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How to deal with property management company?
  • gabby1 July 12, 2013 - 3:04 pm #79946 Reply

    We were away in Delaware over the 4th of July, and when we came back on Sunday we discovered that our kitchen had flooded Saturday evening due to a “backed up pipe” in the basement (we’re on the first floor of a high rise).  Super long story short, they had entered Saturday night to inspect the damage, moved some things around, and then left the water standing on the floor, in the cabinets, on the counters, etc.  When we got home Sunday, approx 24 hours had passed since this happened.  We alerted the management office to the issue and they put a dehumidifier in the kitchen.  At this point, the counters were coming up (it’s the cheap laminate kind that goes over a board), the carpet was SOAKED, the kitchen floor was coming up at the edges, the dishwasher had standing water in it, the stove had standing water on it, and the cabinet under the sink had water in it.

    No clue why they didn’t clean up the water Saturday night when they were in our apartment, why they didn’t put the dehumidifier in then, or why we weren’t contacted.

    Since then, they’ve replaced a small section of the carpet pad (not the carpet) that was wet (maybe 1/4 of it) and reglued down the edges of the kitchen floor.

    We’ve made it clear that the counters HAVE to be replaced (there’s still water under them) and that the wall behind the cabinet needs checked out to make sure there’s not still moisture in there.

    It seems like they won’t be willing to replace the counters or do any of the other things for us that we asked for on Sunday (check the wall and cabinets, replace the carpet pad that got soaked), and they all seems like reasonable requests based on a similar situation in our last apartment building.

    This is turning into a huge issue, we can’t use the counters because water is still coming up between the seams and I’m nervous it’s going to mold underneath them and behind the cabinet/sink, let alone the carpet pad that was soaked and never got replaced.

    Any suggestions on how to go about dealing with this WITHOUT lawyers getting involved?  Ideally we would like to break our lease with no penalty and just move (there’s been a pattern of attitude towards wanting to deal with residents’ requests – even just picking up packages) but I don’t think we can prove it’s “uninhabitable” until it starts to mold…which it will at this rate.

    FYI, this is in Falls Church not Arlington…this is what we get for moving out of Arlington I guess.  We’ve only lived there since February too.

    ballstoncmyk July 12, 2013 - 3:47 pm #79972 Reply

    Yikes — sounds like a craptacular situation. Sorry to hear it!

    I was in something similar a few years back in Shirlington; the pipes in the apartment above us burst, and we had water streaming down the walls, coming in through the vents, everywhere. I lucked out though — i told them straight up how they were going to take care of me, and they did. Got a new unit out of it at no increase in rent. Free movers, too.

    Assuming that you’ve already gone the saber-rattling, i-am-one-pissed-resident route… you might check into the Tenant / Landlord responsibilities in Virginia (i think there’s a link in one of the other forum topics from today). That might give you some footing to push your management office into action. If that doesn’t work, maybe go up the chain and contact the corporate office of your property company? Or, contact the county. They might be able to give you a better direction. I called ARL County once a few years ago when i was without heat for 2 weeks in the middle of winter…. they came right out with an inspector and told me my options, filed a report with the landlord, etc.

    Oh, and do you have renter’s insurance (hopefully you do!)? Perhaps your insurance company might have some thoughts?

    Good luck.

    gabby1 July 12, 2013 - 3:57 pm #79976 Reply

    Yeah, we have renter’s insurance, but we didn’t have to throw away anything so expensive that I would bother filing a claim over.

    I think our next move will be to contact them, copy the corporate office on it, and say “you have 2 weeks from the date of the flooding to fix x y and z”.  The law says that if they don’t fix it within 30 days then we technically have the right to break our lease and move – but that could easily turn into a major battle with them and we really just want to work with them as much as possible.

    We were also thinking about having an inspector come out and check it out – would the county be the best route to take here?  If there’s no actual mold (yet) or major health issues, wouldn’t that be a waste of their time?  I don’t want to pull in the “big guns” for this unless we would really have to.  I don’t want this building to start making our lives even WORSE.

    Dezlboy July 12, 2013 - 4:10 pm #79977 Reply

    Some suggestions: none really new….

    1. Call and WRITE the Management Company. Tell them the problem, and what you want them to do. Make it plain and simple, no emotion, no threats of breaking lease, etc. You may want to mention you are concerned any “unresolved” damage (use better words) could result in medical/health issues. Just mention it enough to put it in their mind. I wouldn’t overstate anything.
    OH….and put a date by which you want a response (five days after receiving), and maybe date for fixing items. Send certified mail with reciept.

    2. Contact Fairfax Co. Renter/Tenants office, and Health Inspectors. I think you have legitimate reasons for wanting all the carpet and cabinets replaced, etc. They are the experts and can help.

    3. Contact your insurance co for advice. But, they, of course, would not be responsible for the cabinets, carpet etc.

    BTW…there are companies that specialize in making ALL the repairs, replacements, drying out etc after floods. I can’t think of their names at moment. But, maybe also call one or two for advice in “pressuring” your management company.

    ballstoncmyk July 12, 2013 - 4:27 pm #79979 Reply

    ServPro is one of those companies that comes to mind. Good idea, @dezlboy .

    CourthouseChris July 12, 2013 - 4:44 pm #79981 Reply

    Which management company is this? BS like this needs to be exposed.

    Penrosey July 13, 2013 - 12:11 pm #80001 Reply

    Your landlord is required by Virginia law to take action to prevent and/or treat the growth of mold when given reasonable notice by the tenant. See part 5, § 55-248.13. Landlord to maintain fit premises, of the Act here and reference it in written communication to your landlord: http://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/HomelessnesstoHomeownership/PDFs/Landlord_Tenant_Handbook.pdf

    gabby1 July 15, 2013 - 9:28 am #80040 Reply

    Thanks for the input, everyone!

    They’ve agreed to replace our counters (which was our major concern) by the end of this week.

    If we start to notice any health issues that could be mold related, we’ll bring it back up to them to have them check in the walls/behind the cabinets.

    We are just totally done with trying to push for anything more.  Once the counters are replaced, it’ll at least be good enough for preparing and cooking food again, which is what really matters.  Definitely moving when our lease is up in May, regardless.

     

    Our last apartment building we lived in that had a similar water damage issue (the former Archstone Courthouse Place, now Avalon Bay I think?) did just what dezlboy suggested and hired a company to do all the repairs – unlike where we currently live, where they have been relying on their apartment maintenance staff to be able to adequately handle all the repairs.  They are hiring an independent contractor for the counters though, which is great.  I’m thinking of leaving a note for them asking for their personal opinion on what other damage could be involved (walls, cabinets, etc) in similar cases that they see.

     

    I’d rather not say which management company it is, just in case they happen to find this post sometime between now and May and decide to make our lives even MORE frustrating.  You can bet I’ll be posting some scathing reviews on Yelp, ApartmentRatings, etc when we move though!  Chances are it’s not a management company most people in Arlington would be familiar with, they’ve only got a handful of buildings in VA and maybe 4 in DC and MD combined.

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