Renting is a Nightmare

Renting is a nightmare.

Being a single female living alone makes it an almost literal hell. (The difference being that in hell, it doesn’t matter that your heat won’t turn on, and it’s rent free. So.. maybe this is worse than hell.) When I first moved out of my parents house, I lived with my then boyfriend and some of our friends. We never really had issues with the landlords and they never really had issues with us. But when we broke up and I moved in with a girl friend of mine, things really took a turn for the worse.

We moved into the lower apartment of a duplex in what we later found out was the crack neighborhood of our small city. Which really isn’t as bad as it sounds. It’s probably comparable to some of the best ghetto neighborhoods in other bigger cities as far as drug use and violent crimes go. But it certainly did make for some great entertainment when we would look outside and see trashy people chasing their 12 dirty kids down the street. Or when one of the many people under house arrest across the street tried to make a break for it.

It was a decent apartment. There were flaws, but you can expect that for what we were paying in rent. It was well worth the money. That is, until landlord decided to blame his insanely high water bill on me rather than paying attention to the leaking pipes from the upstairs apartment (I’m talking puddles and puddles of water leaking every time they used their shower). Then he thought I would forget the fact that the water bill was included in the rent. Unfortunately for him, I didn’t forget. I also didn’t have hundreds of dollars to fork over. So it just wasn’t going to happen. Even if he had asked nicely. Which he totally didn’t. He responded with a 5 day notice to pay or get out. I could have probably disputed it, but why on earth would I want to continue renting from this asshole?! So we decided to go for the “easy out” of the lease, packed our shit and got out.

The day we got our 5 day notice was the day another friend of mine was moving into his brand new 2 bedroom artist loft downtown. He offered the extra room to me and I accepted because quite honestly, I had no where else to go. And I had been friends with him forever, so I was confident we would get along (we did). This apartment was beautiful. It was in the basement of the building and we were the only unit with a private entrance, which we thought was pretty stellar.

Boy, were we wrong! Because of this private entrance, ours was the only unit to flood when it rained. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Let me tell you, it’s a great feeling to get out of bed in the morning. It’s an even better feeling to get out of bed and directly into a puddle of water covering almost the entire apartment. So we called the landlord and they sent over a cleaning company who brought several industrial sized fans that made for some great toe stubbing adventures in the middle of the night. Each time it flooded, these fans were in there for a few days. So most of the time you couldn’t hear yourself think. And don’t even get me started on the humidity and heat that comes from this ordeal. It stayed about 95 degrees consistently, and you could barely breath in the thick air all around you. Did I mention that this is a BASEMENT apartment? Oh.. I did? Well did I also mention that it was BRAND SPANKIN’ NEW? Oh.. Well, consider that a friendly reminder.

This happened 3 times before I moved and another 2 times after that before they finally let my friend out of his lease. Did they clean up the problem? Yes. Did they fix the cause of the problem? Nope. They were even showing the unit to prospective renters before my friend moved out. Which was also before they fixed the problem. I’m sure they never told their potential renters why my friend wanted to move so desperately.   

After wading through treacherous tides and being generally shit upon by the universe, I moved to Minneapolis. Moving into an apartment here made me realize just how good I had it when I was rolling up my pant legs and using a shop vac to dry my floor.

For starters, the garage door opener didn’t work. The building management company refused to replace it because it was oh “so expensive”. So I had to go buy one myself (let’s ignore the fact that it took me 7 months to do this…) for a whopping $40. As of right now, my garage door opener is about a month old. Last night when I came home from work, I pulled up to the garage door, pressed the button and nothing happened. I sat there for about 10 minutes staring at the immobile door and pressing the remote button harder and harder like that was going to make it suddenly start working. I was a bit angry at this so I got out of my car and slammed the door hard enough to knock the window off the track (which is a whole ‘nother situation I now have to deal with..) After a bit of investigation, I discovered that the door itself had broken, not my remote. So there I was, sitting in my car with the driver’s side window stuck open in the rain, trying to figure out how the hell I was going to get it into the garage. To the credit of the garage door company (NOT the building owner), they got it fixed a couple hours later. But this is just one of the many issues that have been going on.

All winter, the drain in our garage (located in the basement of this building) was clogged. I, along with every other tenant, had been walking and driving through this muddy looking puddle all winter. Sounds pretty minor right? Well, that was why I never said anything. What’s wrong with a little mud? Nothing. But after months of this, we found out that this was not, in fact, mud. It was raw sewage. Which would probably explain why I felt as though I was dying from the flu all winter. Apparently, coming into contact with raw sewage is NOT good for your health. Other tenants had already contacted the building owners multiple times and kept getting the same, “I promise, we are going to fix it in a couple of days”. I figured that one more person complaining wouldn’t make them move any faster. But I also figured that they didn’t want me calling the health department or a lawyer. So I called them and left a nice voicemail stating that I would do just that if it wasn’t fixed within a week. They fixed it that day.

While writing this, I determined that there has been a common theme to my misfortune: Water. Apparently the one thing we, as humans, need to survive is the one thing that will probably be the death of me.

This is my future home

 

This time, the water issue isn’t directly related to my unit, but is frustrating nonetheless. In the entrance of our building, the roof has been leaking to the point of leaving pasty piles of drywall (haha.. DRYwall..) and puddles of water all over the lobby floor. It has been this way for a week now. The good news is, our building has a cleaning crew that comes whenever they feel like it. So once they decide to get their asses off the couch and stop watching Honey Boo Boo destroy all faith in humanity, that might get cleaned up. But will the cause of the problem be fixed? I am going to take a wild guess and say, “No”. At least not for a couple of months anyway. And this is not the only place that is leaking. One of the other tenants was telling me that he went to bed one night to find that his ceiling had also leaked, soaking his entire mattress in the process. That brings a whole new meaning to water bed. I also noticed that the tables in the laundry room are soaked. But at least the ceiling in there hasn’t started caving in yet. With my luck, it’ll happen the next time I’m taking my freshly cleaned clothes out of the dryer.

Now, those are just the problems with the building and the building owners. I live in a condo building, and my unit has a private owner, whom I have never met in person. Everything went well at first, but come tax season he lost his freakin’ mind. I’m not going to go into too many details, but I’ll tell you this: He tried to cheat me out of a couple hundred dollars, blamed me for the possibility of him getting caught cheating on his taxes for the last three years, was suddenly conveniently unreachable for two weeks when I needed forms from him to complete my taxes, and a whole bunch of other general ass fuckery. He basically tried to paint himself as a victim for having to pay taxes like any other US citizen.

Why is it so hard to find a reasonably priced apartment that is actually suitable for living, with good landlord? Has everyone really gone off the deep end? Well in any case, I’ll be joining them soon.

Renting is a nightmare.

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The Epic Adventures of Me: The Search for a Dwelling

When I first arrived at the beginning of my new life, I was in for more of an adventure than I ever thought possible. Of course I neglected to plan the most important thing involved in moving to a new city: Securing a living space.

It was the beginning of August in Minneapolis. Everyone and their brother was visiting the Mall of America or checking out the art fair at Loring Park. Or maybe even the state fair. So there were very few available rooms that I could afford. I was waiting on my last check from my previous employer, and I didn’t start my new job for a couple of days yet. So I had very little money in my bank account. Luckily I had some of those fancy hotel reward points left over from the few months I spent in Milwaukee, which I was able to use to get a free room.

After this free night ended, I had the task of finding a hotel that would allow me to stay for an extended period time without paying right away. Eventually I stumbled upon a hotel. It was beautiful really. A thing of luxury. And after I got my head out of the clouds, I proceeded next door to the Days Inn.

This stay lasted for about a month. All the while I was looking at apartment after apartment. The first place I went to seemed too good to be true. It was affordable (for the area), the pictures showed flawless carpeting, amazing windows with spectacular views, and many amenities were included. Parking garage? Convenient! Laundry facilities? Stellar! A pool and workout room! Wow, sign me up!

I get to the leasing office and meet with the agent. We discuss what I am looking for, my price range, etc. This particular company had 7 buildings in a sort of little village. He mentioned that the studio apartment I had originally called about was no longer available, but that was ok because there were 7 buildings. Surely they would have something suitable.

WRONG. Not only were the pictures online that of the most expensive penthouses (of course), but the leasing agent kept trying to show me units that were well over my price range. Two and three bedrooms. All I wanted was an affordable studio or one bedroom! He showed me ONE unit that was in my price range. I was surprised that it was even an option. Honestly it looked as if the previous tenant had placed catnip underneath the carpet and let their cat go nuts. It also looked like this cat ate a lot of spaghetti.

The next place I looked at was in a great location. Right by Loring Park downtown. Within walking distance of everything I could ever need. There wasn’t a guaranteed parking spot, but I figured there had to be other options. So I went to look since this was was a pretty affordable place, and so close to everything.

After searching for a place to park for a half hour, I met the landlord and we walked up to the top floor of this beautiful old brownstone. The apartment was.. shockingly tiny. The entire floorplan (bedroom, kitchen, living room, and bathroom) was about the size of just my bedroom at my parent’s house.
Back home, a place like this would have gone for about $300. Here, it was $800. The wood floors were scuffed and scratched. The only window in the place had a wonderful view of a brick wall. There was no laundry or parking included. I was pretty sure my couch wouldn’t even fit through the door. And if by some miracle I got that couch up the stairs and into the apartment, it would have taken up a majority of the living room.

I spent the next couple of weeks slowly losing hope as I continued to cross possibilities off of my list. One shitty place after another. At one point I started looking at apartments that I knew were way too much. Simply because I could. I wanted to see why on earth these people thought it was ok to charge more for rent than what my car was worth! One place in particular really stuck out to me. It was a breathtaking studio. Brand new. Again, the whole unit was about the size of my room at my parent’s house. The one outside wall was almost all window. The view wasn’t anything special, but the apartment definitely was. There was every imaginable amenity, and everything was meticulously taken care of. But the catch? Parking was $130 a month! On top of the $1150 they charged for rent. Sure, sign me up! Let me just go ahead and sell my vital organs online. That should be enough right?

After searching and searching for what seemed like forever, I finally found the one. It was the best apartment I had looked at. The most amazing view one could hope for, all recently remodeled. Free laundry AND free parking. You can’t find just one of those perks anywhere in this city, much less both of them at the same place. I HAD to look at this place!

I responded to the Craigslist posting expressing my interest and made an appointment to look at the place. When I walked in, I knew it was going to be mine. It had to be. There was no other way that this was going to go. And I would make sure of it.

For those of you who don’t know me, when I decide that I want something, I get it. Not because I am lucky (though I’m sure that plays a part), but because I am fucking stubborn. And I will go to whatever lengths I have to, to obtain said desire.

Which is exactly what I did. I jumped through hoops that I shouldn’t have been able to even climb through. I scaled mountains that I never should have even known existed. I was unstoppable!

Now, I know what you are thinking, “How hard can it really be to get an apartment?” First of all, shut up! Maybe for YOU it wouldn’t be hard. But for me, it wasn’t exactly a cake walk. I had to somehow prove that I could come up with two grand to move in (not to mention the thousand dollars a month after that). With a job that I had barely even begun to understand. With what could very well be a record for lowest credit score possible. And with a past rental history that was less than perfect. To say the least.

Fortunately, my landlord took a chance on me and I now spend my nights sipping Mountain Dew from a wine glass (don’t judge), relaxing on my big ass couch, and enjoying the view.