Apartment Maintenance In the Time of COVID-19

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In today’s article there will probably be several instances where I appear to be flaunting or failing to recognize my own privilege. I apologize if it comes off this way. It isn’t the intent but I know full well that it will probably happen regardless.

There’s been a lot of talk about how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect people who work in delivery, food service and healthcare. I’ve seen far less attention paid to the people who are supporting the homes that have now become de facto prisons and workplaces for much of the U.S. office labor force.

It is a reasonable assumption that the more people stay home from work, the higher the chances are that they will break things within their homes. Holiday weeks always prompt a flurry of maintenance calls due to increased demand on the physical plant of the apartment building. The same thing happens immediately following snow days when kids are often left at home unsupervised. With all of the recent news about businesses asking workers to stay home and schools closing to limit exposure to COVID-19, I have been thinking with some worry about the men and women who work on the maintenance teams for apartment buildings across the country and hoping they’re able to weather the massive workload facing them in the coming month. Continue reading Apartment Maintenance In the Time of COVID-19

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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.

The Importance of Being Neighbors

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I recently got a tweet from a reader in response to our article about package theft. She was surprised that the city of Chicago ticketed landlords with overflowing dumpsters. I explained that they usually only do so if neighbors complain. This led me to think more in-depth about the importance of neighbors, a group that are both crucial to and completely ignored by Chicago’s rental market. Today I’m going to use my own experiences and a few examples from the news to explain why both landlords and renters need to be more aware of their neighbors. Continue reading The Importance of Being Neighbors

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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.

Voter Registration and the Census for Chicago Renters Who Will be Moving in March and April of 2020

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The first day of the month is an important one when it comes to deadlines. It’s the day when rent is due. It’s the day when many other bills are due. It’s the day when many renters move into new apartments. It’s also an important day for government deadlines. Over the next two months, Chicago renters making spring moves will come up against two major government deadlines that may turn moving day into a paperwork crunch. These deadlines come at a time when the rental season is ramping up in the city following several slow off-season months.

This year, the last day for online voter registration for the Illinois March 17 primary is February 29. However, the deadline for choosing where you will vote is this coming Monday, February 17, when early voting begins statewide.

Approximately one month later, the US Census Bureau will want to know everyone who is living under your roof on April 1 for the decennial census. For people who are moving, particularly those who are moving across state lines, these two events may mean that you have to make some serious choices with major consequences that could last for years. Today we’ll look at these choices in detail. Continue reading Voter Registration and the Census for Chicago Renters Who Will be Moving in March and April of 2020

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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.

The Problems of Package Delivery in Chicago Apartments

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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

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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.

Two Apps for Chicago Renters with Problems: Squared Away Chicago and Rentervention

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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

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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.