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.

How to Persuade Someone to Move

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I received a comment from my father on last week’s post about apartment hunting for frail tenants asking, “What options does a tenant have if she or he becomes ‘frail’ or otherwise incapacitated during a lease?” On the surface the answer is simple: break the lease as you would in any other situation where you need to leave quickly. But in this scenario there is an underlying problem. In most cases the tenants who break a lease do so of their own volition or out of willing acceptance of necessity. They know that they will probably have to pay a fee or do some work to replace themselves, but it’s a speed bump rather than a stop sign.

But what if the tenant doesn’t want to leave? What if they are, as suggested by my father, frail or incapacitated but unwilling to accept this about themselves? In that case the lease break fees and sublease requirements become less of a hurdle and more of an excuse to remain in an unhealthy situation. It falls to the family or friends of the renter to persuade them that it’s time to go. Continue reading How to Persuade Someone to Move

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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.