Saturday, June 14, 2008

Beware of the Woes of Apartment Renting !!!

I am going to warn you pre-college parents of the woes of off-campus apartment rental.  This is what happened to my daughter.  You see, you are not the signer of the lease, your college-age young adult is.  So you are not part of the agreement or process.  When my daughter moved into her apartment the first thing I noticed was the carpet was torn near the entry way.  Apparently the door had torn it over time because it was a poorly hung door.  There were many sad things wrong with this apartment but it was really the best place in this little college town.  The carpet had several stains and the bathroom was disgusting.  I had to clean the shower, tub, floor, and ceiling of this bathroom.  There was mildew or mold on the ceiling right above the shower.  I didn't want my daughter to have to stand with her head that close to it, so I cleaned it as best as I could.  The toilet did not have a handle to flush it with so we drove to the nearby Wal*Mart and bought one.  I'm thinking the sooner the better rather than have to raise the tank lid every time to flush the toilet.  While we are replacing the handle, the manager walks in, apparently to fix it.  He says, "Oh, most people don't ever bother trying to anything around here.  Thanks."  
    So as part of the process of moving into an apartment you are asked to fill out a move-in condition form and list all the things that you found wrong with the apartment.  This is where I want to warn you.  If you or your child ever moves into an apartment, remember to fill this out in detail.  This fall my son moves back into an apartment and we will be taking photos and video-taping the place.  This seems to be a trap that apartment management plays to take advantage of young, inexperienced college students.  
    My daughter says that she listed on the form about the carpet and so did her roommate but the new manager after they moved out says that the form is marked "Ok" next to the carpet.  I can hardly believe that anyone in their right mind would have marked carpet "ok" in this case.  Long story shorter (?) we are charged $267.54 to replace that carpet.  
    The old managers were always telling my daughter and her roommate that they needed to replace their carpet for them but never did it.  I guess the apartment company waits until they find somebody who possibly did not mark complaints about the carpet and then they can charge them to replace it after they move out.  It all got very ugly.  I said, "I suppose this is how you get your carpets replaced."  
   I had so many things going against me.  No copy of the original form that was filled out, new managers who did not believe me, they don't keep records of the previous renter's form, (my daughter was only there for 10 months).  I called the corporate headquarters but they said the same thing, "If it's not written on the move-in form, we will assume you did the damage."  
   I really can't believe them.  I feel like going over and knocking on her old apartment and asking to see the new carpet that I am purchasing.  I am going to go over and look at the rental form, if possible, I am not on the lease so I have to have my daughter's permission and since she is in Italy right now...
   I have been mad about this and trying to think of ways to get even but I can't think of anything worth doing.  Also, I don't believe it is the right thing to do.  But I sure hate paying for new carpet that my daughter never got to enjoy.  If they had told me when she moved in that we could pay for new carpet now and enjoy it because we would be paying for it later with no enjoyment then I would have paid for it in advance!
This is my recommendation for apartment dwellers:
Take photos and document everything.  Make copies of the form you fill out before turning it in.  Keep this copy in a safe place.  Take photos after you move out.  Any time you have a complaint, document it.  Put it in writing.  The corporate headquarters told me that managers forget.  It has to be in writing.  Please don't ever let this happen to you.  :D  They told me after every phone call, "Have a nice day."


WT said...

Ok, I can tell you three things about this from experience.

1) It's not the apartment company that's doing the scamming, it's the manager. In the same way that waitresses use tips to supplement their income, managers use cleaning bonds to supplement theirs.

Once in San Jose a manager withheld our bond saying that the apartment needed cleaning,(after we had spent nearly a week making in spotless). So I went to city hall and found the owners of the building and contacted them directly. Several days later the manager gave me the check and burst into tears saying the she had been fired!

2) By law certain things have to be done on a cyclic basis (as opposed to regular maintenance), things like painting and carpet replacement, and they have to be done at the owner's expense (I know, I own rental property). However, sometimes owners and agents try to get the poor renter to pay for it!

3) When it comes to making your own repairs, you should first make a request of the manager in writing stating when the repairs should be completed. If the date passes, you can then do them yourself and invoice the owner.

Hope that helps. I didn't proofread it so I hope it makes sense.

Junebug said...

They took all of our $250 deposit and are billing us for $144.54 more on top of that. They have it written into their contract though that $45 for cleaning, $45 for painting, $15 for paint come directly out of your deposit when you move out. What gripes me is the previous managers knew the carpet was torn when we moved in because they cleaned the carpet with a rug doctor and spoke of it several times. The new manager is snippy. I didn't know at first that I was not talking to the old management so I said to her that she said something about replacing the carpet several times. All she said was, "I did not." Well, of course she didn't because she had just replaced the other managers. She didn't bother to tell me this though.

Mariposa said...

Wow, how rude!!! I'm glad things like that had not happened to me...but then, I live with my parents...LOL

But are so correct in saying they take advantage on the lack of experience of renters...

Molly said...

Wonderful advice. Our youngest son had to pay $60 for cleaning after one apartment stay, and he worked for a week to clean. Or other son paid nothing at the end of his stay, and he actually had a few mishaps that the management could have charged him for.

Walker said...

Of course, I was a college kid 35 years ago, so maybe this isn't really relevant.

You are right about photos and documentation, but the best advice for dealing with college students is this: Let them make their own mistakes.

I moved in and out of apartments, lost security deposits, got security deposits, always lost all the paperwork.

It's sweet of you to fight this battle for your daughter, but my advice is don't fight the battle, don't clean the apartment, don't do anything. Give her advice and (if she has really suffered enough but make sure she suffers) consider giving some cash. Otherwise, leave the college kids on their own to make all their own mistakes.

It's going to be better in the long run for both of you.

Pamela said...

Good advise for ANYONE who is renting. INterested in the stuff WT added.

Nin said...

Wow, that sucks and a half, but I've never really expected to get a whole deposit back, even if I've left the apartment in a better state than when I moved in. They probably always try to screw you in some way, it's such a shame that the world can be like this.

Love your plastic girl, by the way, looks like she's settled in well ;)

Egghead said...

Oh does this hit a nerve. I can tell you from all four of my kids in apartment rentals while in college we have experienced this each time. We clean when we move in and make doubly sure it is spotless, even touching up paint when they leave and in never fails they try to keep part of the deposit.

Here is what we have been doing for the past four years with our youngest daughter. We come in and fill out the form with EVERY little detail from a scratch on the wall to a stain on the carpet, or nick on the counter (even any odors). We then take digital photos with the date on them so they can tell we did it before moving in. We then request the manager to walk through it with us while pointing out every detail we have written down (we always keep copies) and then we give the manager not only the form but the photos as well. We also make the manager do the walk through with after cleaning when she is moving out. She has got the deposit back every single time.
Now I think it is not so much that we have it documented BUT that we are a pain in the arse. I just got so sick of being taken to the "cleaners" so to speak especially when we left it better than when the kids moved in.