The following is a true story. Names, dates and addresses have been changed to protect the innocent.
I am often asked how I connect the dots to assemble our apartment reports. I am also often asked why we charge $65 for our Signature Reports. The answer is simple - unlike other web-based startups that rely on a limited number of data sources and a handful of opinions, our reports require the manual assembly of the latest data available from over 60 different federal, state, county and city government sources. Not only that, but every report requires our researchers to apply all of their knowledge of real estate, leasing, residential rental laws and advanced research techniques.
Today, to give you an example of our work, I'm going to tell you the story of a recent case that pushed my "little grey cells" to the limit.
It was a sweltering spring night at RentConfident HQ. I was working late, paging through newswires about apartment litigation and flash in the pan web startups when the message light on my phone went red. Her name was Melanie. She might have been tall, leggy and gorgeous but I'll never know since I only spoke to her through text. What I do know is that she's got two kids, a husband, and a major problem on her hands.
"Landlord wants 2 move his family into our apartment. He's given 60 days. Looking in Skokie. Can u help?"
Now, I don't normally take cases in Skokie. They don't publish the data I need. Chicago may have her flaws but she's a complete stool pigeon when it comes to giving up the goods on bad landlords. Skokie on the other hand is a tight-lipped, closed-off town. No bona fides, no coverage, no dice, and I said as much to Miss Melanie. But she was insistent and promised to make it worth my while. I took the assignment. What can I say, I'm a sucker for dames in distress.
"Alright, sweetheart. I'll take your case. The federal, state and county level information is the same, but I'm warning you, when it comes to turning up city data like building code violations and construction permits I'm gonna be out of my depth."
I figured I'd never hear from her again. After all, what good is an investigation if it can only turn up half of the data? But three days later I get another text. "We've found an apartment! We applied for it! Can you check it out for us?" She passed along the address. I shrugged and got to work. Read on for lying landlords, ignorant agents and a cold-hearted condo association.