Friday, September 5, 2008

The pox upon Denver

We're trying to keep our chins up here.

The move out?
Dan found himself behind schedule, and was forced to sprint to Denver.

Only to arrive with nowhere to live.

With his first day of work scheduled for the very next morning.

"But Cortney," you may be saying. "Didn't you just brag last week about finding a place to live?"
Well, yes.
It was beautiful, too. Three floors of home in a great neighborhood with wide, shade-tree lined streets, children playing on the sidewalks, in a respected school district. A green backyard, an amazing wooden swingset, a view of the mountains from the deck, trails and lakes nearby....

But all of that changed.

Sat, Aug 30. I go into the house for the first time, many things not done they promised they would do (repairs, etc), and the house is trashed, filthy.
I'm disappointed, literally scrubbing walls and floors until blisters develop on my hands.... we'd been looking at the house as a potential buy (lease-to-own), but there were such flagrant omissions and rude, careless non-efforts made with the house (newer thin coats of light paint over old dark paint you could still see underneath, paint matting carpet to walls since they didn't bother to tape, carpeting trashed & filthy, paint and pet fur splotched and matted to the carpet, or swished in streaks onto the ceiling, etc) I was having second thoughts.

Sun, Aug 31, trying to get ready for our scheduled Sept. 1 move-in.
I'm working upstairs (3rd floor), run to the bathroom (pee only for all you curious theorists! ;0) ), flush toilet, the toilet starts overflowing.
Mason had thrown the plunger down the stairs earlier, so I immediately ran down and grabbed it, running up again, and when I start plunging, there's a sudden burbling
noise, then a huge wave of BROWN WATER, MATERIAL WASTE, and CHUNKY RAW SEWAGE surging up into the toilet, overflowing and flooding the floor. The toilet continues its fireworks, I'm literally up to my ankles in someone else's fecal matter, I'm still working on the toilet, and there's also the issue of my 15-month-old son in the middle of it all (despite me plunging with him in arms before trying to keep him in the hall instead), barefoot in human excrement.

Yes, both of us were, for the record.

I grab my son and try to start washing him off in the sink.... simultaneously pumping the toilet with the plunger as best I can.... but there's also this odd trickling water noise in the background??

It's the sewage, flowing over and into the floor ducts.

I take Mason downstairs (2nd floor) to look for something, anything, to slow the bleed.
But there in the kitchen, it's not towels we find: it's a torrent of raw sewage water pouring from the ceiling. It's pooling there, widening across the tile floor, gushing from the door joint and ceiling above the half-bath (2nd floor), flooding the floor, and when I open the door to the garage? Raw sewage-water pouring down the wall closest to the house, from the ceiling joints, and through holes in the drywall garage ceiling, creating a waterfall of poo-water
OVER the top of my car (luckily the sunroof was closed!)!

I call the landlord three times.
I try to call Dan.
I try the landlord again.
They're on vacation in NC, and don't call back.

I tried plunging again, once the toilet water is almost all the way gone, the sewage backs up and flows all over the house and back into the air ducts and carpet again.

I pick Mason up, we go to the first floor, I shower my sweet baby-- my baby who's slipped and fallen and been subjected to raw sewage in this home that was supposed to be our dream, the dream we wanted to buy.

We pack up and leave, going to stay with friends instead.

The next morning (Sept 1), I find another number for the homeowners.
The wife finally calls me back an hour and a half later.
She's apologetic and great and assures me her husband will call (after he's done golfing) and have it taken care of immediately.

I never hear back from him, so I call him that evening.
He tells me it's Labor Day weekend, they're at the beach, he refuses to call a plumber (I offer him two numbers for 24 hour and holiday-ready plumbers here, as well as a number for an on-call water remediation/ clean-up team) and says he won't have it cleaned up or remediated until he's able to get back and see the situation for himself!

We argue: Dan is supposed to be in with the moving truck anytime, due to start work Wed, we have nowhere to go, the house is full of raw sewage, it's not inhabitable. I appeal to him as a mother, as a mother whose child was covered in someone else's excrement, as a rational person, a homeowner, and as someone with so few resources here (mind you, Dan has the moving truck, cleaning supplies, etc: I have a small child, a suitcase, one towel between the two of us, and a sleeping bag) that I don't have another option at the moment. He blows up on me, repeatedly asking what I want him to do about it, especially with him in NC. I finally tell him that when he decides what he's going to do, when he wants to handle it, how he wants to proceed, he can let me know. He says he'll call his insurance company in the morning, and we hang up.

One of my friends' husbands here is a plumber, he goes into the house Mon night.
Evaluates water stains in garage, drywall, on the first floor-- the stains I noted when the water first started pouring from the walls and ceilings, noting they're old stains, repeated stains, water stains this flood clearly did not make.
They've clearly had this issue before, he tells me.

He says there is solid and liquid waste in ducts, grout, walls, carpet, lining, woodwork, joints, joists, ceiling.....
Says without ripping out all affected materials and replacing them, there are not only health, safety, and inhabitability issues, but structural and stability issues as well. To mention nothing of the fact we're now late into day two after the event, at about 30+ hours after the fact, nothing has been cleaned up or done yet, and the homeowner isn't even planning to call insurance for another 12 or more hours. He says that doesn't bode well for not only mildew, but toxic mold either.

Tuesday comes, no word until noon.
Dan gets into town, we check into a hotel, the movers who were scheduled to move us into our home move all our things into a hotel instead.

I go to the house late that night:
There are ServiceMaster trucks blocking the entire driveway, worker trucks clogging the street, the garage is full of blowers, dryers, and dehumidifiers. The kitchen is full of the same, as is the entire third floor landing, the bathroom (absolutely impassible), the master bedroom's carpet is ripped out and up, the floors full of drying equipment, exposed tacking and flooring nails recently coated in raw sewage dotting the room. Much of the home is physically inaccessible, and a good half of the house now has raw sewage drying into walls and floors, being baked in by industrial machinery.

We call the homeowner again, it's still nowhere near move-in ready, yet he demands it's "inhabitable."
He and Dan had a huge blow-out; Dan told him we couldn't move in:

The homeowner is now threatening to hold us accountable for the entire lease, which he plans to pursue with legal action against us.

We went into the home pre-conversation Wednesday evening, and took pictures of all the machinery-- right down to the dried excrement still on the upstairs tile, the dropcloth I found in the garage and originally used to mop up water and raw sewage, still soaked with
bacteria-laden waste and chunks of fecal matter, tossed absent-mindedly into the master bathtub.

I doubt the landlord would subject his own wife and kids to such conditions.
He would never allow them to live there.
And yet, he expects us not only to live in this toxic palace, but also plans to pursue legal avenues to recover what he perceives is legitimate rent and monies owed??

We were never even able to move in.

Tonight we learned the landlord had someone sign a check Dan placed stop payment on, and cashed that against our bank account. Despite the conflict and the fact HE demanded our keys returned after his and Dan's falling out, he knowingly and willingly cashed a check he no longer had any right to.

I spent most of the afternoon with an attorney.

Sidenote ii:
We found a new house, but now that the money is gone, to the tune of THOUSANDS of dollars, I'm not certain we'll be able to afford the first and last month's rent, plus deposit, it will take to move us out of a hotel and into a home.

There must be a pox on Denver.
Remember that deer we hit on the way in??
Maybe he was an omen?

Last night we went to dinner.
It was supposed to be two nice hours at a semi-fancy restaurant, with no conflicts or floods or legal actions mentioned.
We sat on the patio, smiling and devouring delicious appetizers, each of us sipping an adult beverage of choice. The delectable entrees arrived, along with a swarm of hungry yellow jackets.

This was about the same time I suddenly developed a fleeting case of tourette's, and as we sunk our teeth into the first bites of dinner, one of those barbed little bastards deftly sunk his toxic stinger into my rapidly-swelling left arm.

Sidenote v:
There were no Benadryl in our bags.
Dan flew to the nearby drugstore with me turning colors in the passenger seat and our emergency blinkers a'blarin'.....

Sidenote vi:
Did I mention the landlord guy stole yet more money tonight?
I'm horribly, terribly, deeply sickened by some people's greed and depravity.

He hasn't even seen the home with his own eyes yet, yet he's still chosen to act and react in the manner he has??? Says alot about a person's character, really....
I suppose, in a strange way, we're sort of lucky to be in the situation we are, as it means we aren't bound to continue any sort of relationship with this type of individual.

But small consolation at this point.


Geoff said...

Holy Shit guys. That sucks. REally really really bad.



ANY lawyer worth his salt should be able to get a settlement. Write detailed, detailed, detailed notes on everything. every call, everything.

So sorry for you guys!

Good luck!

tinshee said...

Ugh. Cort, that's awful. I agree with your friend, Geoff- document EVERYTHING (sounds like you've already started).

I hope your luck starts to change IMMEDIATELY!!!



the other Geoff said...

hey, cort, dan -- that truly sucks, but you're good people and good things will come for you.