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As 2014 comes to a close, CAA would like to wish its members, partners and other industry professionals a safe and happy holiday season. As we reflect on the past year for the industry, we would like to provide the readers of In Focus a look at the most accessed articles from the year. Our regular publication will resume Jan. 13.


The top 10 apartment building trends: What your new place is going to look like
CultureMap
From Jan. 28: Trends come and go in apartment living. Apartments outfitted with harvest gold appliances of the 1970s are now harder to find than a Yeti's fossil. Today, everybody wants an apartment with granite countertops. A lot of apartments are being built across America right now. There will be some hits and some misses as developers and designers take a stab at being popular with renters.
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CHA should end rent subsidies for luxury apartments
Crain's Chicago Business
From Aug. 12: The Chicago Housing Authority needs to rethink its "supervoucher" program, which allows a select few residents to live in luxury high-rises, raising questions about waste and abuse of tax dollars. As Crain's has reported, the agency is exploiting a loophole in federal regulations so it can pay market-rate rents for 706 low-income families, many of whom live in Chicago's most expensive apartment buildings. Ordinarily, the rent under the voucher program is capped at 110 percent of fair market rent, about $826 a month for a one-bedroom unit in Cook County. But in 2010, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development gave CHA permission to increase the cap to 300 percent in certain neighborhoods where affordable housing is scarce.
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Median rents for Chicago apartments by neighborhoods
CBS
From July 1: In another mark of the evolution of the South Loop and West Side, the neighborhoods currently have a higher median rent than Lincoln Park and are approaching the high-end rental prices of the Gold Coast and Streeterville. In the 1980s, much of the South Loop was railroad tracks and factories.
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CAA opposes bill to regulate tenant application fees
CAA
From March 11: House Bill 4778, sponsored by Rep. Chris Welch, imposes some onerous provisions on landlords regarding the imposition of application fees. These include: a landlord may not charge more than "out-of-pocket" costs; a landlord must provide in writing the specific grounds that led to the denial of lease and provide a copy of any information obtained from a third party that formed a basis for the denial; and, a landlord may not knowingly make any misrepresentation to the prospective lessee regarding the current or future availability of a dwelling unit for lease, with a penalty for violation of any of these provisions. The CAA strongly opposes this legislation in its current form.
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Concealed carry in Illinois
Jessica L. Ryan, Principal Attorney, Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit
From Jan. 14: Under Illinois' Firearm Concealed Carry Act, individuals, including your employees and tenants, now have the right to carry concealed firearms, subject to certain limitations. Regulators issued thousands of concealed carry permits during the first quarter of 2014 which should prompt building owners and managers to consider their position on the issue. Rental property owners, along with other businesses, generally have the right to ban weapons on their property and the act includes several provisions that directly affect landlords, rental property managers, and tenants.
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The new math of renting vs. buying
The Wall Street Journal
From May 6: Buying a home has long been part of the American dream. But rising prices have made renting less expensive in many places. People often aspire to own a home for reasons that have little to do with money, and rental options are limited in some communities. Yet owning property can limit your flexibility to move when you want and ties up a lot of your money.
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Why some Chicago apartments don't need a security deposit
Chicago magazine
From Feb. 11: The practice of renters putting down a month's rent as security deposit is going the way of landline phones: not so long ago, everybody had one, but they're quickly becoming a relic. It's not that anybody is opposed to security deposits; the issue is with the tight rules on landlords' management of the funds and their return at the end of the lease. That's governed by six strict rules, and it really is true that because of the way the system is set up, a landlord who's late sending a check for less than a dollar of interest can be on the hook for a few thousand dollars in fines.
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The decision is in: A move-in fee is not a security deposit or pre-paid rent
Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit
From Aug. 12: The First District Appellate Court in Illinois has finally ruled on an issue that has had landlords sitting on pins and needles. But fret no more, the Court's decision favors landlords and protects a practice that has become routine in the last several years. Because of the harsh penalties imposed by the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance for any security deposit infraction, many landlords have chosen to charge a flat "move-in" fee in lieu of taking a dreaded security deposit. However, the details were never clear — how much is reasonable before you cross the line into "security deposit" territory? Do you have to provide the court with office procedures to justify a "move-in" fee? What steps do you need to take to make sure the trial court deems it a "move-in" fee and not a security deposit? And, worst of all, how can you be certain that numerous trial judges will rule consistently? The Appellate Court's decision answers all of these questions and gives landlords the green light to minimize their risk by choosing a safer alternative to security deposits.
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Illinois passes ban-the-box legislation limiting employers' criminal background checks on applicants
Jackson Lewis
From Dec. 2: The "Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act" (House Bill 5701), signed by Governor Pat Quinn on July 19, 2014, prohibits employers, or any agent of an employer, from considering or inquiring into a job applicant's criminal record or history until the individual has been determined qualified for the position and notified of an impending interview, or, if the applicant will not be interviewed, until after a conditional offer of employment is made. The Act explicitly excludes three categories of job applicants from this restriction. Applicants for all other positions will be entitled to the protections of the Act.
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Best markets to become a landlord
CNN
From July 15: The rental market has been booming over the past several years, with many landlords earning double-digit returns of 10 percent or more. And while rising home prices have dampened returns for landlords in some markets, other markets still offer plenty of profits, according to RealtyTrac, which analyzed rental market conditions in 370 major U.S. counties, including median home prices, average rents and unemployment rates.
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CAA In Focus
Colby Horton, Vice President of Publishing, 469.420.2601
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