Falling Elevators and Other Unforeseen Apartment Catastrophes

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Apartment buildings, much like human bodies, contain a lot of complex things that most people do not understand hidden beneath a thin covering. Most of us only understand how to work with that covering, decorating it and accessorizing, while trusting a handful of highly trained specialists to keep the rest of the system running smoothly. In both cases, sometimes regular visits to these specialists can detect hidden problems before they become major catastrophes.

But sometimes coincidences and outside forces sneak up on us in ways we don’t expect and things rapidly spiral out of control. We put too much sudden strain on a bone and it breaks. Our office has a round of layoffs and we start getting stress headaches. Our kids go back to school and bring home new viruses, causing the entire family to get the sniffles. Engineers at a skyscraper replace connecting hardware in an elevator, perhaps slightly different from the old hardware, perhaps slightly out of alignment, and three years later the rope breaks causing the elevator to fall with people trapped inside. Continue reading Falling Elevators and Other Unforeseen Apartment Catastrophes

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Kay Cleaves

Founder and owner of RentConfident. She's the primary developer of the website and research engine code. She's spent over 10 years working in the Chicago rental industry and has assisted with over 1200 leases.

Why Are There No Mobile Home Parks in Chicago?

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A recent guest of mine in from out of town commented to me on the absence of trailer parks in the city. This remark brought to the forefront a topic that I’ve been meaning to discuss for some time.

Manufactured housing. Modular housing. Container homes. Mobile homes. They all have assorted differences but they have two things in common. The first is that they are constructed in factories somewhere other than the land they’re intended to occupy. The other is that they are very, very scarce on the ground in Chicago. In any other city a blog about rental housing would spend a whole lot of time talking about mobile home parks but we’ve barely touched on them at all because there’s really no overlap between mobile home renters and Chicago renters.

There is one mobile home park in Chicago. It’s located at 4000 E. 134th Street on the far south side smack up against the border of Indiana and it’s called Harbor Point Estates. There are plenty in the neighboring suburbs, though. In fact, one of the worst airplane crashes in Chicago history occurred in 1979 when a DC-10 taking off from O’Hare landed on a trailer park in Des Plaines, just a few miles from the airport.

The simple reason behind the absence of trailer parks in Chicago is something called “highest and best land use.” The more complicated reason is also “highest and best land use.” So of course we must explain things in more detail. Continue reading Why Are There No Mobile Home Parks in Chicago?

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Published by

Kay Cleaves

Founder and owner of RentConfident. She's the primary developer of the website and research engine code. She's spent over 10 years working in the Chicago rental industry and has assisted with over 1200 leases.

Patrolling the Pit of Despair: Craigslist’s “Apartments Wanted” Section

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Buried deep within the bowels of Craigslist lies a little-visited section called “Housing Wanted.” You might think that it’s an ideal sort of situation. Tenants post the specifics of their perfect apartment and landlords come to them. In some sections of the world where there’s a lot more rental housing than there are renters this is actually the case. In Chicago it is the pit of despair. It’s where tenants who cannot find housing through any other means wind up when they’ve exhausted all other options, along with a few newcomers who remain unaware about how Chicago rental market works. In contrast to the very busy “apartments for rent” section which sees about 2000 new posts a day, the Housing Wanted section gets about 10-20 posts per day, many of them miscategorized.

The authors of the posts in “apartments wanted” have usually been turned down for several apartments already. Faced with repeated rejections many of them will put in their postings the reasons why they have been unsuccessful thus far. An analysis of this section will give us a pretty clear idea of what it takes to completely fail an apartment hunt. And I do mean fail – if you are posting here you will not find housing until you change either yourself or your search criteria. Continue reading Patrolling the Pit of Despair: Craigslist’s “Apartments Wanted” Section

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Kay Cleaves

Founder and owner of RentConfident. She's the primary developer of the website and research engine code. She's spent over 10 years working in the Chicago rental industry and has assisted with over 1200 leases.

Dear RentConfident: Why are my Landlord’s letters so rude?

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Every once in a while we get questions from our readers about the finer details of renting. Some are from tenants, others from landlords, and still others from parents, attorneys and agents. Today we thought we’d answer some of those questions in our first advice column! If you have a question you’d like us to answer in a future installment of Dear RentConfident, leave it in a comment below, or send us a message through our contact form.

Dear RentConfident: We live in a building with property managers who are very sweet to us when we run into them in person. However, every time we make a request of them in person we get a nasty letter from them afterwards telling us that we’re causing harm to their property. I’ve spoken with my neighbors and they’re in agreement with me that the management is totally rude in their letters to us. We have done nothing to violate the terms of our lease. Why are their letters to us so harsh? – The Ink is Bleeding, South Loop Continue reading Dear RentConfident: Why are my Landlord’s letters so rude?

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Published by

Kay Cleaves

Founder and owner of RentConfident. She's the primary developer of the website and research engine code. She's spent over 10 years working in the Chicago rental industry and has assisted with over 1200 leases.

5 Terrifying Real Life Roommates

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Content warning: This post contains true stories of bad people doing horrible things.

Halloween is full of spooks and scares and terrifying tales. The rental industry has its own share of frightening stories, but roommates from recent headlines are scary at levels that put chainsaw-wielding movie maniacs to shame. Today as we’ve got a roundup of some of the worst roommates imaginable, as well as some lessons that a renter can take away long after the Harley Quinn costumes have hit the trash bin.

The Tainted Tweets

In August of 2016, a man in Gilbert, Arizona of was arrested for shooting his roommate. However, when police investigated his Twitter account they escalated the charge from second degree murder to first degree murder. It turns out that the accused murderer had some serious problems with finding and keeping roommates for a very long time.

The accused had tweeted every year about having trouble finding roommates. In the weeks leading up to his arrest he had posted several tweets about how easy it was to obtain firearms and ammunition. A final ominous tweet two days before the murder was the kicker: “I need to move out of my place before I viciously murder my roommates.” [Link – AZ Central]

Lesson learned: Follow your roommates on social media.

Continue reading 5 Terrifying Real Life Roommates

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Published by

Kay Cleaves

Founder and owner of RentConfident. She's the primary developer of the website and research engine code. She's spent over 10 years working in the Chicago rental industry and has assisted with over 1200 leases.