July 1, 2014

Why you should never rent from Realty Executives at Ft. Leonard-Wood

The last time I went on a tangent like this it was because of a Carnival cruise gone wrong.  I apologize if I lose you here.  This all just needs to be put out on the interwebs  and hopefully anyone who googles "Realty Executives" will find it.


We spent the last year renting a house from Realty Executives in St. Robert, Missouri.

Let's start with the fact that, on the day we moved in, I asked our property manager where the mailbox was and she didn't know.  I had to drive around the neighborhood and look for it.  (For the record, it was 1/2 mile away in a cluster of boxes that were all but falling off the contraption that held them up.)

Or we could start with the fact that I asked how many square feet the house was.  She didn't know.

Or maybe when I asked about the best internet provider in the area.  I got a shoulder shrug as a response.

Helpful.

All of this should have been a warning, right?

But actually, let's fast forward.  In March, we got a call while we were out of town on a Saturday saying that they wanted to show our house to potential renters.  Uhhh…okay?  I mean, I guess?  Sure?  Maybe?  We're not there, we own valuable things such as guns and army equipment and whatnot.  To say we were uncomfortable with that scenario was an understatement.  But, we said yes before we thought about it too much.

Think about this:  It was a Saturday morning.  We'd both worked all week.  The house was a disaster.  Dirty dishes, dirty laundry, unmade beds, dirty floors, all the stuff all over the place, etc.  That, I suppose, was Realty Executives' loss.  They never called with a request like that again.  (We later found out they'd called friends of ours with the same request and they said, "Hell no.  I've got guns in that house.")

Now, let's shoot forward to April.  I posted about this incident here, but I can rehash it for any new readers.  Long story short:  A couple we are friends with moved out of their Realty Executives rental.  They were expecting a package and, since they were still living in the area, they drove by the rental every day or so to check for it.  It was unoccupied and a neighbor was also looking out for it.  It had been backordered or something, so they didn't expect it to be sent to them after they'd already left the address.  Finally, after checking with the company, my friend found out it'd been delivered a few days before.  Before she had a chance to call Realty Executives, they called her and said they found a package on the porch and they were going to send it back to the company and send my friend a bill since they weren't going to pay the return shipping.  Whoa, whoa, right?  My friend said, "Hey, I'm still here…I'll come get it!"  She went to pick it up.

They'd already opened it.  They'd had it sitting in their offices for almost a week.  THEY OPENED HER MAIL.

The theory is that they opened it, passed it around the office, decided no one wanted the set of coasters she'd ordered from Hautelook, and decided to call her.

But that's just a theory.

Their excuse was that they didn't read the label before opening it.  What's more: They didn't apologize.  Had it been an accident, you'd think they'd have called right away with, "Oh geez, I'm so sorry I accidentally opened this package that was mistakenly put on my desk…can you pick it up?"  There was none of that.  To Realty Executives, it was an inconvenience and no fault of theirs.  (I get that it wasn't ideal, but they obviously had my friend's phone number…why not call her as soon as they got it?)

So, being the super helpful social media guru that I am (not really), I offered to mention this on the Ft. Leonard-Wood Spouses page on Facebook.  The purpose of the group is "providing information to our military spouses".  There's lots of questions about renting, buying, where to go to the dentist, where to get your car fixed, restaurants, shopping, etc.  In other words, advice for those military spouses who are stationed at Ft. Leonard-Wood.

I got lots of responses from fellow spouses.  Most were horrified that a rental company would open a tenant's mail.  It is illegal and all.  I posted about it on this blog and got the same reaction.

Realty Executives apparently saw my post on the Spouses' page.  They called my friends.  They threatened them with, "You better tell her to take that down right now".  They worried it could be "misinterpreted" as a crime.  Well, if you don't want something to be misinterpreted as a crime, you should first educate your employees on how to follow the law and then you should teach them what good customer service looks like.  Then, there might not be a "misinterpretation".

After a few days, I did take it down.  It served its purpose.  The goal was only to spread the information.  Plus, it'd been moved down so far on the feed that I doubt anyone was still able to see it.  I  know they couldn't claim slander on that one.  The story was, unfortunately, the truth.

In hindsight, what I did was a bad idea.  I truly was just trying to be helpful, but what I actually did was put a target on my back because we were still in a lease with Realty Executives.  I'd let my emotions guide that one.  Kind of a fail on my part.  Regardless, they never contacted me and I don't even know that they made the connection that I (the person in a lease with them) posted that.  I never told anyone I took it down.  I just let it go away.

Soon after, Scott was in the Housing Office for something or other, and he mentioned this to them.  The Housing Office said, "Yeah, I bet they have a target on you now."  Comforting.  There is something wrong with the world when you feel that your rental agency is out to get you.  They also said that they've had so many complaints about them that Realty Executives (who really has the monopoly at Ft. Leonard-Wood) was getting close to being blacklisted.

On June 6, our lease was up.  We paid $500 to have the house and the carpets professionally cleaned in hopes of getting our entire $1,000 security deposit back.  Inspection time arrived.  After the property manager was finished, she handed me the report to look over.  There was a question over curtain rods.  She thought they were mine.  No, I know my own curtain rods. Something about scuff marks and a loose towel rack.  She said she would take a video of the house and compare it to the video she made when we moved in and look for discrepancies.  She would do this after I left because "no one usually sticks around for that".  I had to fight the urge to cement my feet to the ground.  Unfortunately, I had a timeline to keep and couldn't stay.  Her inspection took over an hour in just the time I was there.

Also, though we'd puttied all of the nail holes in the wall (even ones that were there when we moved in), we hadn't painted because we didn't choose to chip paint off the wall, go to Lowe's, and have them match it.  Maybe this was something we really should have done.  Maybe that's my fault.  Previous rentals we've been in have had paint in the basement from the last time the walls were painted, so it's always been quite easy to putty and paint on our way out the door.  Perhaps this was short-sighted on our part.

But what really bothered me was the timeline.  As I looked over the inspection report on Friday, June 6th, I asked for a copy of it.  That wasn't possible because the property manager had somewhere to be and couldn't go back to the office.  She said, "You can sign it if you want".  I asked what that meant (thinking about the curtain rod thing).  She said it didn't matter if I signed it or not; she'd hand it to her boss regardless.  I was confused.  Since comparisons had not been made yet (as per the "videos"), I didn't feel comfortable signing anything.  I took pictures of the report with my phone.

I asked when I could turn off the utilities.  She said to call the office on Monday and see if they were done with the report.

I called on Monday.  It wasn't ready.  "Call back tomorrow" I was told.  I was also told they had 30 days to get the deposit to us.  Since I'm a college educated individual, I understood that.  I can read verbatim from a lease too, Realty Executives.  I just wanted to know if I could turn my utilities off.  She hung up before I could voice my concerns.

I gave them the benefit of the doubt and called back on Wednesday.
This time I was told my property manager was out of the office but would call me back.  She did call about 2 hours later.  She said to go ahead and turn the utilities off and they were still waiting on a receipt from maintenance on how much the putty patches would cost to repaint.

30 days would be July 6th, so I wrote that down to remind myself.

They sent our security deposit back on June 24th, which was sooner than I'd expected.  They took out $50 to replace a broken doorstopper and paint over the patches we'd put putty on.  While $50 is far less than we'd expected them to take, it's an awfully even number.  Whatever, I guess.  It's over.  Finally.

This is why the whole Realty Executives debacle bothers me:

I like to think that my husband and I are good people.  He's an officer in the army. I'm an elementary school teacher.  We like to think that we're upstanding citizens.  We donate to charity. We have good credit scores. We pay our taxes.  Scott once walked out of Cracker Barrel and forgot to pay the bill.  He remembered, hours later, and went back to pay it.  We're those kind of people.

The fact that Realty Executives made us feel like bad people makes me mad.  They made us feel like they were always holding one over on us.  They made us feel victimized.  No one, especially not military families, should feel victimized by their rental agency.

(If you made it to the end of this, I wish I could give you dessert.  Send me your address and it'll be on the way.)

18 comments:

  1. I frequently feel that companies feel that they're in a position of power and capitalize on it. They use guilt and other things to get what they want and it's nonsense because you're the customer! Ugh. I'm sorry! Yay for home ownership, right?

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  2. This is...outrageous. Moving (especially as often as Military families do) is such a stressful situation on its own--having a company like Realty Executives make it THAT MUCH WORSE is just wrong. Companies like that need to be blacklisted. I applaud your internet efforts and hope it saves some future families the trouble you all had!

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  3. I have to say here at Fort Polk I have felt the same about some of the realty companies. Two specifically, ERA. We received the house in terrible condition, waited 4 days or a cleaner that never showed. They did pay us what they would have paid the cleaning lady but still. Had the maintenance man not said something on our behalf we never would have received a damn thing. Then they sat on the info for 2 months that the house was going up for sale. It wasn't until we called about the fence falling down that they go oh yeah you need to be out in 30 days and we have some homes that or available. awesome hell no. Then during the close out inspection she is nit picking. Never in my life have I seen someone White glove a close out inspection. The next company we worked with was amazing but the house was foreclosed because the owner wasn't paying their mortgage so we had to move again. No fault of the realty Agency (Century 21, LOVE THEM!!) They helped us out a lot. The lady who was handling the VA closeout not so much. The term "see you next tuesday" comes to mind. After her questioning how we handle our finances, my cleaning abilities, and how I raise my son, she is lucky I didn't slap her... in the face... with a brick. The new people we are renting from well... lets just say I'm less than hopeful. so 3 house in 3 years at one location. Ugh. I should not none of this was from any fault of our own.

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  4. I can only imagine how frustrating that would be! The part about opening someone else's mail being "misinterpreted" as a crime cracked me up, though. My parents have had their own problems with landlords. I'm so glad that we've gotten lucky with landlords--we've been renting from my parents since we got married, and it sounds like we've already got a place lined up for when we move to Malaysia 2 years from now...and in China we'll be living in a dorm, so that won't really count as anything...

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  5. I know this doesn't affect me, but I like the post. I'm glad you shared it for other military families to see and hopefully not work with them. We started our whole house hunt because we found mold in our apartment. The office offered to "fix" it, but we just decided to move because our lease had an addendum for such things (this being Florida and all), and the leasing office staff treated us like low lives. I was so offended. We lived in our apartment for four years (and one by myself before Jason and I were engaged and he moved in with me to a 2 bedroom), and we always paid our rent on time, never had a complaint, or anything crazy. In my eyes, we were perfect tenants. They told us we needed to pay two months to break our lease plus give 60 days notice. We gave 30 days notice (lease says nothing about 60), and we did know about breaking our lease and the fee. Though if we wanted to fight it, we could have because of the mold. Anyways, the leasing manager called me and seemed nice enough and said they'd still send someone to look at the apt. As far as I know, no one ever even came! So we paid two months rent (2k. thankyouverymuch), and if they even try to send us a bill, I will flip my lid. Anyways, my point is, I know there are people out there that wouldn't pay the two months, wouldn't drive back to pay a restauramt bill (like Scott), and it just so rubs me the wrong way that I feel like erspect is a loss thing. OKay, I am done now. Yay for being homeowners and not having to worry about such things anymore!

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  6. I love you put this out there!!! People need to be aware of poor customer service & the way you are treated.

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  7. We had a similar experience with our rental group when we were living there. They were HORRIBLE to us and made me feel like a nag because I wanted our ac fixed in the middle of July, after going 30 days without air. I was a problem-tenant because I wanted a working refrigerator or dishwasher. I was asking for too much when I wanted to stop hearing the guy who lived above us having sex at 2 a.m. Then when it came time for us to move, I cleaned up and down and I filled all the nail holes. When they did the walk-through, they were in and out in under 5 minutes and told us we were model tenants. That was interesting since they had told me for years that I was asking for too much and I was too demanding, but now that I am leaving you want to tell me how great I am. *smh* I'm glad they did the right thing and gave you the majority of your deposit. That's a positive ending at least - not that it makes up for all the bad.

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  8. Sometimes I feel like rental companies have one or two bad experiences with less-than-stellar tenants, and then decide it's their civic duty to take it out on EVERYONE that decides to rent from them. Like they expect you to trash the place and try to cover it up, etc. It's like they don't know what to do with good renters, or how to treat them with respect. I'm sorry you guys had to go through that - I bet it feels EXTRA nice now to be living in a house you own! Make holes in ALL the walls if you want! ;)

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  9. Wow! I had a similar experience writing a review for the travel company my sister used last year for the wedding in Mexico. The agent was furious I'd write a bad review because it would look bad on their company blah blah blah. Well lady if you would have charged the right card, amongst other things, it would have all been smiles but you didn't. Ugh! I did eventually take it down but I'm sure to tell people not to use them.

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  10. Ugh what a frustrating situation!!!

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  11. So good that you shared this! It will definitely help future potential renters. I know when we started looking for places, we Googled all of the places to find reviews. Now I'm a little scared to rent! I'm glad you've at least escaped the rental world!

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  12. I am glad you shared this. Hopefully someone who uses that company (or wants to) finds this and will steer far away form this company! They sound extremely unprofessional and I cannot believe they opened your friends mail! I would be one to report them to the better business bureau. At least you got out of that rental and got most of your money back!

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  13. I hope everyone sees this! No one should be made to feel like bad people when you aren't! This rental company sounds pretty insane! At least, as you said, it's over.

    So about that dessert.... ;)

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  14. You make me want to write a post about our crappy tenants!

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  15. Ugh this post gave me chills. They sound sketchy.

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  16. I'm glad you wrote this post because I'm sure someone WILL Google that company and find it. People need to know what they're getting into, especially with a rental company. And no, you're not bad people. This is all them.

    About 14 years ago, my husband and I were living in an apartment. I came home from work and things just looked...off. Like someone had been in there and didn't put things back quite the way they needed to be. Then I noticed a report on our dining room table. Turns out, our apartment had been burglarized and NO ONE from the rental office had bothered to call either of us to let us know. They let the police in, the police wrote their report, and left. We went around and around with them for a month and then finally decided to move out.

    Trust is an important thing when you're renting from someone and if you can't trust them, you'll never feel comfortable.

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  17. Wow! I can't believe they opened a package that was not addressed to them. Very unprofessional.

    I am not happy with my current property manager. He is using scare tactics and lies to get what he wants which is why we decided to buy a house.

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