Who is flagging landlord ads on Craigslist?

by Joe Zekas on 2/1/13

A number of high-rise rental properties are reporting that their Craigslist ads are being flagged and deleted. The deletions are happening “mysteriously,” to quote a word in one of the email reports I’ve received.

This doesn’t seem that difficult a mystery to solve. One need merely ask and answer Lucius Cassius‘ question – cui bono? To whose benefit?

Could renters be the culprits, clearing away the 1 in 100 ads placed by a landlord to focus exclusively on rental service ads? Not likely.

Are management companies flagging ads placed by their competitors? Also unlikely. Staff at the high-rise buildings are typically very professional, and one of the buildings I’ve heard from has no direct competitors.

The one group that directly benefits from eliminating landlord ads is rental services a/k/a apartment locators a/k/a apartment finders. It’s the slow season for the rental services, so they have time on their hands – and they don’t have any ethical standards to prevent them from cheating in this manner.

If you’re a new renter in Chicago, or if you haven’t actively looked for an apartment in several years, you’re probably unaware of how badly the rental services are behaving in their desperate bid for your business. The rental service industry, which has always been a bad bunch in Chicago, has become very ugly indeed.

I’ve spent a great deal of time recently monitoring rental service ads, hearing from management companies about how rental services operate, and communicating with agents and former agents at rental services. My conclusion: dishonesty and law-breaking are at the core of the business model for almost all of Chicago’s rental services, because they don’t think they can attract business from renters by operating legitimately.

If you’re looking to rent in a high-rise in one of Chicago’s lakefront communities, you will almost certainly be repeatedly lied to if you use a rental service, and the odds of finding the best apartment through a rental service are exceedingly low. You can see all of your options, with links to the buildings for accurate information, on our at-a-glance lists. If you’re still determined to use a rental service, prepare for the experience by learning the 25 things they won’t tell you.

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