Monday, January 31, 2011

Manage This!

As many of you know, TH and I moved into a new place in early November. For those of you who don't know, a brief history: TH had been laid off two years ago (at Christmastime - Merry Christmas, everyone), making us a one-income household. He's gone back to school and has a super-parttime (like, 10-15 hours a week, sometimes more) job that helps, for sure, but basically I support us and we couldn't afford the mortgage at our condo on just my income once his unemployment benefits ran out, and - long story short (so I can get to ranting) - we signed our condo back to the bank through a deed-in-lieu-of-foreclosure agreement that we submitted in December 2010. I wanted to be out of the house before the paperwork went through, and, lo and behold, one of our friends was moving out of his townhouse duplex on October 31st, so we snapped it up.

I probably should have known from the get-go that something wasn't right, there were some red flags that I ran right by in my haste to move. For one thing, the management company wouldn't meet with us to show us any property on a weekend. They were only available during office hours and, well, I also work in an office, and was out of vacation time, so that wasn't working for me. Luckily (I thought at the time), we knew the current tenant and he would show it to us on a weekend. So we came over and looked at the place, and it seemed perfect: more room than we had, more than one bathroom, a pretty decent neighborhood, the price was right - it all seemed like it was just falling into place. I was super excited!

So we moved in.
Pantry - yay!

My living room - although we have a different couch now

Upstairs is where the magic happens

Well, let me back up. We met with the management company representative to sign the papers, and she did not do the walkthrough with us. First, we had huge problems scheduling and I had to leave work early one day (thank God my boss understood) because, as stated before, these people only keep office hours, so she wouldn't meet us any later than 4pm. What a fucking pain in the ass. But we complied, and then all this girl did was meet us, give us our keys, sign papers with us, and tell us to e-mail her a list of whatever problems we noticed when we did the walkthrough. Alone. This struck me as odd, but I was trying to be positive and I was determined that this would be a good move for us (since it was necessary and all), so we did the walkthrough by ourselves. The first thing I noticed was that the place was filthy. Nothing had been cleaned. There wasn't garbage anywhere, and the walls were freshly painted downstairs, but if you looked at the countertops, the carpets, the windowsills, or - God forbid - inside the refrigerator (*hurls*), it was clear no effort had been made to clean the place. So, that wasn't great.

I mobilized my task force (read: in-laws), and instead of beginning to move that night, we scoured the place. The in-laws have a carpet cleaning machine - one of those steam cleaners - and they brought it over and TH and his Dad did the carpets, while my MIL and I cleaned the downstairs: kitchen and bathroom, mostly. I kick myself that I didn't take pictures first, but my goal was just to get it clean so I could move our stuff in.

That done, I texted our friend who had just moved out - let's call him G, going forward in this - and gave him shit for how filthy his house was. He was appalled that they hadn't cleaned it and let slip that although the landlord had a management company, he liked to do all the stuff himself - which reminded me that the management company rep had said they'd been here until 11pm the day before we signed, cleaning and painting. Well, I'll give her "painting."

The next morning, the in-laws came over to keep cleaning while TH and I got the movers situated and they loaded up our belongings at the old condo. When we made it back over here, MIL mentioned that the kitchen sink water pressure was total crap and the upstairs toilet ran for awhile after being flushed. I added those items to my list of things to mention to the management company, and we continued moving in.

I sent off the list, with a request that the water pressure (which is only shitty in the kitchen faucet - the sprayer and all the rest of the faucets are fine) and the upstairs toilet be looked at. About a month later, after repeated requests for response to the maintenance guy, the landlord himself showed up and looked at both things and declared there was nothing to be done. The kitchen faucet? "That's just how the pressure is." The toilet that hisses for two minutes after flushing and fills soooo slowly, despite being lo-flow? "That's just filling slowly, it's not broken." The one helpful thing he did tell me (although I didn't ask) was that the big cylinder in my bedroom closet is a water heater. Yeah, no shit. I guess I look like a girl who doesn't know what the fuck a water heater is, because I could have sworn I wanted him to come over to fix WATER PRESSURE problems, not to explain to me what normal household items are. It was so bizarre. Also? Way to be prompt when I have a problem. At least he's the one who pays the water bill.

OK, so I was irritated, but whatever. The dishwasher works, and the sprayer works, and I can live with shitty water pressure and a running toilet, now that I know what the water heater looks like. FML.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. TH and I are sitting in the living room, minding our own business, when I notice this:

That, friends, is the smoke detector hanging out of the ceiling. Hey, no worries, you're saying to yourself, just put it back into the ceiling. Ah, but that was our thought, too, and that made it begin to chirp. As common knowledge dictates, when a smoke alarm chirps, you change the battery. So I did, and the chirping stopped. Until I tried to put it back into the ceiling again, and then it started back up. And wouldn't stop. So TH disconnected the whole thing, thinking we'd put a dud of a battery in it, and the next day I bought a completely new battery, and did the whole dance all over again with the same result: incessant chirping. Have you seen the Friends episode where Phoebe can't get the smoke alarm to shut up? It was like that.
This was me.
So I bit the bullet and e-mailed the management company again, as well as logging the issue in great detail on their "helpful" online maintenance reporting form. A day passed. Nothing. So I e-mailed the maintenance guy directly again. His response?

It sounds like the battery is likely dead and needs to be replaced. It is the tenants responsibility to replace these when they expire. If you replace it and there is still chirping, then let us know. Most of these detectors take 9v batteries.

My response:

No, I replaced the battery. Twice. It seems to only chirp when reinserted into the ceiling. The original issue is that it fell out of the ceiling and just hangs there. I take it my entry through your online system didn't come through? It was more detailed.

Basically, we noticed the thing had fallen out of its holder and was hanging by its cords from the ceiling. When we tried to reaffix it to the holder, it began chirping, so I replaced the battery and it didn't stop chirping when we put it back. The next day I bought a brand new battery and put that one into it. The only way to keep it from chirping is to let it hang out as shown in the picture I sent you. I can just leave it like that, I don't care. You should just know that it's a faulty unit.


Their response? Well, they forwarded it to the landlord. This is the most useless management company in the world. And I don't understand the purpose of having a management company if you won't let them do anything except collect the rent! I mean, he won't let them resolve maintenance requests or clean the house in between tenants. Why employ them at all? How hard is the rent collection aspect?

(Click to go to the video - and if you haven't seen this, you need to)

So I e-mailed them and asked sweetly if I should just not bother them in the future and instead take any problems directly to the landlord, since he seemed so "hands on." They did not respond to that.
I resorted once again to texting G and asking if he had ever had this problem. He told me the thing would chirp for 24 hours after having the battery replaced and then you could put it back. And, of course, that worked. I was able, since it had been a few days since the original problems and subsequent battery replacements, to reinsert the thing into the ceiling without a problem. I let the management company know, and all they had to say in response was to ask if I had pushed the test button to make sure. So I didn't respond to that.

Apparently, they've had me pegged as an idiot for some reason. I'm pretty sure I've now also given myself the distinction of "difficult." I've had enough. I won't be contacting them again unless there's something I can't fix, so let's hope that doesn't happen.

Last weekend, the upstairs toilet seat cracked in half. TH said, "Call the management company..." I said, "Look how well white duct tape fixes that!" (Also - tangent - why do *I* have to call them? He's on the lease, too.) Game on, management company. You fucked over the wrong tenant. And since G didn't get his deposit back despite the fact that he caused no damage and just neglected to clean the place, I'm figuring we won't get ours back, either, no matter what we do.

So, out of the frying pan and into the fire. At least I have a pantry and 1.5 bathrooms! And I know what that great big thing in the closet is, thank goodness.

Landlord problems, anyone else?


  1. Oh my, that sounds super ANNOYING. What's even more annoying than the things that need fixing, is the way they're treating you. Clearly you have proved you're not an idiot. Seems like they just don't care. Wonder if you should casually try and talk to other tenants. See if they possibly have had the same experience??

    Thankgawd for this blog...didn't you feel a teeny tiny bit better after laying it all out on the line?!

    xo J

  2. Wow. First of all, I did not know you had moved. So sorry.

    Second, that video is hilarious.

    Third, yeah, I don't know. We only had landlords when we were living in Ottawa and they were pretty good when it came to fixing stuff. We didn't have a management company as an intermediary. I agree. Why hire them if they won't do their job? I mean, seriously. WTF!

    I'm real sorry about everything, but I think yeah, you're just going to have to learn to live with the tiny faults. Hey, I don't even have a landlord, and yet there are numerous issues in our apartment that my husband just doesn't have the time to fix. I think I need to start yelling at him, pmsl.

    Oh, and if I didn't say this before, you're an extremely fun narrator.

  3. Crikey! What a time you've had! What I don't get is why your landlord is using a Management Company at all? I mean, all they do is cream off a percentage, don't they? And for what? In this case, for being incompetent f*cktards, that's what!

    Grrr, this post made me feel really cross for you. I hope you manage to settle eventually and that your hubs manages to find something a little more - er - lucrative in time. Being primary breadwinner sucks - I know, I've been there.

    Hugs to you MB - let's hope 2011 gets better for you.

    CC x

  4. That is just ridiculous. It's very obvious that they are not living up to their end of the deal. How long is your lease?

    Sadly, the dumbasses probably do view you as difficult. But reality is that you just expect things to be as they should and in proper working order. That's part of what you're paying for. I would likely do the same as you, fix what I can and only call when absolutely necessary. Save yourself the hassle and frustration.

    LOL@ "Look how well white duct tape fixes that!"

    Sheesh, husbands are all the same. Mine would tell me to call too *eye roll*

    Sounds like things are pretty stressful for you with everything that has been going on. ((HUGS)) to you.

  5. Why yes, we had the crackhead landlord from hell and his crazy wife--who both tried to collect the rent from us and would yell at us if we gave it to the other. That wasn't even the half of it. :)

    anyboohoo, I know this is going to suck to hear but the mgmt co and landlord will not give a crap about the day-to-day annoyances you endure there so for your own peace of mind bite the bullet and bring in a handyman to fix things and go buy your own toilet seat. Keep your receipts but don't expect reimbursement. And you should definitely find out who the landlord normally has to do the cleaning, find out what he pays and ask for that money.

    Otherwise, it looks like a nice place :)

  6. @All - thanks for listening to my rant. It did feel better to get it off my chest.

    @Smitten - one year, so it's up at the end of Oct. LOL at our husbands. Two peas.

    @TT - the landlord cleans it himself, from what I understand. And handy men won't work for you unless you own, so. I don't know what else to say. I'm feeling pretty defensive in response to your comment. This is a rant blog, sweetie. That's why we're here. ;)

  7. I have been very lucky - I only rented once and my landlord was awesome. I am so sorry that your "better" place still has issues for you. I hope you can work through it all. Just keep thinking bath and a half!!! That would get me through ;) LOL