Category Archives: home sweet home

let sleeping dragons lie Pt IV, rubble

So apparently my email to Linda hit a nerve. I wasn’t originally going to post her reply but… the more I read it, the more it needs to be shared. I think you’ll agree.

I went to bed around midnight last night, and I was done. Done with all of it.

The flicker of lightning woke me up around 3:30, and then I noticed my phone blinking a notification at me. It was an email. From Linda. Time-stamped 3:04 am. Well! That’s quite a time to be sending an email. Let’s see what it says. (Note: I have redacted some details to protect her family, as I don’t have evidence that they were involved in the illegal aspects of this shitshow.)

“You are correct.  I have no experience as a landlord nor have I as a tenant.  My intention for buying was to move in and share with family.  Several of my [family] live in Cincinnati and work at [places] nearby.  My [family] who lives [nearby] found the place.  We bought it very quickly without investigating. Since you had a lease, [family] was recovering from surgery, and my [family] and my place in [other state] hadn’t sold yet, I found that along with having the building,  I was to becoming a landlord by default.  And still did not have my own place in Cincinnati.  It was bad experience.  Thank you for taking the time to educate me.  I’ve learned I don’t want to be a landlord.”

Let’s unpack this gem, shall we?

First off: Who enters a legal contract with another person and goes, “huh, I know nothing about this, I’ll just wing it?” How… how dumb do you have to be?  I mean, the whole situation sounds like poorly thought-through and even more poorly executed mess, but really, winging a legal contract? Really?

Second: That’s a lot of excuses – a lot of excuses – I count five excuses and five irrelevant “life is hard” complaints masquerading as extenuating circumstances, correct me if I’m wrong – with not even an acknowledgement of any responsibility on her part whatsoever.

Third: No apology. Nothing even in the same galaxy as an apology. Not even a half-assed one. Not “Sorry you went through this,” or “Sorry this turned out the way it did.” Nothing.

I cannot even imagine the hubris it took to hit Send. Seriously though, you end up in legal jeopardy due to your own willful neglect, I decline to take you to court over it, you can’t even admit you had any responsibility in the matter, and don’t even attempt to apologize? Wow. I can’t quite decide if she’s too ashamed to let it go without attempting justification or too proud to admit she fucked up big. Could go either way, but judging by the snide and condescending tone, I’d bet on the latter.

But, the moral of the story stands. Don’t rent from Linda Wilson (Wilson Booth LLC). She’s already proven she’s a horrific landlord. She’s just built a pile of evidence against her as a person, as well.

Good riddance.

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let sleeping dragons lie Pt III, burn

Landlord‘s name is Linda Wilson. She is neglectful, uncommunicative, and unfit to be a landlord. Do not rent from her.

Right about when I had enough alcohol to calm me down Linda responded to my email last night, approaching midnight, destroying any chances I had of sleeping. It began:

“Dear Liz,

I assumed you decided to forego your deposit. [Yes, she actually typed that.]  I know you were working at cleaning but with the heat I thought you had given up. I took pictures which I will attach so you can see what all still needed to be done.  I hired someone to help.  She worked for over 15 hours at $20 an hour.  I paid her $300.  I will have a copy of the receipt made for you if you like.”

She then sent me a series of photos. The only actual cause against me were boxes left in the basement and some items on the porch, both of which I verbally cleared with her in the preceding weeks. Every other picture was of dust. Literally. Dusty windowsills, a cobweb in a corner.

She claimed “it was a big job” and offered me $150.

I could drag her into small claims court, dispute every charge she made against my deposit, and win almost all of them. And boy is that tempting, after all the shit she’s tried to pull. But the thought of dealing with her for that much longer… I couldn’t abide it. I accepted the offer, and I drafted an email laying out my case against her and why she is unfit to be a landlord. She dropped off the check this afternoon, and as soon as I deposited it, I sent the email.

—————

Linda,

Thank you for dropping off the check. Speaking as your now former tenant, I advise you to brush up on Ohio’s laws regarding the landlord-tenant relationship before leasing out the apartment again. I don’t know if you’ve ever been a landlord before but it’s painfully clear you don’t know what you’re doing. The only reason I haven’t taken you to small claims court is that I sincerely never want to deal with you again. But I could have, and was sorely tempted to. Here’s why.

According to statute in every state, the security deposit cannot be used to cover anything that is considered “normal wear and tear,” including dust. You had a legitimate case with the boxes. The bathroom would have been arguable. None of the other photos indicated any “damage” or excessive dirt that would have been considered neglectful on my part. These would not stand up in small claims court.

Relatedly, you seemed to think the boxes in the driveway were somehow something you could charge me for, on no grounds whatsoever. They were trash, as should have been patently obvious by the fact that they were sitting next to four full trash bins. They go out with those bins on the next trash day. There’s no legal basis to charge a tenant for something because you’re annoyed trash day happens after they turned in the keys.

Most importantly, I could take you to court solely on the basis of your email’s first line: “I assumed you decided to forego your deposit.” Again, I don’t know on what planet you think that’s legal or even reasonable. I gave you my forwarding address when I moved out, therefore within 30 days you had to either 1. return it to me or 2. provide me with an itemized list of why you were not. Those are your only options. You don’t get to decide to keep the deposit and not tell the tenant. That’s both incredibly slimy and ILLEGAL.

FURTHERMORE – and this is important – the only reason I’m forced to settle is because I contacted you yesterday, 7/26, instead of today, 7/27, which prompted you to send me your complaints. I have heard not a single word from you since I handed in my keys 30 days ago. Had I waited until Wednesday, the 30th day, you would legally owe me the entire deposit, plus interest, plus the prorated days, simply because you did not contact me. Read that again: Had I waited until Wednesday, the 30th day, you would legally owe me the entire deposit, plus interest, plus the prorated days, simply because you did not contact me. The only reason you get to keep ANY of my deposit is because I contacted you 24 hours too early.

I am kicking myself for that, but I am absolutely furious with you. You have failed to communicate with me at every stage. I thought you would have learned after you called me at the airport to yell at me for not being able to read your mind, but I was apparently mistaken. I wonder if you would have figured it out if you legally owed me the entire deposit because of your own neglect to contact me. You also seem to think you can charge a tenant because you’re annoyed at them, on no legal ground whatsoever. For your sake, I hope you get your act together before your next tenant has grounds to sue you. I am not optimistic. I am telling all my friends not to rent from you.

Good riddance.

Liz Remizowski

—————

Her name is Linda Wilson. Do not rent from her.

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let sleeping dragons lie Pt II, flashback

While we’re waiting for Landlord* to get her act together, I thought I’d share the airport incident referenced in Part I.

It was a Wednesday in early June. I had secured a place to live and was starting to pack. My neighbor was just about moved out from downstairs – we had been commiserating about the moving process for a few weeks. That morning, we met outside the apartment one last time. She said she had officially informed Landlord she was out, but Landlord told Neighbor to give me the keys and she’d pick them up. This seemed highly odd to me, and in retrospect should have been a red flag, but I took the key and wished her well. I sat it with my spare key on my bookshelf, figuring I’d be giving them back to Landlord all at the same time.

That afternoon, at 2:43, Landlord texts me.

Landlord: I am on my way over to get Neighbor’s key. Thanks
Me: (are you fucking serious? no notice? I’m literally on my way out the door to work.) I’ll be here another 5 mins, I have to leave for work
Landlord: Two minutes

I stood outside on the landing. Soon Landlord pulled in the driveway and I went down to hand her Neighbor’s key through her open passenger-side window. She gave me the most condescending smile I’ve ever seen and asked how the moving was going. I told her, “It’s going,” and when it became clear she had nothing else to say I turned around and got in my car. I was already angry with her at her unprofessionalism in handling this move and her condescension was not helping.

Meantime, I was also preparing to fly the next day to NY for a week to attend my cousin’s wedding and visit family. That night, I realized I would be gone for the only recyclable-pickup day left in June before I was scheduled to move out, so Thursday morning I shot Landlord a text:

Me: I’ll be out of state this afternoon returning 18 June- since Neighbor is gone, would it be possible for someone to put out the trash/recycle bins this Monday? Sorry about this, but it’s the last recycle day before I plan to move out
Landlord: Sure be glad to
Me: Thank you! I’ll let you know an official date as soon as I finalize with the movers
Landlord: [thumbs-up emoji, and another emoji my phone won’t process] (again with the unprofessionalism)

Good, got that taken care of. Now for my car. While Neighbor lived at our house, she had always parked in the narrow stone-walled driveway, and I in front of the house on the street. But since she had officially left I decided to park in the driveway while I was gone instead of paying for parking at the airport or leaving it on a side street.

I got a ride to CVG, got through TSA, and grabbed a table with an outlet in the food court. I finalized a date with the movers, then settled down with a podcast on my lappy and plenty of time to spare. After about half an hour, the phone rings. It’s not a number I recognize, but something tells me to answer. It’s Landlord.

Landlord: Hi, Liz?
Me: Yes?
Landlord: It’s Landlord.
Me: (I’ve got a bad feeling about this.) Hi, what’s up?
Landlord: Is that your car parked in the driveway?
Me: (oh no) Yes…
Landlord: Could you move it? I need access to the garage.
Me: (welp) Uh… I’m at the airport right now.
Landlord: (clearly not anticipating this answer) Oh…
Me: Yeah, I’m gonna be gone for a week. I told you that this morning.
Landlord: (getting angry) But you always park on the street!
Me: …because Neighbor parked in the driveway. That was our arrangement. Now that she’s gone, I parked there, since it is part of the property.
Landlord: (accusatory) You know I’m moving in downstairs, right?
Me: (don’t you dare with that tone) Sure, but you didn’t tell me when. I had no idea you were planning to move stuff in this week.
Landlord: I need access to the driveway for the moving truck!
Me: (and this is my problem, how?) You never said anything to me. We’ve spoken twice in the last 24 hours, I informed you I was going to be gone, you confirmed that you knew I’d be gone, and you never mentioned it. If you had told me, I could have moved it to a side street or to the airport. But you said nothing.
Landlord: (seeing this is her fault, grasping) Well… do you have a friend who has a key who can move it?
Me: No, I have the only key.
Landlord: (exasperated sigh) So you’re telling me I have to cancel the moving truck and rent storage space for my stuff for a week?
Me: (oh for fuck’s sake) I GUESS SO. I don’t know what you want me to tell you! You didn’t tell me you needed driveway access and now there’s nothing I can do. Maybe you should have communicated better.
Landlord: (at the end of her rope) I’m really frustrated!
Me: (at the end of MY rope) Yeah? Well frankly SO AM I. You call me up at the airport to yell at me for not reading your mind. You knew I was leaving for a week and you said nothing.
Landlord: I have to cancel the moving truck.
Me: (yep, you do) Again, I don’t know what you want me to do about it. You never mentioned it to me.
Landlord: Alright well… goodbye.

Un. Believable.

I was somewhat concerned she would try to move my car, since she obviously doesn’t think anything even halfway through. But she didn’t, either because she realized it would be several kinds of illegal or gave up because it would be too difficult. I thought this episode would teach her to communicate better, but as we can see from yesterday’s post, it did not. I did take some satisfaction (schadenfreude, admittedly) when she later informed me she couldn’t open the garage door anyway, because when RPM’s guys tried to fix it under the previous owner, they jammed it shut. There’s no way to open the garage door without destroying it.

*Oh yes, I’m releasing her full name in the next post. As soon as the check clears.

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let sleeping dragons lie Pt I

If we’ve met, you know it takes quite a bit to anger me. I am very understanding and pretty tolerant. Mistakes happen; rectify it and we’re good. However, every once in a while, someone or something crosses the line and rouses the dragon.

This is one of those times.

Relevant backstory: Landlord* bought our old house last year. I had hopes she would be a better landlord than Pete, but I soon discovered my hopes were ill-founded. Suddenly in late May, she decided to evict my neighbor and me so she and her husband could move in. We had until June 30. Profoundly annoying, but legal. (This saga deserves a entire series of its own posts. However, in the interest of brevity, this is the story in a nutshell.) Over the course of that month she declined to grant me a moving extension, then angrily called me while I was waiting for a flight at the airport berating me for leaving my car in the driveway while I was gone, because she needed access to the driveway but didn’t tell me because apparently I was supposed to read her mind. (This will be its very own post one day, oh yes it will.) When I returned from my trip she took a tour of the place to see what condition it was in and what repairs she’d have to make since she never walked through before she bought it, offered me an undefined extension four days before the movers came, informed me she eventually wanted to rent out my apartment to someone else, and bought my spare furniture from me so she could rent out the apartment furnished. But she didn’t think of this beforehand – she kept half my furniture but not me. And every time I spoke with her she was entirely condescending.

I moved out of my old place June 27. Handed Landlord my keys, gave her my forwarding address, didn’t swear at her, and drove off. I haven’t heard anything from her since.

I texted her this afternoon (the most reliable way of getting a response) asking if she sent out the security deposit yet. Three hours later, she replied: “I had to hire professional cleaners for 15 hours at $20 per hour. There were also some damages”

Furious. I am furious. It was clean, there was no damage, and WHO THE FUCK THINKS IT’S OKAY OR LEGAL TO EAT A TENANT’S SECURITY DEPOSIT WITHOUT TELLING THEM?

Fuming, I texted her back asking what exactly were the damages. Then I called her and (surprise!) left a voicemail. Then I looked up Ohio state code. AND GUESS WHAT! According to code, she had 30 days to give me written notification and an itemized list if she was keeping any part of it. So I sent her an email both linking and quoting the code:

“(B) … Any deduction from the security deposit shall be itemized and identified by the landlord in a written notice delivered to the tenant together with the amount due, within thirty days after termination of the rental agreement and delivery of possession. The tenant shall provide the landlord in writing with a forwarding address or new address to which the written notice and amount due from the landlord may be sent…

(C) If the landlord fails to comply with division (B) of this section, the tenant may recover the property and money due him, together with damages in an amount equal to the amount wrongfully withheld, and reasonable attorneys fees.”

and followed it up with:

“Since tomorrow is the 30th day since I turned in my key, and I have not received written notification of any kind since I moved out, including itemization with proof of damages in any form, as of tomorrow you are in violation of state law. If this is not rectified and I have not received my security deposit back by this Friday (July 29, 2016) I will contact the appropriate authorities.”

I then texted her, telling her to check that email account. I got no response. I don’t expect one.

Though she legally owes me my deposit by tomorrow, I will give her until Friday so to avoid legal issues, since clearly the law is on my side. Even if she were asked, she cannot prove any of the “damages” were caused by me (which they were not), and I am sure the old Property Management Company still has records on file from when I moved in four years ago. And even if I had all that against me, she has already abdicated her legal claim to my security deposit since she has provided me with absolutely no written communication whatsoever since I moved out 30 days ago.

I have been warned it will be an uphill battle to get my money back. To which I say: this is a battle I will not lose. This is illegal. She has been nothing but miserable, condescending, and uncommunicative to me. I have put up with her shit for that long, but this is a step too far. This is illegal.

You woke the dragon; I will raze your village.

Stay tuned for further developments. I am not optimistic but I am prepared for war.

*I am assigning her the moniker of “Landlord” for the time being in the interests of not being a jerk (even though I’d be completely justified). If this does not reach a peaceful resolution, I will give you her full name.

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lack of communication Pt II

Today was laundry day. Sort lights and darks, grab some quarters, head down to the basement and… the hot water tank is leaking.

Not like there’s a small puddle that may or may not be condensation, but a 4″ wide stream that is visibly flowing into the storm drain. Probably at about the rate you’d see when you leave the faucet on while you’re brushing your teeth.

Good. So I throw my first load in the washer (because I only use cold water to wash clothes, shouldn’t affect anything) and head back upstairs to submit an online maintenance request to RPM. Marked it high priority. Because obviously.

So after I get off the phone with them regarding my account, shortly before 10am, I get a call:

Me: Hello?
Him: Hi, this is (unintelligible) from (unintelligible again) Plumbing, got a message about a hot water tank?
Me: Ah, yes, thank you! (that was quick!)
Him: Yeah, I’ll be there in about a half hour/45 minutes to take a look.
Me: That will be great, just give me a call when you get here so I can let you in, the doorbell doesn’t work.
Him: Sounds good. And it may be from a different number than this one, just so you know.
Me: That’s fine I’ll pick up. Thanks!

So I wait. I move my first load of laundry into the dryer, but I don’t start the second one yet because I figure he’s going to have to turn off the water to check it out. Or something. And he should be here soon, so it can wait.

11am comes and goes. I don’t hear anything from anyone. Around 1130 I start the second load, because at this point, whatever. If I have to interrupt the cycle, so be it.

Noon. Still haven’t heard anything. Move laundry into dryer. I need a shower… but I know as soon as I step in he’ll call. So I wait. And I start channeling my inner Gladys Kravitz, checking to see if every car door I hear is the plumbing guy. It never is.

2pm, enough is enough. I call back the number he originally called me from. I don’t even know the guy’s name. A female with a relatively high voice picks up:

Her: Hello?
Me: Hi, I’m Liz Remizowski, I called earlier about a leaking water tank, someone said they’d come out to  look at it, but nobody’s been here yet, I was just wondering if I could get an update.
Her: Uh…. hold on. (Muffled phone, yells to whoever it is. Yelling in the background, probably children? Is this the guy’s home phone?)
Guy: Hello?
Me: (repeat what I said above)
Guy: Yeah, I was already there.
Me: (…) Oh, okay. So… what’s happening?
Guy: It needs to be replaced. I submitted an estimate.
Me: Okay, what’s the timeframe on that?
Guy: Whenever the owner gets back to me on that estimate.
Me: (Christ almighty) Heh, yeah, good luck with that. Alright, thank you.

There are several things about this that really irked me. One: he never called. Not before, not after. Even after he said he would. All the maintenance guys I’ve dealt with call twice: once for “I’m on the way,” and again for “Hey I’m here.” Both as a courtesy to let me know they’re in the house and to keep me updated, since I’m the one in contact with them about what’s going on. This guy bypassed both the courtesy of letting me guard my front door and of keeping me informed – either while he was there or when he was done. You’d think I’d like to know the status of the only hot water tank in the apartment, since I live here.

The second thing: He has to wait for Pete to approve it. Knowing Pete, the basement might flood while we’re waiting. May have to resort to sponge baths.

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all the possible expletives

First, let me introduce you to the major players in this story. There’s my landlord – we’ll call him Pete because that’s his first name. (Heads up: You know it’s about to hit the fan when I’m not using monikers like “Landlord” and I’m actually using real names.) There’s the property management company, Real Property Management Midwest (RPM), who are sometimes nice and efficient and sometimes just bloody awful. And there’s me (you know me, we’ve met).

I’ve lived in this apartment for two years. I’ve never met Pete – I think he lives in Boston. He uses RPM to handle things. Sometimes this works fine (getting the exterminator to take care of carpenter ants). Sometimes it takes two months to get someone to fix my leaking roof. RPM tells me they often have trouble getting in touch with Pete to authorize maintenance and repairs. Pete has been wanting to sell this place for a while, but won’t bother to do some major fixes on the place that would warrant his asking price, then wonders why nobody will even put an offer on it. I got his email address from the realtor (who also has issues contacting him).

Several times the City of Cincinnati has taped a note to our building stating that the water bill was due last month, and if it’s not paid the water will be shut off. The very first time this happened, I contacted RPM immediately – they informed me that it was not their responsibility to pay the water bill, but Pete’s, and they would contact him. I did this each of the 3 or 4 times (!) it’s happened. The water’s never been shut off – until July 1 this year.

AND SO…

July 1, I wake up to find the water’s off. No hot, cold, muddy, nothing. Just air. So I contact RPM and they put me on hold. Something nagging in the back of my mind tells me I should contact the Greater Cincinnati Water Works instead, given all those past notifications. I call them. I ask the woman why the water’s off – is there maintenance in the area, or did the landlord not pay the bill? She informed me that there was an outstanding bill from April to the tune of $383, so they shut off service. APRIL! I am afraid the poor woman on the other end heard me say some choice words about Pete. I then asked what my options were. She gave me one: the outstanding balance had to be paid before 3pm to get the water turned back on that day. And it would not be turned back on until it did. So I paid the bill on my credit card, because what choice did I have, and got a copy of the bill emailed to me. I then let my neighbor know what was up, told her the water would be back on that afternoon, and emailed Pete:

“Pete,

This morning our water was turned off for an outstanding bill from APRIL. I just paid the outstanding amount of $383.35 plus $4.69 processing to get it turned back on this afternoon. As soon as I get the email receipt, I will forward it to you. I will expect a refund or a credit to my rent.

There is an upcoming bill for $370.47 due July 16, Thought I’d mention it.

I’m sure I don’t need to say how irresponsible this is of you, and how livid I am. Not to mention paying money that I don’t have for something that’s your responsibility.

Please see to it this doesn’t happen again.”

JULY 7 (July 7! Six days later!!) he finally responded:

“Hi Liz,

I called them as soon as I saw this & paid July.  This won’t happen again.  It may be easier for me to send you a check for April, rather than you reducing your rent payment (I think RPM may struggle with that scenario).  Please confirm you have not already sent a reduced rent check & I will send a check tonight.

Thanks,
Pete”

I responded with a single line: “Thank you. I paid rent in full for this month, so a check would be fine.” I didn’t see how he was in any position to question RPM’s bookkeeping and processing abilities given the current situation. I waited for a check for two weeks. I emailed him again on July 23:

“Pete,

As of today I have not received any check. Should I be expecting one before 8/1, or should I arrange reduced rent payment with RPM for August?”

Six days later (today), no reply. Seeing as rent is due in three days, I called RPM this morning. Here’s how that went:

RPM rep: Hi, how can I help you?
Me: Yeah, hi, I live at [address]. I paid our water bill last month, and the landlord was supposed to cut me a check for that amount, but he hasn’t yet. I’m calling to get my rent reduced by that amount, as per Ohio law.
RPM: Okay, let me get your name and address. … Okay, that would be Pete as your landlord?
Me: Yes.
RPM: Okay, we’ll contact him, (me thinking: good luck with that) and get it authorized, because it has to come out of his account.
Me: I already paid the bill.
RPM: Sure, but it takes 30 days to close the account, then cut you the check…
Me: What closing the account?
RPM: Closing the account and squaring everything away so we can cut you the check from the balance.
Me: WHAT CLOSING THE ACCOUNT? NOBODY’S MOVING. I JUST NEED MY RENT CREDITED.
RPM: Wait, what is your address again? … OH I was looking at a different file! I’m so sorry!
Me: … [fuming]…
RPM: So okay I have your account open now. Yeah, we’ll contact him and cut you a check…
Me: Wait wait wait hold up. I don’t need you to cut me a check. This was an outstanding bill from April that I ALREADY PAID to get the water turned back on. I need this month’s rent to be reduced by that amount. (is this really that difficult to understand?)
RPM: OH! Okay… um…
(literally 20 seconds of silence)
Me: Would it be easier if I just came in to your office with the water bill this afternoon?
RPM: Yes, that would work fine I think…
Me: Okay. Thank you. [end call]

Deep breaths. Deeep breaths.

So I went in this afternoon. I presented the lady at the desk with the water bill. I explained to her that I paid the overdue portion of the bill and he paid the rest for July. And could I please have what I paid credited to my rent for this month, because that’s Ohio law. So she went back to talk to her supervisor. After ten minutes she came back and said, yes, we’ll contact Pete and see if he’s okay with that arrangement.

At this point I was about to lose it. Apparently it IS that difficult to understand.

“No, see, I paid this water bill from APRIL. Our water got turned off because he. never. paid. it. I paid the overdue amount in full, on July 1, to get the water turned back on. He said he would cut me a check for the amount I paid. He never did. I’m coming to YOU now because BY OHIO LAW, my rent now gets reduced by that amount.”

“Ah! I’m sorry. I get it. Okay. One second.”

Goes to talk to the supervisor again.

“Okay, sorry about that. My supervisor will take care of this. She’s going to contact GCWW to confirm that you did pay the bill, and you will hear from her no later than tomorrow evening letting you know what’s going on. And in the meantime, here’s the email for our support staff, for when stuff like this comes up again, just contact them.”

Good. Glad after two years I finally know how to contact the people who get paid to deal with this shit. I also know that I need to use words of one syllable, because otherwise nobody gets it. Then I had her print off a copy of my original lease agreement for me. In the event I need to reference it again. Which I will. No doubt.

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