I know this house doesn’t look like a nightmare from the outside, but looks can be deceiving… as my boyfriend (now ex) and I were about to find out.
When we first looked at this house, we liked that it had three bedrooms and two full bathrooms. He liked the fact it had a garage, although the garage door was hanging down and not on its track. I liked that it had a backyard even though the side of it was quite junky looking. The front yard was tall with weeds and full of bottle caps, definitely nothing like what the above picture looks like.
The Walk Through
When we met Corinna, EB Preferred property management’s assistant, she had let us know of other rental properties in the area that were all within our budget. Instead of just looking at the house above, we looked at three others that day. I fell in love with two of them, both had garages, but they were not attached to the house. During the walk through of the “nightmare rental,” Corinna had mentioned that they were still in the process of getting it ready.
Signing the Lease
Ethele, the owner and property manager of EB Preferred called me on October 24, 2018 to let me know that if my boyfriend, Dick and I were still interested, she had a house for us. I was excited until I found out it was the above house. (Apparently the other houses we had looked at were on the house market.) I told her I would have to get back with her because I needed to call Dick. He was still interested. Ethele wanted to meet that day, but Dick wouldn’t get off of work until 4:30, and then we would need to drive there too.
Ethele had told me the house was move-in ready. I had asked her about the garage door, and some of the other problems that I had remembered that were wrong with the house, and she assured me that they were fixed. So, instead of looking at the house again, we met up with her and signed the lease.
Not Move-In Ready
As soon as we got the keys, we headed over to our “new” place – what a disaster!
The garage door was still hanging off it’s track, the floor was filthy and there were huge chunks missing from the walls – and that was just the beginning!
Upon opening the screen door to get to the front door, we found that none of our keys worked on locking the screen door. The front door wouldn’t stay open, and there was a large gap between the door and the floor. The light fixture closest to the front door was missing the cover and the lightbulb was burnt out.
The kitchen had a broken glass window pane above the sink, the garbage disposal was not operational, the oven was missing a seal, the dishwasher smelled of mildew, and there were knobs missing from the drawers. Plus, there was no smoke detector nearby… not in the kitchen, living room, or hallway leading to the bedrooms. The door leading to the side yard was missing a glass pane and the windows were missing locks – easy for anyone to sneak into the house, with no screens on the windows.
Then there were the bedrooms – the master bedroom was missing a smoke detector and the ceiling fan and light were dangling from the ceiling!
When walking through the rest of the house, we noticed large fragments of carpet laying on the living room tile, dirt and debris, dead cockroaches on the floor. Hmm 🤔 was this place even cleaned? There was so many things wrong with this house, but it had new carpets. Whoopee!
Talking with Ethele
The next day, I told her that she had said this house was “move-in” ready, but when we looked at it last night after signing the lease, it was not. She then told me that I could come and collect my cashier’s check. I was taken aback. (I should have listened to her!) But instead, I asked her if there was any way we could work together on this as we didn’t need to move into the house until mid-November.
So, on November 1, 2018, we met with Ethele and her handyman. She promised us everything that was on “the list” of things wrong with the house. She said that we wouldn’t have to pay rent until the repairs were complete and a new lease was drawn up and signed. Unfortunately, this was a verbal agreement. Dick gave his key to the handyman so he could start on the repairs. I had asked her if we could start moving stuff in because we had paid the deposit and the first month’s rent, and she said that this was fine.
- Garage door still hanging down
- Garage floor not swept
- Huge chunks missing from walls in garage
- Key wouldn’t open one of the locks on front door
- Lightbulbs missing from many fixtures
- Lightbulb covers missing (this is important in case a lightbulb shatters)
- Smoke detectors missing from two bedrooms + one bedroom’s smoke detector didn’t work
- Ceiling fans loose and dangling from ceiling in two of the three bedrooms
- Broken glass pane in kitchen window
- Broken garbage disposal
- Seal missing from oven and oven was filthy
- Dishwasher smelled of mildew
- Sliding glass door wouldn’t slide well on its track
- Gate to where garbage bins were located wouldn’t open
- Missing window locks
- Evaporative cooler (AKA a swamp cooler) was installed incorrectly and the grounding prong was bent backwards
- No GFI outlets installed in the bathrooms or near the kitchen faucet
- Closet doors still swung forwards and backwards, instead of sliding
- Entire house not clean
- Front yard full of weeds and bottle caps
- Backyard full of cat feces and cigarette butts
It was mid-November and we now had to move out of our other house and into this nightmare of a rental. None of the major repairs had been done.
I called and left messages for Ethele, but she didn’t return my calls. By mid-December, Ethele had still not returned my calls, answered my texts, or my emails. I sent her a letter via certified mail asking her if she could please respond and let me know when the repairs would be done and when we could sign the new lease. I let her know that I had been calling and leaving messages on both her cell phone and her business phone, had left her texts, and emails and to date, they have all gone unanswered.
Apparently her office assistant opened the letter. (It was addressed to Ethele Barron, not Corinna Rose.) When I called a few days later, Corinna informed me that she received the first phone message and my letter. She said she spoke with Ethele, and was told everything was done. Excuse me?! I had to tell her that nothing had been done. We were still waiting for all of the necessary repairs. Corinna said she would look into it and get back to me on this, but then let me know that rent was due. I told her that Ethele had said rent wouldn’t be due until we signed a new lease, and I’d been waiting for this as well.
Did you know that if a dwelling needs more than $500 worth of work (this is parts and labor) that a licensed contractor needs to do the work?
Well, Ethele hired this guy named Rick Alvarez who said he was a licensed contractor. And he started doing work on the house. But he didn’t know that the outlets in the kitchen and bathrooms need to be GFI within 6 feet of the sink. He said they were fine. Hmm 🤔
The Early Bird Gets the Worm
When Rick first called in regards to the repairs, I told him 8:00AM would work great for me. He said that was too early for him, so the time was moved up to 10:00AM. But scheduling a time with this guy was laughable. He never showed up on time, he’d call 15 minutes after the fact, and a few times, he called one minute before he was to arrive to cancel on me! WTH?! I had to rearrange my whole day for this guy multiple times. After two of his no shows, I figuratively threw my hands up in the air and told him enough already. He could now schedule for 5:00PM when my Dick would be home too.
Again, Rick was late. 15 minutes late always. One no show. We were late once (stuck in traffic.)
The Final Straw
Rick was supposed to be at our house at 5:00 PM sharp. He called at 5:15 to tell us he’d be coming at 5:45. Umm no. He could come again on Monday or Wednesday, but he would need to let us know which day. And then he had the audacity to tell us that we just didn’t want to pay rent. I looked at him, and asked, “What did you just say?” Because I had been calling and texting the property manager regarding the new lease be written regardless of when the work would be finished so we could start paying rent. She was the one who kept ignoring my calls. I was livid. I told Rick he needed to leave, and called Ethele once again in regards to the new lease. I told her we had been waiting months for her to draw up the lease for us to sign. Again, she refused to return my phone calls.
Pay or Quit
I had been doing some research on Ethele Barron and EB Preferred. Her rating with the Better Business Bureau is an F. She lost her real estate license in 2017. Her other business name is Barron Properties. She doesn’t seem to care much about her business standing, nor does she care much about keeping her promises. She is impossible to get ahold of.
When I saw the Pay or Quit notice taped to the front door, I tried contacting them again to ask them what happened to signing the new lease that they had promised us. But yet again, I couldn’t get ahold of anyone. I asked Dick if he had his share of the rent money since November that I had asked him to keep, but no, he had spent it on his drone. I knew right then, I had to get out of there. If we had the money, we could have taken her to court, but without having the money for the rent, there was nothing we could do.
Up next: Moving from Nightmare Rental