Idyll Musings

The daily adventures of a bookselling family.

Idyll (n) - a short prose piece depicting a rural or pastoral scene in idealized terms; a carefree episode or experience; a romantic interlude; a scene or event of a simple and tranquil nature.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Relocation Update

I wish I could say that "many of the readers out there," but I know our readership numbers are pretty darn low; that's ok. I know that the more I post, the more I will be read. So instead, let me start by saying," Those of you who noticed my blog this spring," and may have wondered where we went, the answer is Prescott Valley, AZ. Yes, we survived the eight day road trip with two adults, 4 kids, two cats and a dog and are now trying to settle in. I hope to get back to book related posts in the future. But for now I have something personally more urgent I want to write about. We are just going through an incredibly stressful and nightmarish time right now with the house that we are living in.
This past spring, we posted an ad on craigslist, advertising who we were and what we were looking for in a house. On June 3, we were contacted by the people that own the house we are now in. They told us on 6/3 that they had a house that was “nearly completely remodeled” and they wanted to rent it to us. Many emails and conversations later, we had an agreement for renting for a year with an option to buy after that. We stayed in constant contact with them, they would contact us and tell us they were going to pick up tile for the floor and ask us what color we wanted; they would ask our preferences on appliances; they kept telling us they wanted as much of our input as possible, that they wanted us to feel like this was “our home.” They even talked about being Christians, and how it feels that God brought us together, etc. etc.
We left Massachusetts on July 21. They told us the house would be ready when we got there, that all we would have to do is unpack. We spoke with them several times during our drive, and again they assured us everything would be ready. Our last day of driving we really pushed ourselves, despite Andrea being sick, because we were so close, and we “just wanted to get to our new home.”
When we finally got here – we were heartbroken. The house wasn’t close to being done. Most of the walls were still down to drywall. There was no kitchen. There were only two working electrical circuits. There were no cabinets. Out of the three bathrooms, not one was fully functional. None of the bedrooms were completed. The a/c units weren’t even installed. We had to go out and buy a grill just so we could cook meals. Andrea was in tears, and I wasn’t too far from them myself. We had a decision to make, so we called a family meeting. We explained to the kids how we felt, including how misled we were, and said we could do one of two things: leave, find a motel for the night, and contact realtors the next morning and see what else we could find quick; or we could roll up our sleeves, work with the homeowners and get this house finished. Everyone chose to work at this house. Knowing the satisfaction we would have down the road, when we owned the house to know that we put sweat equity into making this our home, that we actually helped to rebuild this house. And that’s what we did. We mudded drywall, we hammered in bullnose, we cut and installed granite countertops, we hung cabinets, we painted, we cleaned, all six of us.
Around August 18 – 20, we were finally able to start unpacking. During all this time, the homeowners kept telling us they couldn’t charge us any rent because the house wasn’t ready for us.

On August 29, the homeowner showed up at the house with a written lease agreement that she wanted us to sign. She also now wanted a check for the month of August, and would be back the following week for a check for the month of September! She was irate that we wanted to actually read the agreement first, and after reading it we know why: EVERYTHING HAD CHANGED! Every agreement that we had in place before we drove 3100 miles was different. Instead of a year lease, now it was month-to-month. Instead of $1600 a month for six months and $1800 a month for the next six months, it was $1600 until October 1, then $2075 a month after that! She was insisting on being able to come into the house every month and inspect the property. She said she was going to put the house on the market in October, and we had to have our financing in place by then if we wanted to buy it (the original agreement had us renting for a year, and if we liked the house and the area, we could purchase from her, and that she would hold the note until we qualified for bank financing.).
When we refused to sign this lease, insisting instead that we had an agreement in place already, she told us that her financial situation has changed, and that this is her house and if we didn’t like it we could pack up and leave! We told her we needed time to review the contract. Over the weekend, we informed her that we rejected her proposed lease, and that we felt a lease was already in place (AZ law recognizes verbal contracts as an acceptable form of lease). So then we receive a notice to pay or quit from her, which is even different than the bogus lease she brought over to the house!!

Things have just gotten worse from there. We had property in the front yard knocked over while we were out, she called the police and filed a bogus harassment report against us, she’s threatening to take us to court…. We have done some investigating too, and what we found is scary: the homeowner and her husband have both criminal and civil records; both have violent pasts, and the husband served time in jail for premeditated attempted murder. He came up behind someone one night and bashed him in the head twice with a sledge hammer, because a couple of weeks prior, the victim embarrassed and made this guy look bad in front of friends at a party. More investigations at City Hall and we find that the house has not even passed final inspection. We called the building inspector out and he came up with a list three pages long of violations, including any that are “life safety concerns.” The house has not been issued a Certificate of Occupancy, and the town tells us that, by law, they should not be renting it out to anyone. Yet they contacted us on June 3 and said they had a “nearly completely remodeled” house!
I could go on and on with more details, but this is enough to give you an idea of what we are going through. We contacted attorneys who are more than willing to fight this, but $225 an hour and a $3000 retainer is out of our league. We spent nearly $5000 to get out here, we don’t have money for an attorney. The stress has affected our health, especially Andrea who suffers from multisystem sarcoidosis, the same disease that Bernie Mac had.
People have asked us why we just don’t move. It’s not that easy. One, we feel we have a lease in place already, so if we move we kind of acknowledge that no agreement existed. Two, the move out here took so much out of us: financially, emotionally, mentally. We just don’t have the energy to move again; three, the disruption it would cause the kids, who after starting school late because of this mess are finally settling into a routine. And four, the fact is, we like this house and want to stay here. It’s those people we don’t like.
So we don’t know what we are going do. We are scared, tired and just want some peace. We didn’t move out here for this. They said all the right things on the phone and in emails before we came out here. They even told us they were a Christian family too, and that “God brought us together.” A bunch of B.S. was all that was. We are Christians, and yes, we feel God wants us to be in this house. But all they did was ‘talk the talk’ to get us out here, get us trapped with nowhere to go, and then they thought they could scam and swindle us.
We don’t know what to do. We don’t know anyone out here, we don’t have family in AZ, we have no one. We contacted a local church, and they continue to pray for us, but I just wish people would come to our defense and rally around us. I even tried contacting a local newspaper and a local tv station, but neither were interested in getting involved.
We miss our book business, and wish that we could get it up and running again, but life is on such a state of upheaval right now…..
We are doing all we can to stay positive, and strong, and we are doing what we can to stand up for our rights, but it’s so hard when you feel so isolated, and so alone in the struggle.

I know we don't have a lot of people reading our blog, but for those who do, we would love to hear from you. It would mean a lot to us if you would drop us an email, or a comment, and if you had any advice or suggestions, it would help us not feel so alone. Thanks.

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