City Renter University: The Best Fictional Choice in Renter Education

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Earlier this month, Kay made a list of RentConfident's plans for the coming year. One of the plans is to offer drop-in classes at local universities to help college students make the best and safest off-campus housing choices. It's a great idea, and it got me thinking...

What if there was a whole college dedicated to renter education?
What departments would it have?
What classes would they offer?

I had to answer these questions, so I imagined a fictional university located right here in Chicago – City Renter University (CRU to the cool kids). Within this university, I imagined a College of Rental Education and its many departments and professors. The only thing left to imagine was the courses. I did that, and I grouped them by department.

Now I'm going to share them with you. Today's featured department is The Department of Apartment Hunting. I imagine their page on the CRU website might look something like this:

The Department of Apartment Hunting

Welcome to DAH! The Department of Apartment Hunting (DAH) helps students excel as renters through the study and analysis of the steps and processes leading up to moving into their first Chicago apartment in addition to the theories and practices of moving from one apartment to another. Below you will find courses offered for Spring Semester 2016.

DAH 101 – Introduction to Craigslist Apartment Ads

An introduction to the most popular source of leasing information, DAH 101 teaches students to distinguish between reliable and suspicious Craigslist ads and increases real-world comprehension of agent double-speak.

DAH 102 – Current Issues in Appointment Keeping

Dedicated to the importance of punctuality in the apartment viewing experience, this course examines issues that both assist and interfere with appointment keeping. It offers students a thorough overview of the scope and scale of CTA delays, basic theory of one-way streets, and the roles of coffee, alarms, and common courtesy in the appointment-keeping universe.

DAH 201 – Basic Lease Terms

From Lessor and Lessee to Fire and Casualty, this course encourages students to learn the plain English meanings behind the sometimes obscure legal terms contained within common versions of the Chicago Apartment Lease.

DAH 220 – Ethics of the Lease Rider

DAH 220 offers a moral structure for the study of the Lease Rider or any other addition to the Lease specific to a particular landlord or management company. Students will learn to critique its terms ethically and propose alternate terms for those found unethical. The goal of the course is to empower student renters not to sign a ridiculous contract just because the landlord expects them to.

DAH 312 – The Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance in Film

This course examines the CRLTO as it applies to popular and lesser-known films set in the Greater Chicagoland Area. Students will analyze how the CRLTO might influence film plot events and engage in discussions as to how scenes from suburban films might be altered by the CRLTO. Films include Ferris Bueller's Day Off, I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With, and Wicker Park.

DAH 333 – Avante Garde Rental Scams

Devoted to protecting renters from new and experimental scams, this course explores the nefarious use of unconventional light, sound, voice, and images to disorient and deceive unsuspecting apartment hunters. Students will learn defensive techniques such as laughter and common sense.

DAH 369 – Directed Study in Apartment Research

Under the guidance of a faculty member, students will explore topics not covered in the curriculum. Studies must contain a significant academic component and may include an internship with an apartment research firm such as RentConfident or similar Chicago apartment research company that does not yet exist.

DAH 399 – Fieldwork in Apartment Hunting

This course combines “real-life” interaction with apartment seekers, leasing agents, and landlords with classroom-based discussion. Students will be expected to “tag along” on showings and overcome the confusion and resentment caused by this. Students will create a portfolio of field drawings and photographs in addition to collecting samples of organic matter for laboratory analysis.


New: City Renter University has another department: The Department of Moving and Disagreement.

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Published by

Jon Hoferle