The other night as I was driving in 32°F drizzle and leaving several car lengths of space between myself and the car ahead in case of black ice, I wondered for how many of the drivers around me it was the first time on wintry roads. It is a known tradition for Chicago drivers to leave approximately two inches of space between them and the car in front of them, but given the temperature and the condition of the unsalted roads it was surprising how many other drivers were cutting in front of me. In situations like this I often remember that I was taught by my parents in a different area of the country instead of by a traditional local driving school. I learned early on to never assume the other drivers around you know anything about how to drive. This is called defensive driving.
Of course, this led me to think a bit about defensive renting and the assumptions renters make about their landlords. Landlords are often just as faceless and unknown as the people in cars beside us on the road. All we can assume about them is that they exist because they’re trying to get from point A to point B using a particular vehicle or, in the case of the landlord, a particular building. And just like with drivers, incorrect assumptions can lead to very uncomfortable situations further down the road. Today we’re going to go over 10 common and potentially harmful assumptions that renters make about their landlords that may not be true. Continue reading 10 Assumptions You Should Never Make About Your Landlord
If you’ve rented in Chicago for very long you’ve probably lived in a courtyard apartment building. If not, you’ve probably at least visited someone who lives in one. There’s thousands of them all throughout the city, with the exception of the downtown areas which are dominated by skyscrapers. A standard “U”-shaped courtyard building is a three story tall walkup building with five entrances surrounding a central green space. Each entrance usually has six apartments, sometimes seven or eight if there’s finished basement apartments.
In addition to the standard U shape, there’s also half courtyards (shaped like an “L”), 1.5 courtyards (shaped like an “S” and usually on block corners) and double courtyards (shaped like a “W”), but they’re all basically similar. These buildings are unique to the Chicago area and almost invariably about 100 years old.
Today we’re going to explore the reason why we’ve got so many of them, and also why we don’t see many new ones popping up in the 21st century landscape. Continue reading The Rise and Fall of Chicago’s Courtyard Apartment Buildings
This article will go live on October 18, 2019. Chances are that Chicago teachers will still be on strike and public non-charter schools will still be closed. This means that a lot of Chicago residents will be allowing babysitters into their homes. Those babysitters will be given keys to the property which may or may not be returned when the work is finished.
According to the FBI’s annual report on crimes across the nation during 2018, about 38.5% of burglaries in major metropolitan counties like Chicago had no sign of forced entry. It is very tough for the police to take action on these kinds of crimes. So today I want to start a new annual special day, to occur each year on the Friday after Columbus Day, called “Lock and Key Day”.
If you’ve never changed your apartment locks since you moved into your apartment, I want you to take some time today to get permission from your landlord and get it done.
If you’ve already changed your locks, give some thought to who might have copies of your keys and get them back if you think they shouldn’t still have access to your home.
If you’re reading this article for the first time on some day other than Lock and Key Day, put it in your calendar or just get it out of the way now while you’re thinking about it. Read on to find out why. Continue reading Do You Know Who Has Keys to Your Apartment? (Lock and Key Day)
For those of you wondering, I haven’t given up on finding the data I needed to finish last week’s article. It’s in process but it is taking a while. There’s hundreds of cases to sort through in two different courts and neither court system is particularly strong on the public documentation.
High density living can at times serve as a constant reminder of how we haven’t quite yet achieved the American Dream. Every time you hear your neighbor walking around, watching TV or throwing a party you’re reminded that you haven’t yet earned your own plot of land. It chafes at some people more than others.
In my years working in an apartment property management office I took a lot of voicemails and angry emails from neighbors who were upset about the activities of their fellow tenants. I say voicemails deliberately as most of them came in during the middle of the night when the office was closed.
Not every building has the same problems. We didn’t have a lot of issues with people stealing each others’ wifi or cable but in other areas that might be more of a concern. However, not every landlord reacts the same to complaints. Some will tell you about them, some will silently put them in your file for future use against you, others will ignore them completely.
No matter the situation today I have compiled the most common ones that I encountered into a list for you, in case you want to avoid being “that guy.” Continue reading The 10 Most Common Neighbor Complaints in Apartments
If you are a renter the statistics say that you’ll move once every two years. If you have a higher income or live in a studio you’re likely to move more often than that. If you have a lower income or a larger apartment you’ll probably stay longer. But on average with all renters figured into the situation the frequency is once every two years.
Moving is an expensive endeavor. Every time an apartment vacates there’s a whole bunch of businesses who have their hands out looking for a piece of that fat cash drop. Sometimes the tenants pay them, other times the landlords do. In a few situations it’s even the employers of the tenants or the government who foots the bill. Today I’ve got a list of the business types that come together to form the tenant-facing modern rental industry. Continue reading The Businesses That Profit From Your Move