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How to know if landlord is the real landlord?


Real Estate Q&A QUESTION:

Dear TMO-

I'm planning on getting an apartment in the Near West side of Chicago. I know there have been a lot of scams going on as of late, so I was wondering if there was a way to check if the landlord is the actual person who owns the land and/or apartment. Is there anyway of finding this out? How do I go about finding out if the person I'm signing an agreement with and giving the deposit to is the real landlord?

TMO's Answer:

The best bet is to check the county property records and get the owner name of record.  Most counties have websites where you can search property records by property address.  The results will show you the legal name of owner:  person or entity.  If the person is one and the same then your question is answered.  If it is a corporation then you most likely would need to check with the state's Secretary of State website and look up the business or entity name and verify the registered agent or contact person for entity. If the owner or Landlord has property manager then the previous suggestions will not answer the question but will help you verify ownership.  Then ask the property manager to get you a signed letter from the landlord or show you the signed property management agreement.  In any case if you are unsure of who you are dealing with, do your homework and get things in writing that are signed directly by the landlord that matches owner of record. Hope this helps-  TMO

TMO reader's  are welcome to chime in and provide more answers below in the comments section.

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