Monday, February 2, 2009

San Francisco Landlord or Sumlord? Chapter 1

Is the definition of a slumlord when your roof falls in and your landlords tell you to put a bucket under the hole? Then if this is true then I lived with landlords/slumlords in San Francisco for 5 years. Since there are very strict rental laws in the city tenants are protected from slumlords, but dealing with them can be another story. Rent control can be found in San Francisco, but you have to search high and low for these deals. I totally agree with my friend saying to me "Finding an apartment is like looking for a new pair of jeans."

When I moved to San Francisco, I planned to stay for only 6 months. I started looking for apartments off of while I was still living in Los Angeles. It was difficult knowing what a good neighborhood or deal was. I started to schedule weekend open houses of the places that looked interesting and drove up to San Francisco from Los Angeles on the weekends to see them.

I started to learn the renting/roommate game. Looking for an apartment was like going on a job interview. You need to have the right paperwork, look the right way and be ready to apply on the spot. I decided to rent a room from a woman for 6 months and store my furniture so I could get to know the city and secure a job.

After 6 months, I started to again look for an apartment. I started to get so frustrated by the process that I posted an ad on Craigslist asking if anyone else was having a hard time looking for a roommate. I received a hundred emails. I replied to five and then met with three woman for coffee and "Sarah" became my roommate.

Now all we needed was a place.

The hunt began. Sarah and I looked for apartment. I would set up open houses and appointments for us to go to and so would she. On one sunny afternoon, she called me to say that she thought she had found the place. The apartment was in a centrally, located, neighborhood and on a cable car line. It had 3 1/2 bedrooms, 1 1/2 baths, a kitchen, laundry room and the back bedrooms looked onto a garden. (I could hear the angels singing my head.) There was one catch. The apartment hadn't been looked after, was run down and needed a lot of work.

We decided to take a look. I first noticed that the apartment was apart of a two unit building and up two flights of stairs. I remember entering the front door to see shag Brady Bunch carpeting. I walked slowly up the stairs to see orange shag carpeting, dust filled, run down place with a '70's sparkly ceiling and funky caged skylight.

The landlord was waiting for us in the kitchen to show us around. She explained that this was her childhood home and after her mother had died the place had been left to her. She currently had a man living in the apartment for the past 7 years. It seemed that he had never cleaned the San Francisco apartment. I mean ever. Could this be my home sweet home? Have you ever dealt with a slumlord?


The Panic Room said...

No I have been super lucky over the years. I would fear any shag rug that had been in an apt for years and years. Oh the things growing in that mess. yikes

Debbie said...

I am happy to say that although I live in a poorly built home, I've never had a slumlord.

Laura said...

The Panic Room: I kept trying not to sing the 'Brady Bunch' theme song every time I saw the carpet.

Laura said...

Debbie: I am so glad. It can be quite an experience. I have more lovely stories for you. Why is it that we never realize how bad the situation is until we are away from it?

Christian said...

Reminds me of Berkeley. Back in college our living room ceiling collapsed because water has been building between the roof and the ceiling and it all caved in. I moved back to the frat. lol.

Georgie B said...

Not really.

I lived in a two story house with my best friend and girlfriend (now wife) for a couple of years in the 80's.

The owners pretty much left us alone, so we had to take care of things either ourselves or with our upstairs neighbors.

The house was your average run of the mill place in a poorer section of time (bar next door), but it wasn't much to brag about.

Fancy Schmancy said...

I'm totally dealing with a slumlord right now. And he lives on the other side of the duplex. He infuriates me!

Laura said...

Oh good luck fancy schmancy. I can feel your pain.

Andrea said...

I've had the joy of renting from a slumlord - and one that didn't speak a word of english, no less. We had to deal with her 16 year old daughter for anything apartment related. it was horrible!

Anonymous said...

Oh, my dear Lala!
What times we had in that post-shaggadelic apartment! With Dicey-Pricey's horse-walk & slap, dad's miracle dessert in-a-can, and 'You Say Tomato" down the street- so much fun! Glad I moved out after the celing fell down. Oops oh yeah and roaming drug delaers- good times!
Yay you included the jean comment- hehe.
My current landlords are wonderful- nothing like (rhymes with) 'Fun Ones', and looking for a new haven once again. Let's hope and pray that we'll both be blessed with wonderful, caring, efficient landlords, eah lass?!
Love ya and looking forward to seeing you soon. :)

Underfunded Heiress said...

Wow, that's a lot of work for a roommate and a place. Good thing you found a good roommate. I've been pretty lucky but I did have one that was awful!

How cool you moved from la to sf. Do you love it?

Laura said...

Underfunded: I love San Francisco so much that I have stayed for 6 years. Socal and Norcal are so different. Have a great weekend!

megaweg said...

I'm about to be up for the apartment search again. My lease is going to be up and I want a below market rate apartment!

Laura said...

Good luck megaweg. The apartment hunt can be crazy, but I know it will turn out great for you in the end. Let me know how it goes!

Anonymous said...

I just posted on my blog about how to find slumlords who hide behind corporations. I'm planning a Part II about how to dig around in their background. Best of luck to you!

Lee White,

Concord, CA