While heading out on yet another Christmas shopping trip this afternoon, another trip that did not result in me finishing my Christmas shopping, (or even a substantial purchase for that matter) I drove by a run-down apartment building and was reminded of a scary story…
A few years back the bf and I were looking for a place to call home. We had been renting my sisters basement for a few weeks at the time, and needed our own space. (my sister has 5 children, and most of you know how much I love *gag* children) We had seen literally hundreds of listings, all of which were; too small, too big, too far, too expensive, or too…well, wrong. Just as we were losing all hope I stumbled across an ad for a two bedroom apartment just off the main shopping road in town. It boasted a large bright living space, a secure entrance, two large bedrooms, an eat-in kitchen, and a good-size bathroom, all for a very reasonable price….
“This is it babe,” I remember exclaiming. “This is going to be our home, it’s perfect. It is not too far, not too much, and it sounds amazing. We are going to see it tomorrow!” The truth was, in writing, I already had my heart set on it. It was in the perfect area, close to my family, in a great price range, and I was sick of hunting for a home. There was nothing in my mind that would convince me that this was not going to be where we were going to live…..
Well lets just say I discovered very quickly what people mean when they say ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, and ‘If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.’
We met with the landlord of this unit at 1 pm on Friday afternoon, well it was supposed to be at 1 pm, he was 25 minutes late. Once he arrived he began explaining that the building had both a front, and back, entrance and both were secured by strong locks. That was important to me, and even though the outside of the building was kind of run-down looking, (which looking back should have been the first red flag that had me heading for the hills) I just assumed that was because it was winter time, (a month before Christmas actually) and they were waiting for the spring before they could do any maintenance. The landlord, a small chinese man who apparently ran the local buffet down the street, was a little hard to understand but he chattered away while he unlocked the front entrance and ushered us inside, I managed to catch a few words here and there and piece them together to form somewhat reasonable sentences. Inside the front entrance is where any, and all, excitement I may have felt began to dwindle away. The entryway of the building was disgusting!!! There were stains on the walls that I swear to this day were blood streaks, rat traps on the filthy floors, (not a good sign) and grime that spread from the floor right up to the ceiling. I was ready to run right then and there, but trying to be positive I thought to myself ‘well perhaps I could offer to clean the entryway in exchange for a break on the rent??’ (or even just to make it livable) And so we ventured on, up three flights of stairs…hmmmm… and down a dark hallway to the creepy looking, filthy, apartment door.
I think I held my breath as he fiddled to find the right key, all-the-while explaining that the old tenants had moved out over a month ago and he hoped to rent the space a.s.a.p. When the door did finally swing (creek) open, my heart hit the floor with a hefty bang…( I think I almost hit the floor along with it! I would have grabbed on to the wall to steady myself, but I was terrified of the germs that would surely transfer to my hands, and most certainly cause some life threatening disease that would spread like wildfire killing off everyone I know slowly and painfully)
OK, I am going to practice my descriptive writing here, but I don’t think any amount of glorious (gory) detail will truly share just how deeply disappointed I was when I entered this apartment. Stepping into the livingroom I took note of the thick layer of dust caked to every visible surface, there was dirt, food, and what appeared to be feces on the ‘hardwood’ (chipped, scratched, and very-worn, parkay from the early 70’s) floors. The windows were so full of grime you could not see the street 20 feet beyond, and the radiator was hanging loosely off the wall, exposed wires the only thing stopping it from dropping to the ground. (‘OK, just breathe’ I thought to myself, ‘It’s nothing a bottle (or 10) of bleach, and a screw driver wont fix. Besides, with the money I am saving I could hire a professional to come in and do it for me, right??) Pushing aside the cons of the livingroom area, I ventured further into this apartment… at least the ad was correct about one thing thus far, it was large.
Stepping into the kitchen I realised that bleach may not cut it, it was more of a full haz-mat suit kind of job, complete with oxygen tank and hepa filter. The kitchen was eat-in and it was a nice size, but the white paint on the walls had long since faded, and was caked with an unidentifiable crud. There were even dirty dishes in the sink (from tenants that had moved out over a month ago???) Most people would have run for the door by this point, and I probably should have too. I don’t know if it was curiosity that made me do it, or if I was in a state of shock at what I was seeing, but I opened the fridge for God sakes…I know WTF was I thinking. The smell of the rotted food, that sat inside the nonfunctioning appliance for at least a month, was enough to make the most iron of stomachs turn and flop. It was the equivalent, I imagine, to the smell of a dead body that has been left to rot for weeks before being discovered.
And yet still I ventured on…
I have to explain to you that by this point, I imagined that there was nothing left that could shock me any more than what I had already seen, I did not imagine things could get any worse… though I will say the little chinese man did assure me that his wife would come and clean before we moved in….at least I think that is what he was saying, not that it would matter, I would still have to repeatedly bleach every surface before allowing anything, or anyone, to enter the space…
Down a little hallway, with a surprisingly impressive linen closet, (a major factor to me in a home) I came upon the first of two bedrooms. It was small-ish, but a useable size, it was painted a bright shade of blue, (great for C) and had a good size closet. Alright, not too bad, a sweep a mop, and a good washing of the walls, and it would work just fine. The next room to the right was the master. It was a large room with a great sized closet, it was fairly clean, (aside from the debris strewn on the floor and the dust bunnies breeding in the corners) and it would easily fit my bed and the baby’s crib, once she came along. (I was 6 months pregnant at the time) So what were the cons of these rooms?? Well, for starters although the first room was painted a nice shade of blue, the paint stopped about a foot before the ceiling, as it also did in the master bedroom, except the master bedroom was painted black!!! Yes, black… and not just black, chalkboard black , flat black, black that was blotchy, full of streaks, and didn’t even go all the way up to the ceiling!!! Ummm…. This would not have been a huge issue except that the little chinese man informed me that they would not be painting it before I moved in, and that he would prefer I didn’t paint it either…. (The was nothing lost in translation there, and just to be sure I made him repeat himself several times) In fact, the little man did not seem to see anything wrong with the fact that this paint was hideous, and it did not even reach the ceiling!! To him this was completely acceptable, and his tone implied should be ‘thankful’ because it had just been painted before the tenants had left….. WTF???
Oh I wish I could say that was the end of it, but it wasn’t, there was one more room to see. I cautiously stepped across the hall and into the bathroom and I immediately wished I hadn’t…. Close your eyes and picture the worst gas station bathroom you have ever seen, then think even worse, think at least ten times worse, if not more! There was sludge calcified to tub, dirt, grime, and hair solidified to every available surface, mismatched broken tile that was covered in a film of gunk, and there was CRAP in the toilet…. literally CRAP… someone seriously left a big, gross, log of CRAP floating in the toilet, probably for over a month!!! WTF????
That was it for me, I have never been so disgusted in my entire life, and to make matters worse the little chinese man did not seem fazed by any on this!! How many times had he looked at that log without flushing it? How many people had he shown this apartment to before thinking to himself, ‘hmmm…maybe if I cleaned this place someone may actually rent it!’ ????? WTF was wrong with him??? Can we say slum-lord????
Needless to say I didn’t rent the place, but someone did, I saw a sheet over the window a few weeks later, go figure! The house I did find did not turn out to be much better, although it was clean. I ended up with an older house at a great price, that had problems you could never dream of. I just have terrible luck with renting….. but that is another story for another time!!!
Possibly, But Probably Un-Related Articles
- City Room: Your Worst New York Apartments, Remembered Fondly (cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Tenants of east-end building face boot because landlord hasn’t paid Enwin bill (windsorstar.com)
- Students ‘better off in prison cells’ after being forced to slum it in temporary accommodation (dailymail.co.uk)