Okay, yes. We were leaning toward the possibility of having to find another place. I just wasn’t expecting it to happen so fast. And it’s not like either of us is in the military, so moving every three months seems quite wasteful.
Yesterday was my birthday and, having a two-year-old, it wasn’t quite as low-key as I’d hoped. We spent almost all of the morning and early afternoon going to two different parks and trying to keep Bea entertained. She was in a sassier-than-usual mood and was being quite difficult.
By the time we got home, had lunch, and put her down for a nap, I realized I didn’t feel that sick, my head wasn’t hurting, and the fresh air had definitely kept me from experiencing any of the symptoms I would usually have if I’d been in the house.
So I did some research and sent the landlord an email (she was working at her business partner’s house rather than her own) detailing the information I’d found and the steps most departments of health recommend. I made sure to use reputable sources (the CDC rather than http://www.blameyourlandlordformoldexposure.com — which is not really a site I found, but is close to some I came across).
I’d called the allergist I saw in Indy when I encountered this same problem in 2005 and they offered to mail me the results of my testing. I told Anne she might consider hiring a mold remediation specialist.
First, you get an estimate of the inspection. Second, they give you a detailed explanation of the findings of their inspection. Third, they give you an estimate of the cost and how involved a removal of the mold will be. If my allergy test displayed the same types of mold found in the house, we could go from there, I said.
Within ten minutes, I had a reply that simply said that Charlie and I best move out and be gone by the first of September. It was really that to-the-point.
I was shocked and it left me speechless. I knew there was a chance she wouldn’t be up for trying to address the problem (see my last blog post). I had no idea she would say we had to leave. I called one of my friends who’s a landlord and she calmed me down. There’s no way you can be evicted in 20 days, she told me, and Anne would have to file papers that gave us 30 days, at the least. Also, she reminded, Anne has no cause to tell us to get out.
So we started looking at the tenants’ rights pages and I came across one interesting and frustrating piece of information: a landlord in Chicago can issue you an eviction, sometimes after only ten days, if you violate the lease and have not paid rent. Right now, we pay her rent twice a month (half on the first, half on the 15th), at her suggestion. Which means, she could claim 10 days’ unpaid rent on the 10th of August because we’d only paid half on the first. The lease says to pay rent on the first of the month, in full, and I don’t have anything in writing to back up the fact that she told us we could do otherwise. Charlie started yelling, “I knew that was going to bite us in the ass! I knew it!”
Talk about frustrating.
I wrote her back immediately to say look, I’m sorry if I upset you, I was just trying to figure out the best approach and this is what I found. She didn’t see that email right away as she was already on her way home. I saw her pull into her parking spot and Charlie went out to speak with her.
She came up and said, “Wow. You guys have had a busy day, huh?”
Charlie said, “It was pretty calm until we found out we were being evicted.”
“What? Oh, no! That’s not what I meant!” she exclaimed.
“Well, your email to Courtney said we had to be out by the first,” Charlie said.
She went on the explain that she was “only trying to help,” and if I was “that uncomfortable here,” she was just going to let us out of the lease. Charlie reminded her that the reason we’ve paid her rent twice a month for the past two months is because we haven’t been able to afford the whole deal at once and still keep on top of our other bills. So how could we sign a lease on another place if we’re still trying to get on our feet here?
They spoke for quite some time and I didn’t hear most of it, but what he told me later was that they agreed we would be out by October first — at the latest — giving her time to list the place and giving us time to put together some money, find another place, and perhaps she could keep our security deposit for the September rent. She agreed to this, but kept saying that she didn’t think the problem was mold and I needed to see a doctor and she was just worried about my health because migraines are a neurological disorder. She went so far as to suggest maybe I had a brain tumor or aneurism.
Charlie and I left immediately after this so we could talk about everything without worrying she was trying to stand outside our windows and listen in (which seems to happen a lot when she’s watering the plants). We walked to Boystown and sat outside to eat and people watch while we tried to figure out how the hell we were going to do all of this.
My classes start September 8th. I have a graduate student orientation on the 6th. Financial aid will go through sometime around then (I have no idea exactly when it’ll be in our grubby little hands), but that will at least offset some of the cost of moving again. Of course, Liz offered to drive up and help us, because she’s just that kind of person.
In the meantime, I have to start packing. We have to fix the back door that Alvy has been chewing on when we leave him alone. If Anne is keeping our deposit for September rent, we better make sure there isn’t any damage she can claim and charge us for. Granted, the house is about 100 times cleaner now than the day we moved in, but whatever.
The really fun part is, this morning, as she was performing her hour-long obsessive ritual of watering all the stuff in the yard that doesn’t need watered because we’ve had something like 18 inches of rain in the past month, she started to turn things back around on me, just like the landlord from the house in south Broad Ripple.
I need to take antihistamines. I need to go to a doctor and find out what’s “really” going on. There’s mold everywhere. Who knows what’s really making me sick? Also, she feels sorry for us because we’re never going to find a place that allows our dog. She feels sorry for us because ALL the house around here are OLD and I will just keep coming across more and more mold. She feels sorry for us because we’re never going to find a landlord as understanding and kind as she is.
All the same stuff the landlord in Broad Ripple said, and all things I told Anne about when we first had a conversation about this a couple of months ago. She clearly doesn’t remember it, or considers herself an exception in this case.
I didn’t tell her that we’ve already found three potential apartments, two of which are completely rehabbed, all of which are cheaper than what we pay now. Two are within walking distance of Charlie’s work. All three have parking, a laundry in the building or in the apartment itself, A/C, hardwood floors, and dishwashers. One even has a built-in microwave in the all-stainless steel kitchen.
Of course, none of them are perfect. I’m not familiar with the neighborhoods like I am with this one. Do I need to get a different pediatrician than the one we’ve already made an appointment with? Will there be a nice park within walking distance? Is there a close el stop? How long will it take me to get to campus? Will we have enough room for our friends to come and stay?
This really throws off a lot of my plans, as I’m sure you can imagine. The landlord clearly does not want to hire any sort of licensed specialist to check out the house, probably for fear she’ll be required to address the problem to the tune of thousands of dollars (as well as some other not-so-legal issues being found out). Her mantra this morning was, “I don’t know what I can do to help.” But I reminded her that the “help” comes from the mold removal people. And she just repeated herself over and over again.
So, instead of, as I was secretly hoping, actually getting things fixed, we now have to dump even more money into moving. And there were so many things I wanted to get. A new toilet brush, a new vacuum cleaner, rugs to replace the ones Alvy and Trinity ruined when they were sick, a nice storage unit for Bea’s toys, textbooks for class . . .
I am so tired of having things turned upside on me. Every time we seem to get settled and things are beginning to adjust into a calm sort of routine, it’s like the universe reaches out to yank me out by the back of my shirt and say, oh no, you’re not getting too comfortable over there, are you?