Sunday, August 1, 2010

A well-meaning friend asked via Facebook why on earth we moved here. When the lease was signed a few weeks prior, Cathy (I was misspelling it with a K) promised the inside-stuff would be taken care of prior to move-in and the yard within weeks. We were supposed to move in February 1st and paid for the month in full. Staying at the other place was $175 per day after the vacate-day. Understandable. They start advertising right away, and not vacating puts them behind and they can't deliver to new renters.

Well, we didn't move in the 1st, didn't get a walk-through either. Her fucking chain-smoking-in-the-house brother-in-law hadn't moved out! But she kept calling Cody's mom asking why we weren't moved in. Um, because it wasn't vacant, Bitch. Finally, on the 6th, six days late being out of our other place, we waits outside and waited for David to pack up his shit and get the hell out. That was the first time we say the "finished" inside.

I've had idiots ask here why we didn't refuse to move in. Who was going to pay for us to move somewhere else? We had paid to move here. We didn't have money to move somewhere else. We were stuck.

That first night it ended up freezing, and we found out the wall heater works for shit. I wanted to cry. It was so cold I literally had to fight to keep myself from crying. It was too cold to really sleep, and Cody worked that next day, so Charlotte and I went with him because the car has a heater and I couldn't stand how cold it was in the house and was worried Charlotte would get sick. We decide to grin and bear it and maybe things would get better, though that night did make me wonder if I'd be able to put up with a full winter here next year.

Well, I called a few times to get things fixed, like the toilet in one of the bathrooms (the one with holes in the wall) being loose from the floor, and Cathy had the gall to chew me out and tell me WE needed to take care of these things ourself. That was fixed, but it took convincing to get it done. It took a couple months to get a fan put in above the indoor grill, and it ended up being one too inadequate for the grill to be safe to use. When we tried calling about getting a new door knob put in (Cody's mom and step-dad were going to pay a professional to do it, but because it would have required a structure-change to the door due to the type and age of the existing nob latch location [who knows why the hell all the internal components were removed]), despite multiple calls, they never called us back, so we didn't have it done. That would have risked them claiming damage. I suspect they were hoping we'd do it anyway so they could both claim damage as well as have a new, functioning latch.

The first time they touched the yard was a few days after I got out of the hospital, so May 7th, and that was only because someone complained to the city. Yes, the yard looks a lot better now than it did, and those pictures I posted are the "cleaner" yard. We didn't realize before moving in that, legally, a clean yard is required of the landlord before having tenants move in. After getting the yard "clean" enough to stop the complaints, they never came back, though they told us they would be back soon to get the stuff out of there. That obviously didn't happen.

By the end of May, we decided we'd give it until the end of the lease, with is December 31st, ask for a 2-year lease renewal, and THEN press for what we had found out were our rights. We had a feeling then that if we did before the lease was renewed, that Cathy would retaliate. We really didn't want to move again. We wanted to make it work. We had Charlotte's room repainted and the wood on the walls stained a nice, even color, were planning to put in an irrigation system for the avocado trees, were even going to talk to Cathy when we paid July's rent about replacing the carpet on our own dime (that bitch messed up but *telling* me on June 26th that they were going to replace the carpet out of our deposit because "it looks old now" - well, ya think? it''s 35-fucking-years-old, it IS old, and it looks its age!).

Well, Cathy's lies to me that nearly got us in criminal trouble regarding stray cats was the final straw. If that shit is fun and games to her, we're going to play hardball. It was then that we decided we'd break our lease if she didn't straighten up. And sure enough, she retaliated, and then was stupid enough to give us proof. In writing. And then to give us more ammo by writing a 24-hour notice (the first she's ever done, despite multiple requests) for us to be out every single day this week from 9am until 5pm to take some mesh over a hole in one of the walls where mice have been coming in, switch out a dryer vent, and replace a piece of glass. For that, she wants us out a full 40 hours. She she also gave us proof of her unreasonableness.

She wants to deprive us of at least a week of the house (I say "at least" because the notice said a new notice would be served "weekly"), and, combined with the notice of non-renewal, it's a clear case of malicious retaliation. She's trying to get us to move out, and even wrote in her notice that we can move early. So she's depriving us of use of our home for a full week so far, and will continue doing so, and gave us permission to move. Easy conclusion.

So, to re-cap, inside repairs were promised before move-in, and we didn't get to do a walk-through because Cathy's brother-in-law wasn't gone, and the yard was supposed to be done within weeks of us moving in, but wasn't.

Yet the only thing that stresses me is waiting to hear about this house we really want in another city. If we don't get it, we know we have more time, but there will likely be the added stress of her trying to evict because we're not going to pay August's rent. We will not pay for time we don't get to use the house. However the law explicitly protects renters who withhold rent for purposes of housing violations needing repair. Under the circumstances, any attempt at eviction would only be seen as more proof of retaliation. We'd have to go to court sooner than we plan, but we would win. Regardless, at this point we will be suing her. The law, as written, clearly gives each plaintiff (me, Cody, and Charlotte) the right to $2,000 per retaliation attempt, in addition to other damages, and a rent abatement for property we paid for and didn't get to use. There's also no way she'll willingly give our deposit back.

Despite a bit of obvious stress, I'm actually pretty happy. If we can get that other house, it'll be $400 a month less in rent for a beautiful, clean place with hardwood floors, a yard that is currently being landscaped, a landlord who's been a landlord for 25 years, and we wouldn't have the damned freeway going through our backyard. From the living room, at the front of the house, I can look through the windows and see big rigs and cars zooming by. It's about 20 yards from the kitchen/dining area windows. Yes, that close to the house. It's loud. I am actually pretty damned happy Cathy's pulling this crap. It would have been great if she had abided by her promises regarding the repairs and clean-up here, but oh well. I'll take the money we're, far more likely than not, going to be awarded, and a nice, beautiful house in a quiet area.

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