A few weeks ago, this blog commented on a significant development in the use of technology to improve the relationships between Chicago’s landlords and tenants, specifically, a new cell phone application, titled, “Squared Away Chicago.” As discussed in that entry, the app provides various tools allowing tenants and landlords to communicate with each other, document problems with rental properties, and create a digital paper trail for complaints.
Hot on the heels of Squared Away Chicago’s unveiling was the launch of the landlord-friendly website, TenantReputations.com, which maintains a database of more than 30,000 entries nationwide, grading tenants on a simple A through F scale. The website requires landlords to create a username and account, after which they can grade former tenants based on answers to six yes or no questions, such as did the tenant take care of the property and obey the terms of the lease. Landlords can also enter additional information about former tenants in a comments section.
For every tenant a landlord evaluates, he or she gets a token that allows them to search and view information regarding a potential renter. However, because the information is identified only by first and last name, and not by social security number or date of birth, the site cautions users to verify any information obtained. Deehring commented, “There might be 10 John Smiths in our database, and that’s why we don’t say this is the end-all be-all tool.”
According to co-founder Leland Deehring, the impetus for the website’s creation was a dearth of information available to landlords regarding potential tenants. Deehring is the owner of several rental properties throughout Peoria, Illinois, and has maintains that he has experience dealing with irresponsible tenants. Deehring opined, “Credit reports don’t really tell the story. Criminal history doesn’t tell you anything about housing. Landlord to landlord communication is the only real validated system in the process.”
Obviously, the system is a boon to landlords looking for information about potential renters, but, according to Deehring, it has the potential to positively impact communities by ensuring the best possible tenants are in rental properties. Deehring claimed, “There’s plenty of people out there that have bad credit because they lost their job or the economy or whatever, but that doesn’t mean they’re a bad tenant. This is a platform to give those good tenants a track record to say I pay my rent on time, I take care of my property.”
As this blog has mentioned before, both the Illinois and Chicago laws governing landlord-tenant relationships can be very complex. Accordingly, it is almost always in the best interest of a tenant that has become embroiled in a dispute with his or her landlord to consult with an experienced Chicago tenants’ rights attorney.
If you have questions regarding the rights and obligations you have as a tenant or believe you have been the victim of the unfair practices of a landlord, contact the experienced real estate attorneys at The Slater Firm, Ltd. today.