tales-from-a-tenant

 

Tales from a Tenant is a new series featured here on My Life, I Guess… that chronicles the ups and downs of being a tenant. If you are interested in contributing your tenant (or landlord) tales, please contact me. I’d love to share!


Today’s post is by yours truly.
I recently moved into a (so-called) professionally managed townhouse with my boyfriend “R” and 2 cats.

 

I’ve mentioned before that the rental market where I live is garbage and that the landlords are even worse. (I’m still fighting with my last one even though I moved out 2 months ago!) So I was looking forward to renting with a property management company with our new place. I had assumed that dealing with a professional business would make being a tenant a lot easier – but of course, that hasn’t been the case.

A big selling feature of the townhouse R and I chose was the fact that they were offering a year of free cable and internet as a promotion to get tenants in the off-season. (Who wants to move in the middle of winter?) Since hydro and gas are not included in our rent, we were excited to have at least one less bill to worry about. It’s also been years since either of us have had cable, so we were looking forward to the novelty of it.

Back in January, about a week and a half before our scheduled move-in date, I called up our rental agent to book an appointment to sign the lease* and get the keys.

(*Let me side track here a little. Yup – up until this point we had not signed a lease. We filled out an application and handed over a $1000 deposit equal to last month’s rent. Once we got the call saying that we were approved, we set up our gas and hydro accounts, booked a uHaul, and started changing our address without signing a damn thing. I don’t know how I didn’t realize how dumb this was until it was pointed out to me. Thankfully, everything worked out in that regard and this isn’t a tale in “how to get your deposit back when you didn’t sign a lease”.)

Any who, we set up the appointment and everything was on track – until I got a call the next morning telling me that they couldn’t offer the free year of cable and internet after all. Apparently there was a “misunderstanding” and management couldn’t reach a deal with the service provider. Instead, they were offering us 30% ($300) off first months rent or the 13th month rent free ($1000).

I was bummed, but thought “Hey, a free month of rent!” (There was no way in hell I was taking the $300 option! What a joke!) But R pointed out that taking this offer would mean it’d be more than a year before we reaped any benefit and that we’d be committing to living there an additional month. What if we hate it? What if we want to move? What if we break up?! (Not happening.) And I wasn’t impressed that they were trying to short-change us when I figured out that a year of basic cable and internet costs upwards of $1150. (Yikes.)

So I called them back and told them that this wasn’t going to fly. And then we spent another week waiting for them to return my calls, freaking out, and seriously considering moving elsewhere.

They finally got back to us – once we started throwing around the phrases “bait and switch” and “false advertising” – and let us know that they would be honouring the original promotion after all, but with a different cable company.

A whole 36 hours before we moved in. Ugh.

But the battle didn’t end there, my friends. No, no.

It took another 2 weeks before our cable and internet were finally connected. This included more unreturned phone calls, a bit of Facebook-shaming, them blaming the cable company (who had no idea we had already moved in), another “misunderstanding” regarding our internet options, and then a whole kerfuffle with the installation itself (which, as it turns out, takes about 4 hours not just 1).

The lesson? Speak up and fight for what was promised to you. Don’t settle for less because of someone’s mistake. And you probably shouldn’t hand over wads of cash to anyone without signing some sort of contract. If I had been doing this on my own, I would have backed down and settled for one of their lesser offers – and then bitched and complained about it for the whole year. Instead, thanks largely to R, I pretended to be an assertive person and we now spend our evenings slowly turning into television zombies. And we enjoy every free second of it.

What would you have done if you were in this situation?

Have you ever had to fight to get a company to honour a promotion?

 

Like what you see here? Why not read other tenant tales? Or better yet,submit your own! If you have an interesting tale or important tenant lesson, I’d love to feature it in an upcoming post. Please contact me for more information, and let’s make this happen!





1000 days ago, I started this blog.

Originally titled “Miss Amanda 101″, the free wordpress blog was a place for me to track my second attempt at Day Zero‘s “101 Things in 1001 Days” project. (The blog grew and after a little re-branding, it re-opened as My Life, I Guess…  almost a year ago, on April 16, 2013.)

The first time ’round, I only completed 34 of the 101 goals I had set for myself. Determined to be more successful this time, I thought long and hard about the things I wanted to achieve in the 2.75 years. However, as that last day approached it became blatantly clear that I was going to fail – again.

The 1001st day is tomorrow (March 28)… and I’ve only achieved 11 goals.

I can’t really say I’m surprised. A LOT changed in the last 1000 days. New job, new relationship, new blog, new goals, new priorities, and new challenges I hope to face.

Rather than abandon the (nominal) progress I had made (and likely have to delete half of this blog!), I decided to do something a little different:

 

I am extending this project for another 1001 days

 

Yup, my “101 Things in 1001 Days” project has now become “2002 Days” instead, and will end on December 23rd, 2016 (for a grand total of about 5.5 years).

With this extension comes some tweaking to the goals as well, which you can see here. There really isn’t a point extending the time if it includes things I can’t or no longer want to do, right?

Of the 101 Goals:

  • 11 have already been completed and were not changed
  • 52 from the original list stayed the same
  • 7 from the original list were altered
  • 31 new ones were added

The biggest changes include adding a “Blog”, a “Financial”, and a “Relationship” category. I added things like #27 – Meet 3 blog/Twitter friends in real life (any takers?), #45 – Pay off my car loan (donations welcome), and even #95 – Get hitched (!). Funny how these things hardly factored into my original goals but now make up most of my biggest priorities.

Some alterations were made to better reflect the 2002 days. For example, an original goal was to pay off $5,000 of my student loan debt. Considering I’m on track to reach this goal next month, I wanted to make it more ambitious and added another $20,000 (#46 – Pay off $25,000 of my student loan debt) which I hope isn’t too ambitious now!

There will also be small changes made to this blog/list thanks to Goal #23 – Clean up behind-the-scenes (fix broken links, update images, etc.). Things may be re-numbered, posts may be merged, old content may be updated. Most readers probably won’t notice a change, but it’ll help me feel more organized and professional so that maybe I can achieve Goal #26 – Earn $500 thru this blog and/or related side hustles.

Wish me luck!

What sort of things would you like to achieve in the next 1001 days?





This week marks 6 months of working at my “new” job at the college. This occasion comes with a small raise and dental coverage! (Appointment’s already booked). But… it also means that my contract is up in just over a month… and there has been no mention of what’s going to happen after April 25th.

I knew coming into this job that it was only a 7-month contract. It doesn’t really make sense to work in student support over the summer when there aren’t students on campus. Regardless, the pros of taking this job undoubtedly outweighed the con of being laid off or unemployed in the spring. It was a foot in the door. It was getting me back into the industry I want to work in. It meant only having to work one job to pay my bills. And perhaps most importantly, it got me far, far away from my last job. (And let’s be honest, the idea of being a seasonal working and getting summers off is very tempting!)

I was very surprised back in my first week when I met with HR and they had me signing up for health benefits and a pension plan. I remember making a comment about it being a lot of paper work for such a short contract, to which the HR rep responded “everyone stays”. This was reinforced as I got to know other staff members, who also told me not to worry about “only being on a contract”. Most people have been working at the college for years and there is lots of opportunity to move around within the different departments, if I so choose.

My supervisor told us from the start that our contract renewal for next fall was dependent on a grant. Having come from a non-profit background, I know all too well about waiting on grand funding… But, we were told that we should hear by January, so that left a lot of time to figure out a Plan B if things didn’t pan out. Then as January approached, we were told we’d hear by February.  And then as February approached, we were told we’d be lucky to hear by July…

Oh.

And because that wasn’t scary enough, my supervisor then dropped the bomb-shell on us:

We have no recall rights to our jobs.

He suddenly stopped using the phrase “contract renewal” and hesitantly told us that we would have to reapply for our jobs – if they continue to exist – and hope that no one more qualified or with more seniority applies.

Fan-freaking-tastic! I was not anticipating having to go through the whole hiring process again to keep my job.

Although I’ve known all along that I have no real job security, I’ll admit, I kept my head buried in the sand over this issue. I’ve been putting some money away in preparation, but I could have done a better job. I chose to believe all the positive things that I was told at the start. I assumed that any day now my supervisor would announce that we got the grant and that they want to re-hire me for the fall. Or at least that we got the grant and I could reapply (and perhaps know the outcome before my current contract ends).

But alas… there is still no news.

IT LOOKS LIKE I’M GOING TO BE LAID OFF AND THAT MY FUTURE CAREER
OUTLOOK IS ONE BIG FAT QUESTION MARK.

Question-mark-finger-face

I’ve been keeping an eye on the job boards, but it’s become clear that I need to step-up my game. Unfortunately, I’m already finding the same struggles as I did last year when I was job hunting: most vacancies at the moment are for Summer Student Jobs only, which I of course, do not qualify for. Now I’m really kicking myself for not doing a better job of establishing some side hustles when I was off work last summer!

Naturally, there are things that I don’t like about this job (i.e. my office-mate), but I would hate for this to be the end. There was a fairly steep learning curve involved and now that I’ve been through the cycle once, I have many ideas on how I could improve upon it next time. I’ve only just recently established working relationships with a lot of the faculty members thanks to an event I helped coordinate. And this is clearly the field I need to be working in. I feel very confident that if they job is re-posted that I will be re-hired. I haven’t received any complaints or negative feedback about my job performance (and the hiring manager that initially didn’t seem sold on me has since retired).

There is quite a bit of downtime involved with this job so my colleagues and I have been helping out with a lot with other, related departments. This has led to promising rumors that we will have more responsibilities going forward (such as running study skill workshops, coordinating a peer mentoring program, and perhaps even resume writing – all things I have experience with and would love to do). We seem to have a lot staff and upper-management in our corner, but I’m not sure how much influence they have – especially if the funding isn’t there.

I have no problem being laid off for the summer if I know I’ll have a job to come back to in August. But I can’t survive off of my savings for long – nor do I want to. My fingers are crossed that this is all only temporary bureaucratic red-tape nonsense and that I’ll have some sort of idea of what’s happening within the next few weeks.