Friday, February 10, 2006

Read the Fine Print

How come you never read the fine print until after the contract is signed? Or in our case, get the bad news verbally explained?

I rent a two-bedroom apartment with my best friend. We have lived here for almost three years (March 1, coincidentally my dad's birthday). We split rent and bills right down the middle. When we first signed our lease, utilities included trash pick-up, water, and gas. Last year, we started paying water and trash out-of-pocket. Okay, fine, it didn't cost too much, we just had to take shorter showers.

Two weeks ago we got a "second notice" about our lease renewal. We had the same WTF? expressions, because neither one of us remembered getting the first notice.

Cher: I don't remember getting a first notice.
Dad: Cher, the ticket is the first notice!

So we go down to the leasing office today to sign another six month lease (as single, working adults, who knows where we will be in six months, much less in a year?). We sign the papers, and then the lady in the office makes an of-the-cuff comment about the new gas billing. Say what?

Seems that with the price of heating oil these days, all of the other apartment leasers in our area were charging separately for gas (rather than including it in utilities), so Home Properties felt "pressured" to do the same thing. Uh huh, and I believe that, you got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell me?

Cheap. Ass. People.

Not only do we pay high rent for an apartment with two toilets that run after you flush them (unless you jiggle the handle), kitchen lights that flicker, a dishwasher with a detergent cap that doesn't work, and one bathroom light that doesn't go off unless you really push down on the switch; now there are no utilities included. At all. I'm paying for what now? Beige carpet and white walls? Breathing the air? The honor of having neighbors who blast music at all hours and don't speak enough English to understand you asking them to turn it down?

Did I mention we were two working adults, with student loans, credit card payments, and cars that tend to break every other month?

I mean, if they are going to gouge us for rent, and then take away all utilities (the most attractive thing about this place when we first went apartment hunting), they might as well be honest about it. Say, "We just want to make more money for ourselves, since it's not like we actually fix things when you put in repair requests, or have any other services to offer our residents." Except for the pool which is open for all of ten weeks over the summer (third week of June through Labor Day).

And now we're stuck here for six more months. Not that either of us have the money to move, but still….

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