Monday, October 1, 2012

Joe Pesci was Right

You know, I've always gone out of my way to take really good care of the places I rent.  It's a point of pride, I literally tear my hands and back to bits scrubbing under counters and doing fiddly detail work on oven drip pans because I really want the place to be in at least as good a shape when I leave as when I arrived.  As a result, I usually get most of my deposit back (shy the usual "we're gonna repaint no matter what fees), and sometimes (like in Fontana, CA), I get a call from the landlord or property manager thanking me for being so conscientious (Sharon in Fontana actually said, "You washed the oven fan filters and vertical blind slats?  Who DOES that?").

I do that.

When we moved out of our last place, The Falls, I took all that same effort.  I spent weeks sopping dust off of baseboards and scrubbing tubs.  I shampooed carpets, completely emptied and souped out the fridge, and even soaked and scoured the stove-top drip pans when we figured out the danged stove burners were not a standard size and we couldn't find new pans to fit.  We moved the fridge out from the wall and I mopped and scrubbed beneath and behind.  I crawled half way under the OVEN to make sure it was spotless all the way to the wall.  I used a nut pick to get any little bits of dreck that might have collected in the crevices between the kitchen tile and the carpet.  "Anal" doesn't even begin to cover what I was.  I even took the trouble to retape the blind slat tops, which were broken and taped over when we moved in, though we didn't realize that until we'd been there a few months.

Nut Pick

Now, if you've read back through my old blog posts, you'll remember The Falls--they're the ones who sent the note hinting they suspected we were smoking weed.  Again, if you knew us, you'd know how ridiculous the very idea is.  Well, on the day we were moving out, we were wowserly pressed for time--you see, we had to have the keys turned in by 5 pm, else we'd face having to stick around until the following TUESDAY (it was a holiday weekend).  Since we couldn't stick around (we only had five days to get cross-country, get the truck unloaded, and get hubby to work at the new job), we HAD to have the apartment cleaned, locked up, and the keys turned in on time.  An hour before the deadline, the vacuum belt broke.  Typical, huh?  While a wonderful friend headed out to try and pick up a new one, I settled into scrubbing the carpet to get the BURN MARK from the belt out.  I mostly succeeded.  We got out on time, but the apartment, of course, reeked of burnt vacuum belt.

A couple of weeks passed, then we heard from The Falls.  They knocked cash off the deposit for a "dirty fridge" (excuse me?), new stove-top catch pans (I expected that), an unwashed microwave (BULL!), the taped blind slat tops (even though those were taped when we moved in), and the tubs (again, WHAT?  Those things were SPOTLESS!).  Plus, they mentioned that they suspect we had pets.  We did NOT have pets!  Ever!  No non-human animal (except for a few zebra danios) was every in that apartment, not even for a moment!  They kept mentioning the smell, that there was an odd smell.  Hubby didn't make the connection until weeks later--it was almost certainly the stench of the burnt vacuum belt.  By then, it was too late to hassle with them, the check was already sent and cashed, but I'm left with a bad taste and a bit of a concern.  The bad taste comes from spending weeks wheedling mud out of the window runners (mud that's there because of the complex's screwed up sprinkler heads), busting my back scrubbing tiles and tubs, only to be told that I didn't do those things (I know, a cleaning company comes in and charges as much as they can get away with, but still).  The concern?  What if The Falls is telling folks who call for a reference that we're potheads who kept against-the-rules pets?  That could put us in a world of hurt real quick. 

Now, you're probably wondering why we didn't do a walk-through with the manager before we left, right?  We wanted to, but we were told that they would only do a walk-through on certain days of the week, at certain times (I want to say it was between noon and three, but can't remember for sure), and the apartment had to be absolutely empty.  Again, that would have had us with a loaded truck waiting four days for them to inspect.  Not only would that have been four days in a hotel (which we couldn't afford), but also four days into our five day move.  Wasn't happening.  If your next question is "Why didn't you take tons of pictures?"  I did.  I took hundreds of pictures of my spotless microwave they said I didn't clean, of my spotless fridge they said I didn't clean.  Sadly, if you've read my older blog posts, you'll know that our camera was stolen from the truck the day we arrived here.  Camera, case, SD cards, HDMI cable, everything.  Gone.

If there's any sort of moral to this story, I guess it's this--do the walk through if it's in any way humanly possible.  If they'll allow it, have a friend do it for you if you can't (they wouldn't allow that for us).  Don't trust the landlord to deal fairly with you, because often it's not the landlord at all--it's a cleaning company they contract, and trusting a cleaning company to be honest about how clean you've left a place is like trusting big oil to keep our air and water clean.  Hubby thinks that, the moment they caught whiff of the burnt belt and didn't know what it was, they decided to say it was pets.  And once they've said that, they can charge us for just about anything.  Funny thing?  They DIDN'T charge us for the dark spot on the carpet from the broken belt.  Go figure!


  1. While I'm not as anal as you, I did clean our apartment at Pinebrook really well, did the walk through, and the landlady said that she hadn't ever seen anyone clean their apartment that well. Most people leave it to their cleaning crew. Well, 2 weeks later I get a letter saying that we wouldn't be getting any of our deposit back, with a checklist of each item that the cleaning crew had cleaned. Like, even though it was already clean, their crew went over it again and they were charging us for it. Oh, and $12 more, I don't remember what the excuse was. So. Much. Bullshit.

  2. Pinebrook has the same management company/ownership as Falls at Canyon Ridge, so that makes perfect sense. And I can understand, the cleaning folks are looking to make as much money as they can (though screwing you AFTER the walk-through is outrageous!). My real fear is having Falls label us as pot-smoking rule breakers with unapproved pets when none of those things is even a little true. What if a new prospective landlord calls them for a reference and they spray that crap? Argh.