July 1, 2016
Earlier this week, I was given a written lease violation by my apartment complex manager, citing me and my neighbor for illegally trapping and taking the life of rodents, which for the past several years have become out of control. These rodents like to dig up and destroy our flowers. Below is a copy of my response to the office manager, who declared our acts of murder to be a safety hazard. As you can see in the above photograph of a refrigerator which has been sitting in the middle of the sidewalk for two months, the entire apartment complex is nothing more than one big safety hazard. The cement mixer has been sitting in the yard even longer. Making matters worse, just to the right of these two items is the only remaining playground equipment left in the complex, a set of monkey bars.
The first month I moved into Pine Village Apartments fifteen years ago, I told the then office manager that my gutter leaked, and with if being winter, this caused the stoop right outside my front door to become an ice-skating rink. The office manager replied, “They all do.” Not only was her reply crass, but she was telling the truth, as I have found out over the years that indeed they all do.
A few weeks later, my next-door neighbor’s little girl came over selling Girl Scout cookies. As she stepped back when I opened the door, she slipped and fell on the ice-covered stoop. Being an habitual writer of letters, I wrote the owners of the complex, informing them that it was a miracle that this little girl did not bust her head wide open on the edge of the stoop, slipping on ice because the gutters leak. Fifteen years later, the gutters still leak. A few years back, the owners had to replace the roofs on all the buildings in the complex, because they too leaked. However, the owners had their landscaping crew replace the roofs as cheaply as possible. All they did was to lay sheet metal on top of a 1×1 inch framing they laid on top of the old plywood. The roofing fascia in which gutters are attached are all rotted, so they left the leaking gutters alone, re-hanging the old gutters. The fascia is so rotted; the gutters are barely hanging, as it is hard to drive a nail into.
When it rains hard, it’s like walking under a waterfall to enter an apartment. I have had my UPS man toss a package to me because of the waterfall on more than one occasion. And, because the gutters leak, it rots the storm doors. Belmont Properties, the owners of my apartment complex have replaced so many storm doors, that they now no longer replace them. When a storm door goes bad, they just remove it. Thankfully, I have a relatively new door. After it rains hard, I swing my storm door back and forth six or eight times to drain the water from it. The apartment complex looks quite cheap seeing every other apartment not having a door.
For three years, I worked as a part-time maintenance worker for the complex. I know what a safety hazard is. This apartment complex if full of them, and no, it’s not trapping rodents.
Steven H. Spring
June 30, 2016
Pine Village Apartments
355 Clifton Road
South Charleston, Ohio 45368
In regard to your lease violation, dated June 22nd, I would like to reply in writing, as is my right as stated in the notification. You cited both David Hazlett and me for trapping rodents and taking their life, citing section XVII-2 of my lease agreement and section 17.G of the attached Rules and Regulations. Reading both of the sections, I see nothing specifically regarding the trapping of rodents. One might argue that it is the rodents who are both a safety and health hazard, not the trapping of them. Coming from an apartment complex that in the past has trapped and illegally dumped many cats, I find this citation ludicrous. Making matters worse is that one of your maintenance men actually feeds rodents during the winter months.
Ground squirrels, which are what David and I are attempting to get rid of, have become a nuisance in that they are destroying our flowers. The especially love lilies. We are not the only tenants who complain about rodents destroying our gardens. I have even heard you complain on more than one occasion about the problem. David and I both take great pride in our flower gardens and to see flowers destroyed every single morning is demoralizing, not to mention the cost associated with replacing them. You stated that the single rat trap in which we use to trap these rodents are a safety issue for children on the property. This could not be further from the truth, as neither of us has children nor do we ever have children visit. When a trap is set, it is always placed well out-of-the-way on our patios. No one ever knows that the trap is there.
What I find especially irritating is that for years, David and I have maintained the lawn and surrounding common area in the summer and shoveled snow from the sidewalks in the winter. Last summer, my eighty-year-old next-door neighbor bought a weed eater for us to use. David then bought a leaf blower so he would not have to sweep the sidewalk. Before David moved into a handicapped apartment a few months ago, he and I maintained the entire four-apartment side of our building. In addition to maintaining the lawn during the summer months, we also trimmed many of the trees around our building. One might argue that the low hanging branches of the trees are a safety hazard, especially the very low hanging dead branches of the big oak tree by the driveway. With no leaves, these branches are especially hard to see. They very easily could poke someone’s eyes out.
I will never forget how, last summer before Ken bought his weed eater, David was sitting on the sidewalk leading up to Ken’s apartment with a pair of scissors trimming his grass. While I was talking to him, you walked over to talk to us but said not a single word about David trimming Ken’s grass with a pair of scissors. After you left, I said to David “If I were the office manager, I would have told you ‘If you want, you can borrow our weed eater.” However, you said nothing, totally ignoring David’s act of kindness.
In the winter, David and I always shoveled the snow off the sidewalk running the entire length of our side of the building along with the sidewalk where they park their vehicles. Not only does David, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, shovel snow but he buys salt to make the sidewalk passable. Two winters ago, while at the grocery store, I saw David with a five-pound bag of rock salt getting ready to walk home, as his car was not running. As I have no vehicle, I walked home with him, which is roughly a one-mile hike each way. I kept asking him to let me carry the bag of salt, but he would not let me. He had to stop and sit down three or four times in order to make it home. I did not think he was going to make it home.
He and I have both been known to shovel water off the sidewalk when it rains, because the sidewalk has settled maybe an inch or two and when it rains heavy, not only water but also mud collects on it. I have seen David many times shoveling both water and snow from the sidewalk well into the evening hours. However, I think I can safely say for the both of us that the days of shoveling snow and water are over. This will not be a burden on me, but I worry about both David and Ken. However, it is not my responsibly to shovel the sidewalk. Nor am I paid to. In the summer, David and I will probably maintain the grass around our gardens, as we both take great pride in our yards. Neighbor Ken appreciates our work as well and he occasionally likes to cut the grass in his little front yard with his weed eater too. David says he no longer will cut your grass. He has recently given to his mother many of his flowers, as he is so disgusted with this lease violation. However, come next spring his outlook might change.
David and I spend many hours each week making our section of Pine Village look its very best. It is not our job to do so. However, to get shit-on for some trivial matter such as trapping a rodent population that is out of control, and destroying our personal property is asinine.
Belmont Properties should be embarrassed.
Steven H. Spring