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This is not an optimistic post. I am not feeling optimistic. I am feeling very defeated and very stressed. And a little sad.
April was a hard fail.
Let’s rewind. Picture it, Thursday, March 23, 2017. I returned home from work (late as usual) to find my building’s maintenance guy and another man standing in the hall outside my apartment with a wet/dry vac. That is never a good thing. Ever. A pipe broke on the floor above me and my unit had significant water damaged. Parts of the ceiling had collapsed, and I couldn’t turn on any lights. This was only the beginning.
The building gave a temporary unit where I could stay until the damage was “fixed” (you’ll understand the parentheses in a minute). I had already planned to spend the weekend at my mother’s and would be leaving straight from work the next day. I was too tired to figure out sleeping arrangements in the empty temp unit so I stayed with the fella.
The following day was payday (yay!) and out of complete habit, I paid my next month’s rent without even thinking about the fact that my ceiling was all over my floor. First mistake. I went to my mom’s for the weekend and would occasionally remember the disaster awaiting my return and then get really sad.
Small rabbit trail: A little history
Growing up, we weren’t “well off”. After my parents got divorced I lived with my mom. She went from being a full-time SAHM to working 50+ hours a week. My dad made decent money, but he didn’t feel that he was obligated to make sure his children had everything they needed, like, running water.
There was a long stretch of time where we actually didn’t have running water. Leading up to that time, we had many a pipe break and many a mini flood in our house. After my mom and I moved to a rental property we didn’t fair that much better. First, the roof leaked (and collapsed in places), then a few pipes froze and subsequently broke. Basically, plumbing has not been a friend for a great many years.
Now, I am an adult, living on my own and paying my own rent. I have deliberately chosen to pay higher rent to live in company managed properties for the express purpose of not having to handle the shady dealings and mismanagement of privately owned and poorly maintained housing. It stresses me out, and I can’t handle it.
And yet, here we are again.
I got back to Chicago on Monday morning. I had a couple hours between my train getting in and my clock in time at work, so I went to my apartment to check out the damage in the full light of day.
Over the weekend they had come in and swept up most of the mess. For this, they used my broom (they actually did this twice, and I know I’m being petty, but it really ticks me off). I pulled some things together to take to the temp unit and took pictures of the damage. I went to work expecting that at some point over that day or the next I would get a call from my building manager giving me some sort of timeline for when the repairs would be complete. This call never came.
That following Wednesday, the 29th, they started repairs. Let me say this again. On the 29th, a full 6 days after the incident they started repairs! I’m not going to get into the details of what they did or didn’t do during these repairs, let me just say, it was not a thorough job. I initially didn’t care. My lease is up the end of may, I just had to live there another few weeks, so what if there was still visible water damage.
The following Friday I called the manager to see if I could get a date for when I could move back to my unit. She informed me the painters were finished already and I could go back whenever I wanted. I gave it a day to air the paint smell out and moved back on April 2nd. Over the course of the week, I noticed that the smell didn’t seem to be fading and the following Sunday (April 9th) I discovered why.
M-O-L-D. A whole lot of smelly, disgusting black mold.
I took pictures and spent the next couple of days trying to contact the building manager to tell her. I finally spoke to her on Wednesday and she said they would put in an urgent request to have that ”treated“*.
*I’m fairly certain “treated” just meant painted.
The following Monday (April 17th, for those keeping track) nothing had been done. I did some digging online to try and find some options. I found a tenants rights website that had a page all about what to do if you have mold in your rental unit. It gave me a sample letter to write giving 14 days to correct the issue(s) or I could legally terminate my lease (and not have to pay my last months rent). I sent the letter out that day, with the deadline of May 1st.
On April 26th is when they came to “treat” the mold. They completed all the repairs I asked for on the 28th. I was almost ready to pay my last months rent when only 2 days later, I noticed that some of the new paint was already starting to yellow, and bubble, and peel. The mold is coming back.
I’ve been advised (by friends, not professionals) to inform them I’ll be out by the first and I’m not paying. It seems fair. What could have all been properly repaired in the 10 days I was in the temp unit has been a nearly constant stress for over a month. But, when you’ve spent years living in fear of your landlord you become programmed to believe that you are powerless. They have the control, and you can fall in line or bear the consequences. In this case, I fear that not paying my last months rent will result in back rent and collections on my credit report. I’m still not sure what to do. I’ll keep you posted.
During this, I’ve also been trying to sort out the details of moving. Moving on its own is stressful. My packing is nearly complete, and while I still don’t have a new apartment in mind, I do have a game plan. I’ll be staying with my mom for the month of June. This will allow me to focus on paying off some bills and let me look for a new place with a little more leisure. I plan on moving into a new place in July.
In other news
I had an entire April update post (that would have explained a lot of this) written and edited. All I had to do was add a picture and it would have been good to go. However, in the cluster-fudge-nut-bar that April was I completely forgot about it! I actually thought I had posted it. It wasn’t until I began working on this post (intending it to be a follow-up) that I realized I hadn’t. And so, it sits in my drafts waiting to be deleted because at this point posting it would be ridiculous.
None of my April goals have been achieved. None of my April goals were even started. I bought a new book, and I am very excited to read it. I did also make a conscious effort to be more active. Although, I did not walk, jog, or run 2-3 times a week as I had planned. Blogging was not done, obviously.
With the majority of my packing done and with a fairly clear idea of how I will manage my move, I’m ever so slightly hopeful that May will be better. But, I’m not feeling very optimistic.