Friday, December 27, 2013

Bad Neighbors

The area we live in is pretty nice. Low crime rates, quality amenities nearby, decent people. We've lived here for several years and never had a problem, until recently. It all began six months ago when management changed hands. Old management ran a tight ship. New management? Not so much. Upon taking over they basically began scraping the very bottom of the barrel to get new tenants in the few empty apartments they had. I guess they figured anybody was better than nobody. Oh how wrong they were.

Some friends of ours moved in just before management changed hands and lived across the courtyard from us. At the time the worst neighbors in the entire place were those directly across the hall from me. A Russian woman fond of company who had a cackle like a rooster. She would sit out on her balcony at 2:00AM with her guests and laugh so loudly it could penetrate walls and wake you from a sound sleep -- then prevent you from returning to it. Her guests would also step out onto the landing in the stairwell and smoke like chimneys, leaving ashes and occasionally cigarette butts in their wake.

It was obnoxious but not really complaint worthy. Just asking her to clean up after her guests and not be such a loud ass would've been simple enough. Even so she didn't last long. She was evicted in short order though, less than 60 days after having signed into a 6 month lease.

That's when we were introduced to truly horrible. New management had fully taken over and put a man, his wife, and her daughter into the apartment across the hall from me downstairs. He looked like trouble, a shaved head, a neck tattoo, and a motorcycle on his patio (meaning he rode it through his apartment to get it there...) but judging a book by its cover is a shitty thing to do, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. He was really nice at first, greeting you with a smile, asking how your day was, etc. But it was an act.

Within a week the hostility began. Neither he nor the women in his life had jobs, so they were always home. And when they were home, they were fighting. I don't mean arguing, I mean full on shouting and screaming at each other. Day or night. None of them could come or go without slamming the door with such rage it would rattle all of the windows in my apartment, even those on the complete other side of the building from them. From time to time, at least once a week, this verbal abuse would erupt into violence and he would beat either his wife or his daughter as they tried to leave him.

This is when my friend, our other neighbors, and I started filing complaints with management, calling security, and occasionally having to call the police.

Management knew exactly who were were filing a complaint about the moment we walked in, because apparently everyone else had also been filing complaints since he moved in, even folk from the other side of the complex. They assured us they were already taking motions to evict him and that it wouldn't be a problem long. But it was. Even though we witnessed just how quickly they could vacate an apartment with the Russian woman, this domestic abuser managed to somehow remain here for a whole long miserable 6 months. Waking my son from naps and night time sleep, interrupting our lives in general, and making us feel unsafe when we had to venture outside because who knew when you'd unexpectedly get caught up in his violence?

We wound up having to file complaints nearly every day the entire six months against this guy. Sometimes more than one complaint per day. Which is noteworthy because we'd lived here for four years without having ever filed even a single complaint before. Security, the police, and management were there all the time telling them to calm the fuck down. None of it worked.

Meanwhile management continued with their poor decision making. There was a vacancy in the apartment beside mine on the upper level that they immediately filled with a drug user whose live-in boyfriend was also a woman beater. Once the violence got so bad that the men in the apartment beneath hers (complete strangers to her) had to respond to her screams for help and break in to fight the guy off because he was literally trying to kill her. She at least had the sense not to welcome the guy back into her life but the corresponding room mates she invited to fill the void were all drug abusers too.

Management did nothing about her or her illegal tenants for five months, until a dozen police converged on the complex with guns drawn and used a battering ram to bust down her door, arresting everyone inside for possession of narcotics.

How we went from complaining amongst ourselves about a woman's glass-shattering cackle to wife beaters and crack smokers I have NO idea. Seems like a rather huge leap.

But the situation in the apartment with the wife beater in it finally came to a head when the woman and her daughter left him. They had left several times before, or I guess the appropriate word is escaped, but always came back. For whatever reason. I assume because they'd leave with only a portion of their stuff and when they came back for the rest the guy who beat them somehow managed to convince them to stay. This last time though, they brought a Uhaul and loaded everything up at once, with a lot of screaming, door slamming, and some violence and were gone for good.

The guy didn't handle it well of course. He put his fist through every window in his apartment in a fury about being left. When management showed up to address the situation and inform him he'd have to pay for the replacement windows, you could suddenly smell (with the guy's door open for more than it took to slam it again) that the inside of his unit reeked of piss and shit. Like, I could smell it upstairs through a single open window and across the parking lot when I'd gone to fetch the mail.

I'm assuming it was then, seeing the actual state of the apartment, that they decided maybe they should've taken all of our complaints more seriously and started to actually evict the guy. Fast forward to today: the guy is gone and management is clearing out the apartment of crap he abandoned (I'm assuming he skipped out before the eviction went through to avoid paying for the windows). And they once again realize it was a lot worse. Nothing in the place hasn't been broken. They've paraded out every door from the unit with multiple holes punched through, the walls have been punched and kicked through several times, and the guy shattered a big screen TV and shredded a sofa.

What. The. Hell.

I can't feel bad for management though. They had ample warning. They could have evicted this guy the week after he moved in for the offenses he was committing and the number of complaints they were receiving about him from other tenants. But they didn't. They chose to keep the unit occupied to continue getting his rent check. Welp, now they pay the price for our misery.

A few friends wonder why we stay. The area is still great in general. Low crime rates, quality amenities, decent people. One or two bad apples don't ruin the entire barrel. Plus it would be a miserable experience trying to find a new place, packing, and moving everything with a toddler and literally no one nearby to help us. Plus, I like to think the new management learned something from all this and will improve to the quality of living we'd grown used to with old management in charge.

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