I've been meaning to write about this for a while now. My last apartment, Park Forest Apartments in State College, PA is a ghetto (by State College standards) and is run by scam artists. When they were showing me the property, they took me into an occupied unit--but not the one that I'd be moving into. They said they couldn't show that one--something to do with it being worked on or something. Well, the unit I did get to see was very nice. I was pretty much sold immediately. It would've been the nicest place I'd lived in yet. I was mildly skeptical and mentioned how nice all the appliances, cabinets and trimmings were and just wanted to make sure that the other units were the same. They assured me that they did indeed have newer appliances and that my unit was getting new carpet before I moved in.

Well, I was stupid and believed them. Oh, the unit had new carpet, but other than that, the place was a total dump. It looked like it was build fifty years ago and hadn't been updated since. Except for another sloppy coat of paint every few year--very sloppy. The appliances were ancient--the stove couldn't be operated without filling the apartment with soot and the bathroom was literally about ready to fall through to the first floor. The airconditioner leaked down the wall into the electrical outlet below and there was plenty of visible water damage. The baseboard heaters were barely maintianing their shape and the parking lot turned to a lake with the slightest of rains. And the list goes on. I reported all this and they did pretty much nothing. They were able to slightly reduce the soot level in my apartment and they did finally replace the airconditioner almost two years after I moved in--they never dealt with the water damage.

In my time there, I gave the apartment a new (and nice) paint job and left the it far cleaner than it was when I moved in. Then when I moved out, they stole close to $200 from my security deposit. All this to say, I blame myself.

I was naive and should've known this was a scam operation when they wouldn't show me the actual apartment I would be getting. I have learned my lesson. Maybe someone out there will read this and not have to learn the same lesson the way I did. Always insist on seeing the actual unit you will be renting--there is absolutely no reason they shouldn't show it. When you move it, you are given a chance to report any pre-existing problems. Do this with a fine-toothed comb. There may be problems that have been there for years and they probably charge every single tenant for the same damages and never fix them. Document everything with a camera and make sure your landlord has copies of the pics. Also, as soon as something else goes wrong, make sure you get them to fix, otherwise you'll get charged when you move out.

I did write them a letter letting know how I felt and explaining why they were wrong to steal from me, but beyond that there wasn't a whole lot I could do. The day I moved out I hit the road to California and being three thousand miles away, I'm sort of screwed. I threatened to write a letter to the local papers, but I figured they wouldn't publsih it, so this is my last and only recourse.

There are probably a few honest landlords out there, but not many. There out to make money and that's it. As in everything in life, you--and only you--have to look out for your own interests. Lesson learned.