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Get Home Safe: Tips for Avoiding Scams in Chicago’s Tight Rental Market – WTTW News

A tight housing market and rising interest rates are shutting out many would-be homebuyers – and that’s put the squeeze on Chicago’s rental market. 

According to city data, 60% of Chicagoans live in…….

A tight housing market and rising interest rates are shutting out many would-be homebuyers – and that’s put the squeeze on Chicago’s rental market. 

According to city data, 60% of Chicagoans live in rental properties, and a June report by real estate platform Domu finds the median rent for one-bedroom apartments in Chicago is up 8% since January. With fierce competition for apartments, the city’s renters – many of whom are Black– are more vulnerable targets for scammers and shady landlords.

The Chicago Better Business Bureau’s regional director Dennis Horton said a common scam circulating right now is fake apartment listings created using photos from real listings, but created by people who don’t actually own the property being advertised.

“People looking for apartments will go online and find what they think is the perfect apartment property for them. They’ll see great pictures with great amenities and low rents. And that’s where the trouble begins,” Horton said. “They talk to a landlord who they never actually will be in contact with other than usually through emails or text messages and then they are asked to complete an application, pay the deposit, first month’s rent. And then they do all of those things and they never hear from that ‘landlord’ again.”

Michelle Gilbert, legal and policy director at Lawyers Committee for Better Housing, said in some cases, victims are even moving into apartments only to find out later the person they were paying rent to is not the legal owner of the property.

“We have litigated these cases where someone holds him or herself out to be an agent for the landlord and sometimes even has keys, allows a tenant to move in, the tenant will pay rent. And before they know it, they’re getting a notice that the person that they’ve been dealing with is not the agent for the property and then they’re forced out of the property, forced to be evicted in very short order,” Gilbert said.

One big red flag for potential fraud: the method of payment tenants are asked to use, said Horton.

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Source: https://news.wttw.com/2022/08/28/get-home-safe-tips-avoiding-scams-chicago-s-tight-rental-market

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