you! I’ve already noticed that! It’s so hard to sift through the garbage on Craigslist, Padmapper, Zillow, it’s a wonder anyone finds a good apartment at a reasonable price in this city! Super frustrating.

  • Amy 3 years

    I think it is amazing that with over 1500 agents you have nothing bad to say about ANY of the @properties agents? When I called there to get an agent to help me with finding a place I was bounced around from person to person on the phone until finally someone decided they wanted to deal with a renter.

    I started working with an agent and because they didn’t care enough to figure out what I was looking for – I ended up finding the place myself. I literally emailed her and told her I found the place I wanted to see and all she did was take me there.

    I also have a friend who works at @properties and she said the agents are constantly getting in trouble for the same kind of issues you so casually label agents “Scofflaw” of the day for.

    You are messing with peoples careers but you clearly do not care. Apparently unless a company is paying for ads on this website they will get lambasted by you. You are not helping anyone but the people who are paying you – stop trying to fool the renters of this city into believing your bullshit. You are not in it to help them.

  • Amy,

    The email you supplied with your comment traces to the marketing director of Fulton Grace Realty.

    If you are in fact that person you should have disclosed that. Not to do so is deeply dishonest behavior.

    For the record, @properties is not a YoChicago advertiser, and it’s not a rental service like other rental services. When I encounter bad behavior on the part of an agent at a major brokerage firm I can contact that firm and the problem is quickly resolved. Not true in most cases with rental services.

    Also for the record, we do not allow rental services to advertise at YoChicago.

    As to “messing with people’s careers …” I don’t do anything but report and comment on what people have done. If they engage in career-ending behavior, that’s their decision not mine.

    I’m totally transparent about everything I do. Renters will decide whether it’s of any value to them.

    Added: The Facebook profile associated with the email address behind this comment relates that the person was previously employed by @properties.

    If the commenter supplied her real email address, she’s set out to deceive readers while tarnishing a former employer – and competitor of her current employer.

  • Susan 3 years

    Hi Joe,

    Thanks for telling us who not to call.

    Who DO you recommend?

    This list is quite lengthy which makes me doubt it’s authenticity.

    Is this a list of your competitors?

    • Susan a/k/a Stephanie

      The list is totally authentic and carefully researched.

      We’re a website, not a broker, so this is obviously not a list of competitors.

      Read the many articles about rental service brokers on this site. We don’t recommend anyone. We provide the tools for you to find an apartment on your own in the neighborhoods that we cover.