Jane Smith (greatestofthese) wrote in bad_service,
Jane Smith

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Tomorrow I'm theoretically signing a lease for a flat, and while it's my first time renting a flat myself I am extremely nervous about our real estate agent-slash-landlord.

a) Unavailability. She does not possess a cell-phone, and she works three hours three days a week. Unfortunately for us, those days are Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, and she works the weekend. If something goes wrong we could always call the parent company, which we have been in contact with, so the landlord issue is less of an issue than her possessing our lease applications. She mentioned something about disliking her office phone.

b) Forgetfulness. After viewing an apartment with a view that was cheaper and larger than the one we have now, we replied we would phone her within an hour with a decision. In all fairness to her, this was Friday at 5 p.m. (her first available appointment in two weeks, and nominally her day off). We called within 45 minutes with an offer, then emailed and rang her an additional three times over the next few days. Twelve days passed before she rang us back, saying that the apartment had already been leased at the time of the viewing.

c) Comprehension. We asked her many questions, such as the number of available apartments within the building. Since the apartment is $1820/month for 800 sq. ft., we wanted to know if there were other apartments available. She said no. We checked the website and found out it hadn't been updated since August 2008; we then rang head offices. The head office replied that there were other apartments, but again, the real estate agent was unavailable when we called. (Her English is fine, btw; she's from Madrid initially. Not the issue.)

d) Punctuality. She is consistently over 30 minutes late for every appointment, and only blocks out ten minutes for what should be an easy 40 minutes. She also shows up without any literature or technology at hand and cannot answer our questions about square footage or the current lease agreeement in effect.

e) Rudeness. She has also made remarks about my roommate and I being students, despite our tidy appearance and nice clothing and manner, in Spanish, which we took offense to since both of us understand Spanish. (We are full-time students, but she treated us very derogatorarily.) My friend turned to me and asked me if I'd understood (in French), and I spelled out some sign language into his hand in another situation, so we are both aware of her comments at the time. She referred to us as a waste of time and I realise this might be the reason that she is unhappy serving us. What she may not realise is that we are both running businesses on the side and are well-supported, although after her terming us too young (19) we're both extremely annoyed that she has been so dismissive of us.

I understand where she's coming from, because she double-booked us a few times and we met some of her other student clients, who didn't have SINs or driver licenses or appeared to know anything about utilities, but we've begun to make it very clear that she really can't screw with us. "Rent? Ohhh... That's like... we give you money, right?" (I kid you not.) But I just find it irritating that she cannot act professionally.

She also dropped into the conversation that she became a real estate agent because she did not need to pass the language proficiency index (an English exam) to get her license.

f) -> Upside: She's not very bright so we've been pushing the limits on what our lease will permit. We've already had it dropped to three hundred dollars less per month, and the first five, six weeks free even if we can't get rental insurance immediately. We also did a damage assessment (apartment has never been occupied but delivery...) and had her sign that and photocopied it.

The good part is the secretary for the company is fantastic, and although currently the manager/owner is on vacation, we want to submit a formal complaint of her conduct. We preferred to move in two weeks ago, which she discussed in January, but she hasn't been organised or answering her office phone messages. We were supposed to sign the lease agreement on Wednesday, but she failed to show. (I really want to suppose drugs, which might explain her unkempt appearance, but it's not good to make such a claim. My roommate has made EVERY claim, but he is full of bullshit anyway. We played bad cop, good cop to the estate agency, which worked beautifully, but we are still stuck with our real estate agent.)

While I truly love the apartment and its location, it's entirely possible to live there for four months in the summer and switch over to the nicer/better apartment as they become available. Our lease will be transferred over and the apartments, while an adjustment in dimension, will be similarly decorated and painted. Yay for lease agreement inclusions.

Question 1: I would like to submit a complaint to the parent company but I am a little unclear to how to word it or which particular parts to emphasize. As it is I'm looking forward to signing a contract that's advantageous for us because of all the additions we have pushed for, and if she gets removed then we have a favourable contract. As well, the parent company seems to like us; I don't want to send them a long bitchy letter when I really just want to get across my issues with her as an employee.

Question 2: Since the last apartment sold out from under us and we are still seething, should I rush on the lease agreement? There is a lot of interest in the last one available, but her conduct makes me very hesitant. Because of the switch-over/rent re-negotiation (if we want - if it's higher it'll stay at what we agreed to pay), it appears to still be a favourable idea. I also don't know when I'll get back in touch with her.

tl;dr: Sucky agent is sucky and makes us hesitant to sign a lease.

ETA1: Location is extremely important; the university is separated from the city and suburbs by huge rainforest parks and sits on a peninsula. Commuting from the nearest off-campus rentable apartments will be a pain. It's also the best-choice rentable building. Because I like pimping Vancouver: omg the view. If you're wondering about the random patches of green on campus some of that is the UBC Farm where we grow some of the food for our cafeterias and restaurants. Buildings made of recycled material too. (w00t?) Unfortunately most of the buildings have apartments for sale, not rent.

Students typically have parents purchase an apartment and then rent out or live in student housing, which unfortunately is overbooked and we could not get this year. It's $800/mo anyway for four people, they must be of the same gender, and it's generally filthy and loud. Most of our acquaintances are paying more than $1000/month each.

ETA2: Met with her today, her manner was much changed and we were able to get the smarter apartment after all, for a slightly cheaper price. It's still $1800/mo for 713 sq. ft., but the layout makes it much easier than the 800 sq. ft. and the tile covers more areas. It's available in May, so we'll move in May 1st (our current residence is up May 4th at the latest). The expense is split and therefore much more affordable, besides which we can in turn sublet the apartment for bits of August and the winter Olympics, some of the events of which are taking place next door.

Her manner was the best bit - she was very professional and she officially hates my roommate and likes me, as she glared at him when he offered her his hand to thank her for being professional. She caught him saying, "That ***** is late again" when she showed up more than twenty minutes late the other day! The parent company has come through in major ways so we will be taking the nicer apartment. The agent is also having the current tenants terminated and apologised to me for the confusion.

Our friends also put us in touch with some tenants, and one of our close friends will be four floors beneath us, and apparently by all accounts the landlord bits work beautifully so we're not too stressed about her as a landlord, as the parent company can again step in and has been wonderfully prompt.
Tags: apartment hell, helpful comments, question
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