Roommates, Guests and the Mechanics of Squatting

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Wikipedia has over 26 articles addressing the matter of squatting in the United States. By squatting I do not mean the crouching position or the exercise technique, but the housing practice. We’ve covered this topic before, but that was mostly focused on the concept of squatting as it relates to adverse possession and had a whole bunch of cat analogies. We’ve never really addressed it as an alternative housing strategy.

There are a lot of reasons why someone would choose to squat instead of taking on a lease in their name. They may have a blemished history that prevents them from getting approved for a lease. They may be morally opposed to the concept of contracts or paying for housing. They may not have the financial werewithal to pay rent on any market rate home. They may be on a wait list for subsidized housing, which can keep them in a holding pattern for years if not decades. They may be staying past the deadline after a legitimate lease expires or after a bank has foreclosed on their house. They may be the significant other of the lease holder and just spending the night a lot, unaware that by doing so they’re breaking the law.

No matter the reason, it’s time to stop ignoring the existence of squatting or treating it like it’s a universally bad thing, always done with malicious intent. Renters know it happens, landlords know it happens. I’m not going to preach at you about it. This a guide to practical squatting for renters. However, before we get into the details I want to start with a warning.

Everything we are about to discuss here is illegal. In Illinois it is considered trespassing and therefore can be treated as a Class B misdemeanor punishable with eviction, jail time and/or fines. It is not likely to be legalized at any point in the future. If you choose to squat in an apartment or house you do so at your own risk. We do not endorse it, nor are we encouraging you to consider it as a viable option unless you have no other choice except the streets. Continue reading Roommates, Guests and the Mechanics of Squatting

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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 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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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.

Licensing of Leasing Agents Across the United States

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Most states have a couple of different licensing tiers for real estate agents. In most cases there’s a license for sales agents and a separate one for their managing brokers. These two license tiers require different amounts of pre-licensing education and continuing education to obtain and maintain, with the managers understandably needing more training than their subordinates.

In Illinois we have a two additional tiers at the bottom of the totem pole for leasing agents and leasing agent students. Today we’ll be looking at the requirements for these rental-only licenses and comparing them against the licensing requirements for those who perform similar roles in other states across the country. Continue reading Licensing of Leasing Agents Across the United States

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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.

Condemned to Repeat? Chicago’s New Five Year Housing Plan: 2019-2023

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This is part two of our analysis of Chicago’s new five year housing plan covering 2019 through 2023. You should probably start with part one, which ran last week. We’ve already assessed how well the city achieved its goals over the past five years. Now we’re going to use what we learned to analyze the new plan. As with our prior article we will be focusing on the plan for the rental market only, ignoring initiatives that support only single family homes. Continue reading Condemned to Repeat? Chicago’s New Five Year Housing Plan: 2019-2023

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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.

Accountability Check: Chicago’s 2014-2018 Housing Plan

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In our January newsletter I said that we were going to cover the city’s new five year housing plan for 2019-2023, which was approved by the city council towards the end of last year. In last week’s article (which you guys seemed to like, thanks!) I said that we would be covering it today, and we are to an extent, but not directly. We’ll cover it directly next week. Because as I reviewed it, it became apparent that it is a promise and a plan, and like any promise its worth depends on the reputation of the person who makes it.

There are certain times when promises and proposals are so exciting that we don’t think about how trustworthy the source might be. When someone proposes marriage, we’re often swept off our feet with relief and joy without thinking about how many times our partner has been divorced. When a landlord offers us an apartment after getting denied a few times by others, we might leap to accept it without reading the lease.

The new five year plan was breathlessly covered by media outlets, mostly because of its leap from introduction to approval by the city council in less than a month. As it has been approved we will look at it. But my personal motto is “remember where you came from.”

This is not the first five year plan for housing that Chicago has had. It is the sixth consecutive five year plan, which means we’re now entering our 26th straight year of municipal five year housing plans. So first let’s take a look at how Chicago did in keeping its promises from the old one, which was in effect from January 2014 through December 2018. Continue reading Accountability Check: Chicago’s 2014-2018 Housing Plan

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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.