This apartment complex gave us an unpleasant surprise only a few short days after we moved out. We were expecting to get our deposit back (or at least most of it, minus the last month's utility bills and possible small charges for cleaning). Instead, we got a bill that said that we owed them money! They ended up charging us more than usual for utilities, (it seems that they bill the utilities about a month and a half after the fact). They also charged us $150 to chemically-clean the carpet, plus $150 to clean the whole apartment! After counting the $250 credit we had from our security deposit, the bill said that we owe them almost $120! Now it will be an undue hardship on us to pay this, and also to come up with $200 for the security deposit in our next apartment. I was hoping that we could use our deposit from our previous apartment to cover this.
It's not like we neglected to clean the apartment before we left. My wife and I spent at least three hours cleaning the kitchen floor, countertops, stove top, refrigerator and freezer,the whole bathroom, and vacuuming the carpet thoroughly, before we left. We did the best we could with the time we had to work with, having to move all our things with only our two vehicles, and minimal help, and with me having to work at the same time. The only things we know that we didn't have time to clean were the inside of the oven, and one small stain in the living room carpet. These things would take far less than an hour to clean, and it would only take a few minutes of extra work in the other places to get everything cleaned to military standards. (I should know because I went to a military boarding school for high school where we had to pass room inspections).
Nevertheless, when I went to the apartment office to dispute these charges, they told me that they didn't think we took any effort at all to clean the place! They gave me no sympathy at all. They said that the carpet was full of stains, even in all the high-traffic places, and that it definitely had to be chemically-cleaned! They said that the apartment was still noticeably dirty and in need of cleaning almost everywhere! They said that it would have cost us even more if they had itemized the charges for cleaning every single thing that needed it, and also that it probably cost them more to have the carpet cleaned than they charged us for it! They also told me that we didn't mark down many things on the move-in form (where we are supposed to document the defects when we moved in). However, it is difficult to notice everything that needs to be noticed in the three days they give you after you move in, while at the same time being all stressed-out about getting all your things moved in on time. In addition, I might not have the same standards as the management in noticing these defects, (condition of the carpet, stains, bumps and bangs, etc), and in the end it would just come down to my word against theirs. Now, I have learned my lesson, that I need to take digital pictures of all the important places before we move in, and also once we move out, so that we will have proof of what defects were and weren't our fault.
In addition to these things, the rent that this place charges is outrageous. It is about average compared to the typical market in Fort Collins, but that doesn't make it right for them to do that (sort of like the "everybody else is doing it" argument). It is an undue hardship on poor college students to pay high rent in addition to high tuition. We had to pay over $600 a month in rent for a relatively small one-bedroom apartment, which had a poor layout, with a kitchen that had barely any counter space, nor room to work with, and the bedroom didn't even have a closet in it, instead there was a tiny closet with only about three feet of space to hang clothes, that was just outside the bedroom door. At least there were a few other closets to store things, but still not much storage space. There was not any communtiy recreation center nor very many recreational areas (except a pool, some basketball courts, a few outdoor grills, and maybe a volleyball
court), in the complex. One of the only good things it has going for
it is that it is relatively close to the CU campus.
We also had to pay all utilities. Water, sewer, trash, and electricity were billed with our rent, and for some reason, the management had a company in another state take care of this, which is probably the reason that the billing thereof is delayed by about a month and a half. They wouldn't even give us a "budget billing" option to make things easier on us. Also, the natural gas service is billed separately, straight through the gas company. With the rent and all utilities considered, we had to pay about $700 a month for everything. (Also, during the winter, they warn us to keep the heat up to at least 65 degrees, even if we leave for a few days, to avoid pipes freezing and bursting, and they threaten us with having to pay for the damage if that happens). However, they are not willing to lift a finger to help us pay for the gas bill to heat our apartments, and I believe that they should easily be able to afford insurance to help pay for damages if pipes freeze and break, considering how much we have to pay in rent. If a typical resident in this place (most likely either a poor college student or somebody else with not much money) could afford to pay for the damage if a pipe were to freeze and break, then he or she would probably be living in a better place, anyway.
We also had to pay extra (in quarters) do do our laundry there. I know that this is common practice in a lot of apartment complexes, but, once again, I don't believe that this justifies this behavior. (Once again the "everybody's doing it" excuse). I object to the principle of having to pay extra to do laundry in a place where we are already paying hundreds of dollars per month just to live.
Parking at these apartments is also a hassle. They have small parking lots, with only one reserved spot per apartment, even though some of their apartments could house up to four people at once. There were some un-reserved spaces in the lots, but competition for those spaces got intense, and people did not always respect the assigned spaces, either. The owners of those cars would get angry with us if we tried to warn them that they were in "our" spot.
So for all people who are considering living in this place: Be ye warned!
However, if you can't find a better place at a better price to live in Fort Collins, which, I hate to say, is quite possible, and you actually end up living there, here are my recommendations:
1. Take high-resolution digital pictures of all important places right when you move in (all carpet, the bathroom, all countertops, the inside and outside of the stove, fridge, freezer, etc, and any other places that seem noteworthy). If you can, make sure that the pictures show the date when you took them. Keep copies for yourself and turn in copies to the management (within three days of moving in) so you can prove that they saw them when you moved in.
2. You must give at least 60 days notice before you move out, in writing. This is important. I am thankful that we didn't have any issues with this. However, just to be safe, when you turn in your written notice (more than 60 days in advance), have them give you a photocopy of it. Have them initial and date your copy in pen so you can prove that they received it and saw it. Either that, or send it by certified mail, with a signature required, also so that you can prove that they received it. You do not want to have to deal with any unpleasant surprises or misunderstandings about when you will be moving out. Remember that with such high rent, it would be a terrible hardship to have to pay for any additional time there.
3. If possible, have somebody from the office look through your apartment a day or two before you move out, and get suggestions about what still needs to be cleaned, to avoid unpleasant surprises. Now might also be a good time to show them your pictures of how everything looked when you first moved in.
4. When you move all your things out, and before you turn in your keys, take high-resolution digital pictures of all the important places, hopefully also with the current date on the pictures. This way, you can compare the "before and after" pictures, and also hopefully avoid unpleasant surprises. Having the sets of "before and after" pictures will also give you some evidence to help you argue your case, if any disputes or unpleasant surprises come up.
5. Don't expect any money back from your deposit. If you do get any back, then you got a better deal than we did. However, by "doing your homework" and taking all the precautions I suggested, then you probably stand a better chance than we did, of getting at least some of your deposit back.