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Stay in old must apartment or move into new one with bad agency?


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Hi all, 

I'm at a crossroads. In December, I left my modern shared apartment to move into a tiny one-bedroom in a house converted into 4 apartment units. The place seemed decent enough and so did the landlord. Shortly after I moved in, I noticed issues with the place: musty smell all throughout, nauseating pipes smell when turning on the hot water/washing machine, no ventilation in the entire tiny apartment leading to strong humidity & condensation, no heating or ventilation in the freezing bathroom leading to visible mold on the walls, no lightening in the hallway when you up/down the stairs (mentioned it to the LL, he only put a tiny sensor on my door, but I still can't see where I'm headed), overbearing LL asking me to put the bins out etc.. Not to mention, everything is electric, so the bill is getting expensive really quickly. The LL is decent enough, but when I told him I was thinking of moving out he said: "I guess the place didn't suit your needs after all". He's aware of the issues, but says they can't be fixed (e.g ventilation, heating in the bathroom etc..). He lives downstairs which is an additional issue. One tiny window for the whole place and you can't even open it fully.

The above has also translated into health symptoms such as constant exhaustion, chronic back pain which I never had before, depression, sudden foggy mind and lack of focus and an overall sense of being "dirty" all the time. 

I then searched and found a proper one bedroom apartment in my former neighborhood. Far larger than this old one and around the same price. The place has decent amenities (floor to ceiling windows, big living area/kitchen and bedroom, tons of storage & in a gated complex) and the lease is very flexible, plus 2 minutes away from my office.  The negative point is that I have a subway line at my door step, making a bit of noise. I signed the lease, but shortly after, I noticed the agency seemed a bit strange. After I signed my lease, I was told it's hard to get anything replaced. OK, fine. Then I got locked out at 6pm on Thursday and texted the agent to provide me with the maintenance number, she didn't respond to me until 9am the following morning when she was actually online when I texted her. I had managed to find an emergency maintenance number and I was told to wait until the following morning to get it sorted (sure, staying outside at night in the winter in the middle of a lockdown, great work). 

Now, I'm confused as to whether I should stay in the old apartment with a decent enough LL at the risk of killing my health even further or just move forward with the new place with what seems to be a terrible agency. 

Thanks!

Edited by RuedeRivoli
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You said you signed the lease.  Are you able to get out of it?  Both of these apartments sound horrible.  Why can't you look for something else? If you can get out of the lease, stay where you are, keeping looking and find a place you are more comfortable with.  

 

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2 hours ago, RuedeRivoli said:

Then I got locked out at 6pm on Thursday and texted the agent to provide me with the maintenance number, she didn't respond to me until 9am the following morning when she was actually online when I texted her. I had managed to find an emergency maintenance number and I was told to wait until the following morning to get it sorted (sure, staying outside at night in the winter in the middle of a lockdown, great work).

Actually, I think that's par for the course with apartments. The superintendent of my building is awesome, but he's not going to come out and let me into the building if I got locked out. That's just tough patooties for me. 

I either have to cough up some cash and hire a locksmith, or do what my idiot neighbor down the hall does, and hit everybody's doorbell until someone buzzes me in. 

Another option is to hide a key somewhere outside of the building, which I have also done.

As far as the agent is concerned, her responsibility is probably limited to sales and leases. She is most likely not involved with the day-to-day operation of the building, and probably doesn't want to add that to her daily responsibilities.

Yeah, she probably could have helped you, and it would have been nice if she did help you. But unfortunately she didn't--and it's possible that she didn't want to encourage you to rely on her for something that isn't her responsibility. 

Edited by Jibralta
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Hasn't been par for the course for me and I've only lived in apartments for 54 years.  Have not owned any of them. My mom has lived in my childhood apartment since I was born.  I lived in one apartment complex before getting married and have lived in my current building over 10 years.  Overall the staff cannot do enough for us.  And my mother is in her 80s now and the staff are mostly the grandkids of the original staff - she owns the apartment but they also can't do enough for her.  H

ere's the huge difference.  $$.  Yes, I paid for all of that excellent service (and in our building tipping is 100% forbidden -we've tried and they absolutely won't take a thing so we buy gifts for the staff/leasing office at holiday time).  I think it's worth the $ for peace of mind/safety/everything being fixed ASAP. 

During covid for example we've had:  malfunctioning dryer that caused some moistness in one part of the ceiling; fridge that wasn't working properly; thermostat malfunctioned; clogged bathtub drains/lights out.  All taken care of within hours. With a smile, with surveys sent after to make sure we were happy with the service.  Sometimes especially in my old apartment in the other city it took longer/not as friendly, etc but one night I clogged up my toilet when I was pregnant and sick and alone - very embarrassing -and they took care of it with no issue, completely professional.  

So if you want to continue renting I'd save up and throw money at the problem and pick a building with awesome reviews, already vetted - I didn't have the benefit of the internet reviews when I first rented in the 1990s.  You do.  Both those apartments seem awful.  And yes mold and all of that stuff can cause health issues of course!  I realize totally not everyone can pay a higher rent. 

Edited to add on the lockout - no, I don't see that as our landlord's responsibility.  Between my husband and me we've lost our keys a handful of times.  Once I lost my access key to the building but had my house key on a weekend.  A neighbor let me in (be friends with your neighbors!!!).  Had I lost my house key I would have had to call a locksmith if my husband wasn't home -nowhere to leave an extra key but good point in having someone else have a key.  I would assume my landlord wouldn't be required to let me in -in my building they might and I could call emergency maintenance but it's not an expectation on my part.

Not everyone wants to -many desire home ownership (I thank my lucky stars we don't as we see our friends who own homes dealing with the covid-related backlog for repairs, new appliances etc). I get that renting is just ridiculous to some people (no equity, etc) but if you're going to rent then find a place with top notch service and security.  In my humble opinion it's worth every penny. 

Edited by Batya33
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I guess the key-service depends on where you live. For example, if I lived in Jersey City or Manhattan, I'd probably have a doorman to let me in. But we ain't got doormen out here.

Our maintenance is awesome, though.

Edited by Jibralta
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Just now, Jibralta said:

I guess it depends on where you live.

Yes. I first lived in an inner city type neighborhood the first 28 years (so it was good when my parents finally got an indoor garage spot), then in a better neighborhood for 15 but I had a doorman the whole time, 24 hours.  Now our neighborhood has experienced a crime surge but we have an indoor garage spot and card access only -no doorman but the leasing office people and the staff are around especially Mon-Sat.  Maintenance staff live here and they're watchful.  A few times people have tried to get into our garage/elevator bank and there have been some car breakins over the years.

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3 minutes ago, Batya33 said:

I had a doorman the whole time, 24 hours.

I actually just modified my post somewhat. In urban areas, building services have to be more complete. But if you have a more suburban area like mine, there's no market for them.

Edited by Jibralta
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Thanks all. 

I think the issue comes down to the agency itself with the new apartment. The apartment is located in a massive complex, with security access and a security guard. I lived in another large complex for four years and they had the possibility to let you in if need be. 

I was provided with an emergency number who said they couldn't help. Then the following day I rang the phone number I was provided for maintenance issues and nobody was picking up. I was redirected to a pre-recorded message saying that all staff works from home and I needed to send an email.

The new place doesn't have brand new appliances which increases the risk of failures. The agent told me brand new furniture would be provided, but upon moving in I discovered only the couch is brand new. The dinning table has holes & drawings all over it, the chairs are ripped, soiled and sealed with tape, the oven handle is broken, the bed base is completely soiled. They even left incredibly dirty pillows on the bed. The only thing new about this place is the couch, the floor and the paint. The rest needs a proper replacement which they said they wouldn't accommodate. They provided curtains for one room and not the other (not a big issue, but you get the drill).

I appreciate she didn't want to add to her responsibilities, but providing me with an emergency number to contact someone for this property management is within her remit. I didn't ask her to call a locksmith. The worst part of it all is that the following day, I was told to come & pick up a spare key at their office, so I commute all the way to other side of town to collect them (about a 50 minutes commute) and within 15 minutes of collecting the keys I received a call from the same maintenance guy who couldn't help the night before telling me he was in the building and wanted me to return the spare keys within 10 minutes (I hadn't even finished the commute back to the apartment). 

I have a month to month lease as I had a feeling this place wasn't going to work out, so I negotiated from fixed term to month to month. 

Truthfully, I think both places are awful and upon realizing the issues with the new apartment, I had to take my termination notice back from my "old" place which also put me in an awkward position towards the LL. He knows he place has issues as I've been very upfront about it, but it is what it is. 

Quite frankly, given the current lockdown, I'm probably going to stay put as this agency sounds like bad news if anything goes south. I'm not getting a good vibe from them or the apartment at all. I can't pin point why, but I'm getting a negative energy. I'll just terminate this new place and keep looking. 

 

Edited by RuedeRivoli
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3 hours ago, Jibralta said:

I actually just modified my post somewhat. In urban areas, building services have to be more complete. But if you have a more suburban area like mine, there's no market for them.

I do know of doorman buildings in suburban areas.  But yes not sure of course -you know better!!

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38 minutes ago, Batya33 said:

I do know of doorman buildings in suburban areas.

Not around here!!! And you can't get much swankier in terms of real estate in this state than this place.

Edited by Jibralta
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Are you inspecting these apartments before you rent them?

I am also currently searching for a rental and I've had a couple of shady "owners" try to rent me a place sight unseen.  Yeah, not happening.  I will do a thorough inspection so I will know exactly what I'll be paying for.

If there are other rentals available, maybe take a couple more weeks to find the right one.  And inspect them fully before signing anything or handing over any money.

Edited by boltnrun
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1 hour ago, boltnrun said:

Are you inspecting these apartments before you rent them?

I am also currently searching for a rental and I've had a couple of shady "owners" try to rent me a place sight unseen.  Yeah, not happening.  I will do a thorough inspection so I will know exactly what I'll be paying for.

If there are other rentals available, maybe take a couple more weeks to find the right one.  And inspect them fully before signing anything or handing over any money.

I normally do, but I have to say with the new place, I didn't inspect properly. I saw the clean floors & paint and thought it was OK, especially as the agent said they were awaiting on new furniture. I thought they were going to change everything, no just the couch. They really did the bare minimum. There was still dirt in the toilet when I moved in. 

As far as my "old" place goes, I did inspect and saw a few things I didn't like, but I went with it knowing I was going to move out after a while. I just needed to escape the bad roommate situation. I was a bit naive when I took this old place because I hadn't thought of condensation, ventilation etc..

The new place is quite big, but the bad furniture all throughout + the subway line noise every 10 minutes + the traffic lights noise all day & night coming through the bedroom windows even when closed + the noise from the neighbors (I can hear them talk, go to the bathroom, do their laundry etc..) and the bad agency, no thanks. The subway line noise is so loud that I can't even hear any show or music playing on my PC or even hear myself talk during calls even when the volume is at its max. During the day, it's fine, but at night, it's a disaster. The viewing was so short, I unfortunately didn't catch the subway noises, or that would have been a deal breaker. No wonder the rent was so low, it feels as though I'm living with my windows open all day even when closed. Soundproof is non-existent. At least, it's not an issue I have to deal with in the "old" place.

Edited by RuedeRivoli
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On 2/21/2021 at 8:08 PM, boltnrun said:

Are you inspecting these apartments before you rent them?

I am also currently searching for a rental and I've had a couple of shady "owners" try to rent me a place sight unseen.  Yeah, not happening.  I will do a thorough inspection so I will know exactly what I'll be paying for.

If there are other rentals available, maybe take a couple more weeks to find the right one.  And inspect them fully before signing anything or handing over any money.

Update:

I can't do it with the old apartment. I pull some clothes today, clothes I haven't worn since I moved in in January and which were perfectly intact prior to moving in. I found wholes in them! I'm pretty sure they were in perfect condition when I put them in the closet. 

This plus a sudden power outage which only affected my apartment last night (nothing to do with my appliances). 

On the other hand, I sent my termination for the new apartment today and the agent asked to speak to me. When I opened the call, I politely said: "Hi, how are you" - she was very abrupt and said "yeah yeah OK. So what happened?" And she started laughing. I asked her to allow me to think about it and revert back. 

I'm having severe issues with my current "old" rental which have been affected both my mood, health and overall well-being. I had a massive panic attack yesterday and have been having panic attacks since I moved into this place in January due to the lack of lighting (only a tiny window in the living area and a mini Velux in the bedroom). I started having dark thoughts, contemplating suicide etc.. which hasn't happened to me in close to 6 years. My previous apartment was airy and bright, those thoughts never crossed my mind ever. It already took me 6 months to find the new rental, I'll wind up with a severe depression if I stay in this place.

The new place is much better (floor to ceiling windows, view on a canal, south facing, bright living room/bedroom and far bigger). The main issue is the weird agency & the broken furniture. I don't mind changing the furniture myself though.

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On 2/21/2021 at 5:56 AM, RuedeRivoli said:

the lease is very flexible, plus 2 minutes away from my office.

This would be my answer. If the lease is flexible, take it for a short time to learn whether you just got off to a bad start.

Any repairs aren't likely as difficult as with your current landlord who sympathizes but just says they can't be fixed. Really?

There is no way that I'd remain in a moldy place.

 

Edited by catfeeder
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The situation with the old apartment is getting from bad to worse. I think the LL is truly ratty. 

I sent him my termination on the same day that my standing order for rent was due to be executed. As it was a standing order with a fixed amount, I forgot to amend it to adjust it to the number of days I'd be staying in March. Therefore, the full month of March was paid inadvertently. 

I then sent him an email asking him to refund the surplus, he's not responding at all. He went completely silent, when he was pretty responsive before (responsive but does nothing). That money is mine and I gave a notice according to the lease + legislation. He's got not right over that surplus. I swear, dealing with a private LL can sometimes be a nightmare. 

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That sucks. But you do have some recourse. Give him a week or two and if he doesn't reply, contact him again. If he still doesn't reply after another week or two, take the effer to court. I had to do it two years ago. It was a good learning experience, if nothing else.

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9 minutes ago, Jibralta said:

That sucks. But you do have some recourse. Give him a week or two and if he doesn't reply, contact him again. If he still doesn't reply after another week or two, take the effer to court. I had to do it two years ago. It was a good learning experience, if nothing else.

Indeed. I'm giving him some time. 

I'll send another chaser in a week if I don't hear back. 

This makes me think I can already say goodbye to my deposit. If he can't return €200, what makes me think he's going to return a €1,400 deposit?

I can appreciate that losing a tenant is difficult, especially during these times, but perhaps he should have thought of it twice before telling me he can't fix any of my issues. Or better yet, he could just face the fact that business is business. No point in taking it personal. 

Strangely, he always acted like the "cool" LL, but when it came to it, he proved to be the worst. I've had better dealings with agencies to be honest. 

He lives downstairs, so I know where he lives. He can't hide forever. 

Edited by RuedeRivoli
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On 2/21/2021 at 2:56 AM, RuedeRivoli said:

 

What I would do if I were you:

Don't go back to your old apartment.  Mold most likely caused your adverse physical symptoms.

Stay in your new apartment despite some drawbacks or until you find a new apartment. 

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15 hours ago, RuedeRivoli said:

. If he can't return €200, what makes me think he's going to return a €1,400 deposit?

Hiring an attorney to sue him (with skim chances of winning) will cost a lot more than that.

Focus on the new place and make sure you carefully read the fine print in the lease.

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50 minutes ago, Wiseman2 said:

Hiring an attorney to sue him (with skim chances of winning) will cost a lot more than that.

Focus on the new place and make sure you carefully read the fine print in the lease.

I can go to small claims court, no attorney required. 

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2 hours ago, RuedeRivoli said:

I can go to small claims court, no attorney required. 

I sued someone in small claims court - do you have the time to do the paperwork, to go to court and sit there and wait.... and wait - miss work, etc? Come back if he doesn't show or there's some other scheduling issue particularly with covid backups?

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I did as well. The other side had a lawyer and knew how to drag things out. I had to miss some work, but I was able to make up the hours. Eventually, they settled out of court with me for the full amount--just shy of what RuedeRivoli would be suing for. I still feel a nice sense of satisfaction about that success.

Edited by Jibralta
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