As a rule, banks generally consider renters to be a liability and want nothing to do with them. When a property goes into foreclosure, these renters are usually unceremoniously tossed out and the building resold. Now Fannie Mae has announced a new program whereby renters in good standing will be allowed to stay in their apartments — if the property is owned by the government-controlled home funding company.
Good news for renters who’ve been dutifully paying their rent while their landlords failed to make the mortgages, and were facing eviction as a result: Fannie Mae will sign new leases with them. [NYT]
What do you do if you were a perfectly fine renter, left the place in great shape, but your landlord won’t refund your security deposit?
Last week, Walmart sent out emails to its online music store customers letting them know that on October 9th, 2008, they will no longer be able to play any DRM-crippled tracks. Unlike Yahoo, which did the right thing by offering free replacement downloads of unprotected songs when they killed their DRM program, Walmart simply brags about its new unlicensed model and tells you to burn your protected tracks to CD if you really want to listen to them in the future. Good job, Walmart, there goes another betrayed consumer into the welcoming arms of digital piracy. And another. And another…
In the course of searching for a new place to live in Minneapolis, I found a great condo right in the area I was looking for, renting for $900/mo for a 1 bedroom which included electricity, gas, water, sewer, garbage, cable, and high speed internet! Sound too good to be true? You bet…it was a scam.
There’s nothing we dislike more than people who scam a system put in place to protect vulnerable consumers from abuse, but the sad fact is that they do exist. SF Weekly has an article that tracks the exploits of a serial evictee, a “renter” who leases apartments with no intention of paying rent, and then games the system in order to stay rent free for as long as possible.
In what looked like a daring move, the CEO of Uhaul, Joe Shoen, gave out his “cellphone number” on national TV and invited customers to call him with their complaints. The problem is, when you call, he doesn’t pick up. If you leave a message, it’s not returned. You get to hear Joe’s gruffly charming voicemail message, but can’t leave one of your own. His mailbox is full.
Suffice to say, landlords aren’t allowed to do those sort of things just to get you to skedaddle. What’s the worst landlord you ever had and how did you deal with them?
I live in a 750 square foot apartment in Brooklyn, NY. Per the lease agreement, my roommate and I signed to pay the heat separate from the rent. The first gas bill we received was $750, and the following gas bill was roughly the same amount. We knew that the price of gas was expensive, but for two people who make great pains to use the heat only when absolutely necessary, and occasionally use the stove to boil a pot of water, this seemed ridiculous. For all of 2007, we owe roughly $2000 in gas costs.
A former camera store manager came forward to defend retail renting as a common tactic that helps drive sales. Retail renting is when a customer buys a pricey item like a prom dress with the intention of returning it later. Our completely unscientific poll shows that 70% of you disapprove of retail renting, but our tipster insists that it is a victimless crime and a valuable sales tool. Our enlightening chat with the former manager, inside.
The FCC banned apartment buildings from signing exclusive deals with phone operators, allowing tenants to exercise consumer choice. [NYT]
Michael writes, ” I was just reserving a budget rental car, and for some reason decided to actually read some of the fine print.” Buried in the text was something called an “FTP Surcharge,” which basically amounts to a participation fee for any frequent flyer promotion they offer their customers.
The CEO of Uhaul gave out his cellphone number last night on an episode of Inside Edition, inviting consumers to call with complaints or questions. Joe Shoen explained saying, “People can’t get this organization to behave, I can.” That number is 602-390-6525.
The Boston Globe has an interesting article in which they attempt to explain the phenomenon of “retail renting” or “wardrobing”–where consumers buy items with the intention of returning them when they’re done with the prom or the meeting or whatever. The article blames a mix of influences, including the economy and celebrities who obviously borrow many of their fancy gowns and jewelry.
How do you get your landlord to require the upstairs neighbors to put down carpets? A lawyer who “has practiced in the landlord-tenant arena for more than two decades” has been answering these sorts of questions on the New York Times’ “City Room” blog. The advice he gives, while helpful and specific, is mostly based on what we imagine are NYC-specific problems and cites New York statutes, but it still might be helpful for renters elsewhere with similar problems.
Do you love big city livin’, but you’re tired of spending 65% of your monthly salary on a 45-year-old studio apartment with a bathroom that feels like it was transplanted from an RV? (Yeah, we’re talking about NYC.) BusinessWeek lists the results of a recent survey of rental prices in cities with populations larger than one million. The best deal is (drum roll): Oklahoma City, with an average rent of $520 a month!