If you follow this blog, or did when I was still posting on a regular basis, you know that I just moved. By “just” I mean like two months ago because I’m a piece of shit who can’t get her procrastinating ass off of 9GAG when she gets home from work…
Over the years I’ve moved plenty of times, including out of my parent’s house, but this was the first time I really changed residence as a full fledged, self assured, responsibility laden, adult.
I went into this technically a moving virgin. Sure I’d fooled around before, I’d moved my bedroom and signed a lease once before, but this was the first time I’d experienced full relocation penetration. As a result of my relative innocence on the matter there was a lot of fumbling, some mistakes, and in the end I felt dirty, used, and butt-hurt. My hope today is that by sharing my shitty experience I can prepare you dear reader and help you side step some of the sticky messes I found myself wading through. Just relax, it’ll all be over sooner than you think.
Finding Your New Place Is a Combination Of Timing and Luck.
Before you can move I think it goes without saying that you need a place to move to. Finding that perfect little love nest, man cave, or lady lair, is nothing if not time sensitive. There is something of a sweet spot during the month for landing a pad and that is the first week of the month. If open residencies had a menstrual cycle the first week of the month would be their ovulation. Though it’s possible to lock down your new digs at anytime your chances are best then. This is because that’s when new postings go up and landlords want to fill open vacancies ASAP so the longer you wait the fewer properties are available. If you see an ad you like you have to jump on that shit right away before someone else does. If you have the option to call, then call, they’ll get it before they see an email and more often than not if there are multiple interested parties landlords/ladies tend to work on a first come, first serve basis.
Don’t get discouraged. You can spend hours out of everyday driving around neighbourhoods, and scourging kijiji and still come up with nothing only to find the perfect place through a post your friend stumbled across while absently perusing the ‘man seeking man for light petting’ ads on craigslist. In the end it all boils down to luck and good timing. Fortunately those are two things I have seeping out of my every orifice.
My friend (the only one) had also been looking for a new apartment at the same time as me and managed to steal the top suite of a house in a nice neighbourhood from an elderly couple who we can only presume are now being a burden on their children or living in a care home where their jewellery has started to mysteriously disappear. When my friend was maliciously tossing a pair of senior citizens, who may very well have fought Nazis, onto the street she learned that the downstairs suite was also available. And so, my roommate and I found our new home and this upper-middle class family neighbourhood gained a house of young, poor, foul mouthed, borderline alcoholics instead of a sweet little old couple and their one eyed rescue cat with feline diabetes who bring home made pies to block parties, and sponsor a nigerian orphan with HIV. For the record, I sleep just fine.
Giving Your Notice
Turns out letting your current overlord/lady/corporation know you’re leaving is a little more complicated than you’d think.
You are legally obligated to give you’re month’s notice by the last day of the prior month if you don’t want to be on the hook for another month’s rent. So, if you were moving out for August you would have to give your one month’s notice by the 30th of June. My roommate and I initially wanted to move out for May 1st but when we tried to give our notice on April 1st were told “tough titties” or some variant of. Who can remember exact phrasing? We were a day late and if we were to hand in a formal notice we would be expected to pay for May’s rent if they couldn’t find someone else to take our apartment for May. We decided to wait knowing that if we ended up stuck in a situation where we had to pay rent for two places we wouldn’t be able to afford it. Waiting to give our notice also meant we had to pass on the place we had looked at earlier that day despite it being perfect because they wanted the place filled for May.
This is were the problem lies. As discussed previously, home owners want to fill vacant spaces ASAP so they want you moved in for the start of the next month whether you checked the place out on the 1st or the 28th. No one is showing a place in April for a tenant to move in for June because that’s a whole month of an available space sitting empty not collecting rent. This means you are giving your months notice before you know for sure if you’ll even have a place to live for the next month.
The shittiest part of giving your notice is that you have to be out of there with all your stuff by the last day of the month, so if we decided to say “fuck it” and gave our notice on the 1st of April to be out for May and the didn’t find someone to take our apartment with it’s broken kitchen light, live in mice, and whole in the shower wall, for the beginning of May we’d be paying our slum lord rent for may but wouldn’t be able to stay there that month when it inevitably came to pass that we couldn’t afford to pay rent for our new place as well. We’d essentially be paying our old landlord to be homeless.
Getting Back You’re Damage Deposit.
The more observationally astute among you may have noticed that last entry I mentioned a dead kitchen light fixture, mice, and a breach in the structural integrity of my shower. Let the record state that none of that was through any fault on the part of myself or my roommate. Turns out the property company that owns my old building wasn’t so big on holding up their end of our tendency agreement. Specifically the part that stated that they are responsible for performing regular maintenance and upholding the living standards of the complex.
We were living in an old apartment complex which generally means the building in inclined to fall victim to the ravishes of time. This property company at some point decided that they were immune to the effects of normal wear and tear and therefore were not obligated to check up on these such as the decay and disintegration of whatever water proof sealing that was applied to my shower wall 60 years ago when the building was first erected. The hole in my shower wall wasn’t so much a hole as it was a caving in of the tiles into the weak, water damaged wall. For the two months between when the tiles shifted and were sucked into the cavernous decay that is that wall and the day we moved out we had unsuccessfully managed to get the company to send so much as a handyman to even look at my shower in spite constant nagging whenever either of us bumped into our building manager, and a formal written request. I essentially spent two months bathing in the bathroom from Saw. Come to think of it a bloodied corpse might have cheered the place up a little.
They also never sent an electrician to look at the kitchen light that stopped working way back in January that clearly needed more that a $75 dollar lightbulb change or anyone with pest control to take care of the bastard mice that came back for the second spring in a row.
Our apartment was in such a state of ruin that when I wrote our formal notice I sited “the deteriorating state of our apartment” as our reason for leaving and their “failure to rectify the situation” as why we expected the return of our damage deposit in full.
When we had a walk through from some dick-bag from the company’s office two weeks before our move day, the first time anyone so much as looked at any of the places maladies, we were informed that they wanted to charge us for the state of the bathroom wall. Shit-Stain Von Douche-Nugget’s reason for why the ravishes of time was our fault was that nothing was noted on the assessment sheet that was filled out on the day we first moved in two years ago. Upon hearing this we were given lots of advice on how to deal with our bullshit situation and as per my father’s direction almost decided not bother having the curtains or carpets cleaned (as is your responsibility when moving out) or doing any sort of cleaning at all especially when our building manager told us we were expected to paint as well.
I decided to make my second call to the B.C. Tenancy Board in two months to ask advice from one of their reps. The lovely lady over the phone with the warm, motherly voice told me a few things I’m going to pass along to you.
1. As long as your walls are clean without any major damage, or holes larger than those used to hang picture frames, you are under no obligation to paint unless you have perviously painted the walls another colour.
2. You do have the option to appeal to the tenancy board in the event that your landlord does try to unjustly keep your damage deposit. They will investigate on your behalf.
3. You are obligated to have curtains and carpets professionally cleaned and the cost of doing so can be taken out of your damage deposit so it’s best to get it done so that if a dispute does occur you can maintain that you did everything to uphold your side of your tenancy agreement.
4. Slum Lords love to take advantage of first time renters. They don’t know what signs and issues to look for when you first move in or what they are legally allowed to ask from you when you move out and they will try to exploit that. Especially young people and most especially young women. The best thing you can do is educate yourself and if what your landlord is telling you doesn’t quite add up, you can always call the Tenancy Board for information.
In the end our building manager cut us a bit of a break. As it turns out his own apartment down the hall from ours was also plagued with all kinds of problems that even he couldn’t get them to fix. He said he’d only charge us $100 for the shower and give us back the remaining $425. It came down to either eating the $100 dollars that we shouldn’t of had to pay in the first place and moving on with our lives, or spending $50 and months of our time filing a dispute. In the end we decided to just cut our losses and be done with it all. I’d be lying if I said write about this even two months later didn’t still make me want to punch that shower tile into soggy, mouldy, confetti.
Learning From Past Mistakes
It wasn’t until we were in danger of losing our damage deposit that we found ourself looking at online reviews from previous tenants from our building and other’s the company owned. We were unsurprised to find our story was nothing new or original. There were all kinds of tales of out of control bedbug populations, an assortment of plumbing related issues, and shoddy repair jobs involving duct tape. When we went in to look at the place we were pushed into signing the lease so quickly we didn’t have time to even think of doing any research on our new home.
This time was different. We actively decided we never wanted to deal with another absentee company again. We needed to be able to meet the person managing our home face to face and to have a direct number where we could contact them so we wouldn’t keep getting the round about. This time we knew what questions to ask and what to look for and we even had a point of reference from my friend living in the upstair suite. My friend assured me that when they moved in they had trouble with their washer and our landlady was there within a few hours to check it out and have a repairman in within the week. The people who own the house were a young couple who genuinely cared about the place and were easily approachable.
We really did hit the jackpot though. We did end up in that perfect place we had to pass on. Our Landlady liked us so much that in the end she actually DID hold it till June. They were so set on having the right tenants that a week after I told her we would have to pass she texted me to tell me that she hadn’t found anyone else she liked and if we still wanted it for June it was ours. Plus it definitely doesn’t hurt that her husband is in politics. If they were crappy land lords they couldn’t afford to have that getting around.