Last year about this time I wrote a piece called "fucking foot locker" in which I described a tale of incompetence and stinkiness from the maintenance crew at my apartment complex. To make a long story short, I am now so fed up with our maintenance here that I either fix things myself or go without them until my wife and I find ourselves a house. Unfortunately last summer we were unable to find a house before our lease expired so we're stuck here for another lease term with shit that doesn't work. A few weeks ago the complex sent out surveys to long-time resident asking what we think. In their exact words "As always our staff is here for you, and if you feel that there are any areas that need improvement please let us know." The problem is, the survey sheet is all a bunch of check-box questions with one little line labeled "remarks" that isn't even long enough to fit one decent-sized sentence, let alone the plethora of issues they apparently want me to tell them about. So I wrote "See attached sheet" and stapled my brief 5-page summary of all the shit they've done wrong during my stay. For your reading pleasure...
I have lived here since 2003. The first few years went just fine. There were occasional problems with things not getting done right in the office, but that seemed to eventually get taken care of with better staffing and/or management. About the time the problems in the office cleared up, I started having occasional problems with the work quality and professionalism of the maintenance staff, but before I get to the maintenance problems, I'll clarify my remarks about the grounds keeping.
Mostly I've not had problems with the upkeep of facilities and the grounds keeping, but there have been some notable exceptions. First, the laundry facility in my building hasn't been working properly for a long time and nothing has been done about it. It doesn't get clothes dry and every time I go down there it smells like something is burning. My wife once went down to do laundry and she thought she smelled burning wires. I called the office and got in touch with someone about checking it out to make sure there wasn't a fire. I was asked “Did you see flames?” I said no, and the response was “Then there's not a fire.” As far as I know they didn't check it out. There have also been times I've gotten “courtesy” reminders about my car having “flat tires” even though I'm able to drive on them just fine. These “courtesy” notes say that if I don't fix my flat tires within two days my car will be towed. The ironic thing is that my car with the allegedly flat tire I'm able to drive on with no difficulty gets these “courtesy” notices when there have been cars with all four tires that actually are flat and have busted out windows that sit in the lot until they become part of the scenery. There was one such car that was out by the swimming pool that probably sat there for three or four months before it moved.
Now for the problems with maintenance. Mind you, the first couple years problems were few and far between, and usually not serious enough to get upset over. Honestly, it wasn't until last year that it became so bad as to get me to consider moving, but it is to that point now.
I had an occasion where I was woken up by a maintenance man walking in my apartment at 8:00AM on a Monday without knocking. He said the apartment below me was having a problem with a leak in their ceiling, so he had to check my bathroom. I asked why he was in my apartment without notice or permission. His response was that I should have been notified because the call about the leak was made the previous Friday, they just “forgot.” Entering my apartment without notice or permission for a non-emergency (as this clearly wasn't an emergency since the service call was made three days after the maintenance request) was clearly not a big deal to him.
The tiling in my shower is very old and moldy. About 3 years ago tiles started falling off. I made several calls to maintenance about this and their solution was always to send someone with a tube of caulk, stick the fallen tiles back in, smother them with caulk, and call it a day. Never mind the extensive water damage that has undoubtedly occurred to the walls underneath those tiles that kept falling. Finally, when one of the three walls fell down completely they grudgingly decided to install a new panel. I gave them permission to work on it while I was at work. They apparently did all the sizing and cutting in my living room because tile shavings were covering my living room floor when I came home. They had also helped themselves to drinks from my refrigerator because there were 3 glasses from my kitchen cupboard half-full of drinks out of my refrigerator. There were also a couple magazines in the bathroom that were there when I left home before maintenance came that weren't there when I got home. I reported this at the time it happened and nothing was done about it and I didn't even receive an apology because apparently this kind of behavior is acceptable.
After about another six months they finally replaced the second of the three panels in my shower after about twenty of those tiles fell and they didn't have enough caulk to put them back together. Again I made the mistake of giving them permission to enter when I wasn't here and again they made themselves at home, left a mess, and even left the door partially open when they left.
At this point I decided there was no way I was ever again giving the maintenance staff permission to enter without me here. The office staff always made sure it was going to take me longer to get things fixed and didn't understand why I was so adamant about not letting maintenance in without me, but I absolutely was not letting them in if I wasn't here. For the most part, it worked out okay. Things mostly got done right, the place wasn't left a mess, and my refrigerator was left alone. Then about a year ago, I don't know what happened, but I haven't had a single positive experience with a maintenance staff member since. I don't know if your entire staff quit and they were replaced with people who had never had a maintenance job before or what happened but the poor work and unprofessionalism has been, in a word, stunning.
Awhile back, I finally talked maintenance into actually replacing the final of the three tile panels in my shower that should have been replaced two years ago. I called and set up an appointment for maintenance to come out and replace it. Again I was told my the office staff that it takes longer to get them out if I don't give them permission to enter without me here and again I explained the negative results of giving them such permission. I got an appointment set up for them to look at it. They came out, looked at it, agreed that yes, there were indeed 25 tiles that had fallen completely off the wall and probably couldn't be caulked back up. They said they had to order a new panel and it would be a couple days, and that they would call me to set up an appointment to install it.
Several days later I called maintenance (they didn't call me like they said they would) to ask about my new panel. They said they had it and they could come out to install it the next day. I said that was fine and we set up an afternoon appointment. Once again, I expressly said that maintenance did NOT have permission to let themselves in. Apparently the concepts of “afternoon” and “do NOT have permission to enter,” were very confusing to them because they let themselves in at 11:00AM while I was in the shower. And that isn't just sarcasm. That is actually the reason I was given that these two maintenance men walked in on me taking a shower without permission before they were scheduled to be here. The reason given was “they were probably confused about the appointment time and about whether they had permission to enter.” I didn't understand what was so confusing about this myself, but as I came to find out over the next few days, your maintenance staff is a very confused bunch. The best part was they hadn't even let themselves in to replace the panel. They let themselves in to look at the shower, see that it was in exactly the same condition it had been, and to tell me they'd be back out later that day to put in the panel.
Ironically, as I was calling the office to complain about those two entering without permission, someone else from maintenance put a notice of intent to enter on my door for a completely unrelated preventative maintenance. Two hours later, when the two men from earlier came back to install the panel (reeking of smoke and alcohol), I asked them if they could do the preventative maintenance while they were there so I could get it over with. They did the preventative maintenance on the spot and then went about installing the panel.
Twenty minutes after they started installing the panel they claimed they were done and left. I knew there was no way they could have honestly done the job in that amount of time so I went into the bathroom to look for myself and I didn't know whether to laugh or scream. They had just stuck the new panel right smack on top of the old, rotting, moldy panel rather then remove it first. It wasn't even matched up evenly so when you look at that wall in my shower you can see the new panel on top with the old, rotting, moldy panel sticking out from underneath it. It isn't even flush on the bottom, so water has started seeping behind the new panel and it's already starting to mold and it isn't even a year old. It looks like a ten-year-old did it. Not to mention all that mold that's still underneath it from the old panel that's still there.
I called the office to tell them about this masterpiece of workmanship and to tell them to take my name off the list of people for preventative maintenance since they had already done it. I was assured nobody from maintenance would be out for the preventative maintenance. Then the next day I got another notice of intent to enter for the same preventative maintenance. Again I called the office and told them I had already had this done. By this point I had made so many phone calls to the office staff about the poor work and communication exhibited by the maintenance staff that you could tell they were sick of hearing my voice. Believe me, I was sick of calling so I'm sure they were sick of hearing from me. So for the second time in three days I was told to disregard the notice of intent to enter. For the second time in three days I was told the maintenance staff would NOT be coming to my apartment to perform the maintenance that had already been performed.
I should've known better by this point. The next morning two maintenance men let themselves in to do the preventative maintenance that had previously been done after I had been told twice I had been taken off the list. Thankfully this time I was at least able to throw on some pants by the time they were inside. At this point, after all of this occurring over the course of one week I finally got an apology from someone. Up to this point all I had gotten were excuses about how people were probably confused or exasperated staff members telling me to stop worrying about things because they were being taken care of when they obviously weren't. The funny thing is, the apology was from the maintenance manager who came to apologize for his men disturbing me that day for coming out to do the preventative maintenance that had already been done. No apology for the first time his men had let themselves in without permission, their inability to come out at the time of an appointment, their lack of communication with me about when the panel would be ready, or their half-assed workmanship. Apparently those things weren't a big deal.
And as far as an apology from the office, the only thing I got resembling an apology was qualified with a disclaimer about them giving me the notice of intent to enter. Yes, they did give me a notice of intent to enter, but they also nullified that notice by telling me that they wouldn't enter and telling me to disregard the notice of intent to enter. You can't just tell someone to disregard a notice of intent to enter and then after they come in say “Just kidding, it's okay for them to come in when I told you they wouldn't.” And the funny thing is both people focused on the second time they let themselves in. People didn't seem to think it was a big deal the first time they let themselves in when they showed up early for an appointment and then let themselves in while I was in the shower when I had specified that they did NOT have permission to let themselves in.
So now I'm at the point where I absolutely don't want any maintenance people in here at any time for any reason unless it's an absolute emergency. So basically, if anything needs fixed, either I fix it myself, or I do without. So for now I have some things that just don't work right, and some other things that are ghetto-rigged for now just to get by, but it's a lot better than dealing with the maintenance staff anymore.
There have also been numerous minor/major incidents such as the stairs outside my apartment being wobbly and not getting fixed despite repeated requests for them to be fixed. Then there was the guy who was just chilling on my front porch with a plunger trying to look in the windows at us. Didn't knock or anything, was just trying to stare in the windows and see what's up. My wife asked if he needed something and he said he was here to work on the kitchen sink. We hadn't made any request for the kitchen sink so he took his plunger and left.
As I said, it wasn't anything I couldn't deal with until this past year, which has been in the last year, but this kind of thing is enough that I'm now looking to get out of here. Last year my wife and I didn't move because we couldn't find a house by the time our lease expired so we decided to just stay here one more year and not get anything fixed rather than move to another apartment just for a year or two. But this next year we're really hoping to move so we can have things that work again.
I'm now turning this in to the office staff on Saturday for my free pizza and a chance at $150 off my January rent. I'm very curious as to whether or not I actually get a response from management about my experience. My gut tells me no, but I have been surprised before. So what do you think? Does a large apartment complex manager actually care about the concerns of his/her tenants? Check back in a couple days to find the answer. Oh, the suspense.