The Apartment

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that renting an apartment in Austin, Texas would be such a nightmare of overly-officious apartment managers and international relations.

It’s just after 5 in the afternoon today, and I’ve completed my first day of classes for the new semester. (It’s been quite a culture shock to come back to the sprawling UT law school, teeming with future attorneys.)  I put in an application for a decent apartment last Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. Since that time, there have been countless phone calls, requests for new information, recriminations and international telephone calls. I would not have imagined that renting an apartment required this thorough an investigation, but according to management, if they make an exception for me it would be tantamount to throwing open the gates to the great, unwashed masses. It feels like I’m buying the place instead of just renting for a few months.

The staff hasn’t been deceptive, but I think I have a legitimate grievance in that I wasn’t fully informed up-front about the mechanics of the process for approving an application (e.g. 3rd party verification company being closed on weekends) and they didn’t seem to take the exigent circumstances of my situation (having no home) fully into account. Today, they have taken that tack that I am being overly demanding by expecting them to have completed the “process” and that I am not being a “happy” tenant who is willing to follow the “process”. Apparently asking for an exception because I have no place to live qualifies as being difficult. I haven’t yelled, or raised my voice or cursed at any one. I’m sure that I’ve allowed my frustration to show, but without trying to specifically accuse anyone.

Currently, everything about my application (criminal background, rental history, credit history — that they have informed me of to date) has been approved except for the verification of my 3-month rental history while I lived in London this past fall. At first I was told this wouldn’t have to be verified, but as of today they said that it would. Unfortunately, London falls in a time zone 6 hours ahead of our own, and the procedures in place aren’t well-designed to take such foreign circumstances into account. So every short window that passes where London and the U.S.  business times briefly align means another day of delay for approval. (Also, they don’t call internationally, so such verifications occur via email.) Supposedly there is a process that kicks in after 3 attempts are unsuccessful, but I shudder to discover what that is. Also today they added that I would need to have my vet send over a verification of my dog’s age and weight, which I promptly asked my vet to supply. (I’m sure when they discover that he was weighed last February they will cite some management guideline that says all pet weights must have been taken within the previous 6 months or some such nonsense. )

I’ve tried to maintain a fairly good attitude about this, but it is wearing on me. All I have to say is that once I finally do get the keys, I will expect my fellow tenants to be some of the finest, most responsible and upstanding citizens this little town has to offer.  I’m grateful for friends that continue to be willing to share their roof with me in the meantime.

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