administrative assistant, housing, single mom, working

No “Mercy”

I would like to educate the blogging world of the practices of an organization whose so-called “vision” is to “create a more humane world.”

Yes, I live in a housing project funded through a non-profit organization. I have been a resident of this apartment complex for 15 months. I have never once been late on my rent. I followed through with a 12-month application process, which included paying a $100 in administrative fee, as well as a $400 deposit before moving in. I went through background checks, employment checks, bank statement checks, and got on waiting lists. I also was forced to wait an extra 6 months before I was able to move-in, due to construction delays.

Currently there is a waiting list for my apartment. Another single mom could be living in a motel right now, hoping that something becomes vacant. A couple with a new baby, living off one income, desperately hoping for an affordable apartment. I could move out in 30 days and the apartment could be filled by then. Everyone wins.

My property manager informed me that because I would be breaking my lease, I would be subject to penalty fee, totalling $1514 (2-months rent). I would also be responsible for paying for professional carpet cleaning, which usually runs $200 a unit.

I was furious. I told them that my new job pushes me over the income limit for my family size. Technically, I am not eligible for re-certification, and I am living in my apartment illegally. They shook their heads and said that that information would not be considered until my lease ended.

I told them that since my new job pushes me over the income-limit, it also makes me inelligble for Head Start, and I would be forced to find alternative care for my daughter. I told them that my new apartment is an ideal  situation because it is above a preschool.

I don’t think they could have cared less. I asked for the regional property manager’s email. I sent her a very polite, very reasonable explanation of my current situation, and got this response:

I’ve been in this business over 25 year, and I never deviate from my policies.


This new apartment is too good a deal to pass up. Its an amazing opportunity for me and my daughter, and at this point, I really don’t give a s*** about some gigantic corporation’s “policies.” I am filing a complaint and a policy change request with the Colorado extension office, and putting a deposit down on my new rental. I am not going to take my chances on the freak-show of  the Durango housing market, come November. In fact, I plan on being out of my apartment in the next 30 days.

Today is also my last day at the school district. My boss and co-workers took me out to lunch, gave me flowers and presented me a card with almost $200 in it. Needless to say, with all the current events in my life, I’ve been a little emotional today.

So let me recap: New job, new apartment, an egg donation, a court date and God knows what else in the next month. Never a dull moment, eh?  Deep breath.


16 thoughts on “No “Mercy””

  1. Awww. I’m sorry. That really sucks. It makes me so mad that the people who are supposed to be helping are usually the ones to make things worse. I’ve dealt with some of that myself. I’m glad you’re still pursuing the other apartment. I hope things calm down for you really soon.


  2. Wow. What a crazy emotional roller coaster. That really infuriates me that the housing complex would be so uncooperative. I mean, they could get that two-months rent from someone actually living in the apt. Jerks.


  3. That sucks. I would just put the deposit down on the new rental and damn the charges. They don’t have to be paid right away do they? Hopefully something will come from your complaint. So much for helping people out…


  4. I’m in such an enraged state today, that the fact that people would treat other people like this makes me MORE enraged, even though I am not surprised.

    File your complaint, policy change, and do what you need to do. You are in the right here, THEY are in the wrong.

    I’m so in awe of you girl. You have grown, changed, and matured SO much in the last year. You have so much more strength than I, and for that, I am super envious.


  5. Good thing there…your dedication that is.

    Go Erin Brokovich on them if need be. Their housing policy is unthinkable.

    Don’t let anyone rain on your parade.


  6. Man! Nothing goes easily for you, does it? It is soooo beyond time for you catch a break, girl. File everything you can…hopefully someone higher up will realize they are making a mistake by expecting you to pay a penalty when you now longer even qualify to live there. Congrats again on the new job, though! Hope you love it there and that they’re as nice to you as your former boss was (is).


  7. This is madness!!!!

    And that comment “I dont deviate” makes me sad!! There are probably thousands of people who could have been helped had she just deviated slightly!

    I mean they will in no way loose any money if there is a waiting list – makes no sense!

    Good luck for next week and the new job :))


  8. I think you should fight this, write a letter explaining the situation, send a copy to each member of the Board of Directors and explain firmly that you cannot pay the fee. Then, move to the ideal place and enjoy your life. It will work out and you should move, I know where you are and being in town would be great!!! Be well.


  9. My new job is at an apartment complex. Admittedly, not one run by a non-profit organization, but I imagine that the procedures are pretty similar.

    Unless the rules are different for them because of the non-profit thing (and I doubt they are), they have to conform to the Fair Housing Act. Sadly, this isn’t good news for you. Housing complexes get to set their own lease-break options, or they can have NO lease break options. Those things are perfectly legal. Fair Housing Act means that they can’t make an exception for you, because they’d have to make the exception the rule. Arguably, this exception probably should be the rule, but there are a few hings that you should be aware of.

    1. It will cost them ~$2000 to make your apartment ready for the next tenants.
    2. Apartment cxomplexes are sleazy, but oftentimes, tenants are sleazy too. They can’t afford to let leniency become the rule because there are plenty of people who will take advantage of that.
    3. They don’t have any obligation whatsoever to release you from your lease. The fact that they have a policy that will let you out is a courtesy on their part.

    HOWEVER, there is an argument to be made for the carpet cleaning. The fact that you’ve lived there for more than a year means that any dirtiness of the carpet falls under “normal wear & tear”. Thus, you should not be liable for it. Also, if they’re telling you it’s $200+, they’re f’ing lying. I believe that with the help of a lawyer, you could easily get out of paying the carpet cleaning, but if you can’t, shop around and find a more reasonable service and see if your landlords will let you use that one instead.

    It’s unfortunate and somewhat disgusting, but lease breaks are always expensive and sadly, they would/will absolutely win if you tried to take it to court. However, if there are less extreme measures you could take (filing a complaint and a policy change request with the Colorado extension office), absolutely do it. Just don’t get your hopes up.

    And be aware, once/if you get your lawyer involved, their gloves come off.


  10. Elly- I really don’t see how it would cost them $2000 to make my apartment ready for a new person. If all they have to do is clean the carpets, give my key to the new people, and inspect the place. Even if they changed the locks, that’s what..75 bucks? Any “administrative” fees would be charged to the next person coming in. You work for a housing complex, please enlighten me why it would cost $2000.

    Its really sick that someone could move in, trash the place, sell drugs out of their apartment, never pay rent, eventually leave without telling the managers, or get evicted and not have to pay a single dime. While someone who is honestly coming forward to let their managers know of their situation, has never been late on their rent, keeps their apartment in immaculate condition, and has never kept a pet, gets the SHIT END OF THE DEAL? I should be getting a fucking MEDAL compared to the other tenants in my complex.

    So should I just start selling drugs? Maybe I could keep a few hundred cats in my apartment so I would be forced to leave the premises. The lease breaking-fee is just a scare-tactic, and obviously the only thing it accomplishes is making people sneak out instead of being honest.


  11. honey, do what you have to do. let them come after you for the money, while you raise a stink. i think it’s still worth it even if you don’t get your way. maybe you’ll feel better.


  12. I am sorry about the apartment drama sweetie! I am glad you are going for the new apartment, it will be better for both of you! I understand how apartment complexes are run, but you are not living in the average complex. You are absolutely correct, there could be other single moms waiting for your apartment, and they should be trying to get them in there as soon as possible. I hope that it all works out for you and LB! Hugs and kisses from Connecticut.


  13. You know, I don’t have an itemized list, but it’s cleaning (remember, we’re talking about paying the wages of the multiple people who will be cleaning your apartment. They will clean it whether or not you do; if you clean it really well, it just won’t take them as long), changing the locks (which they WILL do), they cover the utillity bills for while it’s vacant, and efforts to get it re-rented–it’s a breakdown of the salary paid to the leasing agents while your apartment is on the market, divided by # of empty units, I would think. *shrug* don’t yell at me, I’m just telling you what I know.


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