Saturday, January 10, 2009

Landlords from hell

I am sorry to say, but ALL my patience with the discomforts of living in Puerto Rico is now gone!

I know that - in a larger perspective - my complaints are petty ones, but I detest discomfort caused by someone's inneficiency, uncaring and general lack of service.

I can take a certain amount of discomfort, if it is adventurous and only for a short time: living in the rain forest, without a phone (since not even cell phones work there) and internet due to lack of coverage (providing those services are available nearby and can be accessed daily), parking my car half a mile down and walking up a steep hill to the cabin.... carrying my laptop, and all the groceries on my back.

But I can't take a lack of water, because the cabin's owner did not install it properly... or an invasion of bugs, because the owner put a roof floating over the walls, instead of attaching it to them... and failed to inform me of any of the cabin's "quirks". And abandoned her kitty in the cabin, so I had to adopt the poor creature!
At least there the rent was peanuts.

But here in Joyuda I rented a beachfront condo, a so called luxury one for a luxury price. It proved to be a hellish place - overheating so badly, due to lack of insulation that even now, in January, when the temperature outdoors is 84 degrees it becomes even hotter inside. Didn't the landlady know about it? Didn't the real estate agent? Should not any of them inform me?
Anyway, I was not aware that I needed a temperature clause in my rental contract, so there was not much I could legally do about it... I could only swear and complain.
But repairs, which according to contract were the obligation of a landlord, were another matter: so after two months of reasoning with my landlady - through a real estate agent, since any efforts to reach the landlady directly failed totally (she never replied), I finally decided to delay the rent payment until the things that - according to the contract needed fixing - were fixed.

And, halleluja, after only two and a half months (!) I finally got a missing window screen, an internet connection (landlady insisted all utilities etc. remained in her name, so I could not get it in my name, without violating a contract... I suspect she does not declare the condo as rented in order not to pay taxes on the income... but I am not a tax police).
I got hot water after only a month, because I got tired of cold water and fixed it on my own. I know, I am sooo impatient!

So I paid my November rent in a sheer euphoria that my landlady finally got something fixed, despite the fact, that faucets in both my bathroom and kitchen needed urgent replacement, as they tended to fall off at will, creating unexpected - and undesirable - fountains in the kitchen and bathroom. And she promised to fix them.

But come December and they were not fixed - surprise, surprise! - so I delayed rent payment again. My landlady called me promising to fix the faucets, but asked for a rent check in advance of repairs. I declined.
And still nothig happened. Faucets fall off almost daily now, and ... two days after I got back from the mainland, my stove top and oven quit working.

A message to my landlady remains unanswered - ok she might be travelling, or even be in a hospital, but she has family: a daughter living close to me and dropping in during my work hours to put utility bills under my front doors. So there is no excuse. And I guess she does not need the rent money???

So by now I have " recovered" my deposit - by not paying rent since November - and could - and should - move out without having to sue her in an unfamiliar legal territory ... since I seriously doubt I would ever get my deposit back, or manage to get a discount on my rent for all the dicomfort living at her place caused - and causes - me, without having to sue her for a breach of contract. Sigh...
OK, OK, I feel slightly sorry for her, if her negligence as a landlady is a result of a - monumental! - ineptitude and not ill will, because I am almost equally inept in practical everyday matters... but knowing my strengths and weaknesses I would never even entertain a thought of being a landlady... without hiring a management company to deal with bothersome for me details!

But a simple thought of moving to another place in Puerto Rico and dealing with - most likely - irresponsible landlords, in addition to extremely shoddy construction, gives me shivers... so I sent a couple of emails instead, to check a possibility of a relocation to Florida and ... got a green light the same day... despite my age and recession. (But I do get results - funding - for my non-profits, despite recession, so - naturally - they all want those results.)

Still, I decided, that if I can fix the stove top and oven for a reasonable amount of money, I'll endure another seven weeks on the island and transfer at the end of February - in order to be able to finish at least the most critical aspects of my work project and - hopefully - find a replacement for myself.

But if the stove can't be fixed inexpensively - I am out of here now!


Anonymous said...

I hope you are just having a bad day like I am having. Puerto Rico has some extremely difficult aspects to it but many more wonderful things. I need a beach day or something to help forget. katrina

Minerva said...

Oh, Katrina, I hope nothing really bad happened... are the remaining cats all right?
I have been thinking about life as a beach this weekend and decided there are wonderful beaches in other places, too... plus arts and culture and comforts, of well built and well designed dwellings, of fresh, organic food, of usually reliable service. The most wonderful beach here is unable to compensate for all the discomforts of everyday life in Puerto Rico. I am soooo tired of it!

Jeff and Katrina Kruse said...

The cats are all alright. Did they fix your stove yet? I am so sorry you have had so many problems with renting.


Minerva said...

Nope, stove not fixed and I am on an involuntary combined raw food/microwaved food diet right now, trying to enjoy the view from my balcony in the time I save not cooking. Neither me nor my real estate agent have been able to even locate my landlady, yet, but a coworker who does handy men duties around AMPI promised to come during the next weekend and see what he can fix of the things that needs fixing. So I am keeping my fingers crossed and try to laugh at the problem.