Rental service pirates invading the suburbs

A tipster alerted me to a development that’s worrisome to suburban landlords, and ought to concern tenants also.

City-based rental services have begun exploiting consumers’ idiotic dependence on Craigslist for apartment searches by advertising suburban apartments with which they have no connection. When a prospective tenant responds to one of these ads, the piratical rental “service” tries to nick the landlord for a referral fee without actually showing the tenant the property.

It’s illegal in Illinois for a real estate broker to advertise a property without written authorization. Any landlord who sees his property advertised without authorization should file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

A number of major Chicago landlords refuse to do business with rental services, while others have been cutting the commissions they pay them. A number of landlords, however, fear taking either step because of the rental services’ known propensity for defaming any property that won’t cooperate with them and pay them commissions: too many Chicago renters have been gulled or frustrated into thinking they need to use a rental service.

Chicago’s landlords can easily stop the abusive, fraudulent and repetitive advertising on Craigslist by standing on their rights under Illinois law and not allowing rental services to use their properties as tenant bait. Will they do that, or will Craigslist become as useless in the suburbs as it is in the city?

If you’re considering working with a rental service / finder, consider the twenty-five things rental services won’t tell you. Consult our do-not-call list for the rental services – virtually all of them – that engage in deceptive behavior, or worse.

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