Monday, April 16, 2007

Giant grumble for moving

I know moving is never supposed to be a pleasant experience.
But people keep on saying how it is never as bad or nasty as they expect.

Given that I am so masterful at catastrophizing, and thus plan for the utter worst in such situations, you would expect that things would go by relatively smoothly each times. Especially this time, given I am just moving my own things into an apartment that is maybe 15km away.

Unfortunately, I appear to be under some sort of moving curse (despite the fact that I should have saved up plenty of good moving karma), and manage to somehow get entangled in a slightly different predicament every time.

This time it is the trap of the evil landlords.

As I mentioned on here a few weeks ago, upon informing my building manager that I was moving at the end of the month, she slipped a notice under my door which supposedly served as my 24-hour notice that she would be entering my suite anytime between 9am-8pm for the next month (yes, I've looked it up, and it appears to be massive horseshit, as I am supposed to be told an exact time of entry).
She showed up at my door Friday evening to tell me that she'd been showing my suite while I was at work, and that I would have to tidy up the place more. This grated me, as who has a spotless apartment when they are moving? It wasn't like there was garbage strewn everywhere... just moving related clutter and the like.
Even worse is that she showed up the next morning with possible tenants-- and didn't even mention this the night before. So I had to have people in my apartment while the Duke and I were still in our PJs (we'd just woken up, and were just lounging in bed). And she didn't even say thank you for my newly spotless apartment.

However, this is not even the acme of my story, dear readers!! (I just really wanted to use the word acme in context, truthfully.)
Halfway through my tenancy here, the management, and I presume ownership, switched over. My last landlady was admittedly very lax about almost all of her duties. Apparently paperwork was one of them. Now there's some debate as to the rightful colour of my walls.
When I moved in, several walls were not white (which was actually one of the things I liked about the apartment). Apparently it was never noted in the paperwork who painted the walls, though it was certainly not me. I recently received a notice reminding me to paint all the walls I'd painted back to white. I called my manager and informed her I'd painted no walls, so I assumed I was under no obligation to paint. She spoke to the owner, who, while apparently acknowledging that there was no proof that I had painted the walls, also has no proof that I didn't (due to the past landlady's lack of paperwork skills), and is planning to take the cost of primer off of my damage deposit. My manager decided that this was "out of her hands", and that I would have to take up the issue with the owner, who I have never met. It's nice to know that after three years of being a good tenant, she's willing to stand up for me.

I'm quite clueless as to the price of primer, but I'm absolutely infuriated about someone trying to take advantage of me yet again. Part of me is tempted to just say "fuck it" and not bother cleaning the place, if they are going to take away half of my damage deposit for something completely out of my control. But, the truth is, the rental market can be vicious in this city, so I need all the references I can get. I'm calling the tenants rights people tomorrow to see if anything can be done, but, honestly, the need for a decent reference may force me into biting my tongue, which is frustrating me to no end.

As I said, this isn't the first moving "lesson" I've received. I seem to get a good lesson to go along with each stage of moving. I've been screwed over by landlords upon moving in. I have been epically messed around by moving companies~ that is a whole post in and off itself, but in a nutshell, they showed up four days late, (at which point I was legally evicted from my apartment and had missed my foster sister's wedding) with no movers at midnight, meaning I had to do all the moving with a few friends despite paying for actual movers. They also charged me double my quoted price, broke my things, and threatened me when they broke promises to me. And this was despite me doing all the right things- checking the Better Business Bureau, asking them all the questions you are supposed to ask (apparently I should have asked "Are you going to be several days late, and are you lying about everything you've said?").

It is just so aggravating. I saw this move as a real testament to my ability to be independent-- yet again, someone is trying to scam more money from me. I hate the idea that no matter what "lesson" each move teaches me, there will be another one around the corner that I couldn't predict. It bothers me even more that I am a good tenant and an honest person. People are always talking about how difficult it is to find reliable tenants-- why then do they treat them so shabbily?


Ant said...

You're right, it is a horrendously vicious market that treats the tenant, and they have very little in the way of rights. This was one of the reasons that made me finally make the jump to buying, even though its been a hell of a squeeze financially...

The sad truth is that even though you've done all the right things, people let out property to make money and inevitably its the sharks that this will draw, and they will try to fleece you for all you've got. (Owners being slack might be deliberate...)

After being stung a couple of times myself, I started just bracing myself for playing nasty - I would video the state of the flat when I first moved in, then I'd chase paperwork myself if the owner wasn't doing it.

Bloody owners! Hope you work it all out...

iFreud said...

Advice? If you are going to be made to pay for something you didn't do, then do not clean the place. And tell that sorry excuse of a property manager this. Then, when you go to get another apt somewhere down the road, lie, lie, lie!

I know you are an honest person, but the world is not. I have had good and bad experiences with landlords. The bad - I do what's best for me. The good - I'll bend over backwards for.

Next time you rent, you do not disclose this particular place. You simply say that your previous residence was a) your parents house, b)you owned it, but had to sell because of divorce... whatever. People want to believe information that is consonant with your presentation of you (which will be positive, clearly).

Play the game. Because that is what it is - who is the best bullshitter.

Jocelyn said...

I completely appreciate your contextualized use of the word "acme."

And I feel for what you're going through. Mein gott, but they should slather love all over you...

LMizzle said...

Wow. That is some serious craziness right there. My landlady is a little crazy herself, so I’ve had to look into tenants rights as well! It sounds like your landlord didn’t do an inspection with you on the day that you took the apartment, so she can’t legally take ANY of your damage deposit. You can take her to court for that. If she didn’t do an inspection report, which had to be signed by her (wait, at least I think it’s a woman), then she can’t take ANY of your deposit, even if you DID actually paint the walls because there is no documented proof of painting. She also can’t legally give you a month’s timeframe. She needs to give 24 hours notice of the exact time IN WRITING, SIGNED and dated, and then you have to approve of it. If you don’t, she’s not allowed to show the apartment (from what I’ve read). Man that is so crazy. I hate landlords.

Princess Pointful said...

Thanks for all your support, everyone! I'm still trying to work out what's best to do in my mind.

I tried contacting both a tenant's advocacy group and the government's residential tenancy information officer this morning. One line was busy for about an hour, and I waited on hold forever with the other. I decided not to wait any longer because I refuse to let this thing take over my life when I have too much on my plate.

Lmizzle- Just to clarify, we did do a walk-through inspection. I found my copy, and there is nothing about the paint on it. I am aware of the 24 hours notice- I'm holding onto it as my extra card if I have to do much about this whole situation.


John said...

If the walls need to be painted white, and there aren't that many, then I'd paint them. It takes about 15 minutes to paint a wall (obviously depending on size). This is coming from a Painter/Decorator (me). White Emulsion (Primer in Canada?? Totally different over here...or maybe she doesn't know what Emulsion is, cretin) is cheap as chips, especially if you buy a shops "Own" brand. If you haven't got a roller, a set is also seriously cheap.

Obviously, you've got to weigh up whether you need the cash against the time it'd take to paint the walls and all that other malarkey.

And if she comes up with anything else, I say give her the finger, pop to the local pet shop and buy a dozen mice. Or a rat or 2.

(Oh, and if you decide to paint the walls, don't forget to invoice the landlord/owner for the paint).

Beth said...

Okay - you have the worst moving stories I have ever heard. And I've heard plenty.
Sometimes, being honest, helpful and nice is a curse.
Hard to change though, right?

Eve said...

That sucks! But try not to take it personally. They just don't want to pay for it.

I agree with Ant, you have to be diligent when you move into a place. I haven't gone so far as to videotape (but I just might next time!) but I do go through and take notes on everything wrong with the place (leaky faucet, holes in the walls, peeling ceiling paint etc.) and either put add an addendum to the lease or at least have the landlord sign it noting the state of the apartment when I moved in.

And do you really need the reference? Don't you already have a place? And if anyone asks, can you just say you subletted your last place from a friend who is living abroad? That way there aren't any gaps in your history. Sucks to lie, but...

Is there a lawyer you can talk to? And can you go to the tenant's rights place to talk to someone in person? Or what about the legal clinic or whatever it's called at your university?

Good luck!

Indiana James said...

That is such a load of crap. I deal with sooooooo many land lords who are such creeps and scammers. I often have no issue telling them that they should be ashamed of themselves for the state of their properties and also for the high rents they collect for them.

It is really a shame that the renter has to jump through so many hoops to get any help for themselves. Hopefully this new place of yours will be as nice as you hope it will be with zero trouble associated with it.

eric1313 said...

Hey Princess, writing to you from my mom's house. Just saying hello.

Talk to you sunday. Or not.

Take it easy and have a great weekend.