Frustrating

It’s no secret that I’ve been frustrated with our living situation here in Auckland.  I have a “love”/”strong dislike” relationship with our apartment.

Love the location, love the apartment itself.

Strongly dislike the agencies that represent the landlord, the amount of time it takes to get repairs done, the rent we are paying (and the fact that they keep raising it), and strongly dislike the poor communication.

I think that I’ve reached the point where I’ve had enough.

Here are just a few of the things that we’ve dealt with during the nearly 2 years that we’ve lived in this apartment:

– On our moving in day, the agent showed up late, then complained about the fact that he had to come to work on a holiday.  Not the “aw shucks, it stinks having to work on a holiday” kind of complaining but the “I hold you personally responsible for this” kind of complaining.  We’d been in New Zealand all of 3 weeks and hadn’t the slightest idea that there was such a thing as “Queen’s Birthday” weekend.  He handed us the keys and did an about-face.  So nice that the garage door openers had dead batteries and we had to spend $40 to replace them right off the bat.  When I asked the agent about the batteries, he said it was our responsibility.

– The apartment was filthy.  Footprints on the floors, dust everywhere, dead bugs, ball caps and lamp shades and rubbish in closets, and enough dirt, dust, debris, and grease on top of the cupboards that it looked as though an animal had been shedding up there.  We saw all of this when viewing the apartment and were assured that it would be cleaned.  It wasn’t, and I spent about a week cleaning and photographing the mess.  Nail holes in the wall that were supposed to be filled had either been done haphazardly with big clumps of spackle or weren’t filled in at all.

– The blinds broke while in the “up” position.  That’s a pretty big deal when you’re living in the heart of the city and anyone in the park across the street can see in.  Or in the building next to yours.  Or in the building across from yours that’s being renovated and has construction crews crawling all over it.  It took nearly 2 weeks to get someone out to fix them, and since the windows are ginormous (something that I love), we couldn’t cover them up with anything.  It took multiple emails and phone calls to get someone to fix them.

– The washing machine leaked water all over the floor during the first month of living here.  All over.  All I can say is that I’m thankful that our kitchen has a drain in the middle of the floor.

– The intercom to buzz people into our apartment broke when I was about 4 months pregnant.  It took over a month to get it fixed.  Do you know what it’s like to race down 7 flights of stairs while pregnant in an attempt to catch delivery men?  I missed multiple deliveries and was more stressed during that time than I’d been since moving to New Zealand.  I called… emailed… spoke to the building manager in-person… nothing was done for over 5 weeks and it finally took me calling every single day to get it fixed.

– The semi-annual inspections.  The letting agent was supposed to give us 24 hours notice before doing them.  He emailed me last minute, asking if he could come by and do a quick inspection (no more than 10 minutes) the following morning.  My sister was visiting from the States and I told him this, but said that it was OK for him to come by provided that it was (a) early and (b) that he gave us an exact time.  The next morning we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  I emailed.  Texted.  Nothing.  My sister’s last day in New Zealand.  Gorgeous weather… finally, he texted (at 11:50am… only 10 minutes remaining of the “morning”) to say he couldn’t make it.

– He rescheduled for over a month later.  He showed up early when I wasn’t there, sent an irritated text, and I had to race back to the apartment (remember, still pregnant at the time) to meet him.

– A month before our lease was set to renew, we contacted the agent to sign a new 12 month.  Suddenly (!) the owner was interested in selling (despite being told that he wasn’t only a few weeks prior).  A potential buyer was brought by to view, but apparently nothing came of it.  We were allowed to sign a new lease, but at a higher rate, naturally.  We started the new lease a few weeks before I had Joe.  Looking back, I wish that we had moved but I didn’t want to deal with packing and finding a new place while 8+ months pregnant.

– During this time, we had several more blind break-downs, several problems with the lights, etc, all of which took at least a week if not longer to get repaired.  A floor board came up and, guess what?  It’s still not fixed.

– The roof started to leak into our master closet.  On 3 separate times, I had to take all of our clothes and shoes out, dry them, mop the floors, etc.  It took multiple calls and emails to the letting agent to get the building manager up to look at it and confirm that, yes, there was a leak and yes, it did need to be fixed.

– The faucet handle came off of the guest bath shower.  It’s still not fully fixed.  The shower plug in the master bath stopped working and the only way to take a shower in that bathroom was to keep the plug pressed in with one hand.  It took over 2 weeks to get that fixed.

– Several more lights burned out (we have very high ceilings and need an extension ladder to have them replaced, something that the letting agents are supposed to take care of for us) and it took weeks to get them to send someone out to replace them.  The only light in the guest bath burned out and it was nearly 4 weeks before it was replaced.  We couldn’t use the bathroom during that time unless we took a flashlight in there with us.  No thanks.

– Our oven stopped working.  Repeatedly.  I had emailed twice about getting it fixed but got no response.  About 2 weeks before my due date, I called to find out what the heck was up and was told that someone would be out to fix it.  24 hours later, still nothing.  I called again, and was told that they didn’t know what had happened, but someone would call me.  Finally heard back from someone, they came out, and told me that nothing was wrong with the oven except for a bent fan in the back.  When Joe was a few months old it started to act up again, and the stove top started to flare out big bursts of flames whenever I lit the burner.  Again, it took over 2 weeks, multiple contact attempts, etc., to get this fixed.

– After living in the apartment for over a year, the letting agent realized that they didn’t have a key (apparently they’re supposed to, but didn’t) and asked us to mail in one of our keys to have a copy made.  Chris and I each have a key.  They wanted us to send in one of them, leaving only 1 key between the two of us for who knows how long, so they could make a copy.  Uh, no.  We said that we couldn’t go with only 1 key and that we would instead be happy to make a copy and then be reimbursed.  The agent told us this was fine, so I packed up Joe and went to get a copy made.  The first place that I tried didn’t have the right type of key, so I went to another one.  I waited… and waited… and waited… finally, the guy came back and told us that I would need to bring the letter requesting the key copy with me to prove that it was being done under the authority of the letting agency.  The letting agent never told me this, nor was it included in the letter, but fine – whatever.

– I went home and the next day went back with the letter, only to have the employe tell me that the letting agent wasn’t on the list of authorized agents and he couldn’t make the copy with just her signature.  Augh!  I emailed the letting agent, and guess what?  She informed me that she’d already gotten a copy made from the building’s on-site manager.  Apparently she hadn’t thought to tell me, the mother of a 3 month old without a car who had been schlepping around Auckland trying to get a copy made for her.  Oh, but she did tell me that the building manager would drop off the key to me, and that I would need to drop it off in person at her office downtown.  Remember – we didn’t lose our keys, they lost their key.

– The letting agent came out to do another semi-annual inspection and told us that, as far as they knew, the owner wasn’t planning to sell or increase the rent.  Less than 48 hours later, we got an official letter informing us of a rent increase and saying that the owner wanted to get a property appraisal while considering selling.

– The letting agent asked for a day and time to do the appraisal.  I asked her who would be doing it, how long it would take, etc., and the only response that I got was that she “didn’t know how long it would take” and that it would be “2 men”.  A day later, I got an email from a woman (the same who’d handled the viewing the year before but who works at a different company than the letting agent) asking to arrange a time.  I gave her the same time as what I’d given the letting agent and confirmed that it would work.  The morning of the appraisal, I got a text from the selling agent to confirm.  A few minutes later, I got a text from some guy saying that he was coming by to do an appraisal as well.  I thought it was weird that 2 agents from 2 different companies were doing an appraisal at the same time, and I mentioned this in my text to him.  About 45 minutes later he texted to say he was looking for parking (the other agent, a woman, was already there doing her appraising).  When I told her that this other agent was looking for parking, she was clearly not happy and started to complain to me about all of the problems with that particular company.  A few minutes later I got another text from the guy, asking if another agent was currently there (I’d already told him this twice, but texted back to confirm).  I never heard from him again – he never showed, never texted back, nothing.

– A few weeks later, after having heard nothing at all in the interim, I was informed that the owner was selling but not actively marketing.  However, the selling agent wanted to bring someone by to view.  We arranged a time and I talked it over with Chris.  We decided to email the letting agent to ask about our lease (which was set to expire in about 5 weeks) to see if we needed to get things together in order to move out or if it was possible to extend it till October, at which point we’ll be traveling overseas.  Surprise, surprise… the letting agent had no idea that the owner was selling.  She confirmed that she would get back with me by Thursday to let me know about our lease, extending it, etc.

– Today, Friday, I emailed the letting agent to find out about the lease, and she said that the owner never got back to her and she would have to follow-up next week.  I felt like getting on the phone and saying, “You said you would get back to me by Thursday.  That was yesterday.  If you hadn’t heard from him by the end of the day on Thursday, then you should have called him or emailed him first thing today to follow-up, not wait until I got in touch with you.”

– A few minutes later, the selling agent emailed me to arrange another viewing, this time the same day as a dinner party and sandwiched in-between several days and late nights of work.  The place will be a mess (well, a “mess” by my standards) and just one more thing to add to the growing list of stuff to do.

I don’t know – what do you think?  I’m annoyed and irritated and fed up.  I feel like I’ve been polite and civil, despite the frustrations and the time the letting agent got annoyed with me for not being able to meet her when she wanted (her response when I told her that the time wouldn’t work was, “Oh – sorry.  I thought you were a stay-at-home mum”, as if stay-at-home mothers have nothing else on their schedules but to, well, stay at home).

Chris and I have talked it over and on Monday, I’m going to call some short-term places to see what they’re offering and if it’s possible to get something booked.  We’ll see, but I’m to the point where I’d even consider doing several short-term lets rather than stay here and put up with this rigamarole for much longer.  I know that not every tenant in New Zealand has to deal with this kind of malarkey, and actually know of several people who have had great letting experiences in Auckland.  I’m just fed up with ours.  Thoughts, anyone?

Update: I’ve created a “wanted” advertisement and started emailing a few different places about short-term lets.  I’m hoping that we hear back soon.  I can’t make any phone calls till Monday, but figured that I could at least feel that I had dong something by sending an email or two to different properties.

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11 comments

  1. Sarah says:

    This is absolutely shocking! I reckon you should forward this post to ‘Fair Go’. You’ve been treated terribly 🙁

    I hope you find somewhere much better managed very soon and so, so sorry to hear of all you’ve been through – and are continuing to have to deal with 🙁

  2. Claudia says:

    Sorry to hear you are having such problems – and hope you get a new place to live soon. The law says you have to have 48 hours notice for inspections etc. Perhaps a chat to tenancy services http://www.dbh.govt.nz/tenants-index might be helpful.

    I wonder if the owner is aware of how bad the agents are? I’ve heard of one story where the tenant was having problems with the agent. The owner was overseas, and came briefly back. While in town they checked the property and met the tenants, and were horrified at the problems they were having. The owner has now engaged a new agent.

  3. Becca says:

    That’s really frustrating– I would be tearing my hair out! I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through that. I hope you find a good new living situation or situations.

  4. Rachel says:

    Chris (my Chris) is considering starting a website called “Rate Your Agent” since we’ve had SO many issues with our rental company here. It’s so frustrating!!!

  5. Katharine says:

    That puts my latest gripes in perspective! Just be happy of one thing…at least you speak the same language. I never tire of telling people that if the delivery man only speaks Chinese, we will have problems and they tell me everything will be fine, they will just call my agent…and then I check with her and she’s frustrated that I didn’t answer their calls all week! I did but they were speaking Mandarin and I DO NOT UNDERSTAND! Sorry yours sucks so much!

  6. Michelle says:

    Aw no 🙁 The letting agent sounds terrible! In my second year of uni we had a disaster apartment. I won’t say the name because of google searches but the initials are CW. Terrible! I hope you can get out of there soon, I have rented from the same company for our last 2 houses and they are awesome. They should all be giving you 48 hours notice before they enter the property!

  7. Christine says:

    Wow! Sounds like you have had a horrible experience!! I’m sure you are not alone, but that is not necessarily a good thing! We had a terrible property manager here in Hamilton and I would definitely not rent from them again.

    I hope that you manage to find something more suitable for the remainder of your time in NZ! And I hope that you can move home with pleasant memories of living here!

    Good luck!!!!

  8. Erin says:

    I knew it was bad. But wow. Wow.

    What irritates me about your situation is not that things break. That happens. But the disrespect and rudeness of the people dealing with you just seems over the top.

    From what I’ve seen and heard, a great rental experience is not the norm. “Pretty good”, “ok” or “frustrating” seems to be the norm for others who have similar standards to what I have. You’d be surprised to know what some people live with and still say it’s a good situation. The house my parents are renting had the security system beeping randomly, the oven wasn’t working and the hot water heater flame blows out anytime it’s windy. But while viewing the property my mom asked the previous renter point blank if there had been any maintenance issues. “No, this place has been great!”

    Come to find out much later, the previous renters just looked at those fix-it items as part of the package, and shrugged over the fact that the landlord wasn’t the nice, fixit sort. They just all made-do with the security system beep, no oven, and walking out to the side of the house to relight the flame every time it went out. I can’t imagine calling that a “great” situation, but that’s me.

    Sorry to be so pessimistic when it comes to renting. Even when we were renting in the U.S., keeping the place in one piece felt like a part-time job.

    But if you decide to move, I’m there to help box, drive, clean—whatever. I really hope you can find a better option if you decide that will be best. I want you to enjoy this next year in NZ, not get the run-around from agents and landlords!

  9. Rebecca says:

    Ohmigod, that sounds horrible! I had a great experience with my long term lease when I lived in Auckland. If you need another company to add to your list, I used Citysales (I hope it’s not the company you are currently using!) and they were great. Lots of warning and things were always quickly fixed. I even moved out on a Sunday and the letting agent came by for inspection, even though it was her day off.

    Good luck!!

  10. Sara says:

    Ugh so sorry Jenny! What a pain to deal with them, sounds a lot like experiences here in Welly. I was warned of certain rental agencies and that no matter how nice if a flat that we should avoid dealing with them. I think it helped that Kev’s work has a strong community of foreign workers so this information is easily passed around otherwise we probably be dealing with issues after issue! You have been really patient and overly accommodating, hopefully you can find some decent short term places with less hassle.

    Currently we deal with our landlords who live in the same home so it’s easier to communicate but they still frustrate me. An example was on Easter, beautiful weekend and we went away for one night and hurried home in the morning to enjoy lounge time on the deck. We got home, laid out in the sun when our landlord decided to stain our deck! He just got to work, and started moving us over so we weren’t in his way! I was so frustrated that he never informed us or set a time and really annoyed he thought it wasn’t a big deal, of course then it smelled awful and we couldn’t enjoy our long weekend on the deck while it dried! Ahhh! Ok now I’m getting worked up!

    Good luck with the new places!

  11. Justyn says:

    Are you just trying to scare me? 😉 No, seriously, that is ridiculous. We are renting here as we wait to move and have had similar crazy stories about the length of time to get things fixed but the saving grace is that they are always polite and respectful of my time when they finally do call/show up. That goes a long way. Without it we would have looked elsewhere and if I were you I would be SO upset!

    And the “I thought you were a stay at home mom” as a response when late/unannounced/canceling happen to me all of the time. It makes me crazy and is underlined by the assumption that my time is of intrinsically lesser value because I am not receiving a paycheck for it. Their time is money, my time is leisure. URGH. pet peeve.

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