I’m beginning to think my apartment complex must have gotten bored in the past week or so and decided it might be fun to see if they could annoy me enough to prompt a blog post.
The fun began on Friday, when I came home to a note on my door. When I opened it, I was immediately met with this:
A reminder, by definition, is a call to remember something, which implies that I must have previously been introduced to whatever they’re reminding me about. One might further conclude that with three exclamation points, two more than is generally ever necessary, this must be something really important that I had clearly forgotten.
But this was news to me: I am about to be billed $35 for a set of small mini-blinds on a window that is missing the ends of a few slats. About four slats are broken off at the strings, leaving about a four-inch square that someone might see into my apartment if it were not for the big cabinet that is in front of that window.
The letter also informs me that the community’s service team would be coming by on Thursday to replace the “offending” blinds for me. As long as I replace the blinds myself by Wednesday, they won’t charge me anything and all will be right with the world.
The broken edges of the individual slats were caused by the cocker spaniel who insisted upon looking out of the window when the blinds were down. I lost him back in March; the damage to the blinds was done at least a year ago. Probably closer to two years ago.
So why, this particular week, did this little malady become a full-fledged crisis requiring my immediate attention?
Today, I found another note on my door. This time, there was no friendly reminder and no multiple exclamation points. It was much more matter-of-fact, addressed to “Valued Resident.”
Whenever a business tells you how much they value you, that’s a sure sign bad news is immediately forthcoming.
This one pointed out that according to the lease, rent is due on or before the first of each month. Then there’s this:
“While, there is a courtesy grace period before we apply a late charge, we wanted to remind you that rent is considered late after the 1st of each month.” [sic]
There was no explanation in the letter, however, as to why they placed a comma after while.
It did go on to notify me that beginning in October, personal checks and online payments will only be accepted through the close of business on the third of the month. After that, “certified funds,” i.e., a certified check issued through a bank, are the only thing they’ll accept through the fifth, after which an additional $100 is due.
They’ve been pushing their automatic draft payment feature through their website for some time now. I haven’t taken advantage of it, yet, because I generally prefer to avoid online payments, particularly when made to an organization that likes to throw additional charges, like a random $35 fee for miniblinds, into the mix with little notice.
But the convenience of being able to pay online automatically now trumps the hassle of having to pay for a certified check from the bank on the fourth of the month, which is still part of the “grace period,” but now isn’t treated as though it is.
So what does paying rent on the second of the month mean? We’re late but it’s okay? It’s just okay and no one cares? Or we’re deadbeats on the verge of pushing out luck?
Beyond that, in the aforementioned lease, it clearly spells out a five-day grace period. But they’ve clearly read my blog long enough to anticipate the question with which I would have ended this piece: Can they really do that to someone who’s got a signed lease with a different policy. In smaller type, not small enough to truly constitute “fine print,” along the bottom of the page, is this:
“Please note that per the South Carolina Landlord Tenant Act, we are entitled to change, add or modify current lease terms, rules and policies with a written 30 day notice to all residents prior to the change.”
It’s flattering that they’ve read me well enough to anticipate where I was going next.
I’d gush a little more over it, but I have to get to the store to see a man about some mini-blinds.