“The Tenants at Summerdale”


Two young women sat nervously in the corner and on the floor of the next unit we inspected.  Mr. Hayes had knocked on the door several times with no response and finally Maya stepped forward to open the door with her key.  “Management,” Mr. Hayes called out as he entered the unit. We waited a few minutes on the concrete landing until he came back and confirmed it was safe to enter.  A warm rancid smell wafted out of the open door.  I looked at my inspection sheet and noted the two-bedroom unit was leased to a Denise Shepherd at $690 a month and an additional $35 was charged for water.

We walked into the unit and the window blinds were drawn shut and the unit was dark. We were greeted with the heavy smell of body odor, stale diapers, and rotten trash.  In the dim light, I made my way to the kitchen and discovered a dozen plastic garbage bags crammed full of rotting garbage, spilling over to the floor.  Pizza boxes and fast-food containers crowded the counter tops along with piles of dirty dishes and glasses. Roaches crawled everywhere and seemed to emit a low hum.  My shoes stuck to the floor while I tried avoiding several smashed ketchup packets with sticky trails of red condiment streaming in their wake.  One of the young women sat in the corner facing us with her back to the wall, next to heaping piles of dirty laundry interspersed with plastic children’s toys and stuffed animals.  A dingy-colored infant car seat stood in the middle of the floor, but otherwise there was no other furniture.  A toddler crawled eagerly to where I stood, navigating across the floor and through the gluey ketchup.  The women did not do anything to retrieve the baby as it sat up and started cooing at me.  I spoke to the baby and immediately one of the women yelled at the baby to come to her.  Finally in frustration, she got up from crouching in the corner, roughly retrieved the baby and quickly returned to the same spot.  She was young, maybe 20 or 21 years old and rolled her eyes at me and the other women sitting in the corner facing her.  Tato’s clothes were filthy.

I continued the inspection and noted the condition of the apartment and the roaches.  The back bedrooms were equally messy with piles of clothes covering the carpet. A mattress sat on the floor in the master bedroom and alongside it was a metal cage of some type, probably for a medium sized dog.  The closet door was open and while there were hangers on the racks, most of the clothes were on the floor. Dozens of women’s shoes were strewn everywhere, and I had to negotiate around the clothing and shoes to get to the master bathroom.   The master bathroom was overwhelmed with women’s makeup, shampoo, hair care bottles, wigs, curling irons and feminine products covering the counter or on the floor.  The toilet and bathtub were covered in a dark sludgy grime and had not seen a cleaning in years. I exited to the second bedroom. It had a small mattress on the floor next to a sleeping bag.  Shoes, socks, shirts, and baby clothes covered the floor.  An open bag of diapers was in the corner.  Roaches crawled on the ceiling, probably to escape the filth of the kitchen.

We had seen enough and made our notes.  I thanked the women for their time and they rolled they eyes at each other. Tatos cooed as we left.

As we waited for Maya to lock the door, my maintenance staff looked at each other silently, thinking the same thing.  What do you do in situations like this?  Do you call DFCS, the Department of Family and Children Services?  I did not understand how people could live in such filth, especially two physically capable women who just sat there without making a move to live a better life and nurture the baby.  Denise’s lease file was complete with a criminal background check and credit report.  She leased the apartment in 2011 and listed two dependents’ ages 14 and 16 on the lease application.  At the time she leased the apartment, her credit report showed 18 accounts being delinquent and with several “write-offs”.  I did not see any other past landlord debts on her record, mainly medical and credit cards.  Her Accu-score was 74 and the software recommended “Deny”.  She worked in the housekeeping department of a large hotel chain for $10 per hour, or just above poverty level at the time.  Her files had several lease amendments renewing the term of the lease, but the rent stayed the same at $690 per month with each renewal. Denise did not have a rental increase in six years, and it was doubtful she had any type of inspection by the current management which was typically performed during a renewal.  My records showed Denise was current on her rent and there were not any delinquent notices


Recent News


The Tenants at Summerdale

The Tenants at Summerdale

  James Wilkens was the first official tenant I met at Summerdale. We were racing to procure $9,600,000 in funding to close Summerdale, but in the meantime, the contract gave us 45 days to complete our physical inspections. If for any reason we didn’t like the...

The Inspection Process – Miguel

The Inspection Process – Miguel

“The Tenants at Summerdale” After saying goodbye to James, we went to inspect the neighboring unit. Mr. Hayes knocked on the door and screamed “Management”. Within seconds after the knock, Miguel Valdez answered the door and smiled at the group. He was expecting us....