The current shelter-in-place orders have accelerated an already hostile situation in the rental housing industry from a rowdy standoff into an all-out war. While the buildings themselves might not be alight just yet, pretty much everything else within the realm of the rental housing industry is a massive dumpster fire at the moment. Campaigns to enact rent control, eliminate private ownership, organize renters and slow the recent rapid rise of rent rates nationwide were already in process before the shutdown. Now COVID has provided advocacy groups new levers in the form of shutdown-related unemployment and low income essential jobs to further their causes. Landlords also have some advocacy groups of their own which are fighting to maintain the status quo and preserve the value of their investments.
The opposing sides of this war are not likely to reach detente any time soon. Their inability to communicate without throwing around fighting words totally rules out any form of negotiation. Instead of progress in any direction, we wind up with laughable and utterly toothless efforts to combat the crisis such as the utterly unenforceable appeal to emotion that is the Chicago Housing Solidarity Pledge.
If you follow any of the news about renting in Chicago you've probably heard about rent strikes, protests and campaigns to ban evictions and foreclosures until the end of shelter-in-place orders. You've probably seen the names of many different not-for-profits floating by within these articles without really pausing to think about who they are, what their angle is, or how they operate. Today we'll be looking at some of the groups who have become players in the fight for the control and cost of rental housing, whether out of action or merely by running their mouths on social media. Continue reading The Rent Control Rogues’ Gallery: A Guide to Chicago’s Non-Profit Rent Advocacy Groups
Special alert: Before we get started on today's article, I wanted to mention that the current stay in place order from the governor of Illinois makes it illegal for agents and landlords to show occupied apartments until quarantine measures have ended. However, the manner and extent to which the police will enforce this part of the guidelines is unknown and has not yet been tested in any meaningful way. Government agencies are relying on citizens to use common sense and combined civic efforts to enforce these rules more than police power.
Now, with that out of the way, on to the actual article.
Quarantine measures imposed in late January in the first global areas affected by COVID-19 are starting to lift. For those of us in the US where lockdowns started later, we can guess that this means we have at least another six weeks before things return to normal. It is a little early yet to start making predictions about how the country will react to a return to life outside of the home, but I wanted to make an attempt regardless. The following list starts with the predictions I think are most likely to occur and ends with some wilder and less likely guesses.
As is typical for this blog, what started as a quick 10 list has turned into 10 short articles in one. Hopefully it will keep you entertained as we head into another weekend indoors.
Continue reading Predictions for the Post-Pandemic Chicago Apartment Market
In today's article there will probably be several instances where I appear to be flaunting or failing to recognize my own privilege. I apologize if it comes off this way. It isn't the intent but I know full well that it will probably happen regardless.
There's been a lot of talk about how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect people who work in delivery, food service and healthcare. I've seen far less attention paid to the people who are supporting the homes that have now become de facto prisons and workplaces for much of the U.S. office labor force.
It is a reasonable assumption that the more people stay home from work, the higher the chances are that they will break things within their homes. Holiday weeks always prompt a flurry of maintenance calls due to increased demand on the physical plant of the apartment building. The same thing happens immediately following snow days when kids are often left at home unsupervised. With all of the recent news about businesses asking workers to stay home and schools closing to limit exposure to COVID-19, I have been thinking with some worry about the men and women who work on the maintenance teams for apartment buildings across the country and hoping they're able to weather the massive workload facing them in the coming month. Continue reading Apartment Maintenance In the Time of COVID-19
I recently got a tweet from a reader in response to our article about package theft. She was surprised that the city of Chicago ticketed landlords with overflowing dumpsters. I explained that they usually only do so if neighbors complain. This led me to think more in-depth about the importance of neighbors, a group that are both crucial to and completely ignored by Chicago's rental market. Today I'm going to use my own experiences and a few examples from the news to explain why both landlords and renters need to be more aware of their neighbors. Continue reading The Importance of Being Neighbors
The first day of the month is an important one when it comes to deadlines. It's the day when rent is due. It's the day when many other bills are due. It's the day when many renters move into new apartments. It's also an important day for government deadlines. Over the next two months, Chicago renters making spring moves will come up against two major government deadlines that may turn moving day into a paperwork crunch. These deadlines come at a time when the rental season is ramping up in the city following several slow off-season months.
This year, the last day for online voter registration for the Illinois March 17 primary is February 29. However, the deadline for choosing where you will vote is this coming Monday, February 17, when early voting begins statewide.
Approximately one month later, the US Census Bureau will want to know everyone who is living under your roof on April 1 for the decennial census. For people who are moving, particularly those who are moving across state lines, these two events may mean that you have to make some serious choices with major consequences that could last for years. Today we'll look at these choices in detail. Continue reading Voter Registration and the Census for Chicago Renters Who Will be Moving in March and April of 2020