#crazyneighbor investigative reporting

It’s been about two weeks since my last #crazyneighbor blog post, so I figured you were all chomping at the bit to hear the latest and greatest–for lack of a better word. Well, tonight, you’re in for a real treat…a blog post with 100% more multimedia! Yes, that’s right, I am incorporating video that I captured last night, as part of my new role as an investigative reporter in my own apartment.

Around the 15th of October, we thought we had resolved the issue…not hearing from our downstairs neighbor for just over a week. Then, apparently, the noise came back, which prompted the property manager, Jason Jackson, of NAI Black Realty Management, to send us an official notice/warning. It stated that we had 10 days to correct the issue or else we would be forced to quit the lease and vacate the premises, thus ending our lease and having to pay for rent until the unit could be re-occupied. Oh, and attached to this notice, a $35 fee. Yup, that’s right…a fee. We are being charged a fee after all we have done over the past few months to try to resolve this issue. I am currently in the process of contesting the fee.

I sent this text to our neighbor in response to the notice:

We received a written notice regarding the “sound” complaint. I am following up to let you know that we have not left either bathroom fan on overnight per our last discussion on Oct. 15. The sound must be emanating chronically and intermittently from some other source. Also, no bedroom fans have been in operation since Oct. 17. Yes, I conducted the test of the fans, and according to Doreen, you did not hear the noise during that time period. Therefore, something else must be creating this noise, that is not within our control.

And this was his reply:

Whatever the source of the sound, Doreen has been here and heard it more than once and determined it’s not coming from an other source on your floor, or apparent in the other unit on my floor. Since it first appeared about 3 months ago for the first time ever in more than 6 years, I suspect that carefully observing the 10pm-8am lease covenant will resolve it, whatever its source.

I responded:

We talked with Doreen about it and have been observing the lease covenant. As stated in my prior message, none of the fans have been ran for lengthy period of times during those hours–only when the bathrooms are in use for their intended purposes, such as showering, etc.–this includes non-quiet time hours. I would like to propose something: are you available to talk on the phone for a few minutes?

He simply replied, “Sure.”

What happened after that? I spent a good hour in his apartment, discussing the situation and trying to listen for this noise that he thought he heard once or twice while I was there. I never heard it. However, what I did hear, was this ultra-high-pitch hum when he adjusted the level of his nightlight/lamp next to his bed. He claimed he couldn’t hear it and that I must have exceptional hearing. Well, isn’t that funny? After the conversation, I thought things had been smoothed over and that we were in a decent place. And, as stated by his text message the next morning, things were OK:

Didn’the hear a thing all night. Woke at 5, still nothing, went right back to sleep. Think I might have heard you grtting up but didn’t wake. As far as I ‘m concerned, I’m a happy camper. Thank you.

I was happy that the issue seemed to have been resolved (once again). And responded:

Good morning. Glad to hear that…you didn’t hear anything. 🙂 I slept horribly last night. I think partially because I’d wake up and start listening for sounds. Let us know if that sound comes back. To my knowledge, nothing changed on our end. But who knows. Also, our refrigerator is much louder than yours and makes a weird sound towards the bottom. Might have Doreen look at it.

His next message surprised me. I thought perhaps that we had found some common ground and that he was sympathetic regarding the issue:

Wow, I’m sorry you had to go through that. Hopefully that will not continue. I’d definitely get Doreen to look at the fridge. I almost got a new one from them last year, but they were able to fix it.

Doreen is our community manager, by the way. That night, I stood in my room mate’s bedroom and could hear the refrigerator running. Yes, it runs louder than most refrigerators do. I thought, perhaps, that maybe this would be the culprit…and that the management would have to fix it and the rest would be history. Well, the community manager never followed up with my request to have it looked at–although, I’ll admit, I didn’t submit the request in writing.

Later that night (Oct. 26), there was a washer/dryer or dishwasher running somewhere in the apartment complex that was loud. It sounded like it was coming from the neighbors across the hallway. I was afraid. Afraid that our downstairs neighbor would assume it was us and we’d receive another warning. So, I texted him to let him know the sound wasn’t us. He didn’t respond until the next morning, confirming that he had heard it as well. We discussed where it might have originated from. I told him that we attempted to contact the neighbor across from us, but that he didn’t answer when I knocked on his door. I was trying to be polite about the situation. No need to go tattle-tale right off the bat. Of course, his approach was different:

Good call. It was really late. Want me to call doreen?

I didn’t think that was necessary. I believe it’s common courtesy to give people a chance first. So I responded:

Well I don’t want to “turn them in” per say. It didn’t bother us, but I didn’t want it being an issue with others. I’d hate for them to get a warning within the first few weeks of moving in. I’ll have Devlin check in with them since he’s around more. I’m headed on travel today thru Sun

No, that wasn’t going to satisfy him. So he wrote back:

PS most of us learned this the hard way. 🙂 They’ve been here about a year, it was the people w/ the dog above Betty. I just talked to her. They don’t get a warning the first time, just a nice remi nder. 🙂

The conversation that proceeded after that was all about who the other tenants were. Let me tell you…this guy sure knows a lot about everyone here. He knows people’s names, what they do, how long they’ve lived here, what they drive and so on. I don’t know whether it’s creepy or whether it’s neighborly. I’m leaning towards creepy. It seems like he may have extra time on his hands to gather this kind of information.

October 28 rolled around, right while I was traveling in San Francisco. I received this message…things were OK:

I have to tell you that the last few nights have been wonderful, thanks for keeping track of that stuff. Devlin too. It’s been great.

Wow. Had we finally solved the problem? Apparently not. Because my proactive message to him on Oct. 30, is what he latched on to when he allegedly heard this sound again. I had asked him if he could hear my room mate’s small space heater that night. He had ran it and we didn’t want to disturb him if he could hear it. Sure enough…

Thanks for checking. Under his room is pretty noisy, but less so at night. I figured he left your bath fan on last night, cause the hum was back late at night. 1st night since we met. Thu & Fri night were dead silent after 12:30 or so. I suspect it might be his stuff I was hearing thinking it was your r oom… If your room’s fans were all off last night, then it could well be a heater in his room, if it has a motor. I was going to wait till you were home to talk.

I responded:

I’ll ask him. Doubt he’d run anything in my room while I was gone, unless he took a shower in my bathroom. I’d like to check my little heater when I get back. I ran it all last winter after we moved in, but ya never know… (I’m pretty sure I turned it off before I left.)

And yes, I had ran my small heater all last winter and it was never a problem. He replied…noting that what he heard was very faint:

I only heard anything in my room last night & it was faint. I doubt it’s your heater, I heard nothing last winter.

I told him I’d check to see if anything had been ran that night. It was only the small heater in his room. Nothing had been ran in my room since I left. Oh, and of course, the bathroom fans (neither of them) had been left on either. He offered that we get together when I return and go through each item one by one. FINALLY! I had offered this multiple times to both him and the community manager, but neither of them took me up on the offer. Well, alas, that didn’t happen. I returned late on Sunday night (Oct. 30). Monday was a busy day playing catch-up at work, and then it was Halloween that night. I stayed at home, alone, and watched two movies in the living room…with only the baseboard heaters on. I went to bed around midnight or 12:30 a.m., after I finished the last movie (note that he’s never complained about being able to hear our TV before). And then, the next morning (Tuesday, Nov. 1), I receive this text message:

Yeah, the new heater’s not going to work. Sat till now has been going backwards. Wed, Thu & Friday were great, got to sleep w/o wondering what was next. Nothing running all night long is going to work, except the baseboard heaters. They work great, silent too. Not to mention that cats and portable heater s together is how fires start; a really, really bad idea. So let’s go back to the 10-8 quiet time, just like your 1st 6 months here & last Wed, Thu, & Fr i. I’m done experimenting.

I informed him that I hadn’t ran my heater that night. He said he “wasn’t talking about” mine. I told him I’d ask my room mate to see if he had ran his, and his response to me was:

You guys work it out however you want. I’m just letting you know where I stand. I thought you and I had solved it last Wed. I’m sorry that didn’t last.

What? Were we in some truce or cease-fire that I didn’t know about? Me, trying to be all diplomatic, responded that I’d need to check with my room mate (again) to see if he had ran anything that night. I then followed up to inform him that my room mate hadn’t ran his heater, he turned off his computer when he went to bed, and the bathroom fan was not on either (nor has it been on for several weeks now). His reply was simply: “interesting.”

Of course, this prompted me to call the property manager and discuss the situation with her. Sure enough, he had already called and complained to her. She informed me that we needed to resolve this somehow and that she was going to check with the property manager about this issue. I then let my neighbor know that I was sorry he was still hearing a noise and that the property manager was going to deal with it.

Well, I have yet to actually speak with the property manager. I tried calling him the next day, after our community manager informed us that we’d have to pay a $35 fee for that notice we received (we hadn’t included it with our November rent check). I didn’t realize, when I read the notice, that the fee was tied to that. Instead, I thought the fee was only incurred should we have to vacate the premises early. I was wrong. I admit it. I just misread/misunderstood it. So I told her that I thought that was unacceptable that we should be charged a fee regarding a situation that clearly is still in the process of being resolved.

Editor’s note: it’s 11:15 p.m. and a car just drove by blaring their bass really loud. I can almost make out the lyrics to the music. I’m sure the neighbor heard that, too. And he probably thought it came from our apartment.

Back to this fee. I was instructed to contact the property manager to discuss the fee and whether it could be waived. I promptly called him, but he didn’t answer, so I left a message. That was on Wednesday morning. Later that afternoon, I received a phone call from the community manager, informing me that she had received an email from the property manager stating that he had received my voice message and was too busy to contact me that day. Apparently he had enough time to email his employee, but not respond to his tenant. Great. So after verifying office hours with the community manager, I told her I’d follow up with him and try to catch him when he wasn’t busy. Unfortunately, due to my schedule today (Thursday), I wasn’t able to call him.

However, the issue progressed. The community manager called me this afternoon to ask whether we had ran anything last night. I informed her that nothing was running before I went to bed around midnight. And that I highly doubted that my room mate would have ran anything, given all the issues that have arose, late at night after I went to bed. Furthermore, I informed her that I had heard a noise coming from either above us or next to us (I heard it coming from the direction of my room mate’s bathroom, but that’s not where the source was), around 11:30 that night. In fact, I videotaped it…to show that nothing of ours was on that could have been creating that noise.

She asked me two questions:

  1. Could she purchase some mats for us to place under our space heaters? I said, sure, if that makes you feel better. But we haven’t ran either of our heaters since last weekend.
  2. If this issue isn’t resolved, would you be interested in moving into a different unit? I told her no…that we had already made up our minds to move out, as we determined that this situation has generated way to much stress for us, that we were not happy with the way it was being handled, and more importantly, we now feel that we are being harassed by our downstairs neighbor. Yes, that’s right…harassment.

She said she would contact the property manager and then be back in touch with me. I informed her that I would be tenuring our notice to not renew our lease shortly. For your reference, Washington State law does not require us to give any advance notice for not renewing our lease, since we are on a term lease. If we are still on the premises after our lease expires, then we either enter into a new term lease (which we have to sign) or we’re automatically rolled into a month-to-month lease. Only month-to-month leases require a 20-day advance notice. However, we’re trying to be good people. So we’re giving them a notice. Here it is…

3 November 2011

Black Realty Management, Inc.
107 South Howard, Suite 600
Spokane, WA 99201-3818
Attn: Lincoln Place Apartments – Community Manager

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter serves notice as our intent to vacate on or before November 30, 2011, and not renew the lease for Lincoln Place apartment #302, located at 912 West Lincoln Place, Spokane, WA, as pursuant to the signed lease agreement, expiring on November 30, 2011, between [us] and Black Realty Management, Inc.

In accordance with item #14, NOTICE TO VACATE, on page 3 of the Washington Apartment Lease Agreement (Rev. 2-18-09), signed on 12-27-2010 and subsequently amended from an 18-month and 5-day term agreement to an 11-month and 5-day term agreement (as initialed by the aforementioned parties), this notice to vacate has been tendered at least 20 days in advance of the term expiry date. Although Washington State Law does not require us to give you advance notice with a term lease, we deemed it considerate to provide you with the opportunity to re-rent the unit to another tenant as quickly as possible after the expiration of our term lease.

Please contact Lance Kissler at ###-###-#### to make arrangements for any move-out inspections, paperwork and/or other arrangements fulfilling the termination of the rental agreement.

Oh, and I also cc’d the property manager, too. Hopefully he’s not too busy and can read my letter. I do plan on submitting a formal complaint after we vacate the premises, which includes sending a copy to the Better Business Bureau. In addition, I will be asking the property manager to not impose that fee as well as ensure that this does not end up in our rental history.

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About lkissler

Lance Kissler Lance’s specific field of expertise includes online marketing and communications, branding, health and crisis communications
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One Response to #crazyneighbor investigative reporting

  1. I feel your pain! A few years back, we had a #crazyneighbor. She would repeatedly call the police on us in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. I would have to roll out of bed and explain to the officer pounding on the door that no, I’m not throwing a wild party…in my pajamas…by myself.

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