At the end of Part II, I mentioned my “we’re outta here” letter. Here’s what I sent to Ellensburg Property Management:
I am writing to you on behalf of Prairie, as she does not currently have internet access. Thank you very much for your assistance with the problems Prairie had with the unit yesterday and throughout today. Unfortunately, due to those issues and others that she has discovered, we are giving formal notice that she will be contacting you tomorrow morning (Wednesday, Jan. 5th) to make arrangements for leaving the property at 606 Tamarack, Unit #1.
The following is a list of issues we have discovered with the property over the past 36 hours. Some we might have noticed during the initial walkthrough if we had had more time, but many, including the most serious issues, would not have been noticed until we had taken possession of the unit.
- Frozen pipes (only partially thawed after 4 and a half hours of intensive work by Roto Rooter, requiring a team of three technicians and two specialized thawing units). Because the pipes were only partially thawed, water pressure is extremely low. In addition, Roto Rooter recommended leaving the apartment heat on high so that the pipes do not refreeze, making the apartment unbearably hot.
- When water started flowing from the pipes, metal shavings were ejected along with the initial flow of water. Due to the metal shavings, the age and type of pipes, and the water quality, the Roto Rooter representative recommended that the tap water not be used for drinking or even for cooking.
- The fuses seem unable to handle electrical loads. Four fuses blew over four hours, exhausting the supply you provided and requiring Prairie to buy the entire stock of appropriate fuses from Fred Myer to ensure she would not lose power.
- Dust and cobwebs throughout the apartment show that it has not been cleaned in quite some time. Cobwebs even exist within the vents of the gas furnace, potentially a serious fire hazard.
- There is no fire extinguisher provided (though this may not be an issue, as we admit we’re not positive on the requirements in this instance).
- The odd extension cord that terminates inside the main room of the apartment appears to lead to some exposed wiring near the floodlights for the parking spaces, which may present a fire hazard.
- Though a mailbox key was provided, Prairie was not told which mailbox it belongs to.
- Living room/kitchen:
- Once the pipes thawed, it became apparent that the pipe leading to the sprayer nozzle on the kitchen sink has a steady leak.
- The kitchen stove top was dirty.
- The electrical socket underneath the kitchen counter is not physically attached to the wall, and requires cautious steadying when attempting to plug or unplug anything.
- There are no brackets for the shelves in the living room closet, so the shelves (currently laid against the wall) cannot be used.
- The refrigerator is powered by a jury-rigged system consisting of an extension cord (plugged into the loose electrical socket) with a triple-socket adapter that the refrigerator plugs into.
- The bathroom window does not open.
- The water heater is ancient, filthy, and has areas that are apparently plugged with paper towels.
- The shower head literally fell off of the pipe when we first touched it. When we attempted to replace the pipe (to attach an extension pipe along with a new shower head), the threads of the pipe broke off inside the pipe within the wall, requiring a call to a plumber before the shower was useable.
- The bathroom door does not close properly due to a loose upper hinge.
- The doorknob to the bedroom closet is loose.
Due to these issues, quite a few of which seem to question the safety of the unit, Prairie was uncomfortable staying there a second night and has left to stay with a friend from work. Because she will not be present overnight, she was uncomfortable leaving the furnace set at its maximum, and left it set to 65°. She has also left the water slightly running to keep water moving through the pipes. We sincerely hope that this will prevent the pipes from refreezing overnight. She will be contacting you at her earliest convenience tomorrow to make arrangements for leaving the property and getting her rent and security deposit refunded. Thank you very much for your kind understanding in this situation.
Michael and Prairie
Wednesday morning, Prairie went off to begin the transition that should have started the day before, and I split my time between homework and hunting down every apartment listing I could find for the Ellensburg area. Things weren’t looking good for a while, as the town tends to revolve around the school year schedule, and every apartment complex I called either didn’t answer (and didn’t return calls) or was entirely full. Finally, though, I got a hit off of a Craigslist ad, and left a message for Prairie with the details on how to contact the landlord.
And, finally, pieces started to fall into place.
Since detailing things working the way they’re supposed to isn’t nearly as interesting (or, frankly, as fun) as complaining about things falling apart, this part will be a little bit briefer.
The new place is great. It’s a little more expensive and not nearly as big as the first place, but those little details are so far from being issues that they’re not really worth mentioning except as comparisons. It’s in a building directly off the CWU campus, just about five minutes’ walk from the Writing Center. While it’s an older building, it was originally owned by the University, has been very well kept up over the years, and was remodeled just a few years ago. Even better, the unit that Prairie got was remodeled even more recently to make it ADA compliant for a former tenant, so it has everything from a ramp up to the door to a shower big enough to fit a wheelchair in (or, as Prairie pointed out, four people at one time…though we seriously doubt that anything like that will ever be going on). It has relatively new appliances, even including a washer and dryer in the unit.
Another good sign: Andrew, the landlord, is very connected to CWU. His firm gives a scholarship to the university, the majority of his tenants are faculty, staff, or grad students, and he’s often recommended by the university as the person to talk to for off-campus housing. Prairie even had one of the Writing Center staff hear a little bit of her story of apartment woes and come up to her to ask if she’d talked to Andrew yet! He’s been much easier to work with and get ahold of than the other landlord was, and in general, has helped make this apartment experience be the exact opposite of our first try.
The moral of the story?
If you’re looking for rental properties in Ellensburg stick with Andrew at Hatlestad Investment Group, LLC. He’s great. Highly recommended (and obviously, not just by us)!
I took some pictures of the new place while I was there this weekend, and will get them posted eventually. As it is, I’ve taken too much time making these posts when I need to be getting caught up on my reading for this week’s classes, so I’ll call this the end.
And that’s the story of our adventures (so far) in moving to Ellensburg.