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      08-06-2018, 05:59 PM   #1
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Unpleasant Renting Experience

Well I figured with the size of the forums here and the plethora of wisdom I've received on the M3 forum, there's bound to be some help for this situation as well. Here goes...

Cliff Notes:
Multiple big issues at apartment that heavily disrupt our living situation with no ultimate resolution other than "that's just the way it is." Hoping to find suggestions from others that have dealt with a similar problem and find out what can be done. Break lease? Have them pay to move us to another unit/different complex of theirs/or wherever we want to go within reason by cutting up our contract? What are our possibilities?

Story:
I sold my home a little bit back, and with the market going nuts and worthwhile inventory tough to come by, we decided to rent for a little bit with the intention of either building or buying come mid 2020 - early 2021. The original plan was to find a house still close to the lake, but we ultimately decided to pull the YOLO card and try "city life" to check a box on the bucket list. After searching for a while, we settled on a very large national rental corporation's apartment/townhouse type gig in north Atlanta with an attached garage, end unit, high ceilings, new appliances, etc. It really is the perfect setup for this time in our lives and have intended to stay here until it was time to replace rent with mortgage.

During our walk-through there were a few items that we made note of, but one that really caught my eye was obvious water damage to the ceiling of the garage being a full-blooded car guy. We asked questions with no real explanation as to why and assured us that it would be taken care of before we moved in late April of this year. Move in day came, and the ceiling still had missing and stained plaster. Now with everything that is life, I ultimately forgot about it and continued on. My M3 stays in the garage as a secondary car that I will bring out maybe once a week. I decided to take it out to work about a month into our lease with me coming home to plaster and drywall bits all over the garage floor from a collapse of the ceiling due to another obvious water leak. Thank God I actually took the car to work that day. The town home has an interesting layout in that there is a terrace level which is sandwiched between our garage and the living space. My "neighbor" has a bedroom directly above my garage and the leak originates from her unit. Leading up to this the A/C goes out in our apartment as well.

After two weeks of constant bitching (and leaving my car outside instead of in the garage which was a huge selling point for me), they finally "repair" the ceiling. It looks like absolute hell and is obvious that the bare minimum amount of time was spent on the fix.

Fast forward another month after this "fix", we decide to take the M3 to dinner and I get hit in the top of the head with water from the same damn spot. We call maintenance about the same issue (the A/C went out AGAIN during this period). Technician comes in the next morning and we talk things over. I'm left with that this problem is "normal" and that he "repairs ceilings like this on the same floor plan throughout the complex constantly." I ask what my expectations should be to which he responds "I will be in here to repair your ceiling throughout your lease." I'm floored. I'm seeing red. I immediately call corporate to give them the news and my ceiling is "repaired" in the next couple days in a much more professional, yet obvious there is still an issue, way.

I go down to the garage after work today to get a couple tools to fix a piece of furniture and there is a small puddle on the stairs and concrete floor with a drip coming from the same spot at the frequency of about a drop/minute. The ceiling as visibly separated itself from the framework and is on the verge of letting go. Let's go ahead and note that our A/C went out for two days since the last maintenance visit while we're on the subject. I call up corporate and calmly let them know that I am pissed and that this is unacceptable. With us being in this town home for only three full months + a couple weeks, we are averaging 2+ MAJOR failures a month with the technician informing us that the problem cannot be fixed and is "normal."

I'm about to lose my mind. I don't want to be here. I'm stuck in a lease through next summer. How do I approach this situation? I've got documented instances with the corporate office for over a month now with further maintenance requests at our local facility since we've lived here. Hell, my girlfriend said she found an online review from a previous resident (of an unknown unit) that complains how the ceiling in her garage fell on her car while she was there, too!

Obviously this issue throws a massive bend in our two year plan because the only other time I want to move is when we finish building our new house. But we can't continue to live in a situation that requires big repairs averaging TWICE A MONTH. Nor do I even know what ground I have to stand on to dispute our lease contract. I've never been in this type of situation before, but from what I can tell going through our lease, it protects the company, not us *surprise*.

Desperate and frustrated are understatements. I work pretty long hours at the office and find myself bringing it home often. I don't have time to play this game of ping-pong.

Thoughts?

-Tyler
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      08-06-2018, 06:18 PM   #2
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Don't take this as legal advice I have no personal experience.

Is getting it fixed yourself and withholding that amount from rent legal? They can sue you for unpaid rent and probably ding your credit. But if they take you to court you might get that judgement in your favor.

Again not saying the above will work, but perhaps along the same lines, buying a portable A/C then withholding that amount from rent plus a reasonable amount for additional electricity.

Also make sure to document all of your phone calls and try to make notices in writing so that you can later show how many times you've notified them, how long it took to fix the issue and how many times it has happened.
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      08-06-2018, 06:27 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdott View Post
Don't take this as legal advice I have no personal experience.

Is getting it fixed yourself and withholding that amount from rent legal? They can sue you for unpaid rent and probably ding your credit. But if they take you to court you might get that judgement in your favor.

Again not saying the above will work, but perhaps along the same lines, buying a portable A/C then withholding that amount from rent plus a reasonable amount for additional electricity.

Also make sure to document all of your phone calls and try to make notices in writing so that you can later show how many times you've notified them, how long it took to fix the issue and how many times it has happened.
I have to rely on the complex or another party that is affiliated with the complex to manage the repairs needed since the origin of the leak is from a neighbor. I have tried to speak with that tenant and hopefully get a peek at what is causing the problem, but I am turned away each time. She will not open her door to strangers.

I have kept all paper documents as well as the online portal used to generate work requests as time stamps of each problem. I have my phone records from when I contacted or attempted to contact through my cell phone, but I have unfortunately lost the records from my attempts from my desk phone since we just recently changed to a new system and provider.
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      08-06-2018, 06:33 PM   #4
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      08-06-2018, 06:40 PM   #5
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I would try telling them you want to get out the lease early without penalty, including refunding your security deposit as a result of their failure to properly maintain the property. You can try to get them to pay your moving costs but I suspect you will be lucky to get them to agree to terminate the lease without a lawyer, which then gets messy and more expensive than paying a mover. Situation sucks. Sorry to hear. Walk away from any other rental with signs of water damage.
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      08-06-2018, 06:45 PM   #6
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There's obviously a flaw in the design or construction of that complex. I'm sure "corporate" realizes that and they have determined that it's cheaper to pay the HVAC and drywall guys to come out every few months. Give it a few more months and AC season will be over and you'll be free of the problem for the fall and winter.

If I was in your position, I'd rip the damaged plaster out and hang a 5 gallon bucket up there. The drain on the AC unit is probably backing up, or the pump is going out/insufficient. It sounds like the leak is predictable and always in the same spot. Just hang that bucket and call it a day. Empty the bucket once a week in the summer and save your M3 from any damage.

Run your lease out and GTFO of there!
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      08-06-2018, 06:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MGM135is View Post


Short of doing the ENTIRE ceiling and surrounding walls, I don't think it will work. The current leak is presenting itself just outside of the previous repair.

In this picture I took when I got home today you can see the separation and a bulge from the water collecting outside of the previously repaired area as well as a drop getting ready to let loose from that area.
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      08-06-2018, 06:56 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by RickFLM4 View Post
I would try telling them you want to get out the lease early without penalty, including refunding your security deposit as a result of their failure to properly maintain the property. You can try to get them to pay your moving costs but I suspect you will be lucky to get them to agree to terminate the lease without a lawyer, which then gets messy and more expensive than paying a mover. Situation sucks. Sorry to hear. Walk away from any other rental with signs of water damage.
My exact thoughts. The only reason I would get a lawyer involved is just out of pride and hopes that corporate has to deal with an annoying day. Sure, I'll probably get what I want, but at a nonsense cost.

My best case scenario that I see unfolding out of this is an early lease termination at no cost to me aside from the PITA of moving (and movers) and starting the process over again at another location. Wishful thinking that they foot the bill on movers, but let's see what we can get out of it

Quote:
Originally Posted by DETRoadster View Post
There's obviously a flaw in the design or construction of that complex. I'm sure "corporate" realizes that and they have determined that it's cheaper to pay the HVAC and drywall guys to come out every few months. Give it a few more months and AC season will be over and you'll be free of the problem for the fall and winter.

If I was in your position, I'd rip the damaged plaster out and hang a 5 gallon bucket up there. The drain on the AC unit is probably backing up, or the pump is going out/insufficient. It sounds like the leak is predictable and always in the same spot. Just hang that bucket and call it a day. Empty the bucket once a week in the summer and save your M3 from any damage.

Run your lease out and GTFO of there!
What gets me is that the maintenance guy that did the repairs says that he has to do this on all of the units with this floor plan and that there's no way to fix it. Not just my unit, but ALL.

I'm getting to the point that I'm about ready to start ripping down the ceiling to find out what's going on myself, but I see this being delicate already. Tread with a soft (and wet) foot.
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      08-06-2018, 07:00 PM   #9
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Call a city building inspector and have the cite the owner?
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      08-06-2018, 07:24 PM   #10
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Call a city building inspector and have the cite the owner?
Excellent idea. I hadn't considered this.

I just went to our city's code enforcement web page and found this as the second item under their FAQ:

"Who do I contact about repairs that need to be made in my apartment?

Apartment repair requests should be directed to the owner or manager of the property first. Then, if the repairs are not completed within a reasonable period of time, contact Code Enforcement at code@xyz123.gov."
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      08-06-2018, 07:47 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spazzyfry123 View Post
Excellent idea. I hadn't considered this.

I just went to our city's code enforcement web page and found this as the second item under their FAQ:

"Who do I contact about repairs that need to be made in my apartment?

Apartment repair requests should be directed to the owner or manager of the property first. Then, if the repairs are not completed within a reasonable period of time, contact Code Enforcement at code@xyz123.gov."
Sounds like a good path to a solution. Could be a breach of lease as well because they have to provide you with certain living conditions, right? I'm not sure but it would seem that way.
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      08-06-2018, 08:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spazzyfry123 View Post
Excellent idea. I hadn't considered this.

I just went to our city's code enforcement web page and found this as the second item under their FAQ:

"Who do I contact about repairs that need to be made in my apartment?

Apartment repair requests should be directed to the owner or manager of the property first. Then, if the repairs are not completed within a reasonable period of time, contact Code Enforcement at code@xyz123.gov."
I might try to get them to terminate the lease first. If you go down this path, they will probably say they repaired everything and show repair records, you will say they didn't repair it properly, and so forth... with the government in between. You might get to the end of the lease before it is resolved. If they won't terminate the lease, then sure this is probably a good step to consider.
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      08-07-2018, 06:33 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by RickFLM4 View Post
I might try to get them to terminate the lease first. If you go down this path, they will probably say they repaired everything and show repair records, you will say they didn't repair it properly, and so forth... with the government in between. You might get to the end of the lease before it is resolved. If they won't terminate the lease, then sure this is probably a good step to consider.
Sound advice. Anticipating the phone call this morning from corporate with their offer of resolution. We'll see where it goes.
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      08-07-2018, 10:08 AM   #14
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Email corporate with links to "The Super"
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      08-07-2018, 10:35 AM   #15
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Good luck, but rentals and landlords always turn to suck, even in the best of circumstances. First try to work it out with corporate, but from the standpoint that you know they are in the wrong, and should be working to make it right with you - if you knew what they knew, you would not have rented that unit. Don't mention lawyers or code violations specifically or as a threat until you are absolutely positive that they are not budging and not willing to do a/t for you. They are certainly in a position to refund you, and/or to force the neighbor to allow repairs for a real permanent correction. Especially w/ big corporate entities, once you 'go legal' they are obligated to bring in their attorneys, and you have a huge honking snafu (as others noted, you may still be shuffling motions when your lease ends). In the meantime, I'd explore two things: first, can you legally get the super on tape saying how he fixes the whole place routinely (gotta be a 'one-person-consent' state, don't record illegally). Second, what are your options to start a class action suit, joining with the other tenants. You personally bringing legal action probably won't ruffle their feathers much, but if a class action is an option, it could get real problematic for them (I but they used that builder for a few different complexes too).
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      08-07-2018, 11:20 AM   #16
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So I was going through my hard copy of the lease initially and evidently am missing THE page I need.

I was just going through my electronic copy and found this:

Quote:
31. RESPONSIBILITIES OF OWNER.
We'll act with customary diligence to:
(1) keep common areas reasonably clean, subject to paragraph 25
(Condition of the Premises and Alterations);
(2) maintain fixtures, furniture, hot water, heating and A/C
equipment;
(3) comply with applicable federal, state, and local laws
regarding safety, sanitation, and fair housing; and
(4) make all reasonable repairs, subject to your obligation to pay for
damages for which you are liable.

If we violate any of the above, you may terminate your tenancy and
exercise other remedies under state statute only as follows:


(a) you must make a written request for repair or remedy of the
condition, and all rent must be current at the time;
(b) after receiving the request, we have a reasonable time to repair,
considering the nature of the problem and the reasonable availability
of materials, labor, and utilities;
(c) if we haven't diligently tried to repair within a reasonable time, you
must then give us written notice of intent to terminate your tenancy
unless the repair is made within 7 days;
(d) if repair hasn't been made within 7 days, you may terminate your
tenancy and exercise other statutory remedies. Security deposits and
prorated rent will be refunded as required by law;
(e) you may terminate your tenancy under this provision only if
the repair or condition is so material and substantial as to render the
apartment unfit for habitation; and

(f) you must move out of the apartment on or before the termination
date specified in your notice.
In my eyes, I've got a winning case and don't even have to go down Threatening Lane. This case was originally opened with corporate on 5/8 with it still outstanding on 8/7 regardless of the maintenance team marking it closed.
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      08-07-2018, 11:44 AM   #17
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I don't think (e) is helpful. Have you moved out into a hotel room or different apartment (see (f))? They probably reset the 7 day clock in (c) each time someone shows up to make a repair. If they get pushed, I suspect they might say their records indicate each time a problem was reported, they addressed it within 7 days and you are still living in the apartment, so...

As it sounds like you plan to do, I think you should have a professional / constructive discussion without threats.
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      08-07-2018, 11:49 AM   #18
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I think you should talk to a lawyer if the owner won't fix shit.
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      08-07-2018, 12:01 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickFLM4 View Post
I don't think (e) is helpful. Have you moved out into a hotel room or different apartment (see (f))? They probably reset the 7 day clock in (c) each time someone shows up to make a repair. If they get pushed, I suspect they might say their records indicate each time a problem was reported, they addressed it within 7 days and you are still living in the apartment, so...

As it sounds like you plan to do, I think you should have a professional / constructive discussion without threats.
The way I am approaching (e) is that technically the garage is intended for my car. Because of the issues, my car has had to reside outside due to its condition inhabitable by my car.

And you are correct on the time stamps. The time stamps within the online portal's log have been marked as "complete" generally within a day, possibly two, of the request first being opened. Their indication of "complete" is in actuality the time of their response. The first time the ceiling collapsed back in May, it took them over two weeks to complete the repair. Yet, the documentation within their log states they performed it in a day despite the reasoning for it to take them that long is to "wait for it to dry" even though they were able to perform the most recent repairs within two days.

The one that I keep focusing on is (d). The repair has not been made. There have been multiple attempts within plenty of time to fix the situation. They have all been band-aid repairs with verbal notice from the technician stating that it "cannot be fixed" and that these same perpetual repairs are consistent throughout the community. Here we are with the third leak since May, and I am fully expecting to see the ceiling on my garage floor with how badly it was separating this morning.
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      08-07-2018, 01:13 PM   #20
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It's a rental and you're going to be gone by the time you know it. By the time you fight someone and get anything out of it, it'll be time to go. Also, you noticed it but still decided to go with the rental and now regret something about it (classic case).

I dunno, I'm a simple guy that doesn't like to make a big deal out of things, especially when I know they're temporary.

I'd immediately try to create my own livable workaround (flexseal, routing the water to exit somewhere else, tarp, paying a handyman a few hundred to create a workaround etc.) It's the garage for goodnesssakes, not your living room.

At the same time I would try to calmly talk to the landlord or rental company and negotiate a transfer to another unit, or a breach of lease without penalty. They deal with this kind of stuff all--the--time.

Other than that, I wouldn't even try fighting it. Even though it's bothering you a lot today, it most likely won't bother you the same amount 6 months from now when there's a foot of snow outside and your garage is freezing. You'll move on to worrying about other things and you'll be out of there before you even know it.

Just how I function, I fight the battles I can and simply move on when I can't.
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      08-07-2018, 01:30 PM   #21
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Annoying. As some have said I would figure out the problem by bashing the ceiling apart little by little, figure out a draining route, let it flow, move out when you are done, and Arrivederci!!!
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      08-07-2018, 02:17 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spazzyfry123 View Post
The way I am approaching (e) is that technically the garage is intended for my car. Because of the issues, my car has had to reside outside due to its condition inhabitable by my car.

And you are correct on the time stamps. The time stamps within the online portal's log have been marked as "complete" generally within a day, possibly two, of the request first being opened. Their indication of "complete" is in actuality the time of their response. The first time the ceiling collapsed back in May, it took them over two weeks to complete the repair. Yet, the documentation within their log states they performed it in a day despite the reasoning for it to take them that long is to "wait for it to dry" even though they were able to perform the most recent repairs within two days.

The one that I keep focusing on is (d). The repair has not been made. There have been multiple attempts within plenty of time to fix the situation. They have all been band-aid repairs with verbal notice from the technician stating that it "cannot be fixed" and that these same perpetual repairs are consistent throughout the community. Here we are with the third leak since May, and I am fully expecting to see the ceiling on my garage floor with how badly it was separating this morning.

(d) if repair hasn't been made within 7 days, you may terminate your
tenancy and exercise other statutory remedies. Security deposits and
prorated rent will be refunded as required by law;
(e) you may terminate your tenancy under this provision only if
the repair or condition is so material and substantial as to render the
apartment unfit for habitation; and



So E doesnot help you as mentioned before. as much as we love our cars here, your car is not a person. The clause is for living space, and your garage is not living space.
I had a similar issue in my townhouse. The air handler is in the second story of my townhouse, the evap/condenser line goes down a level thru the garage roof and exits outside the garage. when the line gets clogged, the water from the air handler cannot exit and is supposed to back up to a shut off switch and turn the AC off. Mine never hit that switch, therefore the water dripped down the line and leaked and ripped thru my garage roof, about 5ft x 5ft patch. i had to have the angle of the line changes so that it would hit the shutoff switch, i had the line wrapped so condensation wouldnt form and the garage roof repaired.

is there accessibility from the garage directly into your unit? you can tell the owners that you think that because of the water seepage to the garage roof, you are worried about the air quality and BLACK MOLD thats probably in the air since they arent taking care of the problem at hand and there is water dripping in to a confined space. It truly could be a problem. When they have these issues they must have a specialist measure the air quality and if they have mold in the air they must treat it. IIRC if they go to sell the property in the future they have to disclose that the property has black mold.

tell them that recently you go in the garage you start sneezing.

This will get their shit in order to either fix it or to let you out of your lease w/o penalty. Keep hammering at this point because this is your uninhabitable clause.

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