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Getting screwed by our apartment complexFollow

#1 Jan 16 2014 at 11:09 PM Rating: Excellent
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So, last Tuesday, someone in our apartment complex had a pipe burst due to leaving her heat off for multiple weeks and us getting hit with sub-freezing temps. They were on the 2nd floor, and their apartment and the apartment under them were damaged heavily. Many of the other 1st floor tenants also had damage. We were luckily on the 2nd floor and on the other side of the building from the flooded apartment, so we had very little damage (a bit of water inside our door but that was it). So fast forward two days, they're doing construction on the 1st floor and we're going about our business. Around 6:15 in the evening we get an email notifying us that the complex's insurance had decided that they didn't want anyone living in the building during the renovation. So that evening we have to pack up all of our valuables and electronics and get placed into an extended-stay style hotel. Furthermore, they notify us that everyone must vacate their apartments and move their stuff into a storage unit within 1 week or have all of their things thrown away, as they were planning on replacing the floors in every apartment. We were to pay for all of this ourselves (sans the hotel), with promise of future reimbursement.

So, we got all of our stuff moved out into a storage unit a couple days ago, and prepared to live out of a hotel for a little while. Fast forward again to tonight, and we get an email saying that if we want, we can be released from our lease and find a new place. Otherwise, we must honor the remainder of our lease (in our case, til April). They have no estimate of how long the construction will take, but the insurance company will only pay for our hotel stay up until the 27th of this month (10 more days). Oh, we also have to give them our decision by Monday. So now it seems we have no choice but to find a new place to live THIS WEEKEND that can let us move in by NEXT WEEKEND... because we can't just pay to live out of a hotel for an indeterminate amount of time. There's also no telling if or when they will honor their promise to reimburse us for expenses, especially not our expenses to hire movers again to wherever we end up. This seems incredibly unfair and possibly illegal, but I have no knowledge of the law (either here in Nashville or elsewhere), and my understanding is that landlords generally have all the power.

So yea, that's how my last week and a half have gone. How is everyone else doing?
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#2 Jan 17 2014 at 2:22 AM Rating: Excellent
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Go look up the laws and possibly lawyer up as this seems completely illegal to me. I know it is here at least (landlords must give 3 months notice by law) but I know nothing of Nashville law, just that your situation seems impossible from your point of view and I can't imagine it being legal.

Also, good luck!
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#3 Jan 17 2014 at 6:39 AM Rating: Excellent
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Seems fairly shady to me too. I would also read your lease through, im sure there has to be some sort of passage in there that would include this sort of emergency.
Then i would consult a lawyer, because even if there s something in the lease about them being able to do this there almost always some other state/federal law that counter acts that in the agreement.

This happened(kinda) to me once as well. We had a major flood caused by a hurricane/tropical storm(i forget which it was or its name) that flooded out our apartment. They paid for our hotel room for a few days then that was it we had to stay with some friends for a few weeks until they cleaned everything up. If not for our friends being able to put us up it would have been a lot worse.
edit: so my point is they did put us up for a few nights but after that they werent liable for keeping a roof over our heads.

Edited, Jan 17th 2014 7:43am by Rukkuss
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#4 Jan 17 2014 at 8:15 AM Rating: Good
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You seem to be relying on your landlords insurance. Don't you have renters insurance?
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#5 Jan 17 2014 at 9:03 AM Rating: Good
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Nashville Rights as a Renter

http://www.nashville-mdha.org/pdfs/RightsAsARenter.pdf

There is a link to legal aid for renters in the pdf. The number is near the bottom of the pdf file.

Have you contacted your renter insurance company? Your policy should cover this after the landlord's policy stops unless you have replace my stuff only policy.
#6 Jan 17 2014 at 9:05 AM Rating: Good
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Iamadam wrote:
You seem to be relying on your landlords insurance. Don't you have renters insurance?


We do. We notified them of the situation when it happened last week, but did not feel any need for them to get more involved since they wouldn't have to cover anything. We'll of course be updating them today now that we've found out that we'll almost certainly have to move.
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#7 Jan 17 2014 at 11:06 AM Rating: Excellent
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Vataro wrote:
Iamadam wrote:
You seem to be relying on your landlords insurance. Don't you have renters insurance?


We do. We notified them of the situation when it happened last week, but did not feel any need for them to get more involved since they wouldn't have to cover anything. We'll of course be updating them today now that we've found out that we'll almost certainly have to move.


File a claim with them.
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#8 Jan 17 2014 at 1:36 PM Rating: Good
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Apparently our Renter's insurance mostly only covers stuff in the apartment, and we have a $2k deductible for this situation which means that we'd have to pay out of pocket for everything anyway. We are in contact with several of the other residents though and plan on pursuing legal action if necessary.
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#9 Jan 17 2014 at 2:34 PM Rating: Excellent
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How many other people affected by this? At the very least, speak with everyone else and then speak with a lawyer. Don't sign the "release" from the lease until you do, as I'm sure it will contain a Release for the landlord from any liability. If you can gather enough people together, an attorney may take the case on a contingency agreement, saving you from at least having to pay hourly up front and monthly.

Although none of this may matter because of the situation you're in. You need a place to live. You have a possible case for constructive eviction. You're not the rich one in this forum, right? - so you can't just pay the lease while paying rent elsewhere while you wait for the lawsuit to come to pass. But! (I'm not familiar with Tennessee law!) you may have a way out of the lease since you seem to have been constructively evicted, meaning you may not have to pay the rent under the lease and may not need a release from the lease. Think about it, why would the landlord be so nice as to offer a free release from the lease? Because the landlord's attorney advised that it would be the best way to get a Release from liability from everyone.

Also, yes the landlords have all the power, but that's what the courts are for - to hopefully level the playing field. Go buy an apartment house in New York City and try this crap.

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#10 Jan 17 2014 at 2:55 PM Rating: Good
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Don't you live in America? Just sue them for a million billion dollar moneys and live like a rock star for the rest of your life.

If all else fails, fake an electrocution and sue them over faulty wiring or something.
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#11 Jan 17 2014 at 5:18 PM Rating: Excellent
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You said that the insurance company would only pay for the hotel up to the 27th, but what about the landlord? Since you have a lease, he's obligated to provide you with the housing you are paying for, regardless of what his own insurance pays him. Since it looks as though the owner decided to take the opportunity of having to repair a number of units to redo the flooring and whatnot on all of the units, this isn't just a matter of emergency relocation but the landlord choosing to renovate your unit while you're still paying him to live there. I'm reasonably sure that obligates him to pay for equivalent living facilities while the work is being done.

Put another way, the insurance coverage is based on the estimated time to repair damage from the leak and make the units livable. If the landlord is taking longer than that (for whatever reason), it's on him, not you. Whatever you do *don't* get out of the lease. At this point, that's the legal document that obligates him to provide you with housing. If you opt out, you're releasing him from that obligation and are truly out on your own. As long as he's still requiring you to pay him rent, he's require to provide you with housing, so this whole "if you want out" bit is clearly about him trying to back out.
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#12 Jan 17 2014 at 6:10 PM Rating: Good
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As long as he's still requiring you to pay him rent, he's require to provide you with housing, so this whole "if you want out" bit is clearly about him trying to back out.


It's not even that easy, because I'm assuming your lease includes clauses specifying your rights with regards to eviction. The landlord can't just say "well, don't pay me this month, and you can't live here this month."

Well, he COULD, and you COULD agree to that. But he has no right to force you. Essentially, he'd be the one breaking your lease, and there's almost certainly legal protections for you in that situation.

The damage forcing your out was one thing. That was an emergency situation. This is a renovation, which is a completely separate issue.
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#13 Jan 18 2014 at 2:00 AM Rating: Excellent
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Call your local news station and explain to them that "X number of people are about to get screwed by a shady landlord" and watch their tune change in a hurry. Then move as soon as possible.
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#14 Jan 18 2014 at 8:03 AM Rating: Good
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Dread Lörd Kaolian wrote:
Call your local news station and explain to them that "X number of people are about to get screwed by a shady landlord" and watch their tune change in a hurry. Then move as soon as possible.


Yikes thats a way to get your voice heard for sure!! Especially if its the entire complex, thats a lot of people.
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#15 Jan 18 2014 at 11:48 AM Rating: Excellent
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Well, the complex is only about 20 people. Also, one of our tenants actually works for a local station and ran a story about the general situation, but obviously could not talk specifically about us due to conflict of interest. It's definitely on our radar though. Today I'm contacting a relative who is an estate lawyer in town who might know someone that could help. In the meantime we've been apartment hunting, and will be making a decision today on where we will end up.
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#16 Jan 18 2014 at 10:16 PM Rating: Excellent
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#17 Jan 18 2014 at 10:42 PM Rating: Good
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Quite. And no, I was not one of the ones interviewed.
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#18 Jan 20 2014 at 4:16 PM Rating: Good
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idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
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As long as he's still requiring you to pay him rent, he's require to provide you with housing, so this whole "if you want out" bit is clearly about him trying to back out.


It's not even that easy, because I'm assuming your lease includes clauses specifying your rights with regards to eviction. The landlord can't just say "well, don't pay me this month, and you can't live here this month."


My assumption was that the landlord was offering the tenants the "opportunity" to actually sign a legal document releasing both parties from the terms of the lease agreement. So it's not just about agreeing that he wont charge you this month in return for you not having a place to live this month, but an actual elimination of the lease agreement itself. That's just a straight up sucker play IMO.
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#19 Jan 20 2014 at 5:42 PM Rating: Good
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Vataro wrote:
Apparently our Renter's insurance mostly only covers stuff in the apartment, and we have a $2k deductible for this situation which means that we'd have to pay out of pocket for everything anyway. We are in contact with several of the other residents though and plan on pursuing legal action if necessary.


Sounds like you didn't have the right coverage. Protip: It's worth is to pay a bit extra, lower the deductible and have loss of use.
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#20 Jan 20 2014 at 11:02 PM Rating: Excellent
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Iamadam wrote:
Vataro wrote:
Apparently our Renter's insurance mostly only covers stuff in the apartment, and we have a $2k deductible for this situation which means that we'd have to pay out of pocket for everything anyway. We are in contact with several of the other residents though and plan on pursuing legal action if necessary.


Sounds like you didn't have the right coverage. Protip: It's worth is to pay a bit extra, lower the deductible and have loss of use.


There's no renter's insurance I'm aware of that covers things that have nothing to do with us. There was no damage to our apartment. There's nothing for our insurance to do.
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#21 Jan 21 2014 at 7:50 AM Rating: Good
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Vataro wrote:
Iamadam wrote:
Vataro wrote:
Apparently our Renter's insurance mostly only covers stuff in the apartment, and we have a $2k deductible for this situation which means that we'd have to pay out of pocket for everything anyway. We are in contact with several of the other residents though and plan on pursuing legal action if necessary.


Sounds like you didn't have the right coverage. Protip: It's worth is to pay a bit extra, lower the deductible and have loss of use.


There's no renter's insurance I'm aware of that covers things that have nothing to do with us. There was no damage to our apartment. There's nothing for our insurance to do.


Given that you can't live there while they're repairing the building I'd say it has everything to do with you. If your insurance company wants to go after your landlord's company to recover the money that's their prerogative, but you shouldn't have to deal with that crap.

I know back when I rented I had coverage that would've paid for a hotel in this situation.
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#22 Jan 21 2014 at 8:37 AM Rating: Excellent
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Set the complex on fire.
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#23 Jan 21 2014 at 9:38 AM Rating: Good
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Screenshot

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Edited, Jan 21st 2014 10:41am by idiggory
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#24 Jan 24 2014 at 8:55 AM Rating: Good
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Vataro wrote:
Iamadam wrote:
Vataro wrote:
Apparently our Renter's insurance mostly only covers stuff in the apartment, and we have a $2k deductible for this situation which means that we'd have to pay out of pocket for everything anyway. We are in contact with several of the other residents though and plan on pursuing legal action if necessary.


Sounds like you didn't have the right coverage. Protip: It's worth is to pay a bit extra, lower the deductible and have loss of use.


There's no renter's insurance I'm aware of that covers things that have nothing to do with us. There was no damage to our apartment. There's nothing for our insurance to do.


It should fall under prohibited use. If you are prohibited from using your home/apartment for whatever reason then it is covered if you have the policy. (except floods which is covered under flood insurance.) Ours covers expenses up to 20% of the liability limit not including umbrella. We live in a townhouse and if the idiot at the other end of the row sets his house on fire then we are covered even if our home is undamaged. Comes in handy when the county declares the whole row uninhabitable until the one unit is fixed. (A story for a different day as to why people that rent their homes to known meth addicts are idiots.)

Uninsured motorists and an umbrella policy are two other policies just about everyone should carry.
#25 Jan 31 2014 at 10:43 AM Rating: Good
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So, the complex apparently "caught fire" last night. Still no word on what caused the fire, but I'd say there are several likely possibilities... some more based in cynicism than others.

http://www.wsmv.com/story/24596115/two-alarm-fire-reported-in-nashville
http://fox17.com/news/features/featured/stories/apartment-fire-off-west-end-comes-weeks-after-pipe-burst-displacing-tenantsmikayla-lewis-833.shtml
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#26 Jan 31 2014 at 10:54 AM Rating: Good
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Wow that sucks, were you able to get all your stuff out before the renovations? Are you all going to move in with the landlord now?
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#27 Jan 31 2014 at 10:56 AM Rating: Good
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We did, as they had forced us to move everything out the week after we were put in the hotel. We have since moved into a new place, and mostly washed our hands of the situation aside from sending them a bill for related expenses which we still expect to receive repayment for.
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#28 Jan 31 2014 at 12:38 PM Rating: Good
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Gratz on the new place.
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#29 Jan 31 2014 at 12:41 PM Rating: Excellent
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lolgaxe wrote:
Set the complex on fire.


Vataro wrote:
So, the complex apparently "caught fire" last night. Still no word on what caused the fire, but I'd say there are several likely possibilities... some more based in cynicism than others.

http://www.wsmv.com/story/24596115/two-alarm-fire-reported-in-nashville
http://fox17.com/news/features/featured/stories/apartment-fire-off-west-end-comes-weeks-after-pipe-burst-displacing-tenantsmikayla-lewis-833.shtml


Suspect#1 sighted! Smiley: nod
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#30 Jan 31 2014 at 1:38 PM Rating: Good
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Well, since you've already moved into a new home, this seems like a fitting end to your experiences with Villa Louise Apartments. Good Luck in your new home.

I imagine the next step for Villa Louise will be to sell the complex. It would be nice if you had a judgment filed against them before the transfer of title, as no one will accept an encumbered title and they will probably pay you or make an offer in settlement in order to get a Satisfaction from you. But that would mean going into Small Claims (or Tennessee's equivalent). Don't count on them voluntarily paying you. If they are going to sell, they'll just string you along until they do.

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#31 Jan 31 2014 at 1:43 PM Rating: Good
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I recommend that you talk to your insurance broker and beef up your renters insurance.
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#32 Jan 31 2014 at 4:35 PM Rating: Good
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Iamadam wrote:
I recommend that you talk to your insurance broker and beef up your renters insurance.


Yea, we had a $2k deductible so filing a claim with ours wouldn't be worth it. However, we still expect them to pay some of the costs (their insurance last week told us that they would be reimbursing us as originally promised for the moving and storage costs we incurred, despite what we had previously been told). Hopefully this fire doesn't change that.
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