Apartment Maintenance Terms (and what they really mean)

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One of the nice things about apartment living is that someone else is responsible for the repairs. However, this is only nice when that person actually makes the repairs. One of the most frustrating experiences as a tenant is to have building management that does not respond to maintenance requests or employs maintenance workers who fix the wrong thing or do not fix anything at all. In cases like these, a person might wonder if the property management staff is speaking a completely different language. Well, maybe they are. Here's a list of maintenance terms... and what they really mean.

  • arrival time window – a span of hours plus or minus several days
  • bucket – 1) toolbox 2) ashtray 3) leak solution
  • caulk – substance to fill all gaps
  • cell phone – voicemail collector
  • circuit breaker panel – inaccessible electric box
  • communication – (meaning unclear)

Continue reading Apartment Maintenance Terms (and what they really mean)

Published by

Jon Hoferle

How Great Tenants Blow Apartment Showings Before They Even Arrive

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I showed apartments in Chicago and neighboring suburbs for about 10 years. During that time I saw a lot of renters who totally shot themselves in the feet through lack of prior planning. In fact, they did it so often that I figured there must be some sort of sect of renters who really do not want to get approved for housing.

If you're one of those people who wants to totally blow your chance at getting the right apartment, you need to start early in the process. Based on my real life experience with renters, here's some steps you should be sure to take if you want to utterly fail at apartment hunting before you even arrive at a showing.

  • When you book the appointment, make sure you do so on the same day you want to see it. Pitch a fit if the agent can't get you in. (Bonus points if you complain during the showing about how your own landlord has shown your current apartment without notice.)
  • When booking, do not mention that you're already working exclusively with a tenant-side agent who will not be attending the showing with you, but will expect a commission.
  • Do not bring your third roommate who will be paying 3/4 of the rent.
  • Show the landlord that you've done your homework and know the neighborhood really well by texting 3-4 times en route about how you're "a little lost so sry."

Continue reading How Great Tenants Blow Apartment Showings Before They Even Arrive

Published by

Kay Cleaves

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.

Do you know someone who would make a great student at CRU? How about potential instructors? Send them our way by sharing this article with them, and don't forget to like and retweet!

Published by

Jon Hoferle

The Fair Housing Flaw in Every Rental Application

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It's quite obvious that the US has a fair housing problem. Despite decades of laws intended to prevent discrimination, people are denied housing every day throughout the country on the basis of illegal factors: race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Agents who work with landlords have a very simple thing they can do to help make housing accessible to everyone. However, despite it being free to implement, easy to do and powerfully effective, nobody is doing it.

Hide. The. Names.

I'm not kidding. Continue reading The Fair Housing Flaw in Every Rental Application

Published by

Kay Cleaves

Three Fractured Fables for the Modern Renter

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The stories of Aesop are some of the oldest in the world, famous for their talking animals and common sense morals. When we replaced Aesop's clever critters with 21st century renters, we found stories that could be cut from the headlines of today's news. We've included three examples below. Can you think of other stories that could be re-worked for the modern renter? Or maybe for your own line of work? Leave a comment and let us know!

Antoinette and Grace
(based on Aesop's "The Ant and The Grasshopper")

One summer day in her apartment a Grace danced around, spinning and singing along with her favorite song.

Her roommate, Antoinette, sat at the desk in the corner of the dining room, poring over apartment ads online.

"Stop staring at that screen and come dance with me," said Grace.

"Our lease will be up at the end of the summer," said Antoinette. “We both need our own place. You should be looking too."

"Why?" said Grace. “We have plenty of time. Let's just enjoy our last few months.” Continue reading Three Fractured Fables for the Modern Renter

Published by

Jon Hoferle