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."