Summer Sublease Saga [May 2008]

9 Jan

I am so stoked!  I am moving downtown this summer, where I will be in walking distance to all the best places in CoMo.  I can have my cat in the apartment, there is a balcony and a porch good for sunning, I’ll have a dishwasher, and there is a washer and dryer right in the place!  Also, I’ll be living a block from theKaty Trail and 2 blocks away from my best pal.  Could it get any better?  Yes it can, I’ll be saving $200 a month by moving!!! How stellar is that?!

I was supposed to sub-lease right downtown.  There are 3 bedrooms (each with own sink) and 2 bathrooms.  Normally they rent out for $350 a piece, but the tenants were desperate so I got my room for $250.  I have one roommate, and they weren’t able to rent out the 3rd room.  Despite not living alone, it was going to be so cool:  2 blocks from my best pal, 1 block from the Katy trail, and it was right downtown.  I could drink and walk right home!  The place was available starting May 15, but I got my summer work schedule (which sucks, by the way) so I didn’t start moving in until a week or 2 later.  I did transfer my utilities over there right away though.

Chapter 2:

I still hadn’t met my roommate, but was starting to move some of my things over.  She, on the other hand, had moved ALL her stuff in.  She had all of her stuff in every common room, leaving NO space for my things.  She also claimed the larger of the 2 bathrooms as her own.  It was kind of shitty, but I had storage to put my extra things in, and I’m pretty low maintenance, requiring only a small bathroom area.

I had almost finished unloading my car when some girl appeared in the hall.  I had woken her up—at 3:30 pm?!  I introduced myself, assuming this was my new roomie.  The girl seemed super-awkward and embarrassed.  At first I figured it was because we were meeting for the first time when she had just rolled out of bed.  That wasn’t it.  The girl said she was crashing there for the last week.  This was a friend of my roommate.  Except, I didn’t believe the situation was short term, because there were 2 mattresses in that bedroom.  That and a LOT of stuff.  I also noted the 3rd bedroom that hadn’t been rented was locked—smart.  I think they were planning on both living there for just the one rent.  That’s fine, except if that’s the case, I want girl 3 to pay the entire utility bill.  It’s still considerably cheaper than rent.

Chapter 3:

I love my DirectTV!  I get a billion and three channels, including local stations, XM music channels, and all the NASCAR my little heart desires.  I also get free mover’s connection.  I scheduled the mover’s connection for today, and they threw in a DVR and an extra receiver AND free Starz and Showtime for 3 months.  It was such a sterling deal.  They called yesterday to confirm—this seems a mundane detail, but it comes into play later.

arah and I lugged my TV down the stairs at the old apartment, stuffed it awkwardly into my Jetta, and into my new bedroom. The TV people were scheduled to come between noon and 4. He called and asked if I had approval from the landlord.  Ummm, nope.  Funny no one had mentioned this before.  Seems like they would want to let me know I needed a note.  Since I’m sub-leasing, I don’t even know the name of the complex, let alone who the landlord is!  This was a problem and the DirectTV installer gave me 20 minutes to gain said permission.  I called the original leaser, got the number for the landlord, and called him.  He said I could not put any holes in the ceiling or walls because of some water-proofing or some such thing.  He said the dish could be put on the balcony though.  The dish is on my balcony currently, so I knew this could be done.  I think my installer wanted to get off work early and start his Memorial weekend, because he said we couldn’t DO that.  I know they can. . .  So I asked if we could put a pole outside my bedroom window with the dish—cause this is how it was at my first 2 apartments.  The DirectTV guy said college kids would mess up the cord.  I was like, look, it’s summer, there are hardly any college kids in town, and I’ll pay the $70 if they mess it up. Mofo wouldn’t do it.  Landlord wouldn’t budge on the no holes policy.  Laurel gets no DirectTV-ahhhh.

Besides having a huge moral issue with Mediacom’s bogus monopoly and subsequent questionable practices, not to mention the harassment I have endured from them as a DirectTV subscriber, I don’t want 6 months of their service.  I hate them and refuse to support them, even at the steep cost of having to miss all my shows.  How am I gonna keep up on Top Chef, Step It Up and Dance, and Workout?!  Those are just the shows that you have to watch weekly—nevermind all my sit-coms.  I guess I’ll be watching movies when I’m not working-Fuck, fuck, fuck!

Chapter 4- Down the 10 Stairs and through the town, to the new apartment we go:

I continue to frantically move stuff to the downtown apartment.  It’s starting to get down to the wire.  I had to be out of my old apartment by June 1st, and my work schedule is pretty heavy.  On Monday (it’s Memorial day so I only have to walk twice instead of staying at work all day), I walked in the door to the new place and the squatter was sitting (in her PJs) on the couch, surfing the web as if she belonged there.  It was around 4 pm, by the way, and I had been moving in all day.  I could hear my roommate in the shower.  I had managed to move everything over from my old apartment except my futon mattress and TV.  Since I still hadn’t met my actual roommate, I sort of lingered around waiting for her to get out of the bathroom.  I could see the friend texting, then hear a phone vibrate in the bathroom.  They were talking about me—awesome…

When she finally came out of the bathroom, the first thing my roommate said to me was, “You’re not planning to keep that litter box in the living room, are you?”  It was the ONE thing I had in a common area.  Before I said my response, she put the litter box in the closet.  I don’t know about anyone else, but my cat hasn’t learned to open doors yet. . .  I tried to play it off and be friendly, saying, “I’m bringing my cat over tomorrow.”  All I got were disgruntled stares from both my roommate and her squatting friend.  Then my roommate turned around and went back in the bathroom before I could ask how long the friend was crashing with us, and whether of not she would be paying anything.

I was very worried at this point.  I wasn’t allowed to have my stuff anywhere in the house except my bedroom, my roommate seemed to be a bitch, there was a person squatting, I was concerned they would either do something to my cat or carelessly let him out, and I couldn’t have TV.  This was not what I planned!  I called the guy who I had been working with to set up the sub-lease and asked if he knew an extra person had been staying there for a week and a half.  He hadn’t known and said he would call my roommate immediately and get the extra girl out of there.  Great, now my roommate was going to be disgruntled with me.  Now I really didn’t want my stuff or Gandhi Gus to be there!  I decided the whole thing was not working out, I wanted out of the whole deal.  I had to wait until the long weekend was over though—no sleep was had.

Chapter 5-Cue Stern Voice:  “Laurel, You’re in a Legally-Binding Contract”

The next morning, I called my current apartment’s management and asked if I could stay under a 6 month lease.  They were quick to have me sign the lease.  I also asked the management if I could move to another unit (away from the inconsiderate neighbors across the hall).  They wanted to know why, and I tried to be discreet and say I preferred other neighbors.  They brought up my neighbor’s name saying complaints were already lodged against her (I KNEW Eileen couldn’t possibly be sitting there just dealing with their craziness!) and they were evicting her.  Now, I had 3 leases going:  my current apartment, the downtown apartment, and a storage unit.  Uh oh.  I did not have the money for all of that.  I was in trouble.

I called the sub-lease kid (19 year old Mizzou undergrad) and said I wanted out of the lease.  He was NOT happy!  He said, you signed a binding agreement.  I said, I don’t think your document [little paper you typed up on the fly] would hold up in court.  He said he was going to call the girl and her father from whom I was actually sub-leasing as well as the landlord.  The kid was pretty angry, and I said, “Hey let’s not get dirty, let’s see if we can work something out.”  He said it wasn’t fair to the other girl—she couldn’t afford to pay (let’s get real–we all know she’s not paying her own rent—we both know her daddy is footing the bill) for an empty room.  I told him I also couldn’t afford to pay for an empty room that I had never even stayed in once.  Tiongs might be different if I had taken the room and there were other prospective subleasers.  They couldn’t even get sub-leasers for all 3 rooms.  My money was a bonus to them.  I asked if he wanted me to call the landlord and he told me he wanted to talk to him first, then he would call me back.

I quickly hustled (in the humidity and rain) to move everything back out of the downtown apartment.  I didn’t want to have a confrontation with anyone, and I didn’t want them to lock my door and hold my stuff hostage until I paid the full $500.  Bynoon, everything but my dirty laundry was out of that place.  I was sore and exhausted and hot!  I figured since I was paying for the utilities and hadn’t spent the night, taken a shower, or so much as turned on a light, I might as well be using the laundry.  At night, I got an e-mail from the sub-lease kid.  It basically said the contract was legally binding, the girl’s father that I was actually sub-leasing from would be calling me, and he (meaning the kid) would have no further contact with me.

Of course, I’m freaking out.  I’m thinking I need a lawyer, I need to get my stuff (dirty laundry) out of the downtown apartment, and now this girl’s dad was going to be after me.  The one thing in my favor was that when I signed the sub-lease, no one took my social security number or a copy of my driver’s license.  All they had was my name, phone number, and e-mail address—big deal.  Technically, I could just leave, and what could they do? Well, I suppose sue me.  Would they want to take the time though?  Was I willing to take the gamble?

Chapter 6-Moral Dilemma, Skip Out or Pay?

I had to work the entire next day, and as usual was having a total stroke over the situation.  I just do not have the stomach for this business of finagling my way out of a lease!  I showed everyone at Noah’s Ark the contract, asking them if they thought it was binding.  Everyone did think the lease was binding, but knew the downtown apartment’s management would have no recourse if I broke the sublease.  Of course, no one was going to tell me to be a shit-head and skip out on the lease. They suggested I get a lawyer.  So much stress and work and money!  I decided, first, I would play nice and ask my roommate if her squatter friend would like to take over my sub-lease.  That would be a perfect solution for all.  She (of course) was still in bed at 10:30, so I got my laundry, left her a note, and put the house and mail keys inside on the table.  At around 2 pm, I checked my voicemail.  It was the sub-lease kid asking me to give him my mail key—he was expecting an important letter in the mail.  I really don’t understand where he is and why he doesn’t have his mail transferred there.  I also don’t understand why he’s calling me up when just the day before he was all disgruntled and wanting to cut all contact!  Later, in the day I got a second call from the actual sub-leaser’s dad.  Great.  The third call was (finally) from my roommate.  Her friend was moving to Saint Louis THAT day.  People at my work joked that they didn’t know my (now empty) bedroom was named Saint Louis.

Uh oh, no replacement sub-leaser, and I was locked in this stupid contract all the while having to pay rent on my current apartment and storage.  I could definitely NOT afford all 3—nor did I need 3 places.  I decided I did not want to be a bad person and just leave the situation.  I had to call the actual sub-leaser’s dad and hope for mercy.  This was not to say I wasn’t terrified about dealing with someone’s dad.

I gathered my courage and made the call.  The father seemed friendly—no ranting or threats or anything.  I asked if we could work out an amicable deal, and he said that would be agreeable.  I said he probably wanted his entire $500, and he said if the deal was for less, that it could work.  I told him how relieved I was to hear that—I really didn’t have all that money. He asked me what I thought we should do, and I told him I would like it if we could split it:  I would pay $250 for the first month, if he could pay the second $250.  I said this because I didn’t want to push my luck, and I wasn’t really sure how much he would let me off the hook.  He said, “Now when can you be moved out?”  I was happy to say I was already out, as of today.  It was HIS turn to be excited.  He seemed to think he could find a sub-leaser!  Good luck with that—all the students are out of town over the summer.  He said after I paid him $250, I could be released from the contarct-yay!

That’s the end of the story.  It’s kinda sad it didn’t work out, especially since it looked so good on paper.  It was supposed to save me a lot of money, but just ended up costing me MORE money.  That and a lot of headache. . .  To recap:  The last week, I’ve been frantically moving, then Unmoving, then scared I was either going to have to pay $500 I didn’t have for an empty room or get sued.  I’m pretty happy for things to go back to normal.  Maybe today I’ll go for a swim—cause I can!

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