Tawanda Dickerson

– Leslie Mann, Chicago Tribune
reprint from Chicago Tribune Feb 28, 2017

As a postal carrier, Tawanda Dickerson, 43, gets to know a neighborhood quickly. So, when she subbed for a co-worker in Rogers Park a couple of years ago, it gave her a chance to check out its rental properties before moving there with her teenage daughter, Sharonda Pipkins, now 16.

It didn't take long, said Dickerson, to spot a landlord who seemed to be "everywhere, every day." Criss-crossing her route was Marty Max, 59, owner of MLC Properties and Management, which is based in one of his buildings in the Rogers Park neighborhood.

Given the choice between rentals owned by far-away landlords and those owned by people in the neighborhood, Dickerson chose the latter. In 2015, she became one of Max's renters too, relocating to Rogers Park from the Roseland neighborhood on Chicago's South Side.

While some renters may worry living too close to a landlord could invite undue attention or nuisances, others find that having a landlord who's a stone's throw away comes with benefits aplenty.

Dickerson, for one, became part of a renter-landlord-community loop that "puts money back into the community so it's a place where renters want to live and where their kids will get a good education," said Max. "And, it shows that the big, bad landlord is a myth."

In hindsight, Dickerson's intuition about Max's attention to his renters was correct.

"He's very hands-on," said Dickerson, who chose a unit in one of the brick courtyard buildings prevalent on Chicago's North Side. "When there's a problem, he and his crew come right over. One day, the toilet overflowed in the apartment above mine. He got it fixed right away. The next day, his crew re-did my bathroom, which is below it, with new drywall and paint."

Living near her landlord, said Dickerson, "is all pros and no cons."

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