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Apartment Therapy Needed

But not the design kind. The kind where my apartment and I go to a psychiatrist and we work on our communication skills, because apparently I’m not making myself clear. And my apartment, of course, has no ears … or empathy for that matter.

So first Kamel and I got engaged and decided to move in together and we researched apartments for a few months, which lead to a kind of disillusionment that can only truly be found in San Francisco. Basically – our money was going to get us a studio with a large closet that they referred to as a “bedroom”, in the outskirts of the city. Well, if we were going to live in the outskirts of the city then I at least wanted to be able to walk to the beach. So there.

And then we came across our current apartment, with a view of the Sunset district and the ocean and it’s separated kitchen (I know fancy, right), and it’s hardwood floors, and it’s top floor status. And put on top of that the lower-end-of-our-budget price, the move in costs we could actually afford, all of the south facing windows with all of that sunlight and I was SOLD. So sold Kamel had to shush me as a jumped up and down during the first walk through “I WAAAANT IT!!!” I kept whispering at him whenever the landlord would turn his back. And Kamel would put his finger to his lips and smile at me.

We finally moved and unpacked for for reals in late August. And this was home. We bought a couch and a big rug, we combined our belongings, we threw out our (his) belongings, we paired down to what we could fit into our tiny eagles nest of an apartment over looking the ocean and we were happy.

We were happy despite the ridiculous lack of storage. Check this out, the storage includes: Our kitchen cupboards, our bedroom closet, and a medicine cabinet. No hall closet, no under the sink in the bathroom storage, nothing. For two people. And then of course there are the ants. Oh god the ANTS! Just wandering around – in our bedroom, under the couch, in the sink, in our cupboards, on the clean dishes drying in the dish drainer. They come the myriad of random holes in our walls. Holes around the electrical outlets, holes between the cupboards and the walls, holes between the window sill and our wall. HOLES. Our apartment is a cheese grater!! And we’ve called the landlord, and we’ve called the maintenance guy and they say they will help, they say they will fill all of the holes, but they don’t. They don’t come back when they say they will, they don’t follow up, they don’t really help us at all. And I just don’t want to fight about it because, really? Even without the ants the windows rattle so loud in the wind that I can’t sleep, I can feel the breeze from across the room, we don’t have screens on the windows so during the hot days we can’t open them at twilight or the giant effing flying creatures swarm our lights. And all of those lovely south facing windows? Don’t have blinds or curtains (These we could purchase. Our excuse? Not wanting to spend the money and not having any of the tools for installation). So hello next door neighbor whose windows are parallel to one of our ours, don’t mind me getting dressed in the morning! Just your casual, neighborly nudity greeting you on the daily. Ho hum.

And my favorite – my favorite out of all of this shit the apartment reigns down on our heads – the effing hot water. I like a good hot shower, and the water is so so at best. It’s hot, but it’s not *sigh*-hot. Ya know? It’s just… a shower. But on the weekends – every weekend – there is no hot water. The water is luke-warm at BEST. Luke warm like when it splashes on my head it’s pretty much painful, luke-warm like shivering goosebumps just-scrub-your-hair-as-fast-as-you-can-and-escape luke-warm.

It’s exhausting, all of the crap bits. They wear on us and it just doesn’t seem worth it to have to fight for any of it. We had to call several timesĀ  a week for a month just to get a bedroom door installed and that was after the month time frame the landlord had to do it in before we even moved in! Shit does not get done around here – and I don’t know anything about the laws of withholding rent, and I don’t want to become the “horrible tenants who do nothing but complain”. I just want to have hot water on the weekends and I don’t want to have to throw a big fit to get it.

So a few weeks ago, when I couldn’t sleep because of the howling wind and the rattling windows I poked Kamel until he woke up too and then whispered, “You wanna know a secret?” and he was all, “Hmmm…?” and then I was all, “I hate this apartment!” And ever since then, it’s like the cat’s out of the bag. We now laugh and say “I hate this apartment!” whenever we wish, where before we were trying desperately to love it, never wanting to say it out loud. In that sense, I feel a kind of relief. In the sense that I can’t get a hot shower on a Saturday at 10am, I really don’t.

24 Comments

  1. AHH no hot water is a TOTAL apartment dealbreaker for me… :( but I’m glad verbalizing the hate makes you feel a teeeeeensy bit better. Do you live by the Mollusk Surf Shop & The Outerlands??

    • Perhaps! We don’t live RIGHT on the beach, we live up on this bluff thing by Lands End trail. Did you explore this when you were in town? It’s ripe with photo ops.

      • when we eventually make it back to SF I will def meet up with you in your hood :) we didn’t have enough time to explore SF but I would love to!

        • And I would love to see you!! How fun. :)

  2. Well, if you get a screen, David can come over and install it for you. He can probably help you patch holes too. And maybe even install screens and caulk those windows. He’s very handy.

    On the plus side, no mice. Trust me on that one.

    • ha. so so so true. My first apartment had a lot of mice. A lot. And then they nested in my box spring. So… that was all kinds of horrible. We may take you up on this as we have no tools and 0 know-how.

      • OMG now I have a new irrational fear in my life… mice in the box spring… barf :(

        • Ohhhh yeah. When I moved I was like “whhhy does this smell SO MUCH LIKE PEE. Oh look.. holes.” And they were in the walls, and waking me up at night with the pitter patter of little mice feet. I ended up sleeping with my lights on every night to deter them from entering my room until I moved.

    • Thats a great idea! Lets have a “Pimp Lauren & Kamels apartment” day! We’ll DIT it up! Im so in, and we have cool tools too! I even have a pink hammer =D

    • Unless you get a cat. Then your husband can just talk about what an awesome “hunter killer” she is.

      • we got a second cat because out old one suddenly decided mice were boring and he wasn’t going to bother any more. Kitty #2 hunts mice, bugs, and bits of fluff floating in the air. Oh and she eviscerates the mice. I miss the days of mysteriously dead critters- “maybe he didn’t kill it! It looks like it just keeled over!” Now we know why the poor mousie died, we can see its insides. Yay.
        On the plus side, no tiny critters stealing our crackers (we had a rat once. It took the entire contents of a box of Ryvita crackers. And a dishtowel. Talk of sleeping with the lights on…)

        • My room mate at the time had one of those sticky traps and the mouse just walked away with it one day. Full on walked away with it. I left in the morning and it was there, I came home and poof.

  3. HA! Working in real estate comes in handy sometimes!!

    My dear, you totally have rights here. To break it down, the landlord has a responsibility to keep the unit fit for living, something called “implied warranty of habitability.” While the storage/screens/curtains don’t make a difference here, a couple of the things you listed (the lack of hot water at times, and DEFINITELY the holes in the walls (you should NOT be able to feel breeze inside without a door or window open)) fall under the heading of “things that can be considered to make the unit uninhabitable.”

    If you think your landlord is shirking responsibility (personally, I’d say he is … especially when it comes to repairs you’ve been promised that never seem to happen), your best course of action would be to 1. Read up on everything (I’ll give you a couple links at the bottom), including your lease … yes, legal reading. Fun, I know. 2. Get advice … be it from an inspector (if you think the place is unfit) and/or a lawyer who specializes in these types of things (they’re out there in surprising numbers). 3. Notify the landlord of your intent to withhold rent.

    This is where it gets tricky. In order to not be evicted, you have to follow a VERY specific procedure when you withhold rent: opening an escrow account, and depositing the rent amount – on time – each month. (Clearly, there’s more to it than that.) That way, you have the documentation that you’ve been making payments, not using an excuse to get out of paying rent etc. etc. etc.

    It’s a pain in the ass, I know. But when it comes down to it, the landlord has a legal responsibility (yes, even in regards to timeliness of maintenance) to provide certain things. Your lease will spell much of it out for you … you’d be surprised what’s in the fine print, there. =) Oh … and if they used a standard CA lease agreement, instead of writing their own, you’re golden. =)

    Ok … enough from me. Here’s a great place to start reading, if you’d like:

    http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/index.shtml

    • Wow. This is kind of awesome. Even if I don’t go the legal route, this makes me feel WAY more empowered to make sure these things get fixed instead of worrying I’m being a whiny bitch. Thank you SO much!!

      • I did this once (in Philly), and it worked. Only took a month of money into escrow before my falling-down water-damaged ceiling was finally fixed. It WAS a pain in the ass to set up, and send certified letters, etc. But. It worked.

        Also, you can borrow my tools to hang curtains/blinds. And for less than $10 you could get what you need to spackle your holes (and you already have the skills to do this. I swear.) But letting David do it is a good idea, too. ;)

        • I think my inability to function with this issue is 1) lack of experience 2) being entirely overwhelmed and 3) dare I say? Lazyness? I just need to start handling it. Writing this was step one. Thank you (to everyone too!) for the swift kick in the ass.

  4. I don’t know if you’ve tried this already – but ants refuse to crawl over cinnamon. If you find the hole(s) they are crawling out from, just put a ton of cinnamon over it and they’re stuck. And it’s natural and smells kinda nice.

    Also – when I first moved in with michael in SF we had similar luck. We decided to throw in the towel and move, and we got a bomb house in the castro (and I’m underemployed and he’s unemployed and we can still afford it.) It can be done if you’re willing to look for a loooong time!

    • Holy crap, that’s handy. And perfect time, what with it being the holidays and all. “What’s that smell?” “Oh, it’s just a sprinkling of cinnamon that we use to make the house smell nice.”

      (Ants? What ants??)

  5. no hot water is the worst. and the ants sound like they suck. i’ve had millipede infestations, some mice, and hordes of fruit flies (ah, the joys of old cambridge apartments), but no ants, thank god.

    i’m with sarah – you have rights!

  6. You totally have rights and while I know very little, I know that they aren’t treating you right. Kick your laziness off the sofa and demand they fix the necessary things.

    And while it seems daunting to make your own repairs and upgrades (blinds or curtains etc.), I know you can do it. Borrow someone’s tools and get to work. You’ll feel so proud of yourself when you fix the place up.

    • We’re hugely into upgrades on our rental. We’ve been here more than three years already, with no plans to leave soon, why not? New light installed in the kitchen? Check. Overhaul of the bathroom vanity? Check. New showerhead? Check. Paint? Check. And that’s just the small stuff.

      Next up is ripping out our old shower doors. And we might even make a nursery in the closet one of these days. It’s super empowering, and it makes a place really feel like your forever home. And with San Francisco’s rent control laws, it might as well be.

  7. I cannot offer you anything but sympathy, metaphorical hugs and a promise that if any kneecaps need to be broken, I know some people who know some people who know something.

  8. Ok. First, I am sorry that sounds awful. Second, take David up on Meg’s offer. And you’ll see it is easier than you think. I was un-handy until I met my ridiculously handy husband and saw that it was not rocket science. Third, move to SLC you could buy a house with a cheaper monthly payment (wishful thinking, not realistic).

    • Trust me, it’s not off the table. :) Like. For reals.

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Who the hell is she?


Lauren

I am a writer living in Seattle and I believe that life is a grand adventure and only boring if you believe it to be. Plus! You don't need money to have fun.

I live with my husband, a photographer by education and a maker-of-video-games by trade, and a baby named gabe in an apartment on the hill.

I am romantic about most things and I cry... about almost anything. I tell stories to entertain you, I spread stories to keep you in the loop. I am not a grammar freak, but I do know how to spell it. I am exceedingly proud of my scrambled eggs and I really could eat an entire pan of cupcakes. If I met me, I would be my best friend. I tend to be irreverent.

If you would like to chat with me or see what else I'm up to you can follow me on Twitter (betterinrealife), on facebook, or email me at betterinrealife at gmail.


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