Our lovely home and why I want to move

We’ve lived in our current apartment for 4 years and it has (mostly) served us well. I fell in love with its vintage charm when we first looked at it (and it’s in a great location, of course, in the heart of the city close to shops and restaurants). I mean, look at this hutch and the hardwood floors.

Sneak Peek

I still love some of the other old features in our place (a built-in breakfast nook, french doors separating the living and dining room), but I am also very, very tired of the limited space, limited storage, drafty single-pane windows, window ACs, no patio/place to BBQ, and dealing with neighbor and freeway noises (due to the poor insulation). I don’t even want to think about the (fast approaching) summer months when this place turns into a hot ‘oven’ and I am thankful for any extra minute I can spend at my air-conditioned office. On top of that, our landlady is really nice, but she (or the company that she manages the building for) literally does the absolute bare minimum when it comes to maintaining/upgrading the apartment(s). I had asked about the status of the windows on the day we moved in (they’re old and have no seal and she simply said “we won’t replace them”), same goes for the hardwood floors, which are gorgeous, but haven’t been polished/sealed in a long time, which has resulted in splinters and stained, swollen wood from a water leak.

I also probably shouldn’t tell you that there is a towel stuffed between the window panels in the bedroom where our AC is installed. Probably because it’s drafty (well, it still is drafty!), but I wouldn’t know, as didn’t put the towel there, the former tenant did, and I haven’t moved it in 4 years (and the outside window cleaner that finally came after 3,5 years of us living here, didn’t seem to bother about the towel either. He decided to just not clean that window at all). Go figure!

And let’s not even talk about the state of the rest of the building’s exterior.

Last week we got a letter in the mail from our landlady announcing that they’re raising the rent on May, 1. My instant reaction was: Hell to the no.

There is another fourplex next door that has been completely gutted and updated and I assume that they’re asking a lot more rent for their apartments (as they should for a completely from-the-ground-up renovated place!), but I think that’s where our landlady got the idea that they should raise the rent as well (but without gutting and upgrading anything in our apartment first, of course!).
Yes, the rent has been pretty affordable for the location where we live (actually, a quick google search confirmed that it’s right around the “average” for a 1-bedroom apartment in our area), but at the same time, the apartment is old and definitely leaves a lot to be desired. I am willing to pay a little more for a newer, nicer place, but I am really not willing to pay more for this place than what we’re currently paying, just because there are so many things amiss (that I purposefully overlooked when we first moved in, but that just have been growing into bigger and bigger concerns over time).

I originally  wanted to wait until everything with my contract switch at work is all wrapped up (that’s a whole different story), but I don’t know if I can’t wait that long, so we started looking for a new place. Preferably with a soon-ish move in date. I kind of feel like sticking it to our landlady a little bit (for not really taking that great care of the place and for trying to (unsuccessfully, I might add!) make us pay for outlet upgrades and such things in the past and now facing us with a rent increase).

Our next door neighbors (+friends) moved out last summer (and there was one former tenant in their unit before them), one of our downstairs neighbor moved out last weekend (and we knew two more tenants downstairs before her). By now, we have been in our building the longest, which – as we’re going on 4 years – is not really that long, which means this place has a pretty high turnover if you consider that tenants are locked in for at least one year initially.

It took our landlady 6 months to rent out the apartment across the hall again (and god knows how long it will take her to rent the apartment downstairs), so it’s not like people are standing in line to pay this much money for a place that desperately needs some upgrades. She even flat out told us that a lot of people looked at the apartment, but most of them were not willing to pay the price that she asked. I am not surprised.

But hey, let’s raise the rent on the current tenants. That seems like a splendid idea. Boy, is she in for a surprise when she’ll get our 30-day notice.

Unfortunately, finding a new place won’t be that easy either. I’ve been looking for the past couple of weeks and have come across so many rental scams (it’s not even funny). I don’t remember that being the case when we moved four years ago (or I just got lucky), but maybe it’s because we’re looking for a small rental house/duplex instead of an apartment complex?

I have communicated with three (!) alleged house owners that are looking to rent out their houses, who all had to mysteriously leave town on very short notice for a job in a new city, but are looking to find someone who will take good care of their house. They all couldn’t find an agent to manage the rental process and therefore had to take the papers and keys with them and, of course, they’d love to rent me the place (without knowing anything about me!), but also nobody is available to show me the place in person and I should just trust that the place looks immaculate from the inside (see the beautiful pictures!)  and that they would be willing to send the paperwork and keys asap, if I am willing to work with them.

Yeah, riiiight.

As if I am going to rent a house (interior unseen) and rent from someone and send the first and last months’ rent to someone I’ve never met. Are these lunatics out of their minds? Do people really fall for that? (Oh yeah, and I have I mentioned that those exact homes are ‘for sale’ on other real estate websites?)

Well, I guess I’ll have to keep looking. In the meantime, if you have any insight/advice on (rental) house hunting, I would love to hear it.

  1. We dealt with so much of that on our last two housing hunts. We ended up with multiple scams reported for North Dakota – I eventually just took to deleting the emails I got with houses for rent because they were always, always for sale somewhere else. Coming down to LA, we went the more neo-traditional route of googling management companies and calling to see what they had on offer.

    I also like using Zillow and use it’s for rent feature as it a) helps me know the prices in a general area which is a good tip-off to a scam, and b) lets me see the email/user name for the agent who posted which is typically a good clue for if it’s a real person or a scam. A bunch of random numbers and letters for a username? Probably not a real person.

    And, with all that work, in the end we ended up renting with a massive complex based on a sign we saw from the freeway…

  2. We’re moving pretty soon. We’ve been going to open houses and talking to the owners to get a feel of neighborhoods and prices. One reliable source is renting from employees within your company. All places I’ve worked had an internal housing bulletin routinely updated to reflect availability.

  3. Sorry that place has been such a bad experience, because yeah, it’s definitely gorgeous! People are so funny about what they think their things are worth. It’s like on FB swap pages, when people try to sell a used baby outfit for $15.00. For one outfit!! Ridiculous. Except you’re dealing with lots more money, and a much bigger ‘outfit’ :-)

    Good luck in your search! Hope you find something and soon.

  4. UGH. Wow that landlady of your’s has some balls to be asking for an increase in price without ever fixing anything ever. Sounds like she needs to renovate the whole place or honestly? Sell it.

    I would suggest looking at Zillow, asking people you work with where they live/rent, Rad Pad, etc. I think others have suggested that as well. I know here, for example, there are also signs outside buildings saying places are for rent so always keep an eye out for those too.

    I hope you find something soon so you can move ASAP. On the bright side though, are you not glad you do not own that place and would have to pay out of your own pocket to make all those fixes? (Also, don’t buy, it’s a pain in the butt.)

  5. Sorry to hear you’ve had such a bad experience – it looks so beautiful in the picture you shared! I’ve always had horrible experiences with renting – drafts, leaks, mold, crazy landlords who place a locked glass case over the thermostat so you can’t adjust it. I hope you’re able to find a better place soon!

  6. I do not have any advise but want to wish good luck. Hope you find something soon!
    Cheers, Tobia

  7. Your place look so cute! But I can understand why you are ready to move on. I can’t believe your landlord is raising your rent after having another unit vacant for 6 months! You’d think she’ want you guys to stay put versus risking losing out on 6 months of rent…

    Looking for a place is so frustrating and stressful. I hope that you guys are able to find something that you like that is also in your price range. I used craigslist and got totally lucky when I found this building but I know others have searched and searched and searched and struggled to find something!

  8. I can’t believe your landlady wants to raise your rent without doing ANYTHING to renovate your place! That is just awful. I can totally understand wanting to move and find something better. It’s a cute place, but you are obviously not happy there. :(

    I don’t usually trust rentals (like condos or houses) because I’ve had very bad experiences with them in the past. So I just opt for apartment complexes because I feel safer. I’m on the hunt for a new apartment soon, too, and I’m really excited about it! Having a new place will be awesome. :)

  9. Wow that is crazy and I hope not too many people are gullible enough to believe those scams! Sorry to hear your land lady is raising the rent but I have a feeling you will come out of this with something nicer and hopefully not more expensive (or at least have it be worth it).
    A lot of management companies also rent townhouses and not just apartments. Fingers crossed!!

  10. Your landlord sounds nuts. Why on earth would she raise the rent on a stable tenant when she knows how long it takes to rent out each unit? Whatever, she gets what she deserves. I don’t have any rental advice, because I’ve been out of the rental market for over a decade. But, your story of scams (WTF?!) reminded me of a story a recently divorced girlfriend told me. We were chatting about match.com and she said there are so many guys on there trying to get women to give them money. I was like, WHAT?!?!?! Things have definitely changed since I last used that service – it was a kinder, gentler, somewhat more honest time back then (I mean, people lied, but they lied about how much they weighed or how recent their photos were, not their intentions for dating you!). Good luck with your search!

  11. I feel ya, San! Chris and I are so ready to move out of our apartment full of problems and into some place more spacious. Too bad our lease isn’t up until November. :P

    Good luck with the house hunting!

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