Tuesday, November 01, 2005

As One Door Closes, Another Opens

Encouraging words for the downtrodden and recently disappointed.

Or the god-damned fucking literal truth in my apartment building. It is a three-flat building owned and managed by a company that owns/manages other rentals in our neighborhood. There is an office manager who works full-time and a crew of maintenance workers. Given this set-up, it is reasonable to expect that our concerns should receive attention pretty quickly.

Last Thursday night one of the hinges on the basement door broke – we called the landlord immediately and left a message. The door has sucked for quite a while: It often takes effort to lock and the frame and door are just so old and worn around the edges that it doesn’t even pretend to make a tight seal. A few sharp kicks probably would break the lock or frame. Hanging by only one hinge made it much, much more of a pain in the ass and probably would require only one strong kick to cave it in. Our basement is clogged with bikes and bike tools.

The landlord neither fixed it nor called us on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. On Monday, I came home from work at 10:00PM in the rain, carried my bike down the wet stairs leading to the basement door and saw a perplexing site. The door was blue. This was obvious even through the seizure-inducing flickering of my bike headlight. A pretty, bright computer screen blue colored the basement door, the frame and even a sloppy outline on the wall of the building. I turned my light from strobe to continuous to figure out the locking mechanism. Stupidly, I stared at the shelf bracket that was bolted to the blue door and the blue door frame as my mind tried to wrap itself around the situation and figure out how to access my basement. Finally it dawned on me that I wasn’t going to access the basement, because the door was simply bolted closed. There was no knob, no lock – just an el bracket bolting it closed. Grrrrr.......

The Bianchi spent the night in my kitchen as I stewed about the basement door. I planned on doing laundry, but I was locked away from the washing machine & dryer. The blue of the door and frame perplexed me deeply. Painting is cosmetic and not necessary – certainly not necessary immediately. However the workers apparently wasted precious time painting the fucking door/frame, but didn’t have time to attach a knob and locking mechanism. What a bunch of dipshits. This is the same idiotic behavior as when my mom fusses over arranging a centerpiece when the house is a pit and guests will arrive shortly. I say: Important business first, decorations can wait.

Our back door, leading onto our porch/fire escape only locks from the inside, with a bathroom stall type of sliding lock. We have requested a keyed lock several times, but the landlord ignores the request. It isn’t a huge deal, but it is an everyday annoyance. It will be especially annoying for the next six months, because the breezeway to travel from the front to the back of the house turns into a big puddle whenever it rains. The downspout drains directly onto the concrete of the breezeway and follows the slope to the perpetually clogged drain under the gate. There isn’t even the possibility of launching oneself over the puddle, because you have to stand in the deepest part to open the latch on the gate. Soon the permapuddle will freeze into a solid sheet of ice in winter, so at least my feet won’t get wet. Joy.

It is easier to carry things down the wide, open back porch stairs than the tight, winding, low-ceiling interior stairway. So I went out the back, Paul locked the door behind me and then went out the front. He told me that he didn’t think the door to my apartment locked, even though he tried it several times. I went to investigate and discovered that he was correct. Even with a key, the door to my apartment will not lock.

Tallying it up, I have a front door that won’t lock from the inside or outside, a back door that only locks/unlocks from the inside and a smurf-blue basement door that is securely bolted shut to smugly hold our bikes hostage and keep us from washing our clothes.

In true fashion, the landlord didn’t answer my telephone call and so far hasn’t returned my message. G-damnit. In addition, I spent several hours this weekend wrestling all of the storm windows shut in our apartment, because the jag-off workers painted them open or shut. Windows should not require tools, especially hammers wielded while I perched atop the sink, to close. My landlord sucks and makes me angry. And I just paid rent, too.

6 Comments:

At 12:27 PM, Blogger hereNT said...

Up until I read the last line I had some advice for you, but now my only advice would be to stop payment on the check until everything is fixed.

If they already cashed it, you're kind of SOL.

You could maybe hire a locksmith and someone to work on the basement hinges and then hold back whatever that costs out of next months rent...

 
At 1:35 PM, Blogger Sascha said...

rent escrow baby. That's what you need to look up. Talk to a lawyer ;)

 
At 8:14 PM, Blogger Frick said...

You obviously know the no-nos of not paying rent, regardless of how shitty the landlord is. Rent eescrow? Sounds interesting.

Maybe the next time you call them, you should mention the fact that they are liable for theft of your possessions if they are negligent in replacing the lock. It would suck for them to have to replace that $5000 carbon fiber road bike you just bought.......

Also, if they are dicks about it, you could demand a refund of the services (ie. a basement and onsite laundry) that you paid for (rent) and did not recieve. Again, you can't just deduct it out of the rent, but threats of small claims court can usually grease up most slum lords.

 
At 9:48 PM, Blogger Sascha said...

That's pretty much what rent escrow is. You pay rent to an escrow account and the landlord doesn't get it until you guys work out the problem. This shows you're not just a deadbeat and also that you're serious about letting the world know that the landlord is a total fuckup. I'm pretty sure they catch hell from the city when things like this happen.

There are all kinds of renters resources around. Shouldn't be tough to find something. Also, despite the irony, I wasn't entirely joking when I suggested talking to a lawyer who specializes in crud like this. They exist (I've heard).

 
At 2:10 PM, Blogger Megan said...

Check out http://www.tenant.org/

and also the locks section here:

http://www.tenant.net/Other_Areas/Illinois/mto/english.html

I work for a tenants organization here in Texas, and while laws vary from state to state, the legislation here includes very specific mandates on the kinds of interior and exterior locks for doors.

 
At 2:28 PM, Blogger Megan said...

OK, as long as I'm on a Google kick, here's some more links:

http://www.tenantunion.uiuc.edu/hb20.html

http://www.chicityclerk.com/legislation/codes/chapter5_12.pdf

 

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