Applying for an apartment that’s already been rented – or was never available – is just one of the very many pitfalls you’ll encounter when you work with a Chicago rental service / apartment locator / apartment finder.
Many landlords allow multiple rental services to advertise and show their apartments while retaining the right to rent them on their own. Landlords frequently don’t notify the rental services when an apartment has been rented, and the rental services often don’t check with the landlord before taking an application or can’t reach the landlord.
Application fees are an income source for rental services and they’re non-refundable. The sleazier rental services won’t hesitate to take an application and charge a fee for an apartment that’s already been rented, even when they know it’s already been rented.
Getting dinged for an application fee is one thing. Having a month’s rent held hostage by a rental service that cashed your funds before you were approved for an apartment is another thing entirely.
Some rental services will string you along and hold your funds for an extended period of time. A rental application is an offer to lease property and it should be considered withdrawn if not accepted within a specific, reasonable period of time, say 48 to 72 hours.
We’ve prepared an Addendum (PDF) to the application forms that rental services use. Print out a copy, fill it out and have the rental service sign it. If a rental service objects to signing it, move on.
If you’re looking for an apartment in one of the areas covered by our at-a-glance lists, you’ll find all of your options on the lists, together with links to reviews, videos where available, and property websites.