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Slumlord Reported: James and Caroline Owens, 1049 W. 70th Street, Chicago, IL 60621


Slumlord Reported: James and Caroline Owens, 1049 W. 70th Street, Chicago, IL 60621 

A reader has submitted this report, complete with a snapshot of the Building Inspector’s report:

 I was 7 months pregnant when I moved in. This is a 12 unit apartment and I have mice, roaches and bed bugs and mold in my bathroom.

IMG_20141218_081417Editorial comment: Yay. ☺ Turn them in!


NOT a Disney Cruise moment.


IMG_20141218_081159 (1)



Angry Hoosier Mom snaps off on My Place Apartments

The My Place Apartments / Shaw Real Estate Group / Jack Shaw scam is still going strong. I got at an email from a darling Hoosier mom who sent this in:


My daughter was desperate in finding a place to live when her building was sold and she was forced to move so she went to My Place Apartments in July 2011, paid them the money they requested with a promise that they would find her a place quick. The only place they should her was worse than living in a dumpster. When she refused to sign the lease they told her they did their job and refused to find her another place or refund her money. We have filed a complaint with the police, the Attorney General, the BBB, and all the complaint sites we could find. DO NOT USE THIS PLACE! They are a disgrace and a waste of oxygen!


This business is a scam!  Please see the post here and read the comments.  If you have been scammed by them, there is information in the comments on legal courses of action you may take.

Scamhater has touched base with more information:


Finally a mainstream news agemcy has written something about the Shaw Real Estate group’s predatory practices.


According to the article, the Attormey General and Department of Professional Regulation are ‘actively investigating’! This is due, no doubt, to victims who have filed complaints, as I suggested in my previous posts.

It’s working, folks!!! Keep those complaints coming!!

Also, feel free to to contact Jason Knowles at abc7 Chicago to tell him about your first-hand experience with Shaw Real Estate, aka My Place Apartments.

Slumlord Reported: Jean Scott, 1654 N. Talman Ave., Chicago, IL

Talman Humboldt Park

Slumlord Reported: Jean Scott for 1654 N. Talman Ave., Chicago, IL 60647

This slum really stinks. The reporter has sent in a whole picture book of awful. Beware of this property and slumlord:

I live in Humboldt Park at 1654 N. Talman Ave. I moved in October 2012, when my rent was $1050. Seemed pretty reasonable for a 3 bedroom with lots of room. I initially moved into a vacant room in an apartment that had 2 other roommates, so I didn’t meet the landlord right away. My first encounter with Jean Scott was her coming up my steps and banging on my back door in a panic because a building inspector was coming over any minute, and she needed to put smoke detectors, a fire extinguisher, and metal plates over exposed wires in. I had no idea we were living without those things.

She routinely comes over unannounced when she feels like, regularly bangs on my door and inconveniences me. She has come over and thrown deck stuff off the balcony. She told me last summer that she was raising the rent to $1400! And then later admitted that she was lying and was only raising it to $1200. Twice, in the middle of winter, my heat went out and she took over 2 weeks to come fix it. My house was at 43 degrees!

When I moved in, there was a small hole in the bathroom ceiling. It started leaking, and she sent a plumber and a carpenter to patch the hole. A month ago, I came home from work, and my bathroom ceiling was on the floor.

Talman 6

There still isn’t a ceiling and it is still leaking.


She will continuously raise rent and never fix a fucking thing. She will sit in her car in front of the building and throw trash on the street. She will routinely threatens to kick you out. She also has no fucking clue what’s going on ever.

Here’s some pics:

This is her “weeding” the front yard and throwing all the debris on the sidewalk and street. It’s still there!!

Talman 2

This is my bathroom ceiling, a day before it collapsed. The paint is holding it up.

Talman 3

And this is what I came home to. MOLD and a trashed bathroom.

Talman 4

And my ceiling is on the floor. She didn’t clean any of this up by the way.

Talman 5

And the giant gaping hole that still exists today, over a month later. It leaks regularly.

Talman 6



Slumlord Reported: Jeff Shafer, 4821 Hull Street, Skokie, IL

Skokie Apartment

Slumlord Reported: Jeff Shafer, 4821 Hull Street, Skokie, IL

A reader has submitted this property as being a slum:

RE: 4821 Hull Street, Skokie, IL 60077            Landlord: Jeff Shafer

I’ve been a tenant for two years here. 3 Village inspections, but only the last yielded citations to landlord—the old boys network in Village Hall is protecting him. No maintenance or repairs in two years, including an entire MONTH of no heat one November. After NINE professional exterminations, there are still cockroaches in every room. The Village won’t return my calls since I waltzed a strip of bugs into Village Hall! I’ve spent thousands of dollars here, and don’t want to move. Slumlord gets a slap on the wrist and just goes on to do it to the next tenant. Not if I can help it, and NOT on MY dime!
See, and we thought all the fun was in the city! ;p

Thrillist.com: “17 Apartment Listing Red Flags in Chicago”

thrillist-blog-post[photo credit]

Go right now and read this hilarious blog post. The truth hurts, but I laughed several times. The photos make this blog post priceless. And the information is dead on, too. I wish they had put “#18 Pets Allowed! Small print: hamsters and goldfish, only.”

Click Here: 17 Apartment Listing Red Flags in Chicago


Slumlord Reported: Larry Bernstein 3936 N. Pulaski, Chicago

Slumlord Reported: Larry Bernstein 3936 N. Pulaski, Chicago, IL


My current rent is $1495.00 and I live at 3936 N Pulaski. I moved into my apartment 1 Aug 2013 and it is now 25 Apr 2014. From the first day I moved in, I have been trying to get Larry Bernstein to fix the plumbing so when the neighbors do laundry my apartment won’t flood with sewer gas fumes as it currently does and has.

The apartment floods with sewer gas fumes because the rehab apartment plumbing was not installed to code. This was verified by plumbers that came out to fix a water line that was flooding my kitchen for a week. Instead of calling a plumber for the leak immediately, he gave me several plastic tubs to catch the water in. Then he sent his brother who refused to work on it because of the location and severity of the leak.

The water line that was leaking was directly over a junction box for electrical wires and also above the main circuit breaker box for the apartment. My heat was consistently breaking because the filters on the unit were too dirty to allow enough air to the furnace to keep it running. This was a problem that was happening when the weather was -10 in Chicago this last winter. He sent three people to turn the heat back on, but all they did was throw the breaker switch back on. After the third technician left, Larry Bernstein told me that the reason the heater wasn’t kicking on was because it was too cold outside for the unit to start. My response was that he needed to get it fixed because I wasn’t going to go up to the roof and turn on the breaker every day until it was warm enough outside for my furnace to run…

The fourth repairman that looked at the furnace found the clogged filters and said that it looked like they hadn’t been changed in years. Larry Bernstein gave no response when I told him what the repairman said. He also gave no response when I told him that the plumbers told me that the reason I was getting sewer gas fumes in my apartment was because the plumbing wasn’t to code and the parts that are currently installed under my sink are actually illegal in Chicago. Another problem that was not fixed from the day I moved in is the electrical wiring in the apt. I have had an entire wall without power, which affects two separate rooms. Again, he sent his brother to look at it but he was unable to fix it. After several promises from Larry Bernstein that he was sending an electrician, I am still without power on that wall in both rooms and waiting for his electricians to show.

He also charges $50 dollars a month for parking even though there are no clearly marked or designated parking spots. The issue with this is that he allows the workers from the neighboring restaurant to park in our lot which leaves the tenants without parking when they are busy. He also does not: supply us with garbage cans and tells his tenants to use the restaurant’s dumpsters, there is no place to mail letters from this apartment, and he has failed to replace water damaged ceiling tiles and tiles that were missing initially or disintegrated because of the water leak.

I also have text messages and pictures to verify all conversations and conditions concerning the apartment. True to traditional slumlord fashion, Larry is very quick to call to check to see if you have paid rent, but he is dismissive when complaints are raised concerning the apartment conditions. He is also extremely slow in resolving problems that require any form of maintenance if he even takes any action to resolve the problem in the first place.

Report Bad Landlords for Spring and Summer 2014



The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and the tenants are moving! It’s that time of year again. The snow has barely melted and two moving trucks have already rolled out on my block.

If you are getting out of a nasty apartment, please report your bad landlord here. I am looking for the name of the owner or owners, the street address, what problems you had and any other information you want to pass along to warn other people. Photographs are welcome.

Sadly someone did not Google a bad landlord that was previously listed here but did write in to advise the warning on this blog was accurate. Some more comments have appeared on the two scams that I reported on. If you find anyone who is taking deposits and rent money up front for an apartment search, run away! If you find anything else suspicious or out of the ordinary for a rental agreement, please share your information here or email it in to this blog.

Slumlord Busted! Now the Fun Begins.



Hello, Everyone!  I owe you an update. Being trapped by poverty and the rising rents in my area, having dogs and no options to move, after two fires in the building and no alarms going off, I called a city inspector. It took months for anyone to show up, too. I though saying the words “two fires” would put some hustle into a response, but no such luck.

The inspector found a whopping gas leak from multiple sources in the basement that could has killed the tenants on the first floor if not all of us. The city did put the big smack down on my slumlord for thousands of dollars in fines and many more in needed repairs. The building I live in still needs to pass an engineering inspection and could still be condemned. The current new repairs have made this dump kind of nice. No repairs were made to my unit, so the ceiling still leaks and other bad things.

I had let the inspector go through every nook and cranny of the building, and the slumlord damn well knows it was me. He immediately ordered us to move, and we do not have a lease. Our slumlord was stalking and harassing us every time he saw us in person. He does not have a job of any kind so he can hang around all day long and all week long for as long as he wants. We did to him what he has done for six years: we lied. We said we were looking for a new place. This is sort of true as our desperate search for anything we can afford has lasted years. The slumlord kept demanding we get out and there was a stalemate. The fines and repairs cost him thousands and we are still a source of income. We have paid rent on time and he has cashed all the checks for months.

Part of the issue is that our slumlord does not own the building. His mother owns it. It was years before I learned that fact. He says he owns it, he acts like he owns it, he signs leases but he is just a proxy. This is a legal limbo since I am not sure he has the authority to evict us. I am finding this happens a lot in Chicago. The “owner” you may be speaking to or used to dealing with could just be a manager, friend, relative or other proxy and not the legal owner. Check county records for the deed and see who really owns where you live. You might be surprised. If someone’s name is not on the title, that person does not own a thing.

I spoke with an attorney and learned our slumlord is going to lose big if he does serve eviction papers, because that would be overt proof of retaliation against us. I exercised my legal right to call a city inspector. The attorney I spoke with was sharp, went over the details of my situation quickly. He told me we can 1. sue for decrease in rent: since the apartment was not up to code for a number of years so we are entitled to a decrease in rent by getting a percentage of rent paid back, maybe about 20% of our monthly rent payment; 2. we can sue him for retaliation under tenant’s rights laws if the landlord serves us papers and tries to evict us in court (or as the lawyer put it “he is going to regret it, seriously”); and 3. we could sue him for violation for the Chicago tenants code for security deposit and interest, plus attorneys fess / consultation. At least that is what I understand from the conversation I had with the attorney. We can’t afford $1500 to hire the attorney but may have to pull something together in an emergency some day. I’m keeping the attorney’s number handy. I called a lot of other attorneys and got their dippy assistants, or worse, their dippy own selves. Trust me, if an attorney can’t get the basic facts of your case right in the first go-through, they do not care or just need to retire. If you need a litigator, you want a shark. You want someone who can think fast, knows the laws inside and out and will bite hard.

I tried emailing and calling two Chicago tenant’s rights groups and they were useless. It was like they were not able to understand what I needed from them [prompt legal help] or they refused to understand. I kept getting the same responses to go to the same web sites that were no help! Maybe I needed to try and meet with someone in person. If anyone can suggest a group or organization that has it together and actually helps, I’m interested. Having called the city inspector would not be an issue if the slumlord did not promptly retaliate with verbal evictions and if he did fix the stuff in our apartment. Since the slumlord is at maximum hostility and refuses to fix stuff for our unit, the only changes have been exterior building improvements, pest removal and basement repairs. That has been 50% of the equation. We’re biting the bullet on the problems with our unit in the mean time. I climbed out onto the roof to plastic seal over one of the broken windows now that it is winter. We are going live in the current stand-off situation for as long as possible.



Slumlord Reported: Marlene & Terry Dunn, 3858 – 3860 N. St. Louis, Chicago IL 60618; Carl Usry; Juan & Lilia Diaz, 4841 N. Kostner, Chicago, Illinois

A reader has sent a report in on three previous bad landlords listed as:
  1. Marlene & Terry Dunn, 3858 – 3860 N. St. Louis, Chicago IL 60618
  2. Carl Usry
  3. Juan & Lilia Diaz, 4841 N. Kostner, Chicago, Illinois
The reader reports that the Chicago Department of Buildings website offer some protection from bad locations and should be used but that it is an insufficient singular protection.  Health issues that impacted her children have been severe.  Just as with a prior complainant’s report, one slumlord is CPD.  
Complaints are given as:
The slumlords names are Marlene & Terry Dunn. I forgot their address but I know it’s the 5100 block of North Kolmar here in Chicago - (773) 991-7112 is the bitch’s number . I have been checking Craigslist to see if she would post that dump for rent & sure enough she did (raised the rent $50.00 more too!) I just want to warn people about that building because it is SO dangerous and disgusting it’s unreal. They brag how they have owned it for over 30 years & how they take trips here and there while their dilapidated building sits and rots, they are laughing all the way to the bank.




My kids got SO sick the last few months living there I was ready to sue her ass.  My youngest daughter ended up in the ER because she couldn’t breathe & we spent the entire month before moving at the doctor – She got asthma and was put on 3 different inhalers: constant headaches (everyone) weird rashes.. the works! That place is running rampant with mold & I lost all of my furniture because of it.  Anything you couldn’t throw in the washer or wipe down you could consider gone – some of the clothes were so badly molded they couldn’t be saved. I called the city inspectors out and they came, were not interested in the mold a single bit.  They wanted to get into the basement really bad, I’m positive they have been to that dump before because the guy knew exactly where all the light switches were :|  He was too busy telling me about how his basement flooded etc.  I looked up the report on the Chicago department of buildings website and what a JOKE! he put “mild mold” what a slap in the face! This slumlord has 2 gas dryers in the basement that are not vented outside but rather vented through the enclosed back porch, I told the inspector that and I guess that’s not an issue?! He didn’t even write it in the report.

I’m not surprised though cause this isn’t the first inspector I have dealt with my kids have been pretty much guinea pigs for slumlord ridden buildings for the past 15 years.  My oldest daughter who is now 17 got lead poisoning when she was 2 years old ..the highest  in a Chicago child’s blood ever her level was 204 which is unheard of. I couldn’t tell you how many inspectors came to that building and got paid off because nothing ever happened to the slumlord and the back porch which made her sick (painted with lead) is STILL in the same condition it was 15 years ago. You can add that slumlords name to the list as well. Carl Usry – I don’t have any info for him  -hopefully he’s dead by now :) My daughter has suffered her entire life because of that lead poisoning and he walked away like it didn’t matter.


Another slumlord you can add is Juan & Lilia Diaz (think they skipped town) the address is 4841 N. Kostner, Chicago, Illinois – lived there for 3 years ..always paid cash in rent (HUGE MISTAKE!) never had a problem until my son got sick from mold then spent a week in the hospital, told those slumlords he got sick from their dump and the next thing I knew the sheriff was knocking on my door with eviction papers.  Those cowards went to a lawyer and told him we hadn’t paid the rent in two months! LIES! I went to court..got a lawyer and counter sued..they didn’t even show up.  It turns out that building had been in foreclosure  the last year we lived there and they were pocketing every dime I gave them.  I called the city inspector to come out and got the report back and he put “claim has no merit” tell that to my son who was gasping for air in the hospital. Back to the dump I just moved out of – a few fun facts about that place.


Forget about using the heater – the sewer is  constantly backing up and the sewer hole is located right next to the heater in the basement so when you turn your heat on (the vents are on the floor) the smell will make you puke & on the rare occasion that it’s not backed up there is a constant foul -hard to describe: musty, moldy old basement smell coming up.
Back in January or February the guy upstairs died and was dead on the toilet for a week or so.  The slumlords came and got a nasty little surprise. The neighbor next door said she seen the slumlord go into his car and grab a bottle of Windex out of his trunk.. I don’t think they were cleaning the windows. That’s their idea of “cleaning” bodily fluids.  I suppose, anything to save a dime.


There are two illegal apartments in that building [4841 N. Kostner] on the 2nd and 3rd floor: one way in and one way out.  It’s a revolving door over there.  People don’t stay long. You’ll have strangers knocking on your door asking if they can cut through your apartment because they can’t get through the back door.


The cops are always flashing flashlights through the front windows in the middle of the night looking for the scum bags who used to live there even though you have told them a million times they no longer  live there.
They bring “repair” people in who are flat out alcoholics and drug addicts into your apartment to “fix” stuff  and it’s done SO half-assed they shouldn’t even bother. Any little thing will take them FOREVER and they wanna sit in your apartment the entire time.
They have a “repair” guy named Carlos who is a complete and utter moron.  He has no clue what he is doing and she had him replace the bathroom floor, only because it was falling in.  The whole time he was doing the floor he kept saying he “didn’t know what he was doing but would try his best”.  He cracked a tile on the last day and it spider webbed the whole floor.  The floor was still falling in; he did a horrible job. When you fill the bath tub up with water and drain it the entire bathroom floods.  The cap on the floor wasn’t replaced.  Carlos told her about it, her answer: “caulk it”.  After they “repaired” the bathroom is was a mess and a half.  I told her ‘this bathroom is falling apart. I’m sick of it.’ She just gave me a stupid look like “oh well”.


All the floors are falling in and if you don’t have  a library of books to level every single piece of furniture you place on that floor, you’re screwed! I got a bulging disc in my neck because the bedroom floor was SO bad I had to put a stupid amount of books under it to try and level it out a bit.  That bedroom is a slanted hill, I’m not kidding. Her answer: “maybe you need a new mattress” I had a new mattress, a $1,400 one to be exact that got thrown away because it was ruined from mold.


If you wanna sleep at night, forget it. There is a nut job upstairs who vacuums 24/7.  The front stairs are ALWAYS buzzing with loud mouth drunks day and night who party all night until the wee hours of the morning, the big mouth on the 3rd floor likes to take cigarette breaks every 10-15 minutes on the back porch starting from 9-10pm until 3 in the morning and talking as loud as she possibly can.  If by the rare chance the building is quiet the house next door will make up for it: dogs constantly barking, people whistling  all night long in the gangway so the dope dealer can bring out drugs , LOUD music day and night. They like to shoot over there too especially in the summer – gang ridden area and is getting worse & their favorite thing is breaking out car windows! It happens every single day on that block, all you see is broken glass on the ground over there.


They tap off other peoples electricity so they can have those illegal apartments.


They NEVER clean the hallways, shovel snow or throw down salt.


Had Carlos spend months on end doing her dirty work in the basement nailing pieces of wood, ply wood etc.. to the ceilings to hide the fact that the floors are falling apart and falling through.


The building has NEVER been registered with the city and they refuse to put a management sign on the outside.  The slumlord is a retired cop so I guess they’re special.
The slumlord will carry a bible around with him like he’s a fricking saint, fist full of cash in one hand, bible in the other… pathetic!


They should be forced to tear down that building at their own expense since they “own buildings” and all.  They’re milking it for every dime they can and it’s sickening. I lived there for 23 LONG months and paid them a total of $20,125.00  and they didn’t put a dime back into it.  It’s a crying shame.


I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot of stuff but you get the idea, hopefully the word will get out and no one will ever rent from these assholes. Someone is going to get seriously hurt or killed in that dump and then, maybe they will be forced to shut it down but I doubt it.  The Chicago Department of Buildings is a joke and I am glad I finally have a beautiful apartment with landlords who actually maintain their building and care about their tenants.  It’s a rare find in this city and I couldn’t be happier!
Take it from me because, sadly, I learned the hard way about rotten, money grubbing slumlords.  ALWAYS check the Chicago Department of Buildings website reports before you rent a place, you can learn lots about a building before renting and if they have complaint after complaint against them then move on.  Never pay cash, ever.  People are SO evil they will stop at nothing to make you the bad guy even though they are in the wrong, hence Juan & Lilia Diaz.


If you don’t mind please don’t use my name or email if you post this.. you can put all of the above if you want because it’s all true. If you have any questions or have trouble with viewing the pic’s please let me know.


Thank you for creating a site, it’s about time someone stands up to these vultures.


Scam Alert: First House Financial


First House Financial is located in Petaluma, California, is not a Chicago company and has dozens upon dozens of apartment listings on Craigslist Chicago that are not actual apartments for rent.  The scam is to peddle a list of foreclosures in the area and repeat the billing cycle for more money.  The representatives on the phone act like they are a leasing agency and push hard for you to “get started” and “sign up” with a $149 fee.  Again, rental agencies are paid by the landlords, not by people looking for apartments.  BBB.org reports once they get your information and initial fee, they keep billing you to get more money and the people whose residences on the foreclosure list are not usually not participating or even aware of this list and thus little to nothing is available to rent.


Complaints processed by BBB claim that 1) consumers believe they are signing up to receive rental listings, what they receive are listing for homes in foreclosure with very little information provided. 2) At the time of signing up customers are told there is only a one time fee, when in fact there is a monthly fee. When customers try to cancel, they are told there is a $5.00 fee. 3) Customers calling to resolve issues are talked to rudely and in some cases hung up on.

The company responded:

On September 10, 2012 First House Financial responded to BBB by stating: The consumer can just rent as negotiated with the distressed property owner. Many distressed property owners lists their homes for rent which could lead to them displaying in our search results.


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