Coping with Construction in Your Building

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There are a multitude of reasons why a landlord would start a construction project on an occupied building. Some of them are voluntary – renovating units to bring in more rent, updating wiring or putting in a laundry room. Other projects like restoring apartments damaged by previous tenants, repairing storm damage or addressing city code violations are involuntary.

About two years ago there was a big storm that knocked down a 60 foot tall tree on the parkway in front of my building. It crashed into our yard, taking out my steel balcony, porch light and a chunk of the front fence. It also made a massive hole in the lawn and caused some pretty massive structural damage to the tuckpointing and roof. I’m lucky it didn’t actually crush my bedroom. The repairs cost well over $10,000.

Now, this is a condo building, I’m one of the owners, and I wound up being responsible for dealing with all the contractors and the insurance company. But even though this was a “do or die” set of repairs, and I knew well in advance every time we were going to have workers on site and I’d vetted them through multiple sources it was still a terrible experience. It was noisy. It was intrusive. It was messy. When you’re a renter living with construction in your building without that level of fine grain control it’s even worse. Continue reading Coping with Construction in Your Building

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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 Income Taxes and Moving

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This past week most Americans had to go through one of the most obnoxious annual US traditions. Although Tax Day was delayed due to the Easter holiday, the delay meant that many procrastinators had to spend their holiday doing peculiar math calculations and thinking about their income instead of enjoying time off with their family. As I sat doing my own taxes (possibly last weekend… possibly) I was struck by how much the dread of this chore had in common with another very common task at this time of year – packing and moving to a new apartment. Let me explain with this handy chart.

Income Taxes Moving
Receive notice in the form of a 1099 or W-2 form from your boss that income tax time is almost here. Receive notice in the form of a lease renewal letter from your landlord that moving time is almost here.
Spend the next two months pondering what you’ll do with your refund. Spend the next two months looking for a new apartment.
Realize with only a few days left that you should probably start doing the paperwork. Realize with only a few days left that you should probably start packing.
Start your return, realize that you need several documents that you’ve misplaced, flail about. Start sorting your belongings, realize that you need far more packing supplies than you have, flail about.

Continue reading The Corresponding Pitfalls of Income Taxes and Moving

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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 for Overweight Renters

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According to the US Center for Disease Control’s 2014 survey, 29.3% of Illinois adults are obese, up from 27.1% in 2011. An additional 34.5% were considered to be “overweight” but not obese. As a point of comparison, they reported that about 15% of Illinois adults smoke cigarettes. Obesity is more prevalent among some racial minorities: about 44% of black adults and 35% of Hispanic adults are obese in Illinois. Obesity is also far more common in lower income brackets – this means that renters are more likely than owners to be severely overweight.

Obese renters have to make special considerations when searching for housing. They may encounter discrimination from landlords, even though severely obese individuals – those weighing at least twice the norm for their height – are considered disabled and therefore protected by the ADA. But not every overweight renter meets the threshold for “severely obese,” and nobody wants their housing search to end with a discrimination lawsuit.

Today we’ll be focusing on the house hunting concerns of the overweight renter, with special consideration for those who weigh over 300 pounds. Some of you are planning to lose weight. Others of you may be unable to do so, or may not care. We’re not here to judge. No matter your opinion of your weight, if you’re obese during your housing search you need to be aware of how your size may impact your available options. Continue reading Apartment Hunting for Overweight 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.

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.