I’m not bitter. Frustrated, yes, but not bitter.
Let this to be a warning to anyone at UCSB who is looking for housing: Don’t let yourself get screwed by your property manager. This seems obvious, but you would be surprised at how much our landlords get away with. It could be the place you are living at right now or it could be the place you signed the lease for yesterday. At any rate, it is something that will probably affect 90 percent of the Isla Vista population.
I know there are some decent property managers out there. They do exist. But if you don’t do your homework and check them out you will only find out when it is too late.
In the case of my roommates and myself, it is too late to avoid our bad manager, but it is not too late to do something about it. Sure, we only have four months left in our apartment lease, but if we don’t say something, who will?
It just so happens that our property manager is also the owner of our building and at least five other complexes in Isla Vista. He seems nice enough, until he opens his mouth. Our manager/owner has told us so many lies that, if he were Pinocchio, he would have a whole fucking redwood sticking out of his face.
We live in a nice (for I.V.) apartment complex. Before the complex was finished he showed us the plans and walked us through “our” apartment. He said we’d have a spacious second-floor, two-bedroom, two-bath unit at the end of the building with a balcony in the back to boot.
Right before signing, he told us there were going to be “some changes” made to the apartment and he would be giving us another one on the same floor, a few doors down, for the same price and with the same layout as the one he had showed us. No problem – same bedrooms, two bathrooms, just a different apartment number.
Now originally, our lease was a June to June, like many in I.V. We were told we could move in early June, give or take a few days. Summer came and went. Classes were starting on Sept. 24 and a week prior we still hadn’t heard the okay for us to move in.
One of us, from the Bay Area, called the office to see if the apartments were ready and asked when we could move in. She spoke to our owner directly, who said that she could come on down and move in right away. When she had finally driven down and pulled into the complex’s parking lot, she met up with the owner. He asked her what she thought she was doing and began to yell at her when she told him he said she could move in.
Eventually, he gave her the keys to “our” apartment and told her she could stay, but not to bother the workers. But this wasn’t the apartment we signed the lease for. It wasn’t even a two-bedroom apartment. It had one bedroom and one bath. Mr. Owner-man said he had to give us this one and that he would “borrow” a room from the next unit over to make ours into a two-bedroom (one-bathroom) unit.
First of all, this isn’t even legal. Second of all, classes started in a week and he was gong to “make” another room.
But this is just the beginning. Upon official move-in, three days before school started, our apartment was still a one-bedroom unit. Some workers came in and carved a “door” out of one of the walls, and “sealed” two doors within the room that would have gone into the adjacent apartment.
The new door is three inches shorter and two inches narrower than a normal door, so getting the furniture in was a bitch. Not to mention that all the utilities that go into our bedroom originate in the opposite apartment (we only discovered this when the neighbors didn’t pay their electricity and we were in the dark for a few days).
We spoke to our property manager personally and he said he has known about the wiring since he decided to “make” us a new room. He didn’t think it would be a problem. It is.
Aside from the whole “borrowed” bedroom issue, there was no light or fan in our windowless bathroom when we moved in, the oven didn’t work and it took three months until it got fixed. Our refrigerator is so close to the oven, though, that you can’t have both of them open at the same time.
Our manager has chosen to ignore our maintenance reports, our phone calls to the office, and forgotten about returning any of our letters and phone messages. We figure we will just annoy him to death until he does something about it.
Like I said, we are not bitter. We can really only be mad at ourselves because we didn’t stand up to his bullshit from the very beginning. Please learn form our mistake. Read your lease thoroughly, learn your renters’ rights, and if you have questions about anything go to the Housing Office upstairs in the UCen and ask the professionals.
Jennifer Knaus is a sophomore Italian major. Darina Masopust, a senior global studies major, Janet Ng, a senior sociology major, and Erica Oberin, a senior religious studies and anthropology major also contributed to this column.