Monday, May 06, 2013

Ask and ye shall (sometimes) receive

My worst rental experiences came from two places in Austin in the late-1990s.

The first of these was a bit outwardly crappy to begin with. But I did NOT know about the literally hundreds of lizards that would gather at night around the outside lamp (making trying to turn my key in the door after dark a horrific experience); and one time some repairmen came in...and one took a major explosive dump in my toilet --- I came home to shit splattered everywhere: on top of the seat, below the seat. (I called the office to complain about the shit-mess; they somehow laughed it off, and I somehow did, too. I was around 30 then; I just DARE this to happen again 15 years later, I'm still so disgusted at both the workers' splatter and at my then-passive response to it.)

And I got ridiculous monetary grief at the end: Trying to deduct from my deposit even the mowing of the lawn, which my brother had just done for me a week before moving out; then not sending back my deposit after the legal 30 days: When I complained and complained about the delay, the manager actually snarkily said to me, "Fine, if a measly $100 is so important to you!" (Me: It is, it is! You guys are a corporation! Give me my measly $100 within 30 days!)

The place right after this: Drama to begin with -- the landlady said she'd have the key waiting for me on a certain day, and then didn't. When I called her boss, to inquire about how I could get the key... He called me back: "I don't know that you're right for our community if you're complaining this quickly." (!!) I was only there for 9 months; near the end, I'd been having trouble with a loud downstairs neighbor and gave the landlady a list of times/dates that the guy had been extremely loud, asking if she could talk to him... A couple of days later, I got a notice that my rent was going up by $200. (No acknowledgment at all of the noise problem with the neighbor.) I gave notice; they, too, failed to send my deposit back within the legally required 30 days. I had to call and call and call....

These two kind of solidified my idea that I was helpless when it came to landlords/companies. Without always needing to be. For instance, I rented a house in Austin from 2000 to 2007, this time owned by an individual. It was 850 square feet, but only had 2 small window AC units, one of which barely worked. With my past experience, I didn't say anything until year 5 of my living there, when I finally ventured: "Could I possibly, maybe, please, get a third window unit in the bedroom? I sweat so much all the time in the summer!" To my surprise, the nice owner replied: "Let's just get central air. It's time." ME: "OK!" (It was installed within a week; all those years of suffering and sweating for no reason!)

Same kind of mental thing happened in the one-room apartment that I've been renting for almost 3 years now: The showerhead has sucked. The tub faucet flows just fine, but upon switching to the shower, the flow is WAY low... Adds 5 minutes to my shower-time, just waiting to get all the suds out of my hair and off my body and out of the ends of the tub... It has not been fun showering for 3 years! For the hell of it, not expecting anything, I decided to turn in a repair request, albeit thinking I'd, yet again, be labeled a mere "complainer" and that nothing would be done. Au contraire! This management company came out the next day and replaced the shower-head --- I'll test officially tomorrow morning, but as of tonight, the flow came out just SUPER!

What a shocker: My making reasonable requests isn't being labeled as "difficult" or "complaining" -- it's just fixed! I'm pretty sure this realization has implications for other, non-plumbing, areas of my life.

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