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See all our CitiApartments coverage here.

We’ve talked before about flagging CitiApartments (or “citi apartments“) listings on Craigslist, as, given their alleged business practices of denying former tenants their uncontested deposits, they might be in violation of the “conduct” part of craigslist’s terms of use (and today marks the 11th time craigslist has failed to respond to requests to comment on this issue! Next time, don’t we get a free sub sandwich or something?).

A reader noted to us that it “looks like Citi agents are still leaving their affiliation off of their craigslist posts,” pointing out these ads from a known CitiApartments agent, and representing known (at least until they’re foreclosed upon!) Citi properties.

So one option is to pull other identifying information: names or phone numbers, for example, from known Citi agents and use that information to flag these ads. However, another friend of the site sent us this:

The downside is that now CitiApartments doesn’t tell you in the ad that they are CitiApartments – you only find out when you get there. In fact, it has probably been the best thing that could have happened to CitiApartments as far as increasing showings for their units. Unfortunate bad outcome for unknowing renters, though…I typically avoid all CitiApartment bldgs if I can, now I have no way of knowing.

Well. That’s interesting. Our goal was to do what we could to keep them from suckering in any unaware folks, but hearing that poses an interesting question: what’s the best way to keep innocent (if ignorant) folks from falling into the same trap? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • designeraddict

    There is no simple way of vetting out CitiApartments postings on craigslist – certainly not now. Their agents have gotten wise. A semi-casual glance at craigslist’s “Apts/Housing” section (specific to San Francisco) supports this fact: some agents have obliterated any mention of “CitiApartments/Citi Apartments” in whole; others have resorted to not listing their name and/or phone number.

    Unless one is armed with a comprehensive list of Lembi family owned properties (good luck with obtaining/compiling that), you’re on your own.

    The Lembis’ are taking measures to distance themselves from their once beloved brand name. To wit: the recent incorporation of yet another Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) – “Urban Pioneer Property Management.” Per yelp.com reviews (many of which yelp has deleted – that’s another story), tenants were lead to believe that their building was under new ownership. The confusion is deliberate and decisive.

    Why do I care or give a shit? Fair question. I had the displeasure of having to deal with them head-on for a year, when they acquired (my former) building, during their outrageous buying frenzy. I was on disability from work at the time, and they put me through hell – going without water for five days, refusing entrance to my friends, Andrew Hawkins (their main “thug”) misrepresenting himself as being from SFPD, and non-stop construction noise. So yeah, I have an ax to grind with these fuckers (pardon my parlance).

  • designeraddict

    There is no simple way of vetting out CitiApartments postings on craigslist – certainly not now. Their agents have gotten wise. A semi-casual glance at craigslist’s “Apts/Housing” section (specific to San Francisco) supports this fact: some agents have obliterated any mention of “CitiApartments/Citi Apartments” in whole; others have resorted to not listing their name and/or phone number.

    Unless one is armed with a comprehensive list of Lembi family owned properties (good luck with obtaining/compiling that), you’re on your own.

    The Lembis’ are taking measures to distance themselves from their once beloved brand name. To wit: the recent incorporation of yet another Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) – “Urban Pioneer Property Management.” Per yelp.com reviews (many of which yelp has deleted – that’s another story), tenants were lead to believe that their building was under new ownership. The confusion is deliberate and decisive.

    Why do I care or give a shit? Fair question. I had the displeasure of having to deal with them head-on for a year, when they acquired (my former) building, during their outrageous buying frenzy. I was on disability from work at the time, and they put me through hell – going without water for five days, refusing entrance to my friends, Andrew Hawkins (their main “thug”) misrepresenting himself as being from SFPD, and non-stop construction noise. So yeah, I have an ax to grind with these fuckers (pardon my parlance).

  • cak

    If CitiApartments employees are embarrassed to be working there, you wouldn’t know it from being in their office. As I sat in their “lobby” waiting to talk to an actual person regarding the return of my security deposit from 9 a.m. until 10 a.m., I watched many people traipse in and out. Every person who came in during this loosely-interpreted beginning of the work day then left again within 5 minutes of arriving, coming back with lattes in hand and gossip on their lips. People were dressed professionally and not, and no one seemed the least bit embarrassed that their company is, essentially, insolvent. It was like cognitive dissonance in action. I wish I could drink lattes all morning and wear Mickey Mouse tshirts and jeans into the office on a Thursday,.

  • cak

    If CitiApartments employees are embarrassed to be working there, you wouldn’t know it from being in their office. As I sat in their “lobby” waiting to talk to an actual person regarding the return of my security deposit from 9 a.m. until 10 a.m., I watched many people traipse in and out. Every person who came in during this loosely-interpreted beginning of the work day then left again within 5 minutes of arriving, coming back with lattes in hand and gossip on their lips. People were dressed professionally and not, and no one seemed the least bit embarrassed that their company is, essentially, insolvent. It was like cognitive dissonance in action. I wish I could drink lattes all morning and wear Mickey Mouse tshirts and jeans into the office on a Thursday,.

  • citivictim

    I found more Citiapartments listings on Craiglist with this phone number: 533-8253
    I notice they’re not even mentioning Citiapartments on those crappy fliers they post outside of their buildings. They also advertise their “Personalty Hotels” on the flyers. If anyone reviews these hotels on Yelp, mention the Citiapartments connection.

  • citivictim

    I found more Citiapartments listings on Craiglist with this phone number: 533-8253
    I notice they’re not even mentioning Citiapartments on those crappy fliers they post outside of their buildings. They also advertise their “Personalty Hotels” on the flyers. If anyone reviews these hotels on Yelp, mention the Citiapartments connection.

  • citivictim

    To find more Citiapartments listings on Craiglists just go to Bay Area apts/housing for rent and search under this phone number: 816-8077 That’s the number of Guy Valdman. I guess that’s the same Guy who gets those suspiciously glowing endorsements in the Citiapartments reviews on Yelp.

  • citivictim

    To find more Citiapartments listings on Craiglists just go to Bay Area apts/housing for rent and search under this phone number: 816-8077 That’s the number of Guy Valdman. I guess that’s the same Guy who gets those suspiciously glowing endorsements in the Citiapartments reviews on Yelp.

  • designeraddict

    As to the groundswell of gushing, agent-name-specific CitiApartments’ reviews on Yelp: I too, found it odd and highly suspect. What were these CitiApartments’ agents doing that would incite someone to post blathering, five-star reviews on Yelp? Who are Tracy Ballard and Guy Valdman (the two most oft-referenced agents), and the sudden emergence of them being CitiApartment Rental Agent Rock Stars?

    I sent a message to “Astrid C.,” after reading her Yelp review of June 17, 2009, basically asking her the same questions.

    Surprisingly, “Astrid C.” responded, and gave me the low-down: CitiApartment agents receive a $50 bonus for every positive Yelp review, and actively solicit potential tenants for said reviews.

    Now it all makes sense…

  • designeraddict

    As to the groundswell of gushing, agent-name-specific CitiApartments’ reviews on Yelp: I too, found it odd and highly suspect. What were these CitiApartments’ agents doing that would incite someone to post blathering, five-star reviews on Yelp? Who are Tracy Ballard and Guy Valdman (the two most oft-referenced agents), and the sudden emergence of them being CitiApartment Rental Agent Rock Stars?

    I sent a message to “Astrid C.,” after reading her Yelp review of June 17, 2009, basically asking her the same questions.

    Surprisingly, “Astrid C.” responded, and gave me the low-down: CitiApartment agents receive a $50 bonus for every positive Yelp review, and actively solicit potential tenants for said reviews.

    Now it all makes sense…