Property Management

when to clean dryer vents

What You Need to Know About Duct & Dryer Vent Care in Your Properties

By | Property Management

When you own investment properties, making sure you schedule regular maintenance can save you a lot of hassle from having to do costly emergency repairs. If you’re a first time landlord or just want to know more about how to best maintain your properties’ ducts and dryer vents, this is the guide for you. Learning about what you can expect, how often maintenance is required, and how much you’ll be paying for duct and dryer vent services can ensure that your properties stay in tip top shape for the duration of your ownership.

What Kind of Maintenance is Required?

Dryer vents and ducts need to be kept clean in order to ensure that your properties are safe. Dryer vents can become clogged over time, and in order to prevent house fires, you’ll need to make sure they’re not blocked. Ducts should also be cleaned to improve the air quality in your properties. Dust, mold, and other contaminants can build up in ducts and may cause health problems for you or your tenants. As a landlord, you’re responsible for providing a safe and healthy environment for your tenants, and duct and dryer vent cleanings need to be a part of your maintenance checklist.

How Often Do You Have to Do It?

Dryer vents should be cleaned about once a year, though you can schedule regular checks for blockages every six months to be extra careful. As for duct cleanings, those can be done less frequently. Duct cleaning is suggested every three to five years, but that time frame may vary depending on what part of the country your property is in, how often the heating and cooling system is used, or if anyone living in the space has health problems related to air quality.

How can you tell when it’s time to schedule a cleaning? Contact your property management company and have them schedule duct cleaning services if any of these apply to your situation:

  • You suspect mold is in the ducts.
  • You can see visible puffs of dust leave the air vents when the system is turned on.
  • If there is/was a pest infestation in the property (such as before you took ownership).
  • Your air filters are heavily coated with dust when you replace them—this can be a sign you’re overdue for a cleaning.
  • You’ve done heavy renovations in a property. Drywall dust and other contaminants can build up in the ducts during construction, and prior to tenant move-in, the ducts should be cleaned.
  • There are a lot of pets in the building. Ducts will need more frequent cleaning if there is pet hair and dander in them.


How Much Will It Cost?

Cleaning your dryer vents generally runs from $60-$150, depending on who you work with. Duct cleanings can be more costly, depending on the size of the property and how much work needs to be done. In order to get the best deal, be sure that the company you choose for the service offers full service cleaning, which should include a full cleaning of the heating and cooling unit. Get written estimates by a few HVAC cleaning companies—reputable companies should provide a free inspection and estimate. Don’t fall for “all-inclusive” deals that are extremely low-cost, because they can be very cursory jobs that will just have you calling another company to do the work the first company missed. High quality duct and dryer vent cleaning can take a few hours and may involve sophisticated equipment—not just a half an hour with a Shop-Vac. If you’re not sure how to find the most reputable HVAC and duct cleaner in Chicago, your property management company can help. They should have a list of qualified, reliable contractors that you can trust.

What Happens If You Don’t Do It?

Dryer vent fires are a very real threat if you don’t do routine cleanings. According to the National Fire Protection Association, dryers were the cause of more than 15,500 home fires in 2010, so taking the chance simply isn’t worth it. Less serious issues can include longer dry cycles (which range from being merely inconvenient to downright problematic, if your tenants threaten to withhold rent until maintenance is performed), or a clogged vent system. If the vent system is clogged and not exhausting properly, it can wear out your appliances much faster due to the higher heat. Wait too long and you may need to completely replace the vent system, which can be a costly procedure—you’ll be wishing you had paid those smaller fees to clean the vents!

Neglecting duct cleaning can also lead to dust and other contaminants building up over time. Beyond improving the quality of the air in your properties, cleaning the ducts will help improve the efficiency of the building’s heating and cooling units. When it comes to winter property maintenance and ensuring your tenants stay safe and warm through the cold spells, duct cleaning can play a big part.

Want to know more about duct cleaning and dryer vent maintenance? At Lofty, we’re committed to helping landlords and property owners live the life they deserve to be living, and that includes helping you take care of building maintenance and repairs. Contact us anytime and let us take some of the responsibility off your hands, so that you can spend your time doing things you want to be doing.

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

how property management companies can help you

Landlord Responsibilities Between Tenant Occupancies in Chicago

By | Property Management

When you’re a landlord and have regular turnover in your units, the work that you need to get done between occupancies can start to feel like it’s taking up all of your time—partially because if you have enough properties, it actually is taking up all of your time. Tenant turnover procedures and responsibilities can take up a lot of time, but another reason you may feel like you’re running around all over the place can be chalked up to doing tasks that are unnecessary. In order to ensure you’re making the most of your time, you need to be aware of what’s truly required of you as a landlord or property owner when one tenant moves out. Finding out what your responsibilities are between tenant occupancies can not only save you a lot of time, but it can save you some money, too.

Don’t Expect Your Tenants to Leave the Place Move-In Ready

The first step with this process is to go into the situation with reasonable and realistic expectations. In other words, while in a perfect world all of your tenants would patch holes in walls, scrub the floors til they’re sparkling, and do everything else necessary to bring the apartment back to life, that will almost never be the case. Tenants can generally be expected to clean the apartment before they move out, but they’ll be busy focusing on getting their moving plans and their new apartment in order, not making sure that their old place is in perfect condition and prepped for new tenants. Keep in mind that the responsibility for making the apartment ready for your next tenant will largely fall on you and your property management company.


What Needs to Be Done Between Tenant Occupancies?

Think about what you would expect an apartment to look like when you moved into it for the first time—that can be a starting guideline to knowing what you need to do for your tenants. For instance, if the paint and walls are dirty, scuffed, or scratched, you need to repaint them so that the apartment looks its best. Your new tenants are paying to live in a comfortable, habitable space, so it’s up to you to make sure their new home is livable and inviting.

Appearance, Security, and Safety of Chicago Rentals

Beyond aesthetic work like repainting, you need to make sure your new tenant is aware that they need to set up the utilities in their own name. This is usually outlined in tenant leases, but it can’t hurt to remind new occupants of that responsibility.

You’ll also need to rekey the locks for the apartment. This is a security measure that will prevent former tenants from having access to the unit, and thus, it keeps your new tenants optimally safe. Be sure to get the keys back from the old tenant, as well. Even with rekeying individual units, many buildings have master keys for the main entryway doors that may not be rekeyed every time someone moves. If a tenant doesn’t return keys, you may want to charge a fee to cover costs (and, when this is noted in the lease, it can incentivize them to return the keys!). If the tenant still doesn’t return keys, you’ll have to rekey everything their set had access to and take the costs from their security deposit.

You’ll want to do a walk through before you schedule any maintenance, so that you can make note of any repairs or other damages you’ll need to take out of the departing tenant’s security deposit (if there is one). Take photos of the unit and any damages and write down detailed descriptions of what was left for you to take care of. Having a detailed list of what you’ll be retaining a portion of the deposit for can help you down the road, particularly if the tenant fights you on the withholding of any or all of the deposit.

However, it’s best to do this walk through without the departing tenant there—their presence can not only put a lot of pressure on you to give them answers about their deposit on the spot, but they can also mask problems that won’t show up until a few days later, like stains that have been scrubbed from the carpet, only to reappear when the cleaner dries, or lingering pet odors.

Make sure that everything is still in proper working order before a new tenant comes in. Check that the shower, toilet, and sink in the bathroom all function as they should, that the refrigerator and freezer are still working, and that electrical appliances and lights in the unit are still safe—there should not be any loose wires or broken bulbs when a new tenant moves in. You may not be required by law to provide new tenants with working light bulbs, but that small cost can be a good start to the tenant-landlord relationship, and should be considered.

Once all of these tasks have been taken care of, it’s advisable to bring in a cleaning crew for a deep cleaning of the unit. A professional cleaning company will make the place move-in ready, something that your new tenants will appreciate.

As far as painting, unless the paint is peeling or overly damaged, you may not be required to paint. Many landlords allow their tenants to paint for them, provided they repaint it back to a neutral shade upon move-out. It’s up to you how you want to manage painting. Some landlords dislike the prospect and work involved in painting, and offer their tenants the option to choose paint and do it themselves, taking the cost out of their rent. How you deal with painting in apartments between tenants is mostly personal preference, though you should make sure there are no state laws requiring painting every certain amount of years.


Using Your Time Efficiently When Transitioning Tenants

All of these tasks may seem like they won’t take up too much time, but when you have multiple units across multiple buildings, with tenant leases ending at different times, the amount of time you spend preparing your properties for new tenants can really add up. You shouldn’t be spending all of your free time doing apartment upkeep and maintenance; getting involved with investment property was supposed to be beneficial to you, not take up all your time, after all.
You could hire out contractors to do the work for you, of course, but even that requires you to show up to the property to let cleaners, painters, and other maintenance workers in and return to the property when they’re finished to ensure the building is secured. Though it’s less time consuming than doing everything yourself, it’s still a lot of wasted time that you could be spending doing something more productive or enjoyable.


How Property Management Companies Can Help You

If you’ve never worked with a property management company for your properties, you may be surprised at how much they can help with move-out and move-in procedures, as well as other aspects of being a landlord. They’ll be able to contract out the necessary work, meet workers at the property, ensure that the units are ready to go for the next tenant, and work with departing tenants to get everything squared away for you. You can literally hand off all of those pesky jobs to someone else and really reap the benefits of owning investment properties.

Here at Lofty, we believe that owning investment properties shouldn’t be a headache. We take care of everything our clients need, from screening tenants to doing the work between occupancies. Stop wasting time checking whether lights are working and sweeping baseboards and start enjoying being a landlord and property owner.

For more information about how we can help you live the life you deserve, contact us today.

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.


what you need to know about keeping deposits

Returning or Keeping a Security Deposit?

By | Property Management

Lofty Real Estate saves you money
If you’ve been a property owner or landlord in Chicago for any significant amount of time, you probably know all about security deposits: how to store them properly, when you need to give them back (if you plan on giving them back), what constitutes normal wear and tear and what constitutes damage that should be paid for with the security deposit, and how to deal with tenants who fight your decision to withhold the deposit.

But if you’re just dipping your toes into being a landlord or owning investment properties, learning about all of it can make your head swim. At Lofty, our goal is to make your job easier, and that means teaching you everything you need to know about returning (or not) the security deposits for your properties.

Returning It? Here’s How

Generally speaking, in Illinois, security deposits must be returned to the tenant within 30 to 45 days of the lease ending. Though some states require landlords to give tenants a move-in statement that details the condition of the property, Illinois is not one of them, so it’s in your best interest to keep accurate records of the condition your properties are in when tenants move in. That way, when they vacate the unit, you can cross-check against your old notes and see if there are repairs that need to be made.

If you’re returning the deposit, be sure to make receipts for both your own records and the tenant’s, so that the tenant can’t claim you never returned it. When you return the deposit, be sure to date the receipt—though it seems like a simple detail, leaving it out on accident can come back to haunt you. Without a date on receipt, you could find yourself paying out more in fees and court costs if tenants take you to court over deposit-related conflict. If it sounds confusing, don’t worry—it kind of is. If you’re taking matters into your own hands, security deposits can be a real headache. Working with a property management company can help take away some of the stress associated with security deposit issues.

What You Need to Know About Keeping Deposits

Returning a security deposit is easy. It’s when you decide to keep some or all of it that things can get really messy. Here’s what you should know about keeping deposits.

First Things First: What Constitutes “Normal Wear and Tear”?  

Security deposits are typically kept by landlords in Chicago (and elsewhere) to cover the cost of damages and repairs. A lot of times, this is fought by tenants who claim that the damage is consistent with “normal wear and tear” on the unit. Normal wear and tear is a real thing, but in order to know whether or not something falls under that category, it’s helpful to know what’s generally considered normal wear and tear in a rental unit.

    • Flooring: Carpet gets dirty and hardwood floors can get scratched, but if a tenant leaves behind pet stains or multiple cracked tiles, or floorboards that are excessively damaged, that’s not considered normal use.
    • Walls: This is a big issue between landlords and tenants—whether holes from nails used to hang artwork or other decorations are considered normal wear and tear. And the answer tends to differ from landlord to landlord. Use your best judgment here; splitting hairs over two or three nail holes might not be worth the potential hassle of a tenant trying to take you to court for the security deposit. Holes in the wall, however, are a completely different story and should be fixed with security deposit funds.
    • Pet Damage: Things like chewed-on cabinet doors, scratches on the walls, and stains are all out of the realm of normal wear and tear in a rental. In order to plan for problems like these, many landlords choose to charge non-refundable deposits or additional pet rent.
  • Overall Cleanliness: While you might want to reconsider charging a cleaning fee for unswept floors and some light tidying, if a tenant leaves behind the remnants of a last-minute party, food in the refrigerator, and general filth, it’s more than acceptable to charge for cleaning.

The Most Common Reasons Deposits Are Kept

There are a handful of reasons that a security deposit might be withheld. They include:

  • Early termination of the lease
  • Unpaid rent
  • Money owed to the landlord for utility bills
  • Cleaning fees for dirty or un-cleaned apartments
  • Damage to property (or furniture in furnished units)


What Do You Have to Provide to the Tenant if You’re Keeping the Deposit?

Laws vary from state to state regarding what you need to give your tenant if you are keeping any or all of their deposit, but generally, it’s good form to provide a list of services performed or things that needed fixing/replaced and the costs associated with them. This lets the tenant know that you actually used the money for what you said you did, and that you didn’t just charge $200 to dust the baseboards.

What to Do If a Tenant Contests Your Decision

If a tenant feels that you are wrongfully withholding any or all of their deposit, they may choose to file in small claims court or even hire a personal attorney to handle the case. However, you have rights—if you are justified in keeping the deposit, you can counter-sue the tenant to ensure you don’t end up underwater with fees and costs. Going to court can be a huge pain and can cost a lot of money for all parties, though, so if it’s a minor quabble—say, over a $50 invoice for cleaning, it may be best to try and settle with the tenant to avoid a costly court case.

Getting Help When You Need It

You got into investment property ownership to make money, not to make your full-time job dealing with tenant hassles. Here at Lofty, we want to help you with every aspect of being a landlord, from finding the best tenants to answering your security deposit questions and everything in between, so that you can save time and frustration and do things you actually want to do. Contact us anytime to learn how working with a property management company can help you start living the life you deserve to live.

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

how to move out tenants chicago

How Property Management Can Make Move-In and Move-Out Easier for You

By | Property Management

When one lease ends and another begins, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. Security deposits need to be sorted and returned to departing tenants, the first month’s rent needs to be collected from new renters, and in between, maintenance may need to be done on the property. And if you’ve got one tenant moving out without having one lined up to move in, that’s even more work—creating an ad and marketing the property, booking showings, and screening tenants. Altogether, it’s a lot of time that you could be using to do virtually anything else. Owning and managing investment properties shouldn’t be a mess of paperwork and endless busywork. If you’re tired of spending all of your time on what you thought would be a relatively easy way to earn extra money, you’ll be relieved to know that you’re not stuck—learn more about how property managers can make the move-in and move-out processes easier for Chicago landlords and property owners.

What to Do When Tenants Move Out

When tenants’ leases end and they move out, there are a few things that property owners or landlords have to do, including:

These three tasks alone can be be very time consuming—finding vendors and contractors to take care of repairs, maintenance, and any updates you want to make can feel like you’re on a wild goose chase. Once you find contractors, you’ll have to fit them in your schedule during a time when you can be at the property. To say that it’s inconvenient is an understatement. Getting keys back from the tenant can also prove frustrating. If you’re working with a property manager, though, they can take the time to track down the tenant, so that you don’t have to deal with calling over and over again, getting their voicemail every time. Likewise, the best property management companies in Chicago will have a list of trusted, vetted vendors and contractors that they can schedule for any property maintenance you need, and you won’t have to be there for any of it if you don’t want to.


Managing Vacancy Periods in Chicago Rentals

After one tenant moves out, one of two things will happen: there will be a vacancy period, or the next tenant will move right in. For now, let’s focus on the former.

If your property is vacant, you need to place ads, market the property, field phone calls from interested renters, schedule bookings, and show your property. If you’re trying to do this on your own, you can end up spending almost all of your extra time dealing with the property—which can feel like more work than it’s worth. After all, you got into investment properties to make money, not to take on a second full-time job, right? Property management companies in Chicago have written hundreds of apartment, condo, and home ads, and in addition to knowing the best places to market your property, they can often work out better deals with publications than individual landlords or property owners can, simply due to the higher volume of ads they place.

You want your vacancy period to be as short as possible so that you aren’t losing money, and property managers will be able to set your rental price according to current trends and market demands. You won’t have to worry if you’re charging too much or not enough for your rental, and people will be more interested in the property when it’s priced well—too high and people will balk, but too low, and some people may wonder what’s wrong with the place (are the walls so thin that they’ll be able to hear their neighbors debate about who should win The Bachelor, for instance?).

Once the property managers have shown your property and have some potential tenants lined up, they’ll be able to screen them, too. You won’t have to deal with background checks or conducting interviews. Property management companies have tried-and-true methods for ensuring they’re getting reliable tenants into properties, too, so you won’t have to worry about whether the tenants are the type of people who pay rent late every month or host loud, late-night parties in their studio apartments every weekend.
Imagine not having to deal with any of the headache-inducing frustration that is the vacancy period. You’ll have so much more time on your hands—time you could use to, say, catch up on The Bachelor (or do anything else!). Working with a property manager means you won’t have treat owning investment property like a second full-time job.

Helping Tenants and Landlords with the Move-In Process

Now that you’ve got a tenant who is ready to move into your property (whether or not you had a vacancy period), you’ll have to do even more work. It can feel like it’s never-ending, can’t it? Some property owners and landlords like to be onsite when new tenants move in, for helping with anything that might come up, and if you own a lot of properties, that can mean busy days for you every time a new lease starts. You’ll also need to make sure that the new tenant has paid their first month of rent, which can, like getting the keys back at the end of a lease, sometimes be a frustrating process. New tenants may not know where to send rent at first, too, which can lead to a late payment or two. You shouldn’t have to worry about tracking down your payments, and when you work with a property management company in Chicago, you won’t have to. Property managers take care of everything related to the tenant move-in process. They can be onsite during the move, they can track down your rent checks, and if anything happens during the move-in process, they can quickly schedule maintenance or repairs. It’s a level of convenience that’ll have you wondering why you didn’t start up with a property management company sooner.

Enjoy Your Time and Your Property

Here at Lofty, we understand that your time is your most valuable commodity, and we work hard to ensure you won’t have to waste it doing busy work for your rentals. We can take care of everything during the move-in and move-out processes for your properties, and we can also manage vacancies so that you can earn more money. To start living the life you deserve to live, give us a call anytime—we’d love to work with you and help make your life easier.

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.


where to rent chicago

Why Some Chicago Neighborhoods Are More Expensive to Buy and Rent In

By | Property Management

When you think about real estate in Chicago to rent or buy in, you’ve probably got a pretty good picture of what the more expensive neighborhoods look like: high-end boutiques, unique, trendy restaurants, and sharp looking homes, condos, and apartments. You’re not wrong—these highly sought after lifestyle amenities are what make some neighborhoods so hot. But when it comes to buying and renting, there are some other reasons why certain areas of Chicago cost what they do. Learning what tenants are looking for (hint: it’s not only stainless steel appliances and marble countertops) will help you make the best decisions about where to purchase investment property or rental units.

Neighborhood Growth

Over time, the vibe of different neighborhoods changes, causing fluctuation in things like how much homes are valued at. As a property owner or landlord, it’s natural to want to get the most return on your investment, so purchasing properties in up-and-coming neighborhoods is generally a great plan. An increase in the cost to rent or own in a neighborhood can often be attributed to the amount of—and the type of—development happening in an area. If more restaurants, newer apartment buildings or homes, and other interesting hotspots are being built up in a certain area, it’s safe to assume that those neighborhoods will soon cost more to live in, and in turn, will cost more to rent or own property in.

Location, Location, Location

Of course, where an apartment, condo, or home is located in Chicago will also dictate how much it will cost. Property owners and landlords know that the closer a home is to L stops, the more sought after it will be—Chicago is a city full of commuters young and old, and getting to school or work conveniently is a priority that a lot of renters and owners have when choosing where they live. For instance, though neighborhoods like Rogers Park have a lot to offer, they’re further away from the center of the city, and it can take longer to get places from there. The same can be said for most any neighborhood on the outskirts of the city—the longer it takes to get somewhere, the less popular the area is, generally speaking.

What’s Happening?

Aside from simple proximity to transportation, people will be looking for what they can do in their neighborhood without getting on a train or bus. In other words, what Chicago events take place? For example, in neighborhoods like Bucktown and Wicker Park, the Do Division and Wicker Park Fests are a popular fixture every summer, and for those who already live in the area, it’s a convenient way to spend a weekend. In River North, plenty of nightlife options are attractive to people who love checking out the latest bar, nightclub, or restaurant. When considering where to purchase investment property, property owners and landlords should consider what their potential future tenants will be looking for and make decisions accordingly. In order to get the best return on an investment, you’ll want to be able to offer your potential renters something they find value in.

How to Stay Ahead of the Curve

Naturally, purchasing property that is in a popular neighborhood will mean that you’ll likely have no trouble renting it. But as a landlord or property owner, it’s only natural to want to get a great deal on property as well as be able to make the most of your investment. Paying a high cost upfront can mean spending a lot of time trying to keep up with the competition—working very hard for marginal returns. Earning more on your investment means looking at up-and-coming neighborhoods that don’t yet have the numbers you’re looking for, but will very shortly.

Take a look at a neighborhood like Logan Square. A decade ago, tenants shied away due to lack of development. Five years ago, renting in Logan Square was a popular choice with younger, “artsy-type” tenants who were looking for a great deal after being priced out of Wicker Park. Now, it’s one of the hottest and fastest-growing areas in the city. Rents have gone up—the average price of a studio apartment is now between $800 and $900, with larger apartments costing more—a lot of new businesses are thriving, and the overall feel of the neighborhood is much more fun and exciting than it used to be. As a landlord or property owner, finding properties in neighborhoods that are growing but not yet fully built-up—such as Humboldt Park or Avondale—can mean a high return on your investment. In a similar vein, purchasing apartments, condos, and homes in popular Chicago neighborhoods like Hyde Park, Lakeview, and West Loop can mean you’ll always have people interested in your property.

Taking advantage of growing areas means keeping a close eye on where developers are heading and where tenants are moving from. This will give you a good idea of where to buy or rent next—property owners benefit a great deal from getting into a certain real estate market early. As an area heats up, you can adjust rent accordingly and watch your profit margin rise. You’ll also want to look at properties that are closer to the L stops and bus lines—as we previously mentioned, ease of getting around is a major reason people pick to live in one place over another. That means that cost of properties will be different even from block to block. Choosing location wisely can have a huge impact on your property’s success.

Start Taking Advantage of Opportunity

When you’re ready to start capitalizing on new rental properties or want to learn more about why some neighborhoods cost more to rent and own in than others, property management companies can offer a lot of insight. At Lofty, we’re ready to help you get the most out of your investment so that you can live the life you deserve. Contact us anytime to find out more about investment properties in Chicago and how you can make them work harder for you.

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

Neighborhood Guide – Wicker Park

By | Neighborhood Guides, Property Management

Welcome to the Wicker Park (sometimes referred to as the Wicker Park/Bucktown) Neighborhood!

Over the last decade, Wicker Park (and Bucktown), centered around the six-corner intersection of Milwaukee, North and Damen Avenues, has gradually transformed from a gritty-come-artsy neighborhood of galleries and dive bars to trendy, upscale living and entertainment. This is mainly due to an increase of homes being bought, renovated and built. However, all the flavor has not been bought out of the area as Wicker Park remains a vibrant hub of culture and commerce in Chicago, riddled with boutiques, restaurants, cocktail bars, concerts venues and condos.


The Wicker Park Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places listings in Chicago. Much of Wicker Park was also designated as a Chicago Landmark District.

2000’s quintessential John Cusak film, High Fidelity, was filmed here—Rob’s store was located at the corner of Milwaukee and Honore.

In 2001 a season of MTV’s The Real World, was filmed in Wicker Park in the loft building currently home to Cheetah Gym.

Milwaukee Avenue’s Costa Rica Restaurant, Irazu, has been featured on PBS television’s Check, Please!, Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (Guy Fieri sampled several dishes) and Food Network’s The Secret Life of Milkshakes. The burritos competed in ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight’s 2014 Burrito Bracket.

Some notable residents include:

WWE wrestlers, Colt Cabana and CM Punk; singer/songwriter, Liz Phair; former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist, James Iha; singer/guitarist for The Alkaline Trio, Matt Skiba.


Chicago is a food city! With too many great restaurants to include them all, consider this a quick start guide to your flavorful adventures… enjoy exploring your new neighborhood eateries!

Antique Taco
1360 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Owned and operated by a husband and wife team, indulge yourself in a seasonal menu of gourmet tacos & Mexican appetizers doled out in a shabby-chic, counter-serve space.

Big Star
1531 N. Damen Avenue
Probably one of the best outdoor patios in the city and their tacos speak for themselves. No matter what time of day, this place is jammed with people eating the Mexican street food and drinking. Heads up though, this popular spot is cash only.

Piece Brewery and Pizza
1927 W. North Avenue
This isn’t your typical pizza joint. The go-to specialties? A New Haven, CT style pizza smothered in red sauce, topped with garlic, extra parmesan, and olive oil with notably no mozzarella (though cheese is an option as well as other toppings) paired with award-winning, brewed-on-premise, small-batch beers. Fun Fact: Doug Sohn chose Piece to host his Hot Doug’s swan song–a fusion of encased meat and pizza, named the Atomic Bomb after the menu mainstay from his much-missed eatery.

2039 W. North Avenue
Formerly a Russian bath house, the space is now host to a Modern American menu influenced by Chicago’s rich neighborhood history, with a ridiculous Wednesday $10 burger and beer special!

Mindy’s Hot Chocolate
1747 N. Damen Avenue
Hip, family-friendly American eatery known for it’s seasonal menus, rich desserts and of course, hot chocolate.

The Bongo Room
1470 N. Milwaukee Avenue
The place to go for all your brunch desires. Features inventive pancakes and other updated American breakfast and lunch classics.


As previously stated, consider this a quick start guide to begin your exploration!

The Violet Hour
1520 N. Damen Avenue
This swanky cocktail lounge has a distinctly speakeasy vibe and the carefully constructed cocktails are excellent. You won’t find a sign on the door, and the decor is completely and unarguably gorgeous.

Emporium Arcade Bar
1366 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Bring out your inner child with 40+ 25¢ arcade games to provide the entertainment and 24 rotating craft beers and 50+ kinds of whiskey to provide the fuel!

Bangers & Lace
1670 W. Division Street
Named after sausage (“bangers”) and “Brussels lace,” i.e., beer foam on the edge of a glass (“lace”), this Division Ave upstart harnesses a stellar draft selection and knowledgeable staff that draw in a lively mix of beer aficionados and neighborhood clientele at all hours and seasons. They even offer two-ounce sample beers and a sweet patio space in the summer!

2013 W. North Avenue
At this low-key sanctuary in the Milwaukee-North-Damen intersection, no one is trying to out-cool anyone—the uncool simply can’t hang and leave. Comfortably strike up a conversation with a new friend over a PBR ($2 on Tuesdays!) and some late-night bar food, served till 3am, after one of many shows at Subterranean, the venue next door.


RSVP Gallery
1753 N Damen Avenue
Technically in Bucktown, RSVP is a design and fashion-minded shop selling high-end clothing, art and wares for those young of heart and thick of wallet. Heavy streetwear and fashion-blogger influence.

Mildblend Supply Co.
1342 N Milwaukee Avenue
With “a rustic and recycled interior,” MildBlend Supply Co. (formerly Untitled, a Chicago legend) carries high-end denim along with all type of trendy men’s and women’s casual and fine clothing, leather goods, shoes, bags, and grooming products. They are also pioneering supporters of the Made In USA movement.

Green Music Fest
Intersection of Damen, North and Milwaukee
This environmentally conscious Wicker Park street festival takes over Damen Ave, bringing green vendors, food and biodiesel- and bicycle-powered live music to the neighborhood for two nights each summer.

1542 N. Milwaukee Avenue
SAIC graduate, Vincent Uribe opened this gallery in 2009, just after he finished his freshman year. Years later, he’s still runs this space and is presenting some the area’s most exciting group shows, gathering work from artists all over the country.

Wicker Park
1425 N. Damen Avenue
This four-acre recreation area may be small for a popular park, but when the weather is warm you will be able to find residents sitting by the fountain, playing basketball on the courts and kids playing on the swings. A field house in the middle of the park contains a gymnasium and meeting rooms, overlooking a lush public garden that is tended by members of the community.

Wicker Park Farmer’s Market
1425 N. Damen Avenue
Each Sunday, a small grouping of farmers, vendors and shoppers descend on Wicker Park for the neighborhood’s farmers’ market, which features fresh fruits and veggies, baked goods, meats, cheeses, and flowers. The market begins in May and ends in October.

The 606
also referred to as The Bloomingdale Trail – various access points along Bloomingdale Avenue
This old elevated train line has been given new life as a connective system of parks, access points, and multi-use exercise trail.


The L – Blue Line
Easy access to the CTA Blue Line services this area. Stations are located at Division, Damen and Western.

The following bus routes are also readily available:

North-South bus lines:

  • #9 Ashland Avenue
  • #50 Damen Avenue
  • #49 Western Avenue
  • #56 Milwaukee Avenue

East-West bus lines:

  • #70 Division Street
  • #72 North Avenue
  • #73 Armitage Avenue
  • #74 Fullerton Avenue

Proximity to Downtown
Obviously there is a bit of fluctuation depending on where exactly you live within the neighborhood, but Wicker Park is approximately 5 miles from Chicago’s Downtown Loop. Driving (without traffic) would yield about 13 minutes taking I-90 East. If traveling via the CTA, allow approximately 45 minutes.

Surrounding Areas
Bucktown, West Town and Ukranian Village are your closest neighbors. The awesome thing about the surrounding neighborhoods is that they offer up different atmospheres that are unique to them…and quite honestly, that’s what makes Chicago great.

 Get in touch with our experts to learn more about this wonderful neighborhood.



Security Deposits vs. Move-In Fees: Which Is Better for Your Property?

By | Property Management

In the increasingly competitive rental market in Chicago, it’s becoming more and more common for landlords to charge non-refundable move-in fees instead of the more traditional security deposit. There are a number of reasons for the shift to this policy, and in order to decide which is better for you and your properties, it’s important to learn more about why these fees are becoming a standard part of the rental agreement in Chicago.

Tenant Rights for Security Deposits

One of the biggest reasons landlords and property owners are choosing to charge non-refundable fees instead of security deposits is the risk potential that accompany even small, seemingly-insignificant mistakes. For example, if a landlord forgets to date the receipt for the security deposit, tenants are eligible for an immediate return of the deposit, as well as other damages, which can equal up to two times the initial security deposit amount, plus court costs and associated legal fees. With the risk of situations like these arising, it’s not surprising that the non-refundable move-in fee is getting more popular.

What’s more, there are very detailed regulations associated with how landlords have to manage, store, and pay interest on the collected security deposit. While security deposits can be helpful in eviction processes to cover a tenant’s unpaid rent, they may not always be the most ideal choice for your properties—even with helpful property managers taking care of your paperwork and books, the process of dealing with security deposits can sometimes be complicated. When it comes to streamlining the rental process, move-in fees can be a great way to save time and frustration, but it’s up to you to determine what’s right for your properties. If you’re stuck, a property management company can help reveal all the potential benefits and drawbacks of security deposits and fees, allowing you to make the most informed decision.


Benefits of Charging Non-Refundable Move-In Fees and Pet Rent in Chicago

For renters, move-in fees have obvious benefits—handing over the equivalent of one or more months of rent as a security deposit can be a tough financial hurdle, and move-in fees are traditionally much less expensive than security deposits—averaging around $200-400 for Chicago tenants.

The benefits of charging non-refundable fees don’t just apply to tenants, though. For landlords in Chicago, charging move-in and pet fees eliminates the need for separate, often-complicated accounts to hold deposits in, and it guarantees immediate income that can be used for property maintenance or other costs.

With non-refundable fees for move-ins, landlords have immediate access to funds that they can use for taking care of routine maintenance and other tasks that need to be done between leases—changing locks, updating directories, painting, small repairs, etc.

Non-refundable fees are easier to keep track of, as well, meaning less work overall for landlords—what’s not to like about that? By collecting fees instead of deposits, you’ll save the time that you would have spent working to ensure you’re meeting all the requirements for holding onto security deposits. As far as tenant rights and landlord responsibilities are concerned, move-in fees are becoming the clear winner for many property owners because they’re convenient, quick to collect, and easy to manage.

Pet Deposits and Pet Rent In Rental Agreements

In addition to choosing between move-in fees or security deposits, another important aspect of any rental agreement in Chicago is how the landlord will manage pet deposits or pet rent. There are a lot of benefits to allowing your tenants to keep pets in their homes, but it’s important to make sure you’re protected, too. Many property owners choose not to charge separate pet deposits and security deposits, and for good reason—if a tenant causes damage that is unrelated to the pet, landlords aren’t allowed to use their pet deposits to cover the damage. Pet deposits can only be used for pet-related damages and maintenance, so many landlords instead choose to simply charge an additional amount of pet rent per month.

By charging an additional amount for pet rent, landlords ensure they’ll have the necessary funding to take care of any pet damage, and they’ll also have guaranteed extra income every month, increasing the profitability of the property.

Your Best Option

Making the choice between charging fees or security deposits will depend on a number of factors—beyond the pros and cons of each option, it can ultimately depend on your personal preference as a landlord. Property management companies can offer valuable guidance for what the best course of action may be. Here at Lofty, we are excited to be of service any time you need help deciding whether to charge fees or deposits for your apartments and condos. Reach out today and see how we can help you live the life you deserve.

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

Fulton Market Real Estate Brokerage

Neighborhood Guide: West Loop Fulton Market

By | Neighborhood Guides, Property Management

Welcome to the West Loop Neighborhood!

With one of the most happening food scenes in Chicago due to some of the best restaurants and bars in the city, some might say the West Loop is the Best Loop. No doubt, it has become a very desirable and active area! Fulton Market and Randolph’s Restaurant Row are just a few of the main attractions in this popular neighborhood!


The West Loop was once strictly industrial. The hip, industrial vibe is still alive today, with former manufacturing and warehousing buildings converted to loft condos, restaurants, nightclubs, event spaces, showrooms and art galleries.

Oprah Winfrey’s syndicated television show, Oprah, was previously produced in the West Loop at Harpo Studios.

Google recently reclaimed and remodeled the old Cold Storage building for their Chicago Headquarters. The southeast corner of the building is home to Cold Storage Oyster Bar and Swift & Sons Steakhouse.


Chicago is a food city! With too many great restaurants to include them all, consider this a quick start guide to your flavorful adventures… enjoy exploring your new neighborhood eateries!

Au Cheval
800 W. Randolph Street
Awarded the “Best Burger” title by Bon Appetit magazine in 2012, and has since ballooned with popularity. Au Cheval goes through about 400 hamburger patties each weekday and up to 500 a day on the weekend. Head to Au Cheval when it will serve you best: for a burger and a beer at the bar.

Publican Quality Meats
825 W. Fulton Market Street
Located in the neighborhood’s meat-packing area, this a butcher shop, a sandwich joint, a grocer and a bakery. Menu offerings include house-made charcuterie, artisanal cheeses, freshly baked breads, specialty coffee drinks and rustic soups and sandwiches. The little sister restaurant of The Publican, PQM acts as The Publican’s private dining room by night.

Little Goat
820 W. Randolph Street
Stephanie Izard’s bakery and diner serves up reimagined comfort food. As the sequel to her popular Girl & the Goat, the restaurant that put the West Loop on the map, Little Goat has redefined the small-plate trend and proved that winning Top Chef can actually translate into real world success!

Chicken & Farm Shop
113 N. Green Street
Located in Soho House, serving rotisserie-cooked, free-range birds sourced from Pine Manor Farm in Indiana—birds come whole, by the half or quarters. The chickens are continually roasting on a rotisserie behind the bar, so they come out hot and juicy in minutes. You will also be able to enjoy classic American sides and British dessert “puddings.” Craft cocktails, beer and wine offered in a stylish, industrial diner featuring exposed brick walls and big windows.

The Corned Beef Factory
1009 W. Lake Street
An offering of tender, slow-cooked meats awaits you at this cozy, spot located in what was once the front office of the 60+ year old Ex-Cel corned beef factory, an old-school meatpacking district staple that used to sell wholesale briskets out the back door. The meats are cured on site and boast exceptional flavor, and every sandwich comes with house made potato chips and a perfect pickle.

High Five Ramen
112 N. Green Street
Journey under Green Street Meats and feel the vibe of a gritty basement ramen shop in Tokyo. Spice is the name of the game in this hidden gem, but there are plenty of mild bowls to choose from as well. Slushy cocktails are a must at this hip, subterranean eatery.


As previously stated, consider this a quick start guide to begin your exploration!

The Beer Bistro
1060 W. Madison Street
A low-key, tavern with a neighborhood feel just steps from the high-profile establishments of Randolph Street, The Beer Bistro carries upwards of 100 beers. Enjoy one and strike up a conversation with your beer-geek bartender or another good-natured patron.

Fulton Market Kitchen
311 N. Sangamon Street
Part restaurant, part lounge and part art gallery. Grab a seat in this chic warehouse space on one of the couches or at the bar and check out the artwork that is created by local artists and a street art-inspired mural.

Haymarket Pub & Brewery
737 W. Randolph Street
A throwback brewpub that offers a rotating selection of housemade craft beers and pub fare, as well as occasional live music. Even with so many outstanding restaurants in close proximity, this is a great place to grab a drink and a bite.

RM Champagne Salon
116 N. Green Street
Enter this champagne bar through an unmarked alleyway, where glowing strings of lights lead to a cobblestone courtyard! RMCS serves American cuisine small plates in an elegant setting replete with marble fireplace and chandeliers.

City Winery
1200 W. Randolph Street
A veritable one-stop-shop, this unique, 30,000 square foot venue is not only Chicago’s premier  wine and fine dining experience with attached concert venue, but also offers food and wine classes, flexible event space and seem to be on a noble, artistic quest to find the perfect combo of drink, food and sound that will leave you breathless and satisfied.


Randolph Street Market Festival
1340 W Washington Boulevard
Typically occurring on the last weekend of each month, RSMF boasts 100+ vendors selling goods from antiques, furniture, clothing. During the warmer weather months of May through September, the market features an outdoor spot, with more vintage shopping and a beer garden. Shop for vintage clothes and jewelry, enjoy a fancy food market and global goods or bring your own items for appraisal. Tickets are available at a discount online or can be purchased at the gate.

Mary Bartelme Park
115 S. Sangamon St
At 1.4 acres, this city park is very kid-friendly with swings, slides and a lot of other cool things on which to run around—this park also features pieces that allow for inventive, non-linear play without traditional play equipment! For the dog in your life, there is a sunken dog park which includes a continuously filling, oversized dog bowl, ramps, ledges, steps, and an artificial grass exercise area. You can also find a “viewing hill”, up to six feet high that provides an incredible view of the park with the Chicago Skyline as the backdrop.

Brooklyn Boulders
100 S. Morgan Street
An expansive rock climbing facility which offers classes for beginners to advanced climbers. The building is also home to an “Active Collaborative Workspace,” a co-working office in which you may participate in a little physical activity during the workday. Gee, wonder what that is…

Aspect Ratio
119 N. Peoria Street
The go-to place for video art. Here is the only commercial video art space in the city so be sure to check out the top film-focused exhibitions.

Union Park
1501 W. Randolph Street
From the 1920s through the 1950s, this park was well-known for cultural and social events. Many notable musicians performed there, including: Thomas A. Dorsey; trumpeter Sunny Cohn; and jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis. In the last 12 years, the park has been home to many music and art festivals, including the annual Pitchfork Music Festival, usually held in July, featuring artists from all different music genres including rock, metal, alternative, electronic, pop, hip hop, jazz and more!


The L

Easy access to the CTA Blue, Green and Pink Lines service this area. Stations are located at Clinton and UIC Halsted (Blue Line), Morgan and Clinton (Green and Pink Lines).


The #20 bus (Madison) services the West Loop.

Proximity to Downtown

Obviously there is a bit of fluctuation depending on where exactly you live within the neighborhood, but the West Loop is approximately 2.5 miles from Chicago’s Downtown Loop. Driving (without traffic) would yield about 10 minutes. If traveling via the CTA, allow approximately 15 minutes.

Surrounding Areas

Greektown, Fulton River District, West Town and Little Italy are your closest neighbors. The awesome thing about the surrounding neighborhoods is that they offer up different atmospheres that are unique to them—quite honestly, that’s what makes Chicago great.
Welcome home!

Thinking about purchasing or renting property in The West Loop? Get in touch with our experts to learn more about this wonderful neighborhood.

Real Estate Brokerage Rogers Park

Neighborhood Guide: Rogers Park

By | Neighborhood Guides, Property Management

Welcome to the Rogers Park Neighborhood!

Rogers Park has two main distinctions as a Chicago neighborhood: First, as the city’s northernmost neighborhood; second, it is considered one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Chicago in terms of population, culture, and even natural wonder.

Despite the seemingly far distance from Downtown, there is plenty of easy accessibility to all forms of public transportation. This means that the unique dining, arts, culture and entertainment found in Rogers Park are never far away. This dynamic neighborhood boasts bright, fresh murals and artwork in newly-updated ‘L’ stations along the Red and Purple lines.

Rogers Park wins the second distinction as people from all over the world call this neighborhood home. There is no dominant ethnicity in this neighborhood as residents speak nearly 40 different languages and have roots from over 80 countries. Howard and Clark Streets are known as the “Commercial District”, while the Glenwood Avenue Arts District and Jarvis Square are home to a pretty robust theater scene and music clubs, in addition to late-night dive bars, galleries, studios, and coffee shops.

Enjoy the sound of waves crashing! The lakefront is within ear shot, and nearly all the streets leading east end at public beaches and parks on Lake Michigan. Beautiful views at dawn give way to breezy afternoons along Lake Michigan. Cyclists may utilize the myriad bike lanes on winding side and main roads to maximize their new locale, and urban naturalists will find an entirely different set of florae and faunae than they are used to seeing in Chicago.


The Rogers Park area was developed on what once was Native American trails, now known as Rogers Avenue and Ridge Boulevard. The Potawatomi tribe (among other regional tribes) would settle in Rogers Park seasonally. Indian Boundary Park, west of Rogers Park and Pottawattomie Park near Clark Street and Rogers Avenue, pay homage to these historical roots.

Rogers Park has a higher rate of residents with Master’s, Professional, and Doctorate degrees than the state average. In addition, the amount of residents that work for not-for-profit institutions and organizations is almost twice as high as the state average.

Some notable residents include:

Former First Lady, Betty Ford; actresses Tina Fey and Lara Flynn Boyle; Olympic speed skater, Shani Davis; NFL Hall of Famer, Fritz Pollard; U.S. House of Representatives, Jan Schakowsky; State Senator, Dan Kotowski.


Capt’n Nemo’s
7367 N. Clark Street
A Chicago landmark since 1971, serves up some of the “Best Soups, Best Chili and Biggest Best Subs and some of Chicago’s Best Italian Beef.”

Jamaica Jerk
1631 W. Howard Street
Is locally owned and operated by Chef Waite, who brings a culinary degree from the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago (CHIC) and an experienced expert with Jamaican cuisine. His menu will delights your taste buds with delicious Jamaican and Caribbean food in a fun, feel like you are on vacation, tropical atmosphere. This restaurant prides itself on made-from-scratch fare, with only top quality ingredients, including spices, vegetables, and fresh fruits.

Heartland Cafe
7000 N. Glenwood Avenue
Heartland Café opened it’s doors in 1976 with a vision to serve “good wholesome food for the mind and body”. This community favorite takes great care and effort in finding local, organic, sustainable, socially conscious ingredients whenever possible. It’s also a great place for a date.

La Cazuela
6922 N. Clark Street
This isn’t your typical mexican restaurant! La Cazuela offers delectable breakfast, vegetarian meal options, wraps, seafood, and Mexican cuisine. Every dish prepared at La Cazuela is made with fresh ingredients and cooked to perfection.

Act One Pub
1330 W. Morse Avenue
Best described as a combination of a neighborhood favorite and a destination dining experience. Features live entertainment and high quality American cuisine, so you can find all the comfort of a neighborhood pub coupled with the sophistication of a first class dining experience. There is a carefully crafted global wine and beer menu to represent the high standards you would expect in fine dining. Next door is Mayne Stage, which makes it the perfect spot to complete a special evening out on the town.

6604 N. Sheridan Road
This quick-serve spot has been featured on the Food Network, in Timeout Chicago and the Redeye. It features street food with a international (mostly Korean) influences and bacon: kimchi fries; a Bavarian burger served on a pretzel with Dusseldorf mustard; Japanese chicken Katsu!

Taste of Peru
6545 N. Clark Street
Casual Peruvian BYOB eatery specializing in traditional cuisine (the owner is native to Peru) and lively native folk music.

Ethiopian Diamond II
7537 N. Clark Street
Friendly, casual restaurant and bar featuring Ethiopian stews and weekly live music.


Royal Coffee
6764 N. Sheridan Road
Pure Ethiopian Highland Coffee straight from the Ethiopian farm to your cup. The coffee comes from an elevation of 4,920 feet and it is grown in one of the richest coffee growing areas in Ethiopia. The beans are then sun dried by Ethiopian farmers and they are imported directly to the Royal Coffee Headquarters in Chicago. The boldness of “Royal Coffee” will keep you going through your day.

Red Line Tap
7006 N. Glenwood Avenue
Here there is a good chance you will often find yourself wrapped up in a conversation over a wide selection of domestic and imported beers, as well as classic draft offerings and cocktails.

PARKS AND INTERESTS *disclaimer – your new neighborhood has more to offer! Listed below is just a start…enjoy exploring!

Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society
1447 W. Morse Avenue
Established in 1975 by local residents who believed this Chicago neighborhood was a place too exciting not to celebrate, they find, collect, preserve and share the story of this diverse community. Today, the Society serves the community through its publications, architectural tours, and various educational and outreach efforts.

The Mile of Murals
Glenwood Avenue
An 10 year, ongoing, community-based public art initiative to paint a full mile of murals along the CTA Red Line track from Estes Avenue to Pratt Boulevard along the Glenwood Avenue train line. The project will result in 19 large-scale murals: ten block-long walls, seven viaduct walls, and two overpasses. New artists and themes are selected every year through a specific selection process determined by arts professionals and community leaders.

Emil Bach House
7415 N. Sheridan Road
The Bach House, designed for Emil Bach in 1915, is one of the last of Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs for a small urban house. The house is designed with its entrance almost hidden from Sheridan Road, to ensure privacy and reflects the importance of family life, according to Wright. This is Chicago’s only Wright residence open for vacation rentals and private events.

B1E Gallery and Sculpture Garden
6902 N. Glenwood Avenue
B1E is a well known art gallery in the Glenwood Avenue Arts District. Outside is a very vibrant “sculpture garden” you can view on Glenwood Avenue.

Greenleaf Art Center
1806 W. Greenleaf Avenue
Provides studio and exhibition space for 50+ local artists and is home to five business enterprises. The center is host to a variety of exhibitions, open studio events, art salons and creative workshops throughout the year.

Loyola Park and Beach
1230 W. Greenleaf Avenue
A large, expansive beach which offers plenty of open room and sights of the famous city skyline at a distance. Loyola Park sits on approximately 21.5 acres. The field house is equipped with two gymnasiums, a woodshop, a boxing center and clubrooms available to rent out. Outside, the park offers a senior baseball and a softball field, a two-hoop basketball court, sand volleyball courts, four tennis courts, a playground, and a 2/3-mile walking trail along the beautiful beach and Lake Michigan. Beach season begins the Friday before Memorial Weekend and goes through Labor Day.


The L
Easy access to the CTA Red Line services this area. Stations are located at Loyola, Morse, Jarvis and Howard.

Bus #22 (Clark) or #147 (Outer Drive Express) are also accessible for this neighborhood.

Proximity to Downtown
Obviously there is a bit of fluctuation depending on where exactly you live within the neighborhood, but Rogers Park is approximately 12 miles from Chicago’s Downtown Loop. Driving (without traffic) would yield about 25 minutes taking Lake Shore Drive. If traveling via the CTA, allow approximately 55 minutes.

Surrounding Areas
Edgewater, Andersonville, West Ridge and the city of Evanston are your closest neighbors. The awesome thing about the surrounding neighborhoods is that they offer up different atmospheres that are unique to them…and quite honestly, that’s what makes Chicago great.




Chicago Property Management

Staying Safe And Warm Over The Holidays

By | Property Management

Here at Lofty, we  want to see people be warm and safe over the holidays, perhaps curled up by the fireplace or sipping hot cocoa. It can be easy to get distracted with the all the holiday excitement going on, but there some things you pay attention to, in order to avoid an unfortunate incident over the holidays. For example, did you realize a best practice is to keep flammable material at least three feet away from any heat source (i.e. furnace, space heater, fireplace) and Christmas trees with lights? Did you know the curtains are commonly overlooked as flammable material?.Here are a few key tips to staying warm and safe over the holidays.

Doors and Windows

We have already gotten a taste of the Chicago cold and as Chicagoans, we know it is about to become really cold. Chicago winters can bring ice, snow, and below zero temperatures. The easiest way to keep the home insulated is by closing windows and doors, securely. You may want to consider putting plastic on the windows and making sure you have a draft guard on the door to keep warm air in and cold air out.


Past winters have brought on extreme low temperatures. A reputable property management company will be able to assist with a checklist of “winter proofing” tasks for your home. The name of the game is minimizing emergencies during this frigid season. For example, conduct a furnace maintenance inspection to keep the furnace working properly. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from the furnace, as well as, keep a “kid free zone” around the furnace avoid any unnecessary accidents. Also, test smoke alarms monthly to make sure they work. To see more tips, check out Lofty’s blog on Winterizing Your Home.

Space Heaters

Electric space heaters need to be plugged into a wall socket, not an extension cord. Most extension cords can’t handle the extra wattage a space heater needs, so take an extra precaution and check to make sure the space heater is properly rated and grounded.

Home is where the hearth is / The hearth / Fireplace safety tips

We have yet to meet someone who did not enjoy the warmth and coziness of a fire in the fireplace. The fireplace, to be working properly and safely, should be properly maintained. Read more fire safety tips.

Tips to warm your home and enjoy the holidays with a fire is:

  1. Have proper fireplace tools on hand, like a pick, brush and a shovel. The pick will help position the wood around the hearth while the brush and shovel will help make cleaning up the leftover ash quick. Do not have the tools on hand? It might be worth contacting your property management company (or landlord) to see if they can supply those and instructions on how to use.
  2. New, dry wood is the best food for the fire and will keep the warmth for a cozy evening at home.
  3. A fireplace screen will be helpful to keep the sparks in the fireplace and not on the carpet, rug, floor or a person.

A fireplace, under the proper supervision is a comfy, memory making staple during the holidays. Remember to never leave a fire burning unattended. A fire in the fireplace is not an intentional, constant, source of heat for the whole home (nor is an oven!), but rather something to look forward to on a cold day, after a long commute, or just an excuse to curl under a blanket with a cup of hot cocoa.


For the snow bunnies who escape the Chicago cold for warmer weather, it is important to care for the home while away. Whether it is for a short weekend getaway or for the entire winter season. If your home or rental will be unoccupied for more than a day, it is recommended to turn your heat down…not off. An ideal temperature is 66 degrees, per the Chicago Building Ordinance. Low heat, or even heat that has been turned off, runs the risk of pipes freezing and bursting.  Another tip if planning on leaving is setting various lights on timers. This will give the illusion that your home is still occupied while you are away to discourage intruders.

Christmas Trees

If you choose to celebrate the holiday with a live tree, be sure it stays fresh and keep it watered. For if it dries out, it can become a fire hazard. Keep the trees away from hot lights and open flames. Artificial trees are a lot safer especially with modern LED lights that run cooler, but they sure do not give off that pine fresh scent!

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.