Will Illinois ever crack down on unlicensed rental agents?

by Joe Zekas on 4/6/12

Chicago renters and landlords have been plagued for years by a rental services industry that operates as if there were no law enforcement in Illinois. Consumers have been howling about rental services’ tactics at Yelp and other venues for years, to little effect. It’s a subject we’ve repeatedly covered at YoChicago, and we’ve published a periodically updated rental services do-not-call list.

Unlicensed agents frequently document their transgressions online in the bios on their company websites, and in their LinkedIn and Facebook profiles. They leave enough of a trail that it would be easy for the State to put them out of business – and perhaps put a few in jail to send a message to the rest. How difficult can it be to cross-match payroll / check records against licensing dates?

Consider, for example, the case of one Anthony Zammitt. His LinkedIn profile (partial screen cap above) describes him as a “Real estate broker” and both a buyer’s and seller’s agent. He’s not licensed by the State of Illinois as a real estate broker, and he’s legally barred from representing buyers or sellers.

Zammitt’s LinkedIn profile says he started with American Realty Pros in July of last year. He was issued a Leasing Agent license on January 18th of this year – well beyond the 120-day permit period allowed by law. A licensed Leasing Agent is not legally able to represent buyers or sellers in a real estate transaction, or to hold himself out as doing so.

TIP: The easy way to avoid unlicensed agents, and all of the risks associated with those agents, is to work with a major brokerage firm. Established brokerage firms (a number are advertising clients of ours) don’t tolerate the practices that are common in the rental services industry.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

nwzimmer April 6, 2012 at 12:00 PM

With all the OVER-regulation on the part of the government in so many other areas of business, this is actually an area that could really use a little regulation.

It is very curious that this isn’t happening, when it’s been going on for so long.

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Andrew Metcalfe April 6, 2012 at 3:34 PM

For the complaining about competition that I’ve seen on this blog, it’s still awfully dificult as an outsider to see much of a difference between the different business practices. To answer your question – No, I don’t think the government will pick the winners for you. I’d prefer to see less regulation in this particular part of the economy myself. Especially those regulations that prop up the monopolies of the MLS. It’s just so hard to take seriously a real estate agent complaining about the competition.

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bob smith April 6, 2012 at 4:08 PM

Does anyone have any advice on what to do if I am showed an apartment by an unlicensed real estate leasing agent? I suspect this may be the case and his name did not show up when I searched for it here: https://www.idfpr.com/licenselookup/LicenseLookup.asp

Is there somewhere I can report this?

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Joe Zekas April 6, 2012 at 4:15 PM

Andrew,

Where did you see a real estate agent complaining? I hope you don’t think I’m one.

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Joe Zekas April 6, 2012 at 4:18 PM

bob,

First, be sure that you’ve searched all relevant licensing categories: Real estate broker, Real estate leasing agent, Real estate managing broker and Real estate salesperson.

If not found, ask the agent for proof that he’s operating on an unexpired 120-day permit. If no proof is forthcoming, you can file a complaint with the State.

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Pete April 10, 2012 at 10:43 PM

The short answer is no, they won’t.

1. The Illinois Department of Professional Regulation is a corrupt joke. The most they’d do is shake down some unlicensed agents for a bribe.

2. Eliminating unlicensed agents is like killing cockroaches with your shoes. You can stomp a bunch but new ones will be bred immediately. .

Buyers must beware and protect themselves from unlicensed and/or licensed but crooked agents. The state won’t do it for them.

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anthony Zammitt August 27, 2012 at 4:23 PM

WELL first off I am the person you are misrepresenting in this article. If you are going slander an agent you might want to get your facts straight..

1- I am NOT A LEASING AGENT! I AM A LICENSED BROKER!
2- When an agent leaves a firm to go to another it takes the IDFPR up to 90 days recognize the transfer.

Reply

Joe Zekas August 27, 2012 at 4:42 PM

Mr Zammitt,

Your leasing agent license has expired according to the IDFPR database, which does not show you as ever having held a broker license.

Perhaps your name is misspelled in the database. Supply your broker license # to clear that up. While you’re at clearing things up, how about explaining how your LinkedIn dates didn’t square with the leasing agent licensing 120-day requirements.

What does the transfer of firms have to do with anything relevant to what kind of license you hold? Nothing, as far as I know.

I’m looking forward to your providing some straight facts, as I have.

Reply

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