Monday, June 16, 2008

The Torments of a Somewhat-Blind Man, Episode II: The Landlord Strikes Back; Or, Adventures in Property Management

I got evicted this weekend. It's OK though, because I went and knocked over all their bikes and said, "You better take it back!" and they did.

Alright, so that's not exactly how it happened. Read on.

I got home from work at about 6:20 on Friday and found a letter in my mailbox from the property managment company that owns my building. The letter was written mostly in capital letters and said that because I had an upaid balance of $406.00, I was required to vacate the premises within three days. This was rather surprising, given the fact that sometime last year they required all of their residents to sign up for automatic debits, thus taking me out of the loop altogether. The note held out one ray of hope: "HOWEVER, IF YOU WISH TO DISCUSS REINSTATEMENT OF YOUR RIGHT TO CONTINUE LIVING IN THE DWELLING, PLEASE CONTACT US." Contact them I did, only to find that anyone remotely important went home at 6:00. When would they be back? "Maybe Saturday. If not, then definitely Monday."

I proceeded to leave voicemail messages for several different people demanding (alright, requesting) an explanation, and sending an email to another, making a point of noting in each message that the first I had heard of any problem was an eviction notice. I repeated the process on Saturday, only to find that the person who sent me the letter on Wednesday was no longer employed there on Saturday. As my friend and I both said, "Hmmm, that's telling."

Cut to Monday morning at 9:30. My fourth attempt to get ahold of someone led to the following conversation:

Landlord's Employee #1: "It looks like they just charged you some month-to-month fees when they shouldn't have. I'll take those off and send you a copy of the ledger showing a zero balance."
Me, very doubtful: "Zero? Are you sure?"
Landlord's Employee #1: "Yes, I'm sure."
Me: "Any idea why no one contacted me earlier about this problem? The first I heard of it was the eviction notice."
Landlord's Employee #1: "Yeah, we don't have a 'friendly' letter. The one you got is the only one we send out."
Imagine my shock to find that the all-caps (paraphrasing) "GET OUT OR WE'LL BUTCHER YOUR FINANCIAL FUTURE" note wasn't the "friendly" letter. Think that's the end of it? No? I guess the "#1" gave it away. Well, five minutes later, one of the people I had left a voicemail for called me back, and we had the following conversation:

Landlord's Employee #2: "Well, since you never signed a new lease, you have to pay a $100.00 month-to-month fee."
Me, not very surprised to be having this conversation: "Actually, I did sign a new lease in February, and I have a copy. In fact, when I signed it and turned it in in February, I gave it to you."
Landlord's Employee #2: "Oh really? Well, let me look then." [Pause while she did the research she evidently didn't do before.] "Yeah, here it is. OK, then it looks like they just charged you some month-to-month fees when they shouldn't have. I'll take those off, and then you'll have a balance of $6.00."
Me, very doubtful (again): "$6.00?"
Landlord's Employee #2: "Yes, $6.00."
Me, playing along: "OK, where is the $6.00 coming from?"
Landlord's Employee #2: "Let me see. When you signed your new lease your rent went up and your utilities went up so, yeah, that's where the $103.00 is coming from."
Me, tasting bittersweet vindication: "Wait, $103.00?"
Landlord's Employee #2: "Yes, $103.00. They billed you incorrectly in May and June."
Me: "How about I drive over to your office and we can take care of this there?"
I had anticipated this outcome over the weekend, so I had two blank checks with me (sorry, you're too late, you should have mugged me sooner). Twenty minutes later, after I finished filling out a new auto-debit form, Landlord's Employee #2 and I had the following conversation:
Me: "So, how much do I need to write the check for?"
Landlord's Employee #2: "$96.00."
Me, no longer even slightly surprised: "You're sure?" (The last thing I wanted was to get evicted again in August for having a $7.00 balance.)
Landlord's Employee #2: "Yes, $96.00. She credited you a little extra."
For future reference, judging from the copy of the ledger they sent over later, "She credited you a little extra" is apparently property manager code for, "She didn't actually credit you a little extra, I just didn't want to have to admit to having done the math wrong again."

And, scene.

In case you were wondering, no, my ex-optometrist Dr. ______ still hasn't gotten me my new glasses.



Blogger Sean said...

Wow, that's terrible! I'm glad you got it sorted out!


"Yeah, we don't have a 'friendly' letter. The one you got is the only one we send out."


Ah!! Sounds like the people I'd want managing my handled it better than I would've. <_<

Tuesday, June 17, 2008 1:08:00 AM  

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