Avoid These 10 Things When Renting Short Term in Chicago
Relocation can test your patience. Moving can be a stressful and costly endeavor, and short-term relocation can provide a unique set of challenges, especially in a highly populated city like Chicago.
Procuring short-term living arrangements in an unfamiliar city doesn’t have to be a thorn in your side, and we have a few essential tips to help you navigate the short-term rental market in Chicago.
Read on to learn the top 10 things to avoid when doing short-term rentals in Chicago.
- If it’s too good to be true, it probably is
When perusing rental listings, knowing a little bit about the area and its rental market can go a long way. This can be easily accomplished by simply glancing through the available rental listings and noticing the average list price. If one-bedroom apartments in the neighborhood are renting at an average of $2k, but you come across a palatial two-bedroom listed at $1500 with two parking spaces, original hardwood, walk-in closets, stainless steel appliances…renter beware, this is probably a scam.
A luxury apartment listed below market rate is an instant red flag. Helping individuals that were scammed for fake units is an unfortunate part of the business, but it is preventable. Keep your eyes open and question any detail that feels off to you.
- Beware of individuals that will not disclose a phone number as a point of contact
Along the same vein, be choosy about which rental listings, property managers, and corporate housing providers you respond to. If basic contact information like the property management team’s phone number is not revealed in the listing, this could be a sign that something is amiss. We are in a technology-driven age where communication via email is the norm, however, not providing a means for potential renters to speak directly with the property management team or property owner is a troubling sign.
- Avoid companies that refuse to give you a tour of the unit
Renters know that signing a lease sight unseen can be scary. It is not always possible to tour the unit prior to signing, especially when moving from out of town. The property management should always offer the tour, though, even if you can’t take it. At the very least, current, undoctored photos should be presented to potential renters to provide a fair representation of the property.
If you absolutely can’t tour the unit before signing the lease, make sure the lease you’re signing includes a clause about maintenance and repair. This way you are protected in the event of damage that was not represented in photos.
- Avoid corporate housing providers that are not accredited
Accreditation for corporate housing providers is not to be taken lightly. Accreditation legitimizes the provider and ensures that they operate professionally, ethically, and excellently.
Look for icons on websites representing membership of such accreditation companies, like the Association of Serviced Apartment Providers (ASAP), Corporate Housing Providers Association (CHPA), and the Corporate Relocation Council (CRC).
- Avoid providers insisting on cash payments; credit card payments are secure
We live in the age of plastic. Credit and debit cards can be used virtually everywhere, including paying your housing provider’s short-term rental payment. Don’t rent from providers or properties that demand cash. Credit payments are convenient, secure, and are also logistically easier from the business end, as asking for a receipt for a cash payment is quite an uncommon practice.
- Make sure all of your amenities and utilities are included in the monthly rent price
Avoid unpredictable bills by ensuring that the amenities and utilities for your unit are included in your monthly rent price.
Moving typically entails canceling, transferring, or starting new services for cable, internet, electricity, gas, water, and more, but if your stay is short-term, it’s easiest and most convenient to condense all amenities and utilities to one easy rent payment. It’s one less thing for you to worry about, and your monthly expenses won’t unexpectedly shift due to seasonal changes like heavy use of the air conditioning in the summer, or gas heat in the winter.
- Make sure the walkability score is high for the unit you’re renting
Many neighborhoods in Chicago have a walkability score in the mid-90s. Stepping outside to grab a bite to eat, stop in at the pharmacy, or take a leisurely stroll is a perk of living in the city. Parking downtown can be a hassle, but avoid the need to circle the block just to run into the store for dinner–research your potential rental and ensure that it scores highly on the walkability scale. The Near North Side, the West Loop, and Lincoln Park neighborhoods all rate extremely highly in walkability.
- Make sure there’s on-call maintenance 24/7, and also guarantee regular housekeeping of your unit
If something breaks unexpectedly in your rental, it shouldn’t be your responsibility to fix it, and maintenance and support should be accessible immediately. How long do you want to suffer with a broken water heater in the winter, or broken air conditioning in the sweltering hot Chicago summer?
Avoid the nightmare by making sure your property manager or corporate housing provider has guaranteed maintenance and support 24/7 as part of your rental agreement.
- Make sure the unit is secure
Living in a safe and secure location is incredibly important, especially in a city you’re unfamiliar with. When choosing your short-term rental, you’ll want to choose a unit that has a secure entry. You want to be sure that no one is entering the building or unit that should not have access. Before signing a lease, ask the property management about security protocol and find out if a security staff is on call 24/7. Ensuring your safety and the safety of your guests will help you rest easy in your temporary home!
- Must-ask questions before signing
You want to make sure you are signing a lease that provides exactly the things you are looking for, is reasonable and fair, and doesn’t contain any suspicious fine print. Especially when you are renting a short-term corporate rental in another city, sight unseen, you’ll want to know the answers to the following questions:
- What is the exact address? You can then use this information to do a little sleuthing through Google Earth.
- Are you accredited?
- Are the housekeeping fees included in the rent?
- What is the frequency of housekeeping visits?
- Are washer and dryer in-unit?
- Is there a dishwasher?
- Is there a minimum stay?
- Are longer stays discounted?
- Does the bathroom have both a tub and a shower?
- Are there security cameras in common areas/parking garage/etc.?
- Are linens, towels, kitchen utensils provided?
- How far is the nearest grocery store/pharmacy/bank?
With these easy tips, you’re fully equipped to tackle your short-term rental in Chicago. Happy renting!
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