Dan Willenborg’s AptAmigo is an outlaw rental service

Jeff Garver, AptAmigo, LinkedIn screen cap

Section 20-22 of the Illinois Real Estate License Act provides that:

  • “Any person who is found working or acting as a managing broker, real estate broker, real estate salesperson or leasing agent, or holding himself out as a licensed sponsoring broker, managing broker, real estate broker, real estate salesperson, or leasing agent without being issued a valid existing license is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor …”

It’s easy to check whether an individual or firm holds a valid active license. Simply go to the License lookup page at the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).

If Jeff Garver, a part of whose linkedIn profile is pictured above, can be taken at his word, he committed multiple crimes during his tenure at AptAmigo. According to the IDFPR license lookup, Garver has never been issued any license.

AptAmigo’s co-founder and CEO Dan Willenborg is a licensed real estate broker. Is it conceivable that he was unaware that the activities Garver (and others) engaged in on behalf of AptAmigo required licensing? Did he ever advise Garver that he needed to be licensed? Is he unaware of the License Act’s requirements that the name of AptAmigo’s affiliated brokerage firm be disclosed on AptAmigo’s website and in Craigslist ads? Is he unaware of the License Act’s requirement that a broker secure written authorization before advertising a property for rent?

We first wrote about AptAmigo in August of 2015, noting that it had engaged in wholesale piracy of our copyrighted images and images owned by others. In September of 2015 we noted AptAmigo’s vandalism of CTA property and violations of Federal Trade Commission guidelines on endorsements, and wondered whether it’s an outlaw enterprise.

Since our original post AptAmigo has periodically pirated our copyrighted images and displayed them on its website – including some of the same images that it had previously removed after our complaints.

Willful and conscious theft of intellectual property is only one of the ways in which Dan Willenborg and AptAmigo flaunt their disregard of legal and ethical standards. We could go on at length on this topic, but we’ll spare you.

In our considered judgment, AptAmigo is an outlaw rental service. Any renter who contacts AptAmigo or its agents is exhibiting extremely poor judgment and taking a risk. Any landlord or management firm doing business with AptAmigo needs to be zealous about ensuring that only licensed agents are bringing renters to their property. Anyone who goes to work for the company needs to consult a knowledgeable attorney about the scope of their employment.

Willenborg is a licensed broker whose managing broker has informed me that her firm is terminating Willenborg’s legally-required sponsorship. Will Willenborg find a new rental service to host his license? We have no doubt that he will. Chicago has far too many of them, and many of them will view his apparent contempt for legal and ethical requirements as a positive attribute. If you’re looking to rent an apartment, go directly to landlords and management companies.

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