The Naughtiest and Nicest Landlords of 2018

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Ho Ho Ho! It’s Christmas season and that means it’s time for our annual tradition of calling out the year’s worst and best landlords. This is now the fourth year in a row that we’ve done the annual N&N list.

We had an easier time this year finding landlords for the “nicest” list. Unfortunately this is because the large number of natural disasters that plagued the country in 2018. Of course, as always, we had a huge number of “naughty” landlords to choose from so your favorite villain with a vacancy might not appear. Notably we have chosen to omit the parties involved in the Ghost Ship fire as we don’t think that matter is truly settled yet.

But you’re not here for the intro. You’re here for the best and worst landlords of the year. Let’s get to it. Continue reading The Naughtiest and Nicest Landlords of 2018

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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.

Brainstorming Apartments for Niche Markets

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There are very few occupations that have housing set aside just for them. There are military barracks, but those are only for active duty military. There is specialty housing for religious devotees such as convents, monasteries and rectories. For college student there are dorms of course and a subset of landlords that cater to students, with an even smaller subset catering to medical residents and interns.

In Chicago there’s also a handful of buildings dedicated to artists with rooms in the building set aside for music practice and studio use. Until recently, all of these niche markets have been gussied up ways of making low-income, run down housing acceptable to build in otherwise hostile neighborhoods due to the innate but socially acceptable poverty and traditional whiteness of these select groups of people.

But lately the “artist apartment” has seen a renaissance with new communities popping up across the south side. These buildings are still low income housing, but underwritten by grants and spearheaded by community champions they are not your average run down fleabag artist communes. They’re brand new construction and quite fancy.

The rebirth of artist apartments in Chicago led me to think about other job and interest based niche communities that might do well to have apartment buildings created just for them. After all, if the often outrageous artistic temperaments can get along living together in a single building, certainly some other groups can find enough common ground to share an address as well. Here are some of our ideas and how to make them happen. Continue reading Brainstorming Apartments for Niche Markets

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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.

Apartment Hunting is Trick-or-Treat for Adults

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Stores might not create a holiday aisle for apartment hunting, and they certainly do not offer a selection of candy in grey and tan wrappers to accompany the process, but they certainly should. After all, apartment hunting is basically Halloween for adults. (In fact, if you treat it that way it might be a lot more pleasant for you.) Don’t believe me? Here’s 20 ways that the two are similar.

Halloween: Parade between houses owned by other people.
Apartments: Parade between apartment buildings owned by other people.

Halloween: Upon arriving, use coded phrases that you never would say otherwise, such as “trick or treat” and “I am a Snorlax.”
Apartments: Upon arriving, use coded phrases that you never would say otherwise, such as “crown moldings” and “rent to income ratio.” Continue reading Apartment Hunting is Trick-or-Treat for Adults

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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.

Squatting: An Extended Meowtaphor

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There are thousands of people squatting in the US. I don’t mean that they’re doing exercises involving bending the knees. I mean that they are secretly or openly living in property against the wishes of the owner. A lot of myths have arisen over the concept of squatting, most surrounding the idea that if you do it long enough you will gain ownership of that property. This is a particular type of squatting, entitled adverse possession.

In my alley there are many stray cats. Some of them are outdoor cats owned by my neighbors. Others are strays, some feral and some left behind by owners who have since left the neighborhood. I’ve come to recognize many of them, including some who choose to hang out on my porch, which is nice and sunny in the afternoons. My own cat Kipling once hung out there as well. After encountering him several days in a row I lured him inside with some tuna. He is now the undisputed owner of my home. My name is on the title but that’s about all.

For the past couple of years his former napping spot on the porch has been taken over by a tiny long haired black cat. Rather than pointing the finger at any group of people who might attempt to squat in a house for long enough to become its owners, we will use this little fluffy cat, who we’ll call Shadow, as our example of adverse possession. (This is all supposing, hypothetically of course, that cats have an understanding of legal matters and the right to own property. They currently don’t.)

So what would Shadow have to do in order to gain ownership of my porch? Continue reading Squatting: An Extended Meowtaphor

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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.

Ghosts of Old Chicago: Our Oldest Surviving Apartment Buildings

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Did you know that the 4 oldest surviving buildings in North America are all apartment buildings? Well, they’re not apartments in the modern sense, but they are all unified residential structures that housed multiple families. They are the pueblos of the southwestern united states, dating from the 8th century CE.

The oldest surviving structures in Chicago weren’t built for over a thousand years after those dusty cliff dwellings, but to the modern Chicago renter even our oldest local buildings seem pretty darn ancient. Today we’ve crawled through the buildings preserved as Chicago Historical Landmarks to find some of the oldest surviving apartment buildings in the city.

All images from Google Streetview.

1061 W Madison and 1065 W Madison

Neighborhood: West Loop
Built: 1869 (1065 W Madison, right) and 1884 (1061 W Madison, left)
Style: 2nd Renaissance Revival (1065), Italianate (1061)
Note: 1065 W Madison is listed as 7 S. Aberdeen in online listings. It is the only pre-fire apartment building we’ve found so far.
Author’s Comment: Roof deck and cell tower are not original to the building.
Last Known Rent Rate: 2 bed, 2 ba, $3400. Continue reading Ghosts of Old Chicago: Our Oldest Surviving Apartment Buildings

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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.