The other night, a group of guys showed up at the door of my oceanside Del Playa apartment. They had just signed the lease with Ronald L. Wolfe & Associates to move in next year and wanted to have a look around.
“No!” I wanted to shout. “Save yourself! Turn around! Go back to Sueno and don’t ever look back!”
Instead, I let them in, and when they saw the view from the back balcony they were so excited that I didn’t have the heart to tell them they were going to be charged $800 a month more than we were currently paying. Nor could I tell them what they had to look forward to – a rental agency run by a genetic hybrid of monkeys and something much stupider than monkeys.
It’s like this: last year the total monthly rent for my apartment was raised by $400. I felt cheated, but I liked my apartment so I went along with it. This year, Wolfe raised rent by another $600 for continuing tenants ($800 for new tenants). This means that in the period of exactly one year’s time, my roommates’ and my monthly rent raised by $1,000. In the real world, people might be tempted to call this criminal. Our property manager, Chris, prefers to call this “a fair assessment of the apartment’s market value.” I prefer to call Chris an “asshole.”
Looking back on the last two years, I can’t think of a single thing Wolfe has done to my apartment that might justify raising rent by $1,000. In fact, the only reason anyone from the rental agency ever comes by is to slap unjustified eviction notices on my door.
Wolfe’s policy on late rent – theoretically, at least – is that any tenant that has not paid in full by the third of the month is issued a three-day notice: pay up in three days or move out. In the course of a year and a half, my apartment has been served four unjustified three-day notices, all of which were due to clerical errors at the office.
Once, my roommate and I went into their office to dispute an eviction notice stating that we were $300 short for rent. This notice was the third unjustified notice in as many months. The lady at the front desk listened to our case and then disappeared into the back to check her computer. When she returned, she informed us that their records showed we were actually $800 short. She then demanded we pay the $800 deficit. My roommate and I burst into laughter. She looked confused (not uncommon in that office), and agreed to check again. This time it turned out that whoever had authorized the three-day notice had made a slight miscalculation; our rent was fully accounted for.
“Sorry,” she said.
“See you next month,” I said.
There is a large crack in the cement deck outside the apartment running all the way from the edge of the cliff to the building. Apparently, this is evidence of a problem with the foundation. A Wolfe associate informed us that it had something to do with the two palm tees planted into the cliff directly behind our apartment. We were also told that, in order to remedy the situation, the palm trees would have to be removed. This notification came eight months ago, and since then no action has been taken. I assume this is because they have been so busy “assessing our market value.”
For a community in which probably about 75 percent of the members own bikes, it is surprising that there is absolutely nothing outside of our apartment to which one may securely lock a bike. As a result, my roommates have had several bikes stolen, and my own bike was thrown over the cliff. I got it back, though, and locked it to the stairway, the only secure thing around. When Chris came by, he found it to be unsightly (Chris drives a brand-new Jeep Grand Cherokee – he has an impeccable sense of the aesthetic), so he cut my lock and put my bike in the dumpster of the house next door. I can honestly say that no other landlord I have ever had has stolen my bike and thrown it into a dumpster.
The heater in our apartment does not work.
The agency attempted to charge us for parking spots months before lines had even been drawn to denote spots. They also reserved – and exercised – the right to tow cars that were parked in these imaginary spots.
Our dryer actually burns and rips any clothes you put into it.
Our ceiling leaks.
Because there is no lock on the door to our laundry room, it is a popular spot for people to stop by and pee. Last weekend, someone shit in our washing machine.
And our rent is going up $600 a month.
Unfortunately, Wolfe’s assessment of the real-estate market does not take into consideration any viable assessment of student wages, which show no sign of being able to keep pace with such exorbitant rent increases.
Nor does it take into consideration the fact that if a housing inspector were to take a good, honest look at of all the property under Wolfe’s jurisdiction, there would be so many violations that Wolfe’s associates would not be able to count them on their fingers, which could result in general confusion within the office.
For almost two years now, Ronald L. Wolfe & Associates has demonstrated a thorough disregard for both my rights and interests as a tenant. They are completely out of touch with the student population and contribute nothing that benefits our community in Isla Vista.
I will be moving out after this year and never plan to do business with “R-Dubya” again. After all, it doesn’t take a housing inspector to realize that something about this rental agency stinks, and for once I don’t think it’s my washing machine.
Nathan Bays is a senior English and computer science major.