Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tenant Assistance Program Saved me from a Slum Lord.

After the apartment I used to live in sprayed for the second time and the bugs kept coming back, I knew I had to find a way out of there! I couldn't live in Hell any longer. Living with bed bugs is like Hell.

I did a little research to see what my rights were. This is a great website full of tenant resources. You can find your state's tenant laws here.

This was my old landlord.
I came across  The Arizona Tenants Advocates who so far have done a wonderful job of helping me out of this slum lord situation.

The way they approach things almost every time is to locate general violations or health and safety issues in the unit or the complex, as well as violations in the rental agreement itself. Of course they do this abiding by the law. They serve the management the list of issues that need to be remedied, and if the management does nothing to fix the issues within the allotted 10 days, they essentially terminate your lease in failure to remedy said health and safety violations and even general violations. 

In my case because it was a health and safety violation bedbug infestation, they had 5 days to fix the bug problem. The rest of the list allotted 10 days. They didn't even serve me the 2 day "I'm going to enter your unit" notice until the 5th day.

 So they breached the contract by failure to remedy any of the problems that had risen. Keep in mind, this was not the first time I had asked them to fix the bug problem. They sent me a letter stating that I owed them thousands of dollars, which was total bull because they did not act in good faith, nor did they remedy the issues. So their failure to remedy anything was a conscious choice, and I am no longer bound to the unit because they failed to fix the health and safety violations.

I'm not sure if the Arizona Tenants Advocates help people out of state, but all you have to do is email or call them to find out. They only have one phone line, so if they're on the phone you wont be able to leave a message.

They charged me 85% of one months rent for their services, although I had to pay for a process server several times but that was my choice. If you get help from them, and you're trying to speed up the process it does pay to use a process server, however it is expensive up front, though cheaper in the long run.

If you seek help from any Tenant Assistance programs make sure you follow their instructions to the T. There have been many cases where the tenant sabotaged their own case by neglecting to do something, or being loose lipped.

Remember, don't tell them about the Tenants Assistance, or that you intend to break your lease.

Do not verbally discuss any important matters with your landlord, always request that their concerns be submitted to you in writing.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bedbug Hell

It's been about 2 months since I last posted. Let me explain what I've been dealing with these past few months.

After this post I will post another with how to combat the bedbug problem, and/or how I sought help to terminate my lease.

Since I moved into the studio apartment in July of 2010 (moved out now) within a week I kept waking up with bug bites. For the longest time I couldn't figure out what it was. I didn't know anybody who had bed bugs, and I know I didn't bring them with me because it was my first apartment and all my furniture was hand me downs from my parents who do not have bed bugs. My cat had kittens so I thought I was having an allergic reaction to the dander or something. I did a lot of research online about bedbugs to arm myself with knowledge.

For months we searched for bugs but found no bed bugs... Until the end of November. One night I woke up at 2 in the morning having horrible itching urge. I turned on the light and found one bug on my blanket. I knew instantly it was a bedbug. I looked under my pillow and they were all over the place!

After that I sought to get rid of the bugs myself. I rented a rug doctor, got some insecticides from a janitorial store, and used boiling hot water that I heated up on the stove. We then used the insecticide. The next day we found the bed bugs climbing up the walls! When my efforts failed to remove the problem, I went to the office for help.

They tried to make it seem like I was the one who had brought the bugs into my apartment! After some prying they admitted that the unit beneath me (who had recently been evicted) had a bug infestation. They sprayed twice and within 2 days after the spraying the bugs were back in full force.

After that I called the County to complain about the bug issue. The office had 10 business days to submit paperwork proving they were attempting to fix the infestation. When they failed to cough up the documents, they had an inspector come to the complex and ordered them to follow certain guidelines. They then sprayed the entire complex. Ha.

By that time the 5 day health and safety notice I had served them had expired, and thus they terminated (voided) the lease in failure to repair the problem. Technically because they were not registered with the County correctly in the first place, they voided any binding contract before I even signed the lease!

My next post will be all about bed bugs and then the next will be about who I sought help to terminate my lease!