We spent a year in Cadence Apartments in Ballard (formerly known as Lockhaven). Life is all about new experiences that teach us, and our experiences in that apartment complex certainly were educational.
Lesson One: Always do your research
This is one of those lessons, as a librarian, I shouldn’t have had to learn.
If we had done our research we would have known the history of the place, and we never would have moved in. Any company that kicks out long-term residents (we’re talking over thirty years), just so they could renovate and charge triple the rent, is a company with a wallet where the heart should be.
Too bad we didn’t find out that little tidbit until after we’d signed the lease.
Lesson Two: Wait until the apartment is move-in ready before you sign
We had already sold our house and needed a place to live, so we were in a bit of a hurry. Which explains why we signed the lease before we saw the finished product. The apartment we saw lacked finished floors, the bathroom was bare of the normal bathroom parts, and none of the appliances had been installed. But we were told only the best would be used in the renovations.
We weren’t concerned. We trusted that the complex owners would make sure the renovations were topnotch. They had their reputation to protect. Besides, why would they cut corners on their investment?
But when we moved in we found that someone had decided to keep the old tub as-is, which was so stained it was hard to tell what color it was supposed to be. I sighed a little as I realized I’d never feel comfortable soaking in that nasty tub. So a year of only showers it was. Lesson learned.
Lesson Three: Check everything!
It didn’t take long to learn the water was undrinkable. I don’t know if it was the pipes or something else, but it was the most disgusting water I’d ever spit out. I actually saw things floating in it. We had to invest in a water filter right away.
And then there were the floors. I could shower to minimize contact with the tub and filter the gunk out of my drinking water, but to get from one side of the apartment to the other, I had to cross the floor. And no matter how carefully I walked, no matter how much tip I put on my toes, every step sounded like I’d offended a mouse on steroids.
Who renovates an apartment building but doesn’t fix the squeaky floors? Isn’t that kinda basic, especially since it’s an easy fix? Find the squeak, nail down the loose board. All you really need are a few nails and a little time.
Lesson Four: Priorities
The number of things that happened that let me know the tenant’s welfare was not a number one concern continued to grow. My favorite example has to do with a broken lock.
Someone had jimmied open the outer door of my building, and broken the lock in the process. It no longer locked. I notified the manager and received the promise that it would be fixed immediately.
I saw the locksmith arrive the very next day–to change the lock on the office door. Then a team of specialists spent the next week updating the security system that protected the office.
The office, mind you. The lock on our building stayed broken. So much for living in a secured building.
It was more than a week before anyone got around to fixing that broken lock. It was painfully obvious that the safety of the tenants was not top priority.
Lesson learned. We, the residents, were not important.
Lesson Five: It’s all about the money
After our year lease was up we moved out. Even though I’d witnessed multiple examples of what I consider bad business practices, I was still surprised when, out of the $950 we plopped down to move in ($550 refundable), the manager, Ms. Greedy-pants, decided to only give us back a mere $150. Even though we left the apartment clean and didn’t do any damage.
I called to talk to her about it, and she claimed the part she kept was for administrative costs. Hmm.
Lesson Six: Push back
Even though the company as a whole has shown signs that the greed is part of the company-wide culture, I’m willing to give them a chance to prove me wrong. Maybe Ms. Greedy-pants is working alone.
I’ve contacted the main company and requested the return of the rest of my refundable deposit. I pointed out that according to state law, they are required to return the refundable deposit to us unless we damaged the apartment. Even their paperwork states that no damage was done.
We’ll see exactly how deep the greed goes.
And if I need to start really complaining.
I learned the lesson of the squeaky wheel a long time ago. It is one of my super powers that I keep hidden until the need is great.
So give me the money I’m owed, or the cape comes out of that little purple box in the attic.