CRE N Illinois

Chicago entrepreneur gives renters chance to praise, criticize apartment communities

DoNotRent

Mike Cerny knows the challenges that renters face. Apartment rents are rising. Vacancies are falling, making it more difficult for renters to find units in top multi-family developments. Cerny decided to do something to help renters. That meant founding DoNotRent.com, a new national apartment-review site.

Mike Cerny knows the challenges that renters face. Apartment rents are rising. Vacancies are falling, making it more difficult for renters to find units in top multi-family developments.

Cerny decided to do something to help renters. That meant founding DoNotRent.com, a new national apartment-review site.

The Chicago-based DoNotRent.com gives renters the chance to review and read reviews of apartment communities across the United States. And despite its name, not all reviews are negatives. A quick glance at the site shows glowing reviews for apartment communities in Jacksonsville, Fla.; Alpharetta, Ga.; and Vacaville, Calif.

Of course, negative reviews are equally common. An apartment community Tampa is lambasted for its apparent cockroach problem. A community in Oklahoma City is called out for housing registered sex offenders.

This mix of positive and negative reviews is what Cerny, the company's founder and chief executive officer, hoped for when launching DoNotRent.com.

"I saw a real need out there for a service that provided social networking for renters," he said during a recent telephone interview. "We wanted to provide a platform for renters to feel comfortable writing a positive or negative review. We wanted a site that would provide renters with the most accurate and newest information."

Cerny says he hopes the site provides a benefit to landlords, too. Those landlords whose communities receive positive reviews can point potential renters to them. Those whose complexes are roasted with poor reviews can take steps to fix the problems cited by their tenants.

Cerny also says that landlords have the ability to update reviews. For instance, if a reviewer states that a kitchen pipe burst, the landlord can add to the review that he or she fixed the problem in less than a day.

"We're excited about how quickly the site is growing," Cerny said. "Traffic has been picking up."

That isn't surprising. Review sites are popular with consumers. And renters who are looking for a new place to live are sure to flock to a site that provides them with reviews from fellow renters. It hasn't hurt DoNotRent.com that the housing industry and business press pulbications have given the site coverage.

And because the multi-family market remains such a hot one, it shouldn't surprise anyone to see the number of reviews on DoNotRent.com continue its steady rise.