Eight Safety Conscious Gifts for City Renters

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Last Friday Jon posted a great list of fun and fancy gifts for the renters on your list. However, as a safety-conscious company, we’d be out of line if we didn’t also offer some ideas that were focused on keeping renters and small-space dwellers safe and sound over the coming year.

If Black Friday and Small Business Saturday didn’t complete your shopping list (and you’ve already picked up a few RentConfident Gift Certificates), here are some additional, practical ideas that may be of use.

Adjustable Security Bar ($15)

Image via wdrake.com
Image via wdrake.com

It may seem unglamorous to give someone a pole for the holidays, but when that pole could prevent a break in it becomes more interesting. Many Chicago apartments have back doors that open directly to an unguarded outside area. These metal bars fit under the doorknob and brace against the floor behind to offer additional security against forced entry. Almost any major hardware store should have them in stock, or you can find them on Amazon. Continue reading Eight Safety Conscious Gifts for City Renters

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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.

10 great gifts for your apartment dwelling friends (or apartment dwelling self)

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Happy Black Friday! If you’re reading this from your phone in a checkout line, congratulations on your bravery and tolerance. If you’re reading this while relaxing in your pajamas at home, congratulations on helping make the world a more tranquil place.

Today I would like to talk about good gifts for apartment dwellers. Of course the best gift for any Chicago apartment resident is a RentConfident gift certificate. However, I know that a lot of renters don’t live in Chicago, so until we can expand to other cities, here are some other suggestions.

When I shop for one of these gifts, I follow two rules. 1) I try to make sure that it’s either beautiful or useful. 2) Because this person may not share my ideas on beauty and usefulness, I try to make sure that it’s not too big – maybe less than one quarter of the volume of those medium-sized plastic storage tubs. That way I know that it’s not taking up too much space in the back of their closet.

I’ve spent the last few days browsing online shops and Apartment Gift Top Ten Lists and jotted down some items that caught my eye.  Mostly they are things that I have and enjoy having or things that I’d like to have. So yes, I did create a gift list for me, and I am calling it a list for everyone who lives in an apartment. That’s just how I shop. Are you ready to see what I’ve found? Continue reading 10 great gifts for your apartment dwelling friends (or apartment dwelling self)

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Published by

Jon Hoferle

Jon Hoferle was one of the two founders of RentConfident from 2015-16, serving as content creator and CFO. He has been involved in the Chicago rental industry for over a decade.

A Screen is Only as Strong as its Largest Hole.

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There’s been a lot of talk about background checks lately. The topic tends to come up every time people are scared by recent violence and want some way of ensuring that Bad Things continue to happen only in far away places.

Over the course of my real estate career I had to run lots and lots of background checks on renters. I saw the background check output from 20-30 different tenant screening companies. They ranged in thoroughness from just a yes-no decision to 60 pages of detailed, computerized data. Only a handful of them provided a real, accurate picture of the tenants. The process that RentConfident uses to check on landlords in Chicago was designed in part as a response to the problems I found with modern tenant screening methods.

Civilian rental screening is far removed from the intensive processes used to monitor emigrés who are following legal entry channels. However, there are many others who get into the country through other means, both legal (student and worker visas) and not. It has been repeatedly proven by comparing prison populations and census data that foreign born residents of the US commit far fewer serious crimes than their US-born counterparts. Given the uneven treatment of immigrants and the high number of domestic criminals, those who are concerned about screening would do well to focus not only on the treatment of newcomers but also the vetting processes that are used to restrict who has access to our homes and offices on a daily basis.

Fortunately, landlords have options to screen their renters. Many landlords will even use their “thorough screening” of renters as an advertising hook, implying that their buildings are safer than the rest. This, my friends, is a load of baloney.
Continue reading A Screen is Only as Strong as its Largest Hole.

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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 Corresponding Pitfalls of Turkeys and Apartments

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Since it’s coming up on Thanksgiving, I’d like to talk a little bit about cooking a turkey. Many of us only cook a turkey once a year or once every few years. It’s one of those things that we do so infrequently that we forget how to do it properly. If we don’t take the time to refresh ourselves, it can turn into a stressful near disaster. It’s the same thing with apartment hunting. So I’ve made this little chart that explains how turkey cooking can be like apartment hunting. I hope you like it.

Turkey Cooking Apartment Hunting
Begin thawing turkey in refrigerator. Begin apartment hunt.
Realize that it’s Thanksgiving morning and it takes 24 hours to thaw every four to five pounds of turkey. This turkey is 12 pounds. Realize that your lease expires in a month and it could probably take six weeks of viewing apartments to find one that’s right for you.
Thaw turkey in cold water. Not having a watertight bag large enough for the bird, wrap it in an entire roll of plastic wrap. Not having a plan of what new sites have launched since last time, schedule showings using any apartment-related site you can find.

Continue reading The Corresponding Pitfalls of Turkeys and Apartments

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Published by

Jon Hoferle

Jon Hoferle was one of the two founders of RentConfident from 2015-16, serving as content creator and CFO. He has been involved in the Chicago rental industry for over a decade.

Reclaiming Reality

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There was going to be another “top 10” list here today. It’s all written up and ready to go. But things change and priorities shift. We need to have a little talk.

Bad Things happened on last Friday. They happened last Thursday, Wednesday and Tuesday, too. If they didn’t happen in real life, they happened in the TV shows you watched, or in the things that your friends and favorite celebrities posted to Facebook, Twitter and the like.

Bad Things and Big Things will continue to happen. They will be packaged up to be entertaining or newsworthy based on marketing formulas and the opinions of focus groups. You will see passionate people living at extremes. You will hear of people who go too far in indulging their faith, their jobs, their kids, or their possessions. Continue reading Reclaiming Reality

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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.