Things I have been Googling…
“How to transport chickens?”
“If I put holes in the box can they be transported in a box?”
“How to transport a lizard?”
“How to transport cranky fish?”
As you have probably guessed, we are moving. Our house is mostly in boxes, we pick up the moving truck tonight and we are on our way Thursday morning. R was smart and has this week off while I was not so smart and am working up until move day. Because I am crazy and like to stress myself out apparently.
Sigh. I am not a fan of moving.
Can I tell you about a really bad situation in hopes that you don’t ever fall into this trap? Be very careful about who you rent from and be very careful about documenting every little thing. Unfortunately there are some ugly people out there and they will take advantage of other people’s good hearts. Recently I witnessed this kind of ugliness firsthand and I am left stunned still by the situation R and I found ourselves in. Remember, I am a smart woman (And R is a smart guy) with a college degree and I work in the legal field. So, you can imagine how silly I feel and how embarrassed I am by how much someone took advantage of me.
We moved into our current home (soon to be old home, we shall call it the dump) about a year and a half ago. We had just bought Sophie (horse) and wanted to live somewhere we could have her on property. She was being boarded at a barn and we found we couldn’t make it out as often as we wanted. Our old trainer found an ad on FaceBook and sent it to us. It looked decent enough so we asked to go see the house. We showed up and our faces fell. It wasn’t a house at all but a double wide trailer and I am not a trailer fan. They fall apart and they don’t age well if not taken proper care of. But we did the tour and talked to the owner (and her boyfriend who was fixing it up) anyways.
We were super hesitant but put in our application anyways. The property was beautiful but it meant paying more rent than we were already paying (on my cute little house in the city that I loved) and it meant doing it for a double wide trailer vs the actual home we were living in at the time. So we applied but decided to think on it for awhile. That was when we got the phone call from the landlady, she told us lots of other people wanted it and they choose us specifically because we had great personalities, so we needed to either take it now or it would be disappearing. That push, that knee jerk reaction, it should have been our first warning that something wasn’t right. But we took the bait like idiots and then she asked us to leave our current rental without proper notice, which should have been the next red flag. Luckily our current rental was super nice and they really were sad I was leaving because I had been a great tenant.
Move in day, there were several other red flags, we discovered that the porch was still rotting and we got some vague promise of it being repaired before winter. Same with the windowsill in the bedroom and a few other issues. The landlady told us she wrote down all these issues on the move in checklist but never actually furnished a copy of the move in list and her printer was broken so she couldn’t provide a copy of the signed lease just yet. These also should have been red flags but we were stressed with moving and neither one of our heads were thinking straight. Luckily I was smart enough to document things.
Later on, when winter came and produced a ton of rain, we would discover that four of the windows leak enough to have to run around putting rolled up towels on each windowsill. The one in our bedroom leaks so bad that it produced a puddle that ran from the windowsill to the wall and created water to leak into the space between the wallpaper and paint. The idea of mold started creeping into my head as I let the landlady know and she informed me all trailers leaked. So I told her we needed awnings installed or new windows or the windowsills fixed themselves. She agreed to do it by the summer.
Soon after we discovered the roof leaking by the chimney that created an entire tile to become soaked so bad it started to sag. The chimney was not installed (by law it should have been installed by a professional and we discovered it was installed by her boyfriend) correctly and it leaks smoke back into our house. Ants, mice and spiders started taking over our house which was again blamed on living in the country and she never once offered to do pest control, which meant we found ourselves using our own money to spray for pests all the time. We discovered that previous tenants had installed satellite company after satellite company and there were holes all over from where they drilled lines into the house. Holes that were never filled or sealed up so they were just empty holes that air and bugs came in/out of. The boards continued to rot on the porch so bad that I almost fell threw several times in several places and the awning over the roof had such big holes that it continued to leak unto the already rotting porch. The hood above the stove didn’t work. The floor in the kitchen started discoloring from something going on with the dishwasher. A hole formed in the bathroom next to the cabinet from a rotting floor. Things got worse and worse. I kept talking to our landlady and nothing would get done. She would smile and tell me she would send her boyfriend over.
In the mean time she was living it up, she was getting her whole bedroom redone, buying new crap for her own home and having her boyfriend do all her home projects.
Then we moved Sophie on property. She told us she wouldn’t charge and then the minute we were there we were told she was raising our rent an extra $300 for the horse. Um what? The fences were falling apart and she didn’t provide but one pasture for her to be in. When Sophie got stuck so bad in her falling down fences that she cut herself open, I hit my boiling point and stopped paying the extra fee she had tacked on (without a written contract) until she fixed the fences properly for my horse. She never fixed the fences and I realized she wasn’t going to. So we started hunting for a new rental. High and low. Something else that was in better shape, had better landlords and that my horse wouldn’t be in danger of injuring herself at. We were paying so damn much a month on top of a electricity bill that was outrageous for a small double wide trailer. Things slipped further out of control as we realized that our landlady wasn’t interested in doing our repairs and that we had been living in a home that should have been condemned before it is ever allowed to be rented out again.
It used to be fairly reasonable to rent from places around our area but lately the prices have been shooting up. We are an hours drive from a major city that is super expensive and those people have been flocking to our area, driving up rent prices and creating rentals to get sparse. All while this was going on, R was struggling with his employer who was running him extremely hard, punishing him for taking time off for his son (which he had told him about before he started) and was messing with his checks which was dropping our income drastically. Things were getting tough and between the landlady constantly trying to get more money from us for a dilapidated dump and R’s boss messing with his pay, we were started to get very worried and losing our footing.
It came to me one night, I got it, I was being manipulated. She was never our friend. She had never intended on taking care of the home or keeping it up to code. I am not sure she was legally allowed to have the home on her property since it wasn’t zoned for rentals and her property information only listed one home on it (her own). When R was offered a great job and a home with it, we decided it was time to leave. It was time to pack up that house and to stop trying with her.
R is a decent man and he walked over to tell them verbally what was going on. He came home like a man who had been beaten. They had chewed into him, demanded money for some outrageous things they didn’t have proof of and treated him like a criminal. So I did the legal thing and wrote a letter, clearly outlining the issues with the home, what laws we fall under and why we made the decision to leave instead of the other two options we had (withhold rent or get the repairs done using one months rent). I got harassing texts and evil glares. At 6:45 a.m. while I was walking out to leave for work, she told me no one would be feeding my horse in the morning anymore (her boyfriend fed all the horses and offered to feed mine as well since he was already out and had been feeding Sophie for months), luckily I was late that day and able to feed her before I left but at that point I realized she was a nasty individual who was not going to stop. She sent a nasty letter back claiming her rental was perfect before we moved in and that we destroyed it (the same thing she had said about all the other residence that suddenly left in the middle of the night without notice). She has lied, manipulated and harassed us. Even threatening R over text and claiming she has a right to take our deposit (which she doesn’t). It has been a rough ride and it is only going to get rougher since the walk through is tomorrow.
But as of Thursday morning, we are done. We are out. We are on a new adventure!
I am left wary of trusting a landlord again and with a really hard lesson learned. I have nothing to be ashamed of because I paid my rent religiously and on time for over a year while I waited for her to make good on her promises of repairs. I have remained calm and collected the proper evidence. I have documented everything. I have written everything down. We are in the right here but still she is trying desperately to tell us how evil we are for leaving her high and dry without proper notice and a full months rent that she never earned because she breeched her own contract.
So I beg you, if you rent, be careful. Take pictures of everything when you move in and date them. Put all repairs in writing. Take care of yourself. If you see signs of a red flag, move. We should have moved a long time ago but we kept thinking she was our friend. She isn’t and wasn’t which was made clear when we decided to move.
Boxes, boxes everywhere but I can’t wait to leave. Sophie gets picked up tomorrow which is a huge relief for me and we will be on our way Thursday morning. Wish us luck!