Don’t love thy neighbor? 20 head-scratching neighbor complaints as told to a former property manager

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Many years ago when I worked in property management, one of my biggest headaches was responding to tenants’ complaints about their neighbors.

I’d answer the phone and on the other end would be an angry, often sleep-deprived person. Often they would yell. Sometimes they would speak in a firm tone. Occasionally they would cry.

I’d do my best to put myself their position — after years of hearing the same complaints, it was easy to become desensitized. To resolve the call, I would promise to send the offending neighbor a letter instructing them to cease the pattern of disturbance immediately.

A few days later, I’d get a call from person who received the letter. Invariably, this person would deny knowing anything about any disturbances and demand to know who complained. I would explain that in the interest of not starting a blood feud, the most specific term I could use was  “a neighbor.” Continue reading Don’t love thy neighbor? 20 head-scratching neighbor complaints as told to a former property manager

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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.

Lawsuits in an Italian restaurant

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You are six years old. Your parents take you to a local Italian restaurant with a kids’ menu. You love their macaroni and cheese. It’s basic and bland and to your little kid taste buds it’s delicious. You go back every couple of months and you get the same thing every time.

One day your mom goes on a health food kick. You return to the restaurant and your mother looks over the menu with her newly opened eyes. The kids’ menu is full of junk! Too high in carbs. Too high in fat. You won’t be eating any of that anymore! The only dish that she sees fit to feed you is the organic fagioli primavera risotto from the adults’ menu.

“I’m sorry,” says the waiter, “but your son is too young for that sort of dish. Most kids can’t handle the strong flavors and textures. We advise young children to order from the kids menu. That way everyone can have a good time and a good meal.”

Your mother isn’t going to stand for that. “That’s discrimination!” she shouts. “You can’t keep someone from ordering a dish just because of their age! You’ll be hearing from my lawyers!” She bundles you up and takes you home.

Continue reading Lawsuits in an Italian restaurant

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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.

35 Terms That Should Be Banished From Apartment Ads (and what they really mean)

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There are a lot of Internet listings for Chicago apartments. One could spend several lifetimes trying to read them all. Since we have but one lifetime, it seems reasonable that each apartment listing should immediately share the neighborhood, number of bedrooms and baths, and offer a few words honestly describing the apartment.

Well…maybe two out of three ain’t bad.

The agents who write the listings have got the location and bedrooms/baths down cold. It’s the honest description that trips them up. A quick browse of the first 100 apartments listed on Craigslist City of Chicago apartments tells me the following:

8 are spacious.
7 are gorgeous. Continue reading 35 Terms That Should Be Banished From Apartment Ads (and what they really mean)

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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.

Which Chicago neighborhoods have forced out the most renters?

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Last week I posted a short essay about the dangers of using census data out of context. It talked about how renters could be encouraged by the out-of-date median rent rates listed in the American Community Survey to fall for fake listing scams that list apartments at rates far below actual market value.

At the end of that article, I mentioned that I had an alternate usage of those median rent rates that provided some amount of context. Today I’ve done a quick mockup using the data in a better context.

A Word of Caution

I know some readers are very active in the area of fair housing and that the whole area of gentrification is a very sensitive topic. The following should be considered as thought experiment. It is not a full scientific analysis nor should it be used as anything more than a starter example of data usage. Continue reading Which Chicago neighborhoods have forced out the most 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.

No more unicorns: how I’m learning to write for a business.

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A company always needs someone to write content – for the website, newsletters, emails, advertising. When we decided that writing for RentConfident would be part of my job, my brain began to buzz. Before, I had only written for my own personal pleasure. Now I would be writing for an audience. I had so many ideas. I had visions of broadcasting my mind to the world.

Coming from a creative writing background, I wrote stories to entertain. I was used to opening the hinge on the top of my head and allowing my imagination to spill out in all of its sensory glory. Then all I did was describe:

  • the rainbow halo of dew on the grass
  • the wind’s sigh as it rushes through the meadow
  • the smell of the unicorn’s mane (like horse and cotton candy)

I soon found out that unicorns are of very little use to a business writer. Writing for business uses a different muscle. For me, good creative writing is plunging into the world within my own mind and describing that world as if it were reality. However, good business writing is taking an idea, a concept, or a message and fitting it into the world within the customer’s mind.

I’m working on it. I’m getting better. Still, sometimes I find myself practicing old habits.

I’ll be sitting at my computer, composing an email explaining the RentConfident Confidence Factor, and suddenly I’ll be typing: We discovered the formula for the Confidence Factor carved into a tablet in the center of a deep dark forest. To find this tablet, we had to:

  • Wade through a foul swamp
  • Evade an army of killer ants
  • Solve the riddle: I have one where none should be. I gallop through the trees. I signal purity.

Then I stop. I take a breath and instead write: The RentConfident Confidence Factor starts with a score of 100. We deduct points for every risk factor found, such as:

  • City Violations
  • Unpaid property taxes
  • High neighborhood crime

I finish the email and move on to the next thing.

Sometimes I want to return to the world of free-flowing ideas, long descriptive passages, and not caring if everyone is going to understand or appreciate what I write.

But then I remind myself that there’s an elegance to good business writing, and it can be beautiful. If I explain RentConfident clearly, if I convince a few people to try it, and those people find a great apartment — then that’s even better than escape into fantasy. That’s helping people in the real world.

And it’s a good way to get the unicorns out of my mind.

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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.