Why Are Landlords So Hard on Dog Owners?

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This past Wednesday was “National Love Your Pet Day,” one of many unofficial holidays which I suspect was created to drive e-card traffic in the early 2000s. The oldest online mention I could find of it was in an archived copy of the now defunct greeting-cards.com from 2003, when it hadn’t yet acquired the “National” moniker. (Yes I check these things, don’t look at me like that.) As much as I am dubious of the motives behind the creation of the holiday, there’s no denying that pets are important to a lot of renters. I figured that pets are both a topic I hadn’t addressed much in this blog and one that is far more enjoyable than the Chicago mayoral election.

There are few reliable studies about pet ownership. The few that exist are opt-in and performed with questionable rigor with an end goal of market research for vets, pet supply companies and emergency services. Mentions of pet ownership statistics for Illinois give numbers ranging from 51.8% to 68% of Illinois residents. Suffice to say there are more people with pets than there are pet-friendly apartments, particularly when it comes to dogs.

The problem of finding pet-friendly housing is not exclusive to renters. The Realtors to the Rescue program was founded by a Chicago real estate agent to handle the problem of pets that are abandoned when their owners move away. The prohibition of support animals in high density housing has been a recurring hot button topic in fair housing lawsuits for years, and those suits plague developments ranging from condo associations to eldercare facilities.

It is said that the first step in a battle is understanding how your enemy thinks. So for the sake of renters who are trying to find housing that will accept their pet dogs, here’s some things that may have caused a landlord to put dog restrictions in their lease. Continue reading Why Are Landlords So Hard on Dog Owners?

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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.

Is It Time To Ditch the Keating Memo?

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In March of 1991, counsel to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) Frank Keating sent an inter-office memo to the HUD offices throughout the country. In it he spoke about landlord-defined occupancy limits on housing and their relation to fair housing law violations. The letter, now referred to as the “Keating Memo” within real estate industry, stated that a landlord-enforced maximum of 2 occupants per bedroom would be considered acceptable and non-discriminatory. However, that number was one of several factors cited by Keating as things HUD inspectors must examine before delivering opinions on whether or not discrimination has occurred.

7 years later in December of 1998, HUD took steps to make the Keating Memo official, going on record confirming that its provisions had been adopted as a nationwide standard. It remains the only law pertaining to occupancy limits in rental housing that’s applicable nationwide. Individual states and cities have enacted their own laws that override the Keating Memo, but for Chicago renters there is nothing but HUD along with some details buried in the building code about the minimum acceptable square footage per person for residences and bedrooms. As we approach the 20th anniversary of the official adoption of the Keating Memo this year, it’s our position here at RentConfident that it’s time for the policy to be reassessed and rewritten for the 21st century. Read on if you want to know why. Continue reading Is It Time To Ditch the Keating Memo?

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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.

Which Tenant Would WE Choose?

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Last week we presented four pairs of imaginary rental applicants based on some of our own previous real life experiences in property management. We asked you with each pair to decide which, if either, of the applicants you would approve for an apartment if you were a landlord. We asked you to let us know what you thought in the comments. Nobody commented! But that’s okay. This week we’ll let you know our choices and reasons why.

Scenario 1: Cramped Quarters

In this situation you had to choose between a large family and a single work from home renter for a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment. Both applicants had similar, above average credit scores and similar income, although the work from home applicant’s income was more variable.

Given this choice we would go with the single mom with 4 kids. The single mom’s income was more consistent at $4500 a month compared with the web developer’s variable $0 to $15000 range. Continue reading Which Tenant Would WE Choose?

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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.

On Candles and Spotlights: A Parable of Real Estate

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Marta and James Chandler grew up with their mother Simone in Carbonville, a neighborhood on the west side of a big city in the US. Candles were the lighting source of choice in Carbonville. Every night as Marta walked home from school she could see candle after candle in the windows of her neighbors, lighting her way back to her own candlelit home.

Candles had their drawbacks. They were temporary and fragile. They slowly vanished as they were used. The slightest gust of wind or clumsy handling would extinguish them. Sometimes someone would get a little crazy and knock over a candle, setting a whole building on fire. If you didn’t know how to light them properly you could burn yourself. Outsiders thought the Carbonville residents to be a bit peculiar. “Always setting their houses on fire. Such a pity.” Continue reading On Candles and Spotlights: A Parable of Real Estate

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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.

Dear RentConfident: Waiting for Affordable Housing

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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’re back with another question from the mailbag! This one required such an in-depth answer that we’re spending the entire article on it.

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: I was hoping to get your insight on where the affordable housing is in Chicago. I searched your site and didn’t find a specific blog article about this so I thought I’d reach out about the City’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance. Based on my understanding of the ordinance, developments that receive city financial assistance or involve city-owned land must provide 10 percent of their units (if the building is more than 10 units) at affordable prices. The problem I’m having is that the City’s Affordable Rental Housing Resource List doesn’t seem right. For instance, it only lists one development in the loop, but it seems to me that new apartment buildings are popping up in the loop every week. I’m interested in finding out how low-income individuals can find these building online.

I have two brothers who work full-time but are still considered working poor. They make about $27K and $31K respectively and have not been able to find an affordable apartment in Chicago. The issue they keep running into is the property manager saying that don’t make enough money annually. One of my brothers went to [address redacted], which is on the City’ ARO list, as well to several landlord owned properties on the south side but was told just that. Another brother went to [address redacted] but was told the waiting list for affordable apartment was two years. Combining their income is not an option because they’ve tried living together in the past, and they get along much better when live a part. They both would like to live close to downtown since it’s a considered an opportunity area with more access to resources.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this or any suggestions on what direction to point them in. Thank you so much. – Out of Options, South Loop Continue reading Dear RentConfident: Waiting for Affordable Housing

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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.