Thursday, July 06, 2006

'That Never Even Happened in the Projects'

I wrote the following letter immediately after my bathroom ceiling collapsed on the afternoon of July Fourth. It brims with righteous, asinine fury, and I never sent it to my property management company. Instead I contacted my sister, a property manager in another city who guided me through a professional, detached way of listing problems with my apartment, demands I had the right to make, and next steps to suggest. That letter was way less fun than the one you are about to read, and will not be published on this blog.

My sister was present for the actual ceiling collapse. Her boyfriend grew up in the projects in Brooklyn, and when she told him about the situation, he sucked his teeth and said "Damn. That never even happened in the PJs, man."

I can't move out, as our building is in the process of converting to condos -- for me to move out now would cause me to forfeit a sizable buyout fee, or a sizable discount on a much better apartment in my soon-to-be renovated building. I'm digging in my heels, but they're getting pret-ty slippery.

Here's the letter, after the photo.

hole-in-the-ceiling

To whom it may concern,

I live in Apt. XXXX, XXXX Apartments, located at XXXX St., NW, Washington, DC. On the afternoon of July 4th, 2006, my bathroom ceiling came crashing into my tub and toilet, rendering the bathroom totally unusable. We all know that lead paint has been used in the building for some time, and my apartment is now a hazardous area. Additionally, mold and mildew spores are circulating in the place, and it smells absolutely unholy.

I would like to be moved into another apartment in XXXX, free of charge, with no increase in rent for the duration of my stay in the building. I do not consider a basement apartment an option.

This, in my estimation, is the crescendo in a symphony of negligence XXXX management has been performing in my apartment for quite some time. Please review the following examples:

1) The duct tape that was used to hold the rotten rubber seal on the bottom of my refrigerator finally gave way while I was on vacation during the week of June 14th. This allowed the thin stream of cockroaches that regularly runs from the drain in my sink to trickle up into my refrigerator door in my absence. When I returned home, I opened the fridge to find cockroaches staging what appeared to be an extreme sports competition among my condiments. Once the door opened, they all scrabbled away into the interior of my refrigerator door.

When I requested that the broken fridge be replaced promptly, it was – with a refrigerator that was also broken, cooling my perishables no more effectively than a cardboard box of the same size. Eventually that refrigerator was replaced.

In review, the following things are wrong with that story:

• Cockroaches regularly run from my sink drain
• XXXX Management considers duct tape a viable repair solution, as long as tenants cannot actually see it.
• XXXX Management does not know or care to investigate the difference between a working and nonworking refrigerator.

These cockroaches are an incredible source of concern for me. I strive to keep a clean apartment, one that I would be happy to invite guests into. This infestation of vermin is not only disgusting, but may very well be prolonging my bachelorhood. When the exterminator visits, the cockroach population wanes for a week or so, regenerating to previous level shortly thereafter.

I know I’m not the only person in the building with a cockroach infestation, and I doubt I’m the only resident who is hesitant to have company in the kitchen, either. There is a nest of cockroaches somewhere in the building, and the ones that are scrabbling among the kitchens of XXXX are just the ones that are too brave, stupid, or slow to avoid detection. I have heard reports from a number of tenants regarding the same issue, and overheard more than one person complaining to the front desk staff.

2) A moldy, mildewy smell has been present in my apartment for the past year or so. I never brought it to the attention of XXXX Management, as I had been told in numerous tenants’ association meetings that the plumbing of the entire building was completely rotten, and often caused a foul smell to emit from the kitchen sink drains. Fellow tenants also explained that the rotten plumbing was the source of the deep gurgling sounds that often emanate from my kitchen sink.

No amount of air freshener or open windows has alleviated this fragrance.

As it turns out, that fungal fragrance stemmed from a leak in the plumbing above my apartment, causing my bathroom ceiling to come crashing into the floor this afternoon. If the smell was strong before, it is now tremendous and inarguably toxic.

Maintenance pointed out to my sister (who was present at the time of the collapse) that this sort of thing does not happen overnight – signs develop over time. He mentioned that I should have noticed unusual bulges in the ceiling or walls that were signs of leakage.

My apartment ceiling and walls are entirely comprised of bulges that have been plastered over. There are cracks, warps, bulges and boils covering most of the ceiling space and wall area in the living/bedroom. The plaster was like that when I moved in, and any developments were very well camouflaged.

There is a spot in the ceiling directly above my television that is also primed to plummet. It is wet to the touch, according to Maintenance, and could fall at any moment.

In review, the following things are wrong with this story:

• My apartment reeks.
• The plumbing in XXXX is so rotten that it reeks.
• I thought the stench in my apartment was from a known issue – but it wasn’t
• My ceiling has collapsed, rendering my bathroom unusable and the air in my apartment unbreathable
• XXXX has so many things wrong with it that on every serious problem masks many other serious problems – I.E. what I
thought was the rotten plumbing was actually another leak – but probably stemming from the rotten plumbing.
• I am apparently expected to know the difference between a benign and malignant bulge in my plaster walls
• If all of those bulges in my plaster are malignant, my apartment may very well implode within a week’s time.

I do not consider my apartment livable by the standards one would expect in a developed nation, and I would like to be moved to a different apartment in XXXX completely free of charge, with no increase in rent for the duration of my stay. At the very least, I would like to be equipped with a comfortable gas mask so that I can safely sleep in my apartment until this situation is remedied. If giant steps are not taken toward this resolution on July 5, 2006, I will proceed to pay rent into escrow until this conflict is resolved to my satisfaction.

Furthermore, while it must certainly be tempting, in the face of a pending condo conversion and building sale, for the building's owners to continue to hold this building together with duct tape and false promises, I would strongly recommend against it.

8 Comments:

At 2:08 AM, Blogger Needtsza said...

Yea my kitchen ceiling decided to leak the other day. From where, I have NO idea!

that was fun.

sorry for your luck

 
At 4:40 PM, Blogger tall glass of vino said...

good god, the cockroaches in the fridge door part just made me throw up in my mouth.

try taping a plastic dropcloth across your (quarrantined) bathroom door to contain the debris/dust/odor.

and perhaps add a cc: with your local Housing Administration, Health Department and City Supervisor listed. Adding a law firm on there might not hurt, either.

that sucks. hope they do right by you.

 
At 9:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

boo freakin hoo. there's twenty seconds i won't get back. hey, btw, if you want action, write a letter that's less than 10000 words. nobody would want to read that thing.

my suggestion:

my ceiling collapsed. witholding rent until its fixed. will consider switching to another apt in same building.

thanks.

 
At 7:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the bathroom ceiling collapsed at a rental house I shared in Arlington a few years back. The solution was to stop paying rent and become a squatter. Oh, and I think we turned the landlord into the county, which tacked a note on the front door listing the house as one big giant health code violation.

then i moved.

good times.

 
At 7:42 PM, Anonymous bryn said...

If I was your landlord, I'd have illegally evicted you just for the phrase, "...the crescendo in a symphony of negligence..."

 
At 10:35 PM, Blogger Melissa said...

my bathroom ceiling fell in at my apartment when I lived in DC. Somehow the maintenance guy in repairing something with the bathroom in the apartment above mine created a leak and the rest is history.

DC does have a warranty of habilitability for this sort of thing.

 
At 11:52 PM, Anonymous Jennifer said...

When they tell you that it is your fault--that is just classic. Writing those long letters where you vividly describe the wrong that has been done to you blow by blow is quite therapeutic. Good thing you didn't send it.

I've had a leaky bathtub in my apartment since day one. The moist, warm habitat between the floors is a haven for roaches. This is what they had to say to me:

The roaches are not permanent. They can be eradicated. I would suggest that you pick up several roach bombs and set them off when you are not going to be home for a half day or so. You might have to do it twice. Roaches get in the house from bags/boxes. They are brought in, but you can get rid of them. When they are in, they do go to warm moist areas.

I finally convinced them to fix the leak, and this summer, knock on rotten wood, I have a much less severe infestation.

 
At 3:02 PM, Anonymous Sweet said...

Dude that sucks. I feel your pain. What is up with these shitty landlords lately? I've decided to compile a blacklist of names of people/companies that are terrible to rent from. If you've got any, feel free to pass them along!
http://www.sournsweet.com/?p=352

 

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