Monday, May 25, 2009

Propery Manager Angst

I am having some serious problems with the property managers in charge of the house we rent. At this point, I think they might be trying to force us out. We've been here 2 years, and our lease runs up in October.

Last summer, 2 things happened: the first was the garbage service began to refuse to take our trash. They also refused to discuss why with us (in our state, trash service has to go through the landlord and they will only talk to the account holder). The second happened on the heels of the first: a plumbing issue. At first, it was just clogged sinks. Then it graduated to sewage seeping through our bathtub and utility room sink.

On both issues, I called them & called them and never spoke to an actual human being, just left all these messages. No one called me back. Then on a Friday last August, the sewage problem got worse. The tub was almost overflowing with it. The smell was unreal. More calls, even to their so-called "emergency" one called me back. Then finally, the toilet began spewing sewage. I had no choice but to take the kids to a hotel for the weekend.

On Monday morning, I called and left more messages, even giving the phone number for the hotel. Nothing. So I simply called over and over and over again, until an actual human answered. I ended up speaking to several people over the course of the morning...NONE of them were even aware that they managed a house on my street! They kept asking for the address, and one even said, "Are you sure you have the right property management company?" Well, you people cash the checks, so yeah, I'm sure. Then they began trying to find some way to pass the buck....first by trying to get us to say it was our fault somehow, then by insisting it was the city's problem and we should call THEM. So I did. The city comes out, and the verdict: there is a serious sludge line, built up over a large number of years, probably as a result of someone pouring oil down the drain. I was in the room when they told the PMs this, and heard the guy arguing with them as they were clearly trying to find a way to blame it on us ("No, I'm sure it's not just, we're talking years and years this line built up.") The guy from the city did a "minor blow-out" and told both us and the PMs that this was only a "band-aid" on the problem and would not actually fix it. The PMs assured me they would get in touch with me soon to address the problem.

I spoke with them in September, then in October. Each time, I was told they were "working on it." In December, I was mailed a maintainence form and told to send that in. I did, and wrote in the garbage problem on there was well. No response. In January, I called and was basically ignored. In Feb., I sent a was ignored. All this time, we can't use our clothes washer or dishwasher because of the pipes. We're spending money on laundry and the dump. I spent a lot of time this year sick, so we weren't as on top of it as maybe we should have been...but how many times are you supposed to ask for something to be fixed? We just became resigned to the fact that they were not going to fix these problems, and figured we'd move when the lease was up.

Then two months ago, they started sending letters saying we owed them money. First it was $200, then $400. Never in any of the letters does it say what the money is owed for...just that we owe them money. I was stunned. You ignore us for months, and then expect us to fork over even more money for no reason whatsoever?

So I sent them another letter. In this one, I told them I had no intention of staying past October and couldn't understand why they were asking for more money when our issues remain unresolved.

THIS TIME, they respond. They leave 2 nasty voice mails, the second one they actually had the nerve to complain that THEY CAN'T GET AHOLD OF ME AND I DON'T RETURN MESSAGES!!!!

I call them back, and it was not a pleasant conversation. The PM I spoke to actually told me that if they don't respond to me within a week, it is my "responsibility" to simply keep calling them over and over until they do! It was, in effect, MY fault that the issues hadn't been resolved! Are you kidding me?

They wanted to send a plumber over that day, but my youngest still had measles, so I scheduled it for the following week. This really seemed to piss the woman off. Then I asked what the money we supposedly owed them was for. She said "late charges." Late charges? From when? She was vague, but said there had been "several" and that according to our lease, it was $100 a pop. I told her I was under the impression (having once been a PM myself), that the law requires you to send a specific form within 5 days to claim a late charge. She said, "No, that's only if we evict you." I asked her what proof she had that we paid late, ever, as all my cancelled checks are dated on the first and cashed by them about a week later. She said she would "send me proof." Then she transferred me to someone to take care of the garbage problem. She did...but the company now will only pick up half the garbage they did before. They gave us this tiny little can that just isn't going to do it for 5 people. The plumber came, and did the exact same "band-aid" job the city did...which means the plumbing will work for a few months at most and it will start up all over again.

Last week, I got three letters from them. The first had nothing in it but a Xerox of two envelopes from my house with postmarks on them. One is from January, the other is from a year ago! The second now was a letter that said we owed them over $500! The third was a letter that said they were coming into the house on Tuesday (tomorrow) to "inspect," and would be coming in whether we were at
home or not.

That final one really pissed me off, at first. And then I realized something: they could not have picked a better date. My daughter's caseworker from the county disability office will be here to do her yearly inspection on the exact same day! So if they try to make up some nonsense to get us out, well, good luck...the government was here inspecting as well! I also won't be alone that day: my friend's apartment is being fumigated, so she & her daughter & pet will be here all day. Tons of witnesses as to the condition of the house. I also plan to take photographs. I hate to have to go to these lengths, but I no longer trust these people. This feels like retaliation for insisting the problems get fixed. Maybe they are looking for something to charge me for, to "cover the cost" of the plumbing bill. I don't know. I just know, I don't like this.

I am really irritated with these people. I think they are coming here to try to find some reason to get rid of us, which is ridiculous. We've always paid our rent, and have never been a problem. We ask them to fix a pre-existing problem, and suddenly, we owe them $500 and they want to "inspect"!

Give me a break.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

In the Last 48 Hours....

....two of my closest friends lost their jobs.

They are both single moms.

This economy SUCKS.