2019 – Welcome To The Penthouse

Note1: (Ignore above publish date of May 1, 2017. This was posted on April 24, 2019.)

 

NOTE2: I doubt many of you will make it all the way to the end. It’s too personal, but it’s therapeutic for me to type this all out and post it. Plus – if I ever have to talk to a lawyer about any of this, I can just send her/him this link.

 

 

I’ve been the 7th-floor tenant in a 6-story building for the last 31 years.

It’s a 91-year old building with a separate unit that sits on the roof. There’s not a scrap of anything luxurious about the place – no provided parking or air-conditioning………..hell, the elevator doesn’t even go up to my floor (that’s why my unit adjoins a slightly-noisy elevator room). But a separate unit sitting on the roof is the original definition of a penthouse……….it had absolutely nothing to do with luxury or anything else high-end that you would connect with the word “penthouse” these days.

When I first saw it and was told it was the penthouse, I laughed. I’m still embarrassed to call it a penthouse. I hated the “ooo la la” responses I got when I told people where I lived. For that reason (and because it’s on my original lease), I have all my mail come to “PH”. The owner said so, the government says so and the Post Office demands it. More on THAT later.

 

I’ve never wanted to own a house, so I’ve been a professional tenant for the last 48 years. Obviously, I’ve had a lot of landlords and one or two of them were even nice.

There have been three landlords here during my tenure. LL#1 was by-the-book, but fairly reasonable. That lasted for 25 years. LL#2 (5 years) was the typical super-cheap landlord who kept us cold for five winters. LL#3…………..well, the best I can say right now is that I didn’t have to call the Board of Health this past winter because of below-regulation heat………….and I sincerely thanked them for that.

 

When this building opened, it was THE place to be for all the Hackensack bigwigs. It was the tallest residential building in town and it had a restaurant in the basement where they all hung out. Prohibition was in full force, but apparently, not in the restaurant. I’ve heard it referred to as a speakeasy. Its entrance had doors that had what looked like stained-glass and showed the initials “P L” (the building was called The Park Lane).

 

Unfortunately, that picture is all that’s left of them because during some recent work in the basement, the doors – and all of their Hackensack history – were thrown out by some idiot.

The chef lived in my rooftop apartment and grew vegetables on the roof for his restaurant, which is probably why there was running water on the roof. The Depression aside, this must have been one cool place to be.

When I moved in here, there was a sign out front that indicated that this was a soundproof building. Maybe it was by 1930 standards, but it’s not even close today.

 

There was a long awning that went from the front door to curbside – as any sensible residential awning does – to protect tenants and guests who were entering or exiting a vehicle from inclement weather from door to door.

LL#2 got the brilliant idea a few years ago to replace that one with a useless shorter one that only covered the front steps. “But it says ‘Park Lane’ on it”, reasoned LL#2, as if that made it OK to let his tenants get wet.

Below are two photos I found online of the long and short awnings:

 

I should mention that I DO have one perk the other tenants here don’t: my own roof door in my apartment and my own private roof area (no other tenant is allowed on the roof). As mentioned above, the private roof area had its own running water. It also had a small wooden gate to – at least, symbolically – keep others out and even its own electrical outlet (I used to watch Yankee games on a TV plugged into that outlet when the games were on broadcast channels). When satellite dishes became popular, all the dishes of other tenants had to be placed on the other side of the roof.

 

THE NEIGHBORHOOD

I’m a mile from where I grew up in Teaneck.

The Catholic church I was baptized in is two blocks away, as is the Catholic school I attended from grades 1-8. For that matter, so is Main St, where I used to cruise up and down in my hot car, along with a thousand other kids in the late 60s, meeting girls and getting kicked off the drag by cops (“I don’t want to see this car here again tonight!” “Yes sir!”, as I went home and grabbed my other hot car and came right back to wave and smile at the officer).

This IS my neighborhood.

My building has a beautiful old church on either side of it and a third church right across the street. I’ve been friendly with most of the pastors for years and some of my photos of their churches – from my unique perspective – have appeared on their websites.

But it’s not just these great old churches that I can see and photograph from here. I can see NYC’s Midtown Manhattan (10-15 miles away) from 59th St down to the World Trade Center. Unfortunately, I shot the demise of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001 from here (go to my site and find the September 11 listing).

I can see the Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza – whether it’s on the Hudson or East Rivers. I can also see – and shoot – fireworks displays from all the surrounding towns that have them. I have to map out a nightly schedule for all of them for a week of nights on either side of the 4th, so I know what to shoot when. The Hackensack fireworks are a couple of blocks away, but look like they’re practically right in my lap from my living room window (go to any “Best Photos” post on this blog from 2011 or later and scroll down until you see fireworks).

From here, I can also see the Pulaski Skyway, which runs from Jersey City to Newark (15 miles away?), Garret Mountain in Paterson (10 miles) and the Watchung Mountains turning into the Ramapo Mountains as they enter New York State. When the foliage is off the trees, I can even see the lights of both towers of the George Washington Bridge (6 miles).

When there was a military flyover on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, I could see and photograph the aircraft. I know all the flight patterns into LaGuardia, Newark and Teterboro airports and have seen the planes’ headlights as they’re stacked over Newark Airport at night, waiting to land, though it took me a couple of years to figure out what these changing light patterns 20-40 miles in the distance were.

I can see every sort of sunrise, sunset and developing weather pattern and have gotten some incredible lightning shots. I’ve also seen fires, including one a block away for which I shot stills and video from the roof. I saw one of the stills in the Hackensack FD’s wall of fires and they’ve told me that they’ve used the video for training purposes (go to the 2002 blog entry).

The neighborhood architecture and residents are so remarkably varied that that alone provides endlessly-interesting photographic opportunities. And being 7 floors up means that I’m close enough to the ground to see every little detail that would be mere specks to me if I was living in a high-rise (which Hackensack has a bunch of).

There’s a whole street of them on a hill that’s about a half-mile from me and they end at the huge Hackensack University Medical Center. I love the fact that I can look at their lovely buildings, while their tenants pay three times as much rent to look at my old building (as with all stitches on this blog, click the image for the initial enlargement. Once that’s loaded, run your mouse over the image. If it becomes a + sign, click the image again and it will get huge – you’ll have to scroll from side-to-side to see it all. Click image again to go back to initial enlargement and them use your back button to return to this page. If it wasn’t worth it, I wouldn’t bother posting it.):

 

A lot of my home photography winds up in the forum of the Hackensack city historian’s site (http://www.hackensacknow.org/), which I happen to moderate. Until a couple of years ago, the exact same situation existed on the forum of the Bergen County Historical Society, which I also moderated.

One unexpected perk of living in this apartment is that I’ve actually become slightly known for my pictures of – believe it or not – birds! It used to be that if you searched me in Google Images, you’d see pictures of rock stars, but lately, it’s been birds.

Seven or eight years ago, a juvenile red-tailed hawk took to perching on my bedroom air conditioner for two consecutive winters. He would visit almost every day. I got INCREDIBLE point-blank shots. He wound up with a name (Hammy, because he was), he was written up in the local newspaper and he’s also featured elsewhere on this blog in the 2011 & 2012 “Best Photos” posts.

 

A bit more recently, I’ve popped up on Pinterest via my photos of mockingbirds (“These beautiful photos by Bob Leafe of the Northern Mockingbird in flight are…”).

I have an inoperable skylight in my bathroom that’s probably as old as the building, but sometimes when I’m in there, I can hear beautiful bird songs nearby, so I go out onto the roof and there’s a mockingbird sitting on the top of a chimney whose wall actually goes past my apartment’s front door.

As the bird sings, he suddenly leaps about 20’ into the air and then lands on the exact spot he started from while still singing and without missing a single note.

 

So I pull up a folding beach chair and capture all the leaps (concert photography was good training for this). I wind up with great stuff…………well, you judge (they’re also found in the 2012 “Best Photos” post.

BTW – I refer to that bird as “he” because I think this is all part of a mating display. Of course, I had to give him a name too: “Jukebox” seemed most appropriate.

There are probably a million other things I’ve shot from here that I can’t think of at the moment, like the big bend in the Hackensack River 4 blocks away that looks like it’s coming right at my living room window. Unfortunately, I’ll be totally losing that view very soon due to new construction. (Update: as of May 23, 2019, it’s gone)

You know when you move into a new place and everything is different and somewhat exciting and after a few months, you’ve gotten used to everything and there are no more surprises?

That’s not the case here. After over 11,000 days, I still see something new every day.

That’s why when I’m asked if I would move to some ritzy community if I became a millionaire, I look at that person as if he/she was crazy.

“No way! This apartment was made for me”. LL#3 is starting to make this place a dump, but I’ll never move!

 

So much for the happy stuff. Proceed from this point at your own risk.

 

(Pent)House of Horrors

So let’s get into LL#3, whom I will thoughtfully not identify (someone’s gotta have some class here).

When they took over in March 2018, I immediately sent them a “Welcome to the building” email (and I really meant it after having just endured my fifth straight frigid indoor winter, courtesy of LL#2). I also expressed a desire to meet with the new team’s building manager ASAP to start up a good relationship. That worked well with LL#1, who recognized that my long tenancy here and my love of history made me care very much about the state of this building (he once told me that I was “the conscience of the building”). I’ll take that.

Because a similar relationship never existed with LL#2, I was most anxious to revive it with LL#3.

I didn’t get a reply to my welcoming email. Uh-oh.

What I DID get soon after was a bill for over $3,700. Now THERE’S a warm way to start a good relationship.

WHAT?

I immediately called the office and asked what that was about. I was told that when there are takeovers like that one that had just occurred, there are a LOT of accounts that need to be sorted out first. “Don’t worry about it, but it may take me a month or so to figure it out”, came the semi-assuring reply.

The next thing I was told was that it appeared that I had owed the amount to a past landlord. “I don’t owe anything to ANY landlord”. I thought that maybe cheap LL#2 must be behind this.

“I’m not sure, but I think it goes back to LL#1”, I was told.

“I KNOW that that’s impossible! If it was true, that means it would have been right there for LL#2 to easily grab when he took over………….free money! Where is proof that I owe anybody anything?”

Again – no reply.

They kept dunning me for this absurd amount month after month. I continued to ask for proof. “Surely you must have some documentation.”

No reply.

I received another notice for the same amount last month – more than a year after they took over……..and I told them that they were harassing a tenant for no provable reason and asked them to please stop.

How many replies do you think that generated? Hint: you know the answer.

Meanwhile, over the course of that year, they made some bizarre edicts and tried to charge $75 for every little thing they considered an infraction and threatened to change the locks – and charge us for it – if we so much as missed a visit from the exterminator……………even if we had no need for his services.

We used to have a lobby phone where visitors would call us in our apartments and we’d buzz them in by hitting a number on our phones. It was a great system that only let in authorized people. This was also handy for package deliveries, so the drivers could deliver the packages to our individual apartments.

That phone no longer works and LL#3 has no intention of fixing it. Consequently, the carriers all just drop every package in the lobby. We have no way of knowing when a package arrives for us and is sitting downstairs and can now be stolen by anyone. Same thing with mail carriers: they used to bring packages to our apartments, but now packages are scattered about in the vicinity of the basement mailboxes.

Personally, I had a Visiting Nurse come by early last year as part of my recovery from surgery, but I had to go downstairs every time she visited to let her in after she called me on her own phone.

Every tenant used to enter the building – front or back – with a single key. There was a security code that we were given to use on the lobby phone if we forgot our key. LL#1 was very strict – and rightfully so – to insist that we NOT give out that code willy-nilly in an effort to keep our building safe.

LL#3 changed the front door lock and didn’t give anyone a key for it, insisting that everyone and their mother be given the security code. Now half of New Jersey has that code and the result of that was a notice we never saw before in this building:

(Geez – they don’t even know that their own building is on Union STREET and not Union Avenue?)

When I called the office to ask about their I-could-care-less attitude regarding the security code, I was told that they didn’t understand why I referred to it as a “security” code. “It’s just a door code”.

Yeah – NOW it is, thanks to you. And they didn’t seem to understand the connection between their lax attitude and the first-ever robbery notice in our building.

SO………….all of our packages are there for the taking by anyone and we have burglars getting into the building, yet they show no interest in restoring the three simple things that got all our packages delivered to our doors and kept us safe: the lobby phone, the front-door key and the SECURITY code.

LL#1 had the sense to print out all notices and distribute them to EVERY apartment, so that EVERYONE knew what was going on. LL#3 thinks it’s a good idea to hang a notice on the front door or maybe in one of two elevators and that that will accomplish the same thing.

LL#3 doesn’t ever take into account that not everyone leaves their apartment every day or uses the chosen elevator every day or goes out the front door (I’ve parked in back for 31 years).

We got a notice from LL#3 in mid-October that all air-conditioners MUST be removed from all windows by the end of the month (“to properly heat the building”) or face a $50 monthly fine for each unremoved unit.

I have never seen a notice like this in ANY of the multiple places I’ve lived in over the last five decades. And my three A/Cs have never been removed. They’re in there for good.

If you really want to “properly heat the building”, PROVIDE SUFFICIENT HEAT like LL#1 did for my first 25 winters here (and NOT like LL#2, who NEVER did) and don’t pretend that greatly inconveniencing your tenants is the way to do it (while you try to charge me $150 a month for my 3 A/Cs).

When I called the office for an explanation for something that no other LL does, the reply was short and dictatorial: “It’s mandatory.”

It’s ridiculous.

BTW – this DID get resolved, but not in the way you’d think………….and I’m not convinced it’s over yet.

 

If you’re a tenant anywhere, you might be familiar with a requirement that a LL gives you 24-hours notice before he/she can inspect your apartment or visit you without it being a surprise.

It’s a common courtesy in almost any aspect of life because nobody likes surprise visitors when one isn’t prepared for them. In New Jersey, it isn’t just a courtesy………..it’s the law.

So you can imagine my surprise one morning as I was dealing with someone at my front door, when a man standing behind him (I thought it must be the first guy’s assistant) steps forward and introduces himself as the LL! And he expects to just stroll in and have a discussion with me that I’m not prepared for.

Not wanting to seem equally rude and still trying to have a better relationship with this increasingly odd and annoying company, I invited him in.

Thinking he wanted to see the apartment, I started showing him around. However, he had another purpose for being there and got right into it:

He was here to tell me that I was banned from my roof!

WHAT?

I went through every reason why that would be a horrible idea – including most of what I wrote above – but he was adamant. “The insurance companies won’t allow it.”

“Why not? They’ve allowed it for 90 years!”

And THAT’S where that discussion ended!

This was devastating. How would I ever overcome a loss like that? Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well the next few nights as my mind just kept racing with scenario on top of scenario……………trying to figure out SOME way to fix this.

Within a month, a solution was arrived at, but it didn’t emanate from me or any of my friends or associates. Unbelievably, it actually came from the unbending, dictatorial LL’s office!

It seems that they wanted something else from me even MORE and if I gave it to them, the “insurance companies” would suddenly vanish (which makes me wonder if they were truly a factor in the first place).

Remember that A/C edict? I said no until they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: they’d let me back on the roof (I never left) if I let THEM take out my A/Cs and install 3 new windows (which LL2@ had been ordered to install in 2016, but which had been sitting in the basement for 2 years because the old super ordered ones that were too small for my A/Cs and would not provide better A/Cs that would fit the new windows). But THIS LL said they would provide A/Cs that would fit and would probably be stronger that mine were (this apartment needs that), but they wouldn’t be new. They said tenants leave good A/Cs all the time in their many buildings (why would they leave them if they’re good?).

The new building manager swore that he would have them installed before it got hot out. I said, “You’ve taken my property and made a promise and I’m just supposed to believe that? I want a receipt for the 3 A/Cs that you’ve destroyed (the only way to get them out) and I want it in writing that you’ll replace them with something better.”

“OK”

Guess what receipt/written promise never got delivered. But he still says he’ll come through. The heating period ends in mid-May, so stay tuned to find out if the BM delivers.

 

Can you stand one more gripe? Well, you’ll have to because it’s a big problem caused by the same LL person who just showed up at my door to deliver the roof ban. And it’s absolutely the pettiest pile of crap ever.

LL#1 was very insistent on certain rules. One of them was that tenants were NOT permitted to place anything on their front doors – EVER.

That wasn’t a problem, but the rule has been burned into my mind for my entire tenancy here.

This sounds unrelated, but it isn’t. Years ago, there was a list by the lobby phone that gave the code to use to call any apartment. For example: 1A Jones *43

The super could never figure out my terribly-complicated last name (he always called me “Bob Lee”), so he just used my first name and it looked like this: Penthouse Bob *80

Of course, everyone in the building then started calling me “Penthouse Bob”, which I hated and had been trying so hard to avoid. I even heard it once within the past year.

I came home one day and found a gold-and-black sticker on my door that said “The Penthouse”. There’s no penthouse on earth that says “The Penthouse” on it (Google it!), so I figured it was another needling attempt by an unknown tenant. “Ha, ha – very funny” and, remembering the rule not to attach anything to my front door, I immediately peeled it off. I was grateful it was just a sticker and not something more permanent.

A couple of days later, the building manager rings my bell and asks me where the sticker is! He then goes on to tell me that the management was contacted by the Fire Department about my door having no apartment identification on it, so the LL came up with this stupid sticker as a way to get around that.

“You couldn’t have told me about this in advance or asked me about it? I thought someone was pranking me.”

Apparently, they couldn’t manage to extend that simple courtesy of a phone call to me……..again.

But I did understand the HFD’s point about apartment identification, so I proposed the simplest and most obvious solution.

Every single other apartment in the building has a two character designation permanently attached to their front door (as mentioned above in the 1A Jones example). This is the front door of the apartment directly below mine:

 

I dug out my original 1988 lease and saw that the apartment designation listed on it was “PH” – perfect! For good measure, I scanned mail from the government – in this case, the Social Security Administration – and emailed both to the office and BM. I even checked with the HFD (“PH is fine”). That should end that problem, right?

 

Not with this LL!

I have to go to another seemingly unrelated thing (it isn’t).

A few months ago, I walked into the first-floor lobby and saw that someone had painted it a bright green (WTF?). The next day, they painted the front doors of the first-floor tenants BLACK! It looked like a nightmare and was hardly the neutral (and much classier) off-white/beige that it had been.

This picture was taken when only one wall was painted green. It’s all green now. You can see a few of the dumped packages mentioned earlier awaiting their owners (or theft):

 

In this pic, some kindergarten touches were added and this is what we have to look at when we exit the elevator on the first floor:

“Be You”? It’s more like “P-U”.

A week or two later, the second floor hallway was painted some shade of orange with the tenant doors again black. Meanwhile, every other part of the building remained white. Who’s their designer, Svengoolie?

 

I think it was the day after I sent the PH email out that the super shows up at my WHITE door and tells me he’s there to paint it.

“What color?”

He points down to what looks like black water. “BLACK? Oh God no!”

After having seen the second floor get painted after the first floor, I figured I’d be safe for a while and at best, maybe they wouldn’t bother to disfigure the stairwell at all (My apartment fronts in the stairwell – it’s the only one that does). So why would they suddenly come up to the seventh floor and paint only my door (and not the walls)? This was WAY out of sequence. Something was very wrong.

So not only was my door painted black, but it was a highly-reflective GLOSSY (and drippy) black which shows a total lack of artistic class if you HAVE to paint the door black.

This pic shows my door painted black. There’s a stairwell vent where a window used to be next to my door. It’s reflected in the glossy door paint:

 

The super completely panted over my peephole!

 

I told him I couldn’t see who was at my door and asked him to get the paint off the peephole ASAP. This is what I could see after he “fixed” it:

 

After another try, he finally got it right, but the LL had more spite in store for me.

The next day, I had to go out for 5-10 minutes to move my car. I saw the super on my way out. He didn’t say a word.

By the time I got back, he had already painted the word “PENTHOUSE” (or is it “PENT HOUSE”?) in large reddish, drippy letters on my black door!

 

Here are some closeups of his handiwork:

 

Here’s what it looks like from inside my apartment (the stairwell vent is still reflecting off the door):

 

I thought that maybe the super was bleeding when I saw some red spots on the floor, but it was just that bloody paint:

 

So now you see what my classy LL is all about. What is wrong with these people? How petty and spiteful can they BE?

I immediately sent the office pictures showing what they had done, but all they did was whine about their sticker, demand FIFTEEN BUCKS for it (!) and said they’ll just order another non-permanent sticker that says the same thing as the first one.

Ignoring the actual PH designation of the apartment that was on my original lease, the fact that the government uses PH for my mail, the fact that the post Office requires PH and the fact that the HFD cleared “PH” for the door, the same stupid, non-permanent sticker is their solution?

They were given a simple solution to a problem of their own creation. All I asked for was exactly what every other tenant has: a two-character apartment identification.

Again I ask: what is wrong with these people?

The office email did add one other thing: if I have further issues, that I should call the same company number, but ask for a different extension. For some odd reason, they neglected to mention whose extension it was.

It didn’t really matter. You can bet your ass I’m calling that number!

Guess who it turned out to be – our unmannered friend who just showed up unannounced at my door! It turned out that – comparatively – he was Miss Manners that day compared what he was this day.

It was by far the rudest, dopiest and most aggravating call I can ever remember being on the other end of.

This man erupted into a non-stop barrage of words that almost literally never ended. He was determined to NOT let me reply or make any point that he’d have to contend with. He was so wrapped up in this effort that – at one point – he had to resort to utter nonsense to keep it going.

We had gotten to a point where I finally managed to quickly mention the two-character designation. He said that if I “MADE THEM WHOLE” again (such drama!!) by paying them for the sticker and IF I made a sincere apology to everyone involved (and only he would determine if the degree of sincerity was sufficient), he MIGHT think about the two character designation.

MIGHT…………..maybe.

“I think I would like to hear something a bit more concrete than that you might think about it.”

And that’s when he blurted out the reply that showed me he totally lost it:

“CONCRETE’S IN THE GROUND!”

Huh?

All I could think of was that he just said that to a man who – three days before – had spent the entire day shooting two hundred pictures and 66 small videos of the contents of a couple dozen cement trucks pouring the entire second-story floor of a construction project right across from my living room window.

And not a single drop of it was on – or IN – the ground.

Nice talking to you, buddy.

 

During that “conversation”, he mentioned something about that I should have called the office when I first saw that sticker on my door.

“Why? I had no idea that you were even involved!”

Yet when I asked him why he didn’t call and let me know that they were going to do that, the reply was:

“I don’t have to call you!”

Well, at least he’s consistent – he didn’t bother to call when he dropped in unannounced. Maybe his company has “Receive Only” phones.

After I slightly recovered from the stupidity of that call, I thought about what my response should be to his demands.

I should sincerely apologize to “all involved” AND send them $15 for something they never bothered to tell me about beforehand?

Wait a minute. They’ve been dunning me for over a year about over $3,700 (actually $3,789.15) that they say I owe them (but have no proof). That figure is over 250 times larger than their measly $15 and I’ve been hearing about it for over a year. I would think I’d be owed a HUGE apology for that barrage of harassment, but I’m not crying about it, so get in the Apologies-to-Receive line, pal. You’re a VERY distant second.

Besides, I couldn’t possibly email him an apology because he absolutely refuses to give me his email address! He’s afraid of getting emails from me! What a baby! And this guy’s the CEO?

 

Seems to me it’s time to do a little research on this company……………

OH MY GOD!! The reviews are HORRIBLE! (what a surprise!)

Under YELP (3 reviews):

The first two bemoan the fact that they have to give at least one star. “ZERO STARS IF THERE WAS SUCH A THING”, said one.

The third said: “If you LOVE YOUR LIFE ! And your SANITY ! Do not rent ! Here ! Under ! No ! Circumstances!”

There are at least six very similar Google reviews that begin thusly: “Unihabitable”, “TERRIBLE, UNBELIEVABLY DISGUSTING”, “DO NOT MOVE HERE”, “DO NOT MOVE into ANY of their buildings!”, “Horrible” and “Sucks”.

To be fair, there was also a curious clump of 5-star ratings in that group in which NONE of the posters offered a single word of comment. One of them – who posted a month ago – caught my eye.

IT WAS POSTED BY THE WOMAN I DEAL WITH IN THE LL’S OFFICE!

Talk about stuffing the ballot box! Pretty desperate stuff, LL!

I did find one more comment that – except for the name-calling – I could partially relate to:

Truly, I see a lot of people that say that management for rental companies is rude, but have you ever been yelled at? Consistently, or been called a c*** by a receptionist? And the management…

So…………now that we all know what type of LL we’re dealing with here, I think it’s time to rest my case.

It can’t get any worse, can it? If it does, I’ll let you know.

Who am I kidding? It’s bound to get worse. Meanwhile, I think I’ll let the door stay as is, so all can see how ridiculously spiteful and petty (not to mention how clumsily unartistic) a landlord can be.

And when (not “if”) more problems pop up, I’ll just add them here.

(Wouldn’t you know it……………before I could even post this today, I just got a monthly email statement from the office with a Balance Brought Forward of $3,789.15. Any explanation from them? Ha!)

 

So whaddaya think? Got a preference? LL#1 or LL#3?

 

 

May 31, 2019 UPDATE re the replacement of the 3 A/Cs

 

When the Building Manager’s crew ripped out (and tossed) my A/Cs on December 3, 2018, I asked him for a receipt for taking my property while – at least temporarily – giving me nothing in return. It was important to get the timely replacement of those A/Cs promise in writing. He said he would, but never did, despite my repeated emails to do so (and his replies that he’s “working on it”.)

Sensing that this probably won’t go smoothly, I started writing on March 1 to the BM and the LL to establish some timelines/deadlines:

 

Me to BM March 1: I sent him all the power requirements for the 3 replacement A/Cs.

 

Me to BM on May 1: “As you know, it’s not unusual to have very hot days around Memorial Day, so I would PLEASE ask you to install the 3 promised, stronger A/Cs sometime during the two-week period after May 15 and leading up to Memorial Day.”

(note: May 15 marks the end of the official winter heating period for landlords)

 

Me to LL’s office on May 9: cc’d them the May 1 email to BM just to cover all bases.

 

LL’s office to me on May 14:

RE; WINDOW AIR CONDITIONER INSTALLATION   

Dear Resident,

The warm weather is upon us and you will most likely be installing window air conditioners. It is important to follow the requirements Listed below, at the request of the buildings insurance carrier and for the safety and security of your neighbors.

Installation Guidelines 

  • Make sure the unit is installed securely. Support the unit from underneath.You must use metal brackets,safety nets, etc.
  • Install the AC unit so it remains in place when the window is opened accidentally.
  • Do not use loose objects,such as wood blocking, bricks,telephone books,gypsum board or cans,to support the leveling of and AC unit.
  • Do not block fire escape windows or other exits with the AC unit.
  • do not drill holes of any kind into the building or the window frame.

AC Safety Nets and brackets are the simplest and easiest to install and are available online.

Management has them for sale in the rental office for the same price for your convenience.

*If your AC is installed without proper support, management will go into the apartment and install it.

 You will be Charged for the installation *

Thank you,

Management

 

Me to LL’s office on May 22:

“Good Morning,

Can you give me an idea which day you plan to install the three air-conditioners?

I’ve already had a couple of days when it’s gotten over 80 degrees in my apartment (Monday was pretty bad).

I’m under instruction from my cardiologist to NOT exercise when the temperature reaches 80 and over, so it’s really important that I have the A/C option ASAP to keep him happy and aid my recovery.

Please let me know.

Thank you.”

 

LL’s office’s reply on May 22: “We are in the process of getting the air conditioners installed for you. Please be advised that you must have an air conditioner bracket for each one before we can install them. We have them for sale for $25.00 each or you can purchase them on your own.”

 

So now they want me to pay them $75? I don’t think so.

 

My May 22 reply to LL’s office:

“Thanks for your reply.

I had very good A/C brackets. Unfortunately, your guys threw them out with my A/Cs, but I’m sure your brackets would be a fair exchange.

Can you tell me when you anticipate these A/Cs to be installed?”

 

No reply.

 

Me to LL’s office and BM on May 30:

“Just checking on when the A/Cs will be installed. There have been a couple of rough days when I needed them. It’s rough because I was told that this would be seamless – I would have the replacements in time for when I would need them – as if mine were never taken out. The other thing to consider is that when it’s 80 outside, it’s usually 85 in here because there are 6 apartments’ worth of heat below me rising upward.

I hope you will be able to have them put in by next week so I can avoid the health and sleep problems that heat and humidity bring me.

Thank you.”

 

BM’s reply on May 30:

Good morning

I am working on get you A/C units install and for what I see u don’t want to pay for the brackets  and np I will give u the brackets, so that is holding me down. So went I get the brackets you will get ur A/C units install, will you like to have sooner you can always go to Home Depot and get ur own brackets and I can sent the súper to install your A/C  in the meantime all I can say at the moment is please be  patient and I will try my best to resolve ur  issue  In the time posible

 

My reply to BM on May 30:

“Again – I had brackets, but instead of saving them, you guys threw them out with the A/Cs, so it’s up to you to replace them. This is not supposed to cost me anything, remember? That’s part of what “seamless” means: restoring the situation to what it had been before taking my A/Cs.”

 

LL’s reply on May 31:

To Robert N. Leafe,

RE; WINDOW AIR CONDITIONER INSTALLATION 

Dear Resident,

If you do not have the correct brackets installed on or before Friday June 7th we will have no choice but to go into your apartment and install the brackets ourselves. You will be charged $100.00 per air conditioner that maintenance must remove ,install the bracket , and put the air conditioner back in the window.

Installation Guidelines 

  • Make sure the unit is installed securely. Support the unit from underneath.You must use metal brackets,safety nets, etc.
  • Install the AC unit so it remains in place when the window is opened accidentally.
  • Do not use loose objects,such as wood blocking, bricks,telephone books,gypsum board or cans,to support the leveling of and AC unit.
  • Do not block fire escape windows or other exits with the AC unit.
  • do not drill holes of any kind into the building or the window frame.

AC Safety Nets and brackets are the simplest and easiest to install and are available online.

Management has them for sale in the rental office for the same price for your convenience.

*If your AC is installed without proper support,management will go into the apartment and install it.

 You will be Charged for the installation *

Thank you,

Management

 

My reply on May 31:

“YOU took my A/Cs AND my brackets. It is up to YOU to replace both.”

 

My June 5 email to LL’s office:

The BM’s email tells me that you DO have the 3 A/Cs that are – as agreed upon – stronger than my three old units: 15,000 BTU living room unit (which is a 220 – see attached photo of my LR A/C outlet):

 

…the 8,200 BTU bedroom unit and the 10,300 BTU back room unit. Yours are meant to replace those 3 A/Cs (and brackets) you took out 6 months ago. And the thing that’s gumming up the works now is that you want $75 for brackets to replace the ones you could have saved?

Neither this nor any other expense was part of our agreement. I gave you three properly-supported A/Cs and I expect the same in return. Does that sound unfair? I upheld my end of the deal and is it asking too much for you to do the same instead of trying to squeeze $75 out of a senior citizen tenant who DID have the brackets and DOES have a heart condition that requires air-conditioning so I can exercise at temperatures below 80 degrees, as per my cardiologist? You’ve never been here, so you may not know that my apartment is the only one in the building that has direct exposure to summer sun all day long, plus whatever heat rises from 6 floors of apartments below me. This is a health issue.

What this all boils down to is I did what you asked and now it’s your turn to do what you promised. Please let me know that you will.

Thank you.

 

LL’s June 5 office reply:

Please note that if the sun exposure is too much we can accommodate & move you to a lower floor.

As far as the brackets, the AC we removed were so heavy, old & waste of energy that part of the actual AC was a bracket to support the unusual weight, unfortunately it was part of the unit & was not able to be used again.

You can get your own brackets which we can install for you, but the units must be supported.

Please let us know when your ready for a transfer to less heat for your medical condition, or when you have the brackets so we can install these units waiting for you.

 

My June 5 reply to LL’s office:

I’m going to ignore your first sentence and ask that you never offer a similar “accommodation” again.

As for the second sentence, in which you’re basing your case regarding my AC brackets, I’m going to totally disprove it in hopes that you realize that you’re incorrect and will finally do what’s right, despite the fact that you are being told to do otherwise no matter what. If not, I’m going to have to involve outside agencies that are not fans of landlords jeopardizing tenants’ health, making misrepresentations to tenants AND making up financial charges after the fact – especially when the tenant is elderly.

To show you that my brackets were NOT part of the AC unit, let’s start with attached IMG 5894, which is an outdoor shot of my bedroom AC, taken last December 3 – the day you removed my units:

The only metal that the brackets are in contact with is the casing.

It’s not easy to tell if the unit is in the casing when this picture was taken, so let’s go to IMG 5922 – another shot of the same casing (this time from inside my bedroom) – and also taken on December 3:

As you can see, the AC unit has already been pulled out and the bracket that’s visible is still attached to the casing. This is same setup as on Day 1, when the unit was first slid into the casing. Clearly, the brackets had no connection whatsoever to the AC unit and in no picture do they appear to be “heavy”, “old”, and whatever “waste of energy” means. They were simply connected to the casing and could have been disconnected and just left in place to support another unit.

Still not convinced?

Let’s move on to IMG 5576, taken this afternoon and date/time-stamped as such:

I still have the installation booklet for my 3 Friedrich units and I’m holding it by the back room window. I’m holding the booklet slightly open to a page with an illustration that’s shown in the final image.

It’s a large scan I made that conclusively illustrates that the brackets were NOT connected to anything other than the casing:

 

Nothing against the work crew, who are all nice guys, but a professional would have recognized the brackets’ potential, disconnected the casing and left the brackets there for future units – ESPECIALLY since they were already bolted to the building.

You can’t blame me for that nor can you blame a crew that did what they were told. Your company shoulders the ultimate blame for what occurred and the responsibility for replacing the brackets.

 

More to be added as necessary………………..

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Geralynn Bobay April 24, 2019

    I read all the way to the end because I’ve been a little involved the last 31 years. It took my whole lunch hour to read it. My only comment is ‘that’s why we own!!!’!!!

  2. Bob Leafe April 24, 2019

    Actually, I’m slightly amused by all this………….but only slightly. I know what to do if it escalates.

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