My husband and I have been in our current apartment building for 11 years. It is a three flat, and we started in the garden apartment, which is the newer apartment having been built in the 1960s when the building was moved to its present location. We didn’t have many issues in that apartment except the time our bedroom flooded in one corner.
The Laundry List of Problems with Our Current Apartment
Eight years ago, before our son was born, we moved up to the top floor into a two bedroom apartment. I don’t know how old the building is, but it is clear that some things have never been replaced. The wooden windows are rotting; the handles are actually pulling out of the rotting wood. There are serious cracks in the walls, probably because the building was moved in the 1960s. The wood floors have large gouges, and in our study, one nail in the wood floor stands up out of the floor at least 3/4s of an inch. No amount of pounding can get it back in the floor. We have all had the unfortunate experience of accidentally stepping on it.
Even more troubling, the electric is screwy. When I plugged the iron into the bathroom plug in, the fan in the ceiling mysteriously started running. Sometimes lights flick on and off for no reason. Our doorbells have not worked for years. The landlords did fix the bathroom plug in this summer, and they finally fixed the doorbells, but this is such an old house, it needs a complete electrical overhaul to be safe.
The Disintegration of Our Relationship with Our Landlords
While we have a good relationship with our landlords, that relationship has soured recently. Four years ago they suffered job loss, and it has taken them awhile to recover financially. I was understanding during that time and kept my repair requests to the minimum. Meanwhile, they have lowered their screening process for tenants. In the last four years, the two bedroom apartment below us was rented to a middle aged alcoholic man who came home in the middle of the night drunk and ranting; he was unable to make rent payments for nearly a year before he left. Then, they rented to a lawyer who lost her job within a few months of moving in and also fell behind on rent. She was four months behind in rent when she moved out. Now the apartment has been empty for three months.
During our 11 years at the apartment, we have never missed or been late with a rent payment. Because our landlords have not kept up with basic upkeep of the building, things are starting to break. Recently the area under our kitchen sink flooded. I discovered the problem was the spray head, so the landlords sent over a relative to fix the problem. He did fix the sprayer, but the next night the flooding under the sink was worse. He fixed one thing and apparently broke another. He came back a few days later, tightened some pipes, and said it was fixed. Four days later, when I was doing dishes, water started running out of the area under the sink and onto the floor. The flooding was worse than ever. Three days later the landlords themselves showed up and spent 30 minutes trying to fix it, which they couldn’t. They settled instead for propping up the pipe as the picture shows. You know who hasn’t brought in? A plumber! Instead, their relative is supposed to come back to fix it.
Our parking spot has developed large potholes; I let it go at first, but now they are huge. I have been asking them since the spring to fix the space. Do you know what I am told? They can’t afford to fix it because the previous tenant didn’t pay her rent for four months. Meanwhile, every time someone moves out of that apartment, they spend time and money updating it to get in a new tenant. Because we have been here so long, they only do something to our apartment when they have to, such as when the tile fell out of the shower wall and the wall behind was rotted. Even then they attempted to reglue it before fixing it a few months later when the original tile and another two fell off. Now they can’t even be bothered to do basic repairs. Recently, I became more firm about the need to repair our parking space. When the snow comes, parking will be very difficult with such a large gouge. Once again I was told they simply don’t have the money. So, we pay our rent month in and month out, and we are punished because others don’t do the same?
I am a patient person, and I understand about financial difficulties. However, as a landlord, you are required to make basic repairs. I am fed up and want to move. We looked at a three bedroom apartment the other day, and it was renting for just $290 more than our current crappy apartment, and it has been well-maintained. Even better, based on our credit score, the landlord was willing to negotiate to lower the rent even further.
In my impulsive nature, I was ready to sign on the spot. My husband, as usual, had to reign in my impulsivity. We are in gazelle intense mode paying down our credit card debt. A move is really not in our best financial interest right now. We have laid out a plan that when the credit card debt is all paid off and we have saved $3000 for a move ($2000 for a deposit and $1000 for the actual move), we will move. We are aiming for late spring.
I accept much, though not all, of our credit card debt as a financial necessity while we lived on our very small income earlier this year before I started bringing in any money. However, now that we are trying to get rid of it, the debt feels more and more like a heavy yoke. If there was no credit card debt, we could move right now. While it is hard to wait to move, I know that waiting is the right decision. There is no point to being gazelle intense and paying off the debt quickly if we don’t also change our behaviors.
Would you keep living here, living like no one else so later you can live like no one else, or would you, too, be interested in moving ASAP?