Questions to Ask Your Next Landlord About Condo Deconversion

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Chicago has a finite amount of land where it’s legal to build apartment buildings. Not every area is zoned for housing, and only some of those residential zones allow housing structures with large numbers of units inside. Multi-unit buildings can be managed in one of three ways. Apartments are owned and managed by a single person or company, and occupants pay rent to that owner. Condominiums are individually owned, but the shell of the building is collaboratively maintained by the condominium association through dues collected from each owner. Cooperatives are owned collectively by all of the occupants together, who then are assigned sections of the building to live in. Chicago’s many multi-family buildings have shifted between all three over their existence. Some buildings such as Aqua are separated into two entities, with some floors run as apartments and others as condos.

Swapping from one management style to another is a pretty complicated process, as you can probably imagine, but when compared with constructing a brand new building it’s usually a much cheaper and less obnoxious process. Continue reading Questions to Ask Your Next Landlord About Condo Deconversion

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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 Innovations That Changed the Chicago Apartment Industry in a Big Way

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Throughout history there have been any number of big ideas and discoveries that caused fundamental changes in human life worldwide. Nations have risen and fallen on the backs of these discoveries, from the wheel and the longbow to the airplane and nuclear fission. The Chicago apartment industry has also been visited by inventions that caused citywide changes to how we find, live in and leave rental housing. Today we’ll be looking at 10 of the most important of these innovations. Note that we will be skipping over some of the big ones that had a more global effect such as electricity and public transit. Rather we will be looking at far more specific moments in time that led to lasting changes in this particular industry.

1830: The Illinois-Michigan Canal

The Chicago as we know it starts here, with a federal grant from Congress to the state of Illinois to dig a canal between Lake Michigan and the Illinois River. The state created a commission, which thought that it would be a good idea to have a city at the east end of that canal. So the commission hired a fellow to plan out the city that would become Chicago, and told him to do it in the latest fashion, which was a grid style with blocks and, more importantly, alleys. Continue reading 10 Innovations That Changed the Chicago Apartment Industry in a Big Way

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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.