Humans are territorial creatures. There’s a whole branch of scientific study within the field of anthropology which explores just how territorial we are. It’s called “proxemics” and it takes into account how we respond to people touching us, standing close to us, and making noises in our general vicinity. You’ve probably heard of the terms “personal space” and “comfort zone.” Both of those concepts arose out of the study of proxemics.
When we’re forced to live in small apartments or small apartment buildings with strangers our territorial boundaries are challenged. Our instincts in these situations force us into a state of heightened awareness, much closer to the “fight or flight” threshold. We’re more prone to getting into fights and flying off the handle. Today we’ll be using the science of proxemics and a study of common factors in creepypasta/horror stories to help renters choose an apartment that minimizes this sense of perpetual invasion. We’ll also look at ways to arrange your furniture to help minimize conflicts between roommates. Continue reading Couches, Curtains and Creepypasta: Using Proxemics to Feel Safer in Your Apartment
This article was originally going to be “questions to ask your next landlord about package delivery,” but once I got about 2 paragraphs in I realized that it’s a problem that extends far beyond something that landlords can address on their own. So I’m framing it from the perspective of a discussion that Chicago residents and residents of other cities nationwide need to have as a community, involving the US Postal system, landlords, property managers, third party parcel carriers, logistics innovators, and municipal governments.
We’ve stuck our fingers in our ears for too long on the matter of increasing package delivery volume. Today I’m going to simply try and outline the problems we’re facing. Hopefully it will serve as launchpad for discussion, because I’m not really sure of a way forward but I’m also not sure how much longer we can afford to ignore the matter. Continue reading The Problems of Package Delivery in Chicago Apartments
I was recently contacted by the PR guy for a relatively new mobile/web app called “Rentervention”. (Hi, Gordon!) He asked me to do a profile piece on the app, which I am doing today in conjunction with a somewhat similar app called “Squared Away Chicago”. Neither of the sponsoring groups have paid me for this coverage, nor did I ask them to. But I wanted to get it out in the open right off the bat that this is probably tying in with someone’s marketing campaign. So be it.
Logos in the header image are property of their respective companies.
In this digital age there’s plenty of renters out there who shy away from talking to authority figures, doubly so when potentially controversial issues are at stake. In cases of landlord-tenant relationships the issues can be particularly thorny, ranging from simple problems like broken appliances to major ones like retained security deposits, illegal evictions and life-threatening conditions. The impostor’s syndrome is real when you have to confront someone who probably knows the law far better than you do. If a landlord fails to respond to reports of trouble at their property, tenants are additionally faced with the potentially expensive and time-consuming prospect of turning to the court system.
RentConfident’s apartment safety reports seek to inform you about severe, chronic issues with a landlord or building which have escalated to the point where they’ve been documented in government sources. These include problems such as foreclosures, housing code violations, bankruptcy filings and registered sex offenders living nearby. However, we cannot always discern from government data if a landlord is simply a poor communicator, or if smaller problems exist which may be severe, but not severe enough to merit attention from the city or county inspectors. We rely on tenants taking serious matters to the government if we’re ever going to be able to include them in our reports.
Over the past six years, two homegrown apps have emerged to help Chicago renters communicate with their landlords when big drama problems emerge in their apartments. Both are backed by non-profit organizations. Both help renters shift problems from person-to-person communication into legal proceedings should such a step be necessary. However, each one takes the character of the organizations that created them, and each one works in a slightly different way. Today I’ll be profiling both of them to help you decide which, if any, might best help you to get that broken thing in your apartment fixed in a timely manner. Continue reading Two Apps for Chicago Renters with Problems: Squared Away Chicago and Rentervention
This is now the third year in a row that we’ve led off with a list of all the new laws that took effect on January 1 that might be of interest to renters and people in the rental industry. Make sure to share it with those you know in the multifamily industry throughout Chicago and Cook County. Note that some of these are applicable only to commercial rentals, but since they make up a huge portion of the rental industry of this area we’re including them as well.
As always this is only a partial list of the many laws that took effect on January 1, 2020. We’ve culled it down to just the laws we feel are pertinent to renters, landlords or leasing professionals. You can view a full list of all the new laws that took effect on January 1 in Illinois here.
Continue reading New Rental Laws for 2020: Illinois, Cook County and Chicago
If you’re a renter applying for an apartment anywhere within Cook County in 2020 the process is going to be a little different than it has been in previous years. It will probably take longer than it has before, it will be in two steps, and for the first few months of the year it’s going to be absolute mayhem. This is not only going to be the case for Chicago but for all of Cook County, including suburbs like Evanston, Cicero, Elmwood Park, Berwyn and Oak Park. And for once, it isn’t just going to be the big landlords who have to change how they operate, but every single landlord in the county.
I talked a little about the Just Housing Amendment back in September but there have been some changes following disputes over how it is to be implemented from the landlord lobby. Continue reading Applying for Apartments in Chicago and Cook County in 2020