Hell Week

Texas Townhouse doormat signature

You guys, this past week has been just shy of hellish. Every day there’s been a new problem, crisis or issue to solve, and it’s just left me feeling drained and unable to write. No one wants to live like this, so why would I want anybody to read about it?

But I’ll give you the short version just so you know I’m not making this up. The last I wrote, we had not had heat in our townhouse for many days and our landlord kept sending the same unqualified general repair man to fix it. By Friday, we still didn’t have heat, and we had just made it through one of the coldest weeks of the winter (our highs were in the low 40s, on average). It was so cold in our apartment that I could see my breath and had to keep the kids bundled in jackets and mittens at all times.

After the same clueless repairman showed up 5 hours late for our appointment to repair the d$%* thing on Friday, the weather turned warmer and we didn’t use the heat again. All was well, we thought. The weather got cold enough Monday night that the thing kicked on sometime after we fell asleep. At 4am, we were awoken by black smoke filling the house and the smoke detectors all going off. Bewildered and dazed, we shut off the heat, fanned the smoke detectors, and got the alarms to stop. Not knowing what else to do, we went back to sleep (although I was so sick with worry that I barely slept at all).

Tuesday, I started calling around trying to make sense of what had happened. I called the fire department, a Los Angeles Fire Watch Company to speak to an expert, our HOA, a heat service/repair company, and finally, a lawyer. You see, we can’t get anything fixed without the landlord’s permission, and yet none of the people I talked to had any jurisdiction over the townhouse. Our property management never returned any of my calls or emails (to this day, no one has called to check or respond to any of my communication, including my certified letter), just sent the same person to try and fix it again. I used to have a positive experience when I was looking for a Miami shores property manager to rent a nice vacation house, so I thought all properly managers are so enthusiastic. Apparently, I was wrong. My husband stepped in, however, and said that we would not let this man touch it again, since the fire department forbade us to turn it on without a qualified heating specialist there to oversee (plus the guy CAUSED the problem and had already tried four times to fix it!). We used words like, “in case of a LAWSUIT”, the block burning down (all of our attics are connected), so we got him to back off. A qualified professional did come to look at it in the evening (we were the ones to make the appointment AND pay for it, our landlord could care less), did a few things that were in our rights to fix, and declared it safe.

And then, this morning, I got an extremely angry call from our tenant in CA. One of the fungicide products we applied to the CA house (in order for Section 1  pest items to be cleared for our escrow) was filling the house with such a strong and pungent petroleum odor that our tenants can no longer stay there. Our tenant was so furious she spent a full 10 minutes chewing me out, right before I was supposed to go online and teach my class. I made calls to the termite company, our contractor, and even to the company that makes the fungicide product. All three said that because the product was applied outside, it should be safe, but our tenant insisted that the smell was unlivable and making her child ill. We think that because the heater sucks air out from under the house, it was sucking the petroleum fumes right into the living areas.

Having just gone through a tenant/landlord issue where I felt that the safety of my children was compromised, I actually understand completely. After I spent hundreds of dollars booking a vacation rental for them (they have 2 kids and a dog, so hotels are hard), my tenant arrived and found it filthy and “lived in”, with the second bedroom full of needles and sewing machines (not shown in the pictures)!! We already got a refund, but we had to find somewhere for our tenants to stay at the very last minute. Luckily, my best friend’s parents own a gorgeous mansion of a house there that they already use as a rental property, and so they graciously gave it to our tenants for one night to give us time to find a better solution.

The option period on our CA house is supposed to end tomorrow, and I don’t even want to know the list of demands this buyer is going to bring to the table, but it probably involves lots of $ signs.

And we are so weary. So tired of dealing with this mess. I mean, I would almost pay anything to be done with this situation right now so that we can move out of our scary rental situation and stop simultaneously being a landlord.

So, see what I mean? A pretty hellish week.

I’ve spent my days hovered around my phone, solving crisis after crisis while my kids’ behavior becomes out of control since they aren’t getting enough attention. I spent most of Tuesday in tears, mostly because the fire department chewed me out for not calling 911, telling me what a dangerous situation we had been in. I guess at the time, we didn’t think it was that bad because we got the smoke alarms to go off. Looking back though, I can only shudder to think about what would’ve happened if the kids’ bedroom door was closed and the smoke had just stayed in there. On the phone, I suddenly felt like a horrible mother for not being proactive enough, yet I’m also trying to be smart and reasonable with our finances, you know?

On top of it all, of my autoimmune issues have kicked into high gear, and I can no longer sleep because my stomach is churning and in knots. I am nauseous all the time and can hardly keep food down. My whole body hurts and aches, very similar to fibromyalgia, which it turns out, is how my body now responds to severe stress. I washed my hands the other day, and my skin was so sensitive the water felt like knives. I don’t know how people with diagnosed fibromyalgia live like this every day! At least I know that my symptoms will mostly go away once the stress does. But to live like this forever? My hat is off to anyone with this disease, let me tell you.

I debated whether or not to write anything about all of our troubles, but then I realized– how many other people are going through a pretty terrible week too? I don’t want to be fake. I don’t want people to enviously think our life is sunshine and roses all the time . We all have tough weeks, and we make it through, somehow. I want to record this situation as a testimony to that fact.

Feel free to pray for us as the week draws to a close. We will know soon whether our CA buyer will continue, and whether or not we can finally move out of our TX rental. OR, we might be putting our CA house back on the market, in which case, we need prayer that another buyer comes along right away, especially now that we’ve done a billion repairs and spent all of our savings.

Thanks for listening, as always 🙂

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  • Seana Turner

    I’m so sorry to hear this, Kelly. To have troubles with the house you own and the house you live in at once is incredibly stressful. It sounds like your landlord is definitely not doing right by you, and bringing in legal counsel is probably the best solution. You are doing all you can for your tenant. It is so hard to be a landlord from far away. It’s like having all the responsibility with very little control. Praying for you….

    • http://www.ourconezone.com Kelly Cone

      Thanks, Seana! It does feel like “all of my homes” are being attacked at the same time! Agh!

  • Christine

    I’m so sorry to read this. Stay strong. I wish you the best, hope it turns around soon.

    • http://www.ourconezone.com Kelly Cone

      Thanks, Christine. <3