I've been living at Loveton Farms, an apartment complex managed by Henderson-Webb, for a number of months now. I always pay my rent on time and in full because I am a good tenant and money is not an issue for me- I have it. Saying that may seem extraneous, but I just need to point out very clearly that I have money and I use it to pay people to whom I owe.
For the December '10 rental payment I sent in my coupon with my credit card information on it as usual. I do that instead of a direct withdrawal from my bank because I get rewards points with my credit card. Henderson-Webb does not allow for automatic payments via credit cards. They also don't accept cash, which isn't a problem for me but which is odd considering every bill has the words "this note is legal tender for all debts, public and private." But I digress.
A week and a half after I sent in my payment (December 6th, Monday) I noticed that my card had not yet been charged. I called Henderson-Webb and asked what was up.
Woman on the phone: "You should get a letter in the mail soon. Your credit card number was wrong and since it's the sixth now your payment is late and you will be charged a late fee."
Now, when I heard that my first thought was: "why didn't you just call me when you realized this instead of waiting a week?" And my second thought was: "why didn't you just check my account and use the credit card number I send in EVERY month?"
I understood, however, that I may have made a legitimate mistake, so I decided to go to Henderson-Webb corporate offices right away to try and straighten things out. I met with a very nice woman who showed me that the credit card number I had sent in was off by one number. I had turned a "7" into a "1." I looked at my credit card. Sure enough, the silvery part that shows the number "7" had worn off so that from a distance it looks pretty much like a "1," so I can see how I would have made such a mistake. Oh well, I think. I ask the woman if I can get a pass this one time since I have never made a late payment and my intent was obviously to make my payment as soon as possible. She said that she couldn't authorize anything like that but that I should write a letter to the manager, P.F. Delaney. Before leaving the office, she informed me that my total bill would be my normal rent plus about $60. I thought that this was a bit excessive for the nature of my mistake, but it was my fault so I said "sure, can I pay here?" She left for about five minutes and came back to let me know that, no, I could not pay my bill in the company headquarters. I would have to either drive it somewhere else or mail it in. I said I'd mail it in and she said "great."
Once I got home, I wrote a letter to P.F. Delaney, as instructed, in which I explained the entire situation and made some critiques as to their policy. I stated that maybe, just maybe, it would save people a lot of time and money if they were called when a mistake occurred rather than waiting long enough for them to call you. I further suggested that maybe they should make it possible for renters to fix things over the phone, rather than forcing them to come in to the home office only to be told to mail something in. I was unhappy, but my letter was cordial. I put my payment, plus late fees, into the mail the next day.
I have, to date, received no response to my letter. However...
Fast forward to Saturday, December 11th. I receive in the mail a court summons for "failure to pay rent- landlord's complain for repossession of rented property." That's right- a notice that they would like to repossess my apartment for not paying rent. I have no way of knowing whether or not they received my check in the mail yet, but I also feel like, with the number of people I spoke with, at least someone at Henderson-Webb would be aware that I have done EVERYTHING in my power to pay them what I owed.
I have to come to the conclusion that Henderson-Webb is not just poorly managed, but that they willfully create an environment in which attempts at payment are ignored just so they can attach ridiculous penalty charges to squeeze money out of tenants. Once again- I have tried, through the phone, an in-person meeting, fax, and the mail to sort this out with Henderson-Webb and through every single medium I have tried to GIVE them my credit card number so that they could just fix it, since I acknowledged up front that yes, I miswrote a number.
Do not do ANY business with Henderson-Webb and avoid all of their apartment complexes unless you want to be treated like a criminal for no reason.
Their properties are located throughout Maryland:
The Paths at Loveton Farms- Sparks, MD
The Lakes in Cockeysville/Timonium
The Gardens in Loch Raven
The Timbers in Cantonsville
The Bluffs in Columbia
The Forest in Glen Burnie
The Greens in Dundalk
As a final note, I am not the first to get this treatment from Henderson-Webb. If you do a search on them you'll find more. It's really a shame, since the apartment itself is great.