You guys all responded so well to the first "chapter" of our little condo story that I thought I'd continue the story. By the way, since some of you have asked, this is all true... although obviously subject to my own interpretation of the events. For instance, I like to say there were tons of "crazy" people in the building, when in truth, I'm not qualified to diagnose psychological disorders. That said, for anyone in the field, I believe there is excellent thesis material at my former (old/old) building!
This chapter is a little less funny but it includes some important background for the rest of the story.
Remember, these are just the events as I recall them. They are my own interpretations of events. My memory is not perfect and I don't want to be sued.
Back then, our plan was also to renovate (although we planned to leave the condo in about a year) so we quickly started on the kitchen and floors. Corey did most of the work but we both worked long hours (and spent a lot of money) to end up with new flooring and a brand new kitchen. While, it wasn't done to our taste (we had resale in mind) it was still a source of pride for us and we were thrilled to finally be living in our new home!
We kept to ourselves in the building and were polite but not overly friendly towards neighbours. Many of the residents in the building seemed unhappy but we were pretty wrapped up in our own little world and didn't give it much thought.
At one point, we noticed that the maintenance fees had increased by over $80 per month. We weren't given any notice of this (since we were on direct withdrawal) and just noticed larger sums being withdrawn each month. Our fees had already been on the high side when we purchased and I remember wanting an explanation (and perhaps switching to post-dated cheques so there would be no future surprises) but we were so busy with our renos that we put it on the back-burner for a few weeks. We didn't end up revisiting the issue for many months since we had bigger worries.
Our super (remember the Jed Clampett, Gary Busey, Dwight Schrute compilation?) continued to harass Corey when he made any noise but he liked me (I gave him liquor) and so the two of us laughed about how he was probably the only person we had met who thought I was the easier one to get along with! Not that I'm particularly difficult... It's just that Corey's SO easy and I tend to be a little more demanding. We didn't have many cares or worries as we completed our initial renovations and set our sights on the bathrooms. Spring turned to summer and we had big plans to entertain and throw some parties in our new home.
Corey and I rushed home in a state of panic. We wondered what to expect and whether all of our things would be ruined. "At least we have insurance," I kept reminding him.
We were "greeted" outside by our super and a burly man who kind of reminded me of (let's think of a character Corey can get behind...) Luca Brasi. We learned that he was our property manager... You know, the guy who is hired by MY board of directors and paid by MY maintenance fees to take care of MY building.
Luca (let's call him that) was practically yelling at me as I got out of the car. He had already made up his mind that it was our fault and he was accusing me of changing the locks without permission. (I had obtained permission from the super and given them the combination to open the door. We ended up giving him a physical key the following week.) I was too stunned to argue much as he kept ranting about the damage to the unit below us and how we would have to pay for everything.
I tried to stay calm for Corey and kept reminding him that it was "just stuff" and that we had insurance.
We walked into the unit and there was water everywhere. EVERYWHERE! Carpets were ruined, all the new flooring was buckling from expansion and our lovely home was basically a disaster. Add to that the feeling of violation we had of two people who clearly didn't like us barging into our home and staring at all of our things judgmentally.
The rest of the day is pretty much a blur but I know my mom and brother were both on their way after a tear-filled phone call and my insurance company also quickly had workers out to take care of the water.
AFTER THE "STORM"
We had worked so hard and poured so much of ourselves into the renovation but we kept reminding ourselves that we were okay and that nobody was hurt. As we picked up the pieces, we learned that nosey neighbours were already gossipping about us, having been told that our toilet blew up. Not true.
I received some angry phone calls from property management telling me I would be responsible for paying for "many thousands of dollars in damage" and that it would come out of my pocket and not my insurance. What an awful thing to say to a young couple who just bought their first home! I checked with my insurance adjuster and she assured me that everything (minus my $1000 deductible) would be covered. She also mentioned that she had been in touch with my property manager and he seemed like a bully.
After a few days, I felt brave enough to call a reputable plumber to assess my toilet, since I was being accused of having a malfunctioning toilet. The plumber came and checked and gave my toilet a clean bill of health, suggesting that the problem had originated in the main line.
Of course! I practically slapped my forehead at the realization that this may not even be our fault! I wrote a letter to the property manager and attached the plumbing report. He didn't acknowledge it other than to tell me I owed even more money and that they would automatically deduct it from my maintenance fees if I refused to pay. I asked for receipts to justify the amounts he was claiming and he dodged the question. I started receiving invoices tucked under my door almost every day.
I called my bank and found out the best thing to do with either be to limit the money in the account or close the account entirely. I decided to just limit the money I kept there.
I called my property manager's boss (the head of the small property management company) who seemed sympathetic at first. When I suggested that it was the building's responsibility and that they should not be invoicing me without being able to provide receipts to show where the money was going, the conversation quickly deteriorated. He then said that he would "take and spend the money to make sure (I) never talk that way again!" What does that even mean??? He also threatened to sue me on two occasions and I'm told by one of the HVAC repair techs that the pm used some foul derogatory names to describe me. Imagine how unsafe I felt knowing they had access to my unit. He kind of reminded me of Sonny Corleone.
THEY FLUSHED WHAT????
The building finally sent their own plumber in to "repair the problem" and I took the day off work to be there. When he showed up without any equipment, Corey and I realized that he hadn't been called to "fix" anything but rather to contradict our own plumber's report.
He ended up making me wait around for the entire day while he got the right equipment and by then, Corey had left for work. The super (who was overly involved in everything) "supervised" as the plumber scoped my toilet. He found nothing until the opening to the main line when he found that someone had flushed some sort of archaic feminine hygiene project. Imagine my repulsion as the super turned to me to give me a lecture about not flushing those. "It's in the main line!" I said indignantly... not wanting to (or feeling it necessary to) discuss my personal hygiene routine with my super and the plumber in order to prove that the offending product couldn't have come from our unit. It was embarrassing and awkward and (for the record, it could not have come from my unit) they seemed to take some sick pleasure in trying to embarrass me by describing the details of what was found in front of people. In the end, it turns out that it had come from the main line... but the video footage which provided proof was never made available to me and seemed to disappear pretty quickly.
We got harassing letters (threatening to deduct thousands of dollars from my chequing account) almost daily for quite some time but eventually, they disappeared and we began to move on and rebuild.
One day, they contacted us again. I was told that I would have to explain my situation to the board of directors, a bunch of smug ladies who drooled over Corey in the hallway. I knew it would be gross, but I was going to have to suck up to these women in order to get them to listen to my side of the story.
IT WASN'T JUST ME?
Wait, let me back up just a minute. Remember the note that was slipped under my door from the lady I assumed was certifiably cuckoo?
That's the one! Well one night, one of my bffs was over enjoying some libations and I was telling her the crazy story about the property manager trying to pin this flood on us. She wondered aloud if this had happened to other people and I remembered the note that had been slipped under the door.
I found it in a drawer and read it again. It basically said the property manager was corrupt and that the board was just as bad. I called the number and met the author of the note. Of course, she came right over! Now, picture me and my friend (after a couple of glasses of wine) explaining the situation to an older eccentric woman who basically told us there was some sort of giant conspiracy and urged me to attend... get this... secret meetings in the laundry room!
I'm a curious person (and I was a little desperate) so somehow, I got sucked into attending one of these meetings. It was my first experience with the seedy underbelly of our condo.
And I'll leave it there for today. Sorry this is getting so long... there's just too much craziness to contain in anything shorter!