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Friday, August 20, 2004

Apartment Hunting

I recently undertook what has proven to be the most difficult venture of my adult life. I, with a friend of mine, have been trying to hunt down an apartment in the DC area. Our requirements are few - basically, an exhaustive list of requisites is that it must have cable internet or have the capacity to be equipped with same, and there can't really be a prohibitive number of gang shootings. The latter condition is not such a big detractor, since growing up in suburban Colorado has prepared me for some pretty rough situations.

After much calling around and more than a few unproductive visits to potential future homes, we went by one basement apartment six blocks from the Columbia Heights metro station. It met all of the above conditions, so we went forward with applying for the place. At first, it seemed too good to be true. The landlady (Who we'll call "Dian" to protect her identity, and by 'protect her identity' I mean blatently expose it, since that's her real name.) e-mailed us back telling us that she likes to cook, and that from time to time she might bother us by offering food. She was very laid back. She, like most women, was completely decieving me.

A few days after our applications were sent in ("application" is really a misnomer - she asked for our names, and a reference) she sent an e-mail asking us to come by to sign the lease that night at 6:00. This e-mail was, naturally, sent at around 4:45. I got it at 6:15. I asked her if it would be alright for us to come in the following monday, and she appeared adament about it not being so late. Keep in mind that our potential move in date would be 2-3 weeks later, so it's not as if a huge rush was necessary here. A couple of days wasn't going to kill anyone.

She responded to my inquiry about coming in monday by asking if we could come on sunday, instead. She naturally sent this e-mail on sunday, at around three in the afternoon. I replied it would be impossible for us, and she finally agreed to monday at six - however, she would be on vacation (this is important for later) and would leave the lease agreement with her son. As promised, we showed up at six sharp on monday, signed the lease and an application (which was bizarre to be signing at the same time), and handed over a check for the amount of the deposit.

The rest of the correspondences will be produced in their pristine state to preserve their absurdity.

From: Dian
Date: Tue, 17 Aug 2004 12:00:31 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: security deposit

Dear Greg and Andrew,

I was unable to deposit or cash the check you left me.
I went to chevy chase bank and they said that the
signature on Andrew Daniller's check did not match the
signature they had on file for his account.

Please deliver the amount of the security deposit in
certified funds (cash, money order, or cashier's
check) by the end of the day today, Tuesday August 17.
If I do not receive the security deposit by the end of
today, I cannot hold the apartment for you; I cannot
guarantee its availability for you for the fall.

I am out of town until this evening. You may
correspond with [my son].


Notice by the timestamp that she sent this at four in the afternoon. This demand was something we were not willing to meet, since it seemed at this point that she just wanted an excuse for us not to live there. Among other things, she claimed to have left town on monday, and said she would not be back until tuesday evening. Yet she also claims to have attempted to cash a check. Now, ask yourself, which is more likely: That the bank looked up the signature on the check, compared it to the one they apparently keep on file, and declined to cash it becuase there were small variances? Or that her son tried to cash a check, and the bank (reasonably) declined to allow him to cash a check that was not made out to him? I'm just saying.

I made a somewhat bitchy, but formal, response, indicating that we felt we had gone forward in good faith, and had been screwed with our pants on, but were willing to just let the whole thing go. She responded in the only possible way: threats.

From: Dian
To: greg arthur
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 08:10:21 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: security deposit


Your bank has indicated that the signature on the
check is no good. I really cannot see how giving me a
check with an incorrect signature can be constituted
as an act of good faith. On the contrary it is

I have not decided if I will proceed against you in


This was unacceptable. My original reply was much more smarmy, but I was counciled by many people that such a tone was unlikely to help anything. So here's what I shot back:

From: greg arthur
Reply-To: greg arthur
To: Dian
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 20:34:50 -0400
Subject: Re: security deposit

Dian -

I would not have responded, except that prior to persuing legal
action, I felt as if you should have a complete understanding of ths
situation. First and foremost, the check was Andrew's. He signed it,
and has any number of ways to prove he is the one who did so, not the
least of which being his own testimony. Any fraud in this situation
would actually be a charge Andrew, and not you, could bring - and
since he would also be the ostensible defendant in such a
circumstance, it's highly unlikely that he will be dong so.

If, on the other hand, you were referring to a civil suit, it's also
unclear what damages you would seek to recover. You unilaterally broke
a contract, which (given the above paragraph) we had been persuing in
good faith. You incurred no monetary damages from the withdrawl of the
contract, and you were in violation of it by giving us mere hours
notice of your recinding your part. We, on the other hand, had both
given notice of termination of our respective leases, and one of us
had already left our prior residence, and are both rendered without a
place to stay in the month of September.

The fact is, we have been willing to let the matter go since it
strikes us as highly unlikely that a productive and halcyon
relationship could come from such tempestuous beginnings. We apologize
for any misunderstandings in this matter, but it is not our fault. I
have spoken to my lawyer about the matter, and he seems to concur in
my judgement that there really aren't grounds for a lawsuit by either

I apologize for the time you feel you've misspent on us and a possible
residential relationship, but I reiterate that we proceeded in good

I just don't understand this woman :/

cranked out at 3:14 AM | |

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