I currently live at Hidden Hills apartments for just a few more days. On 6/27/11 I will be evicted.
Not because I didn't pay my rent but because I have been the squeaky wheel.
All of this started when I complained about the upstairs neighbors and not having heat for
several weeks. I sued them in small claims court to be reimbursed for this. Moving here was one of the worst decisions I have ever made in my life. As a single mom, I worked overtime so I could live with my 2 children in a good neighborhood and they attended good schools. I achieved this goal until August 2009 when I moved here with my 18 year old daughter. That is when our nightmare started and my
daughter, who has lived with me her entire life, moved out because she could no longer stand to be in this environment. I miss her terribly and since I am now disabled and unable to work outside the
home, it is extremely lonely. [continued below]....
..... After having kids around for 20 years it is very hard. She rarely visits because just coming here makes her feel anxious. I can't say it's been quiet since this is the loudest place I have ever lived. Reading this will make the management here very happy since this is what they wanted, to make me miserable for not putting up and shutting up.
The eviction proceeding began the first week of May. I turned in my 30 day notice in March, I had located a new residence. But through circumstances beyond my control, I found out 3 weeks later that it was no longer available. I emailed the office as soon as I found out, nearly a week before the end of the notice and it was unanswered. I got a phone call April 1 asking where the keys were because they had rented the unit and they were moving in within days. This was not true since this apartment has to be renovated to the level of all the other units here and per their own words, they allow 21 days.
Instead of giving me another week or two, management has me sign another 30 day notice. They would not allow one day less as they have for other tenants who have had to move for reasons such as job loss, etc. I know a couple of these people personally so this is not fabricated. They complained about me giving two 30 day notices in their complaint, but this was their doing! I secured a second place to move to and after 2 weeks the landlord told me that Hidden Hills had given me a bad reference. I always pay my rent, have never bounced a check or paid late. They denied they did this when the judge asked them what their procedure for references were. Management said they only release how long and how much a tenant pays, nothing else. In my experience here, what they say and what they do are two different things. I firmly believe they gave a derogatory reference to that landlord. There was no reason for me fabricate this since I desperately want move out of here. By doing this they knew full well that it would be very likely that I would be stuck here when that notice ran out and then they would evict me.
After the landlord informed me of the bad reference, I have been unable to find a new place. Because of my illness, I cannot rent a majority of places, so to lose a home that took me weeks to find really set me back in every way possible. The email I sent the office in an effort to work this out was ignored again. In order to avoid any fees for not paying the rent when I was still here, I paid for the month of May since they would not respond to my emails. After I paid for May, I was sent a copy of my check by US Mail stating that Hidden Hills would not accept my rent payment and 2 days later I was served with an unlawful detainer (eviction) claiming that they are losing money by losing future tenants. I am in a downstairs unit and there is always a high demand for these units. This was confirmed when a friend and I both called the office anonymously inquiring about 2 Bedroom first floor units and their availability. In fact, they tell anyone who asks your apartment number while you still live there and what day you are moving out! As a tenant, my privacy is violated by this revelation. They are now charging me late fees for rent that they refuse to let me pay!
The judge decided the outcome of my case before I said one word. I was not allowed to submit even one
piece of paper in my defense and their attorney objected to any legal advice I had obtained as hearsay! What was he afraid that I had learned to make this objection? Anything I said, the judge stated he had no jurisdiction. These were items listed on the court forms so that makes no sense at all! Without an attorney, you need to ask for a jury trial in order to obtain a fair hearing. It was clear that since I didn't have an attorney and Hidden Hills did, I was defeated before it started. After seeing the number of cases (well over 200) Sequoia has had, I realized that this is a well oiled machine for them, they just need to insert new names for the new cases.
So now I have been ordered to pay for their attorney and fees in this judgment against me which will ruin my good credit that I have worked so hard for by paying my bills diligently. This company is determined to ruin me simply because I filed a small claims case which fell incredibly short of what it should have been if the judge had ALL the facts, if management had been truthful and upfront, and if I had a copy of my lease and other items they gave the judge as a defense (this is supposed to be protocol that you see every item submitted to the court in your case) because without being allowed to view these items I could not dispute what was in them...I still didn't get a copy of the lease until they filed this unlawful detainer against me! It is every tenants right to have a copy of their lease and I have heard from at least one other person here who got nothing but excuses when she asked for a copy of her lease, the same thing I got! She also shared with me her own nightmare with her noisy upstairs neighbor who finally did move.
Things started to go wrong right after I signed the lease. First my apartment took longer to prepare than I was first told, this cost me more than $500 in storage and hotel fees prior to moving in. When I finally did move in, I noticed the kitchen appliances had not been cleaned, the drawers have been broken the
entire time I have been here and still are after they were taken away and fixed, the bathrooms and ceiling were not painted because there were still stains. This was after a tenant who had lived here
for more than 5 years before me so they were required to paint.
I have had 6 major leaks in my apartment. These started the month I moved in. No carpet or padding was ever replaced even though they were soaked. Instead, I was given a dehumidifier for a day. The master bedroom still smells like mildew. I haven't used my oven since last year because it doesn't work properly, my kitchen faucet is so screwed up that if it is not set within the exact inch of the entire circumference, only cold water will come out, so it cant take 5 minutes to get hot water. These are just a few things I live with here. Christmas 2009 we didn't have heat for 3 days, then 2 months later the heat was out for nearly 3 weeks. My calls went unanswered both to fix it and for requests for space heaters. Finally 4 days before they repaired it, they gave us one heater for the entire apartment. I am on a medical baseline account with the electric company, which means that I need a home environment with a constant temperature. Not having heat when it was in the 40s affected my health. These are all issues of habitability for which they charged me full rent. When I asked the main office for reimbursement for the weeks with no heat, I was told I didn't qualify. Because as they put it, it was my fault the repairs took so long because I denied access to the repair man. This was another lie. When the repairs finally were scheduled, they changed the day on me twice due to the repair company's problems, not mine.
I only moved here in hopes of not having to worry about maintenance problems and even more important was not being forced to move. Renting from a private landlord can mean moving due to a variety of reasons such as selling the place. Every time I have to move, I have to postpone a surgery that will greatly affect my quality of life and that has happened again here! I would have had this surgery a year ago if not for an emergency surgery in 11/09. Now due to this action, it will likely be another 6-9 months. They ended their participation in the bond program (tax credits) so this caused them to raise my rent $210 a month this past January. For a year they stated in several letters that if I move before 1/1/2011 there would be no assistance of any kind to keep the rent where it was. Turns out there wasn't any and this was all a farce! Had I known this I could have moved a year ago when my brother was here and could have taken charge of my move. Now he is 3000 miles away!
This also means we could have moved to get away from the hell we had to deal with when they leased the upstairs apartment to a bunch of high school seniors! I had called their security company and the police only AFTER we had told them many times about what these kids were doing and they did nothing to stop it. The first time I called the police, I was threatened by the manager who said I was harassing them! One evening, after dealing with hours of their partying, I walked over to the office and pleaded
with Raquel to do something such as ask them to quiet down. The previous manager had been let go by this point and I thought that would mean things would be handled differently but I was mistaken.
She was always pleasant and helpful in the past so thought she would help me. Instead, I was told to email my complaint and that was what I was instructed to do from that point on! What that means is, send it, we will continue to ignore the problem and by that I mean they consider the party who complains as the problem I even sent emails to Sequoia Equities main office and I did get some responses but soon that stopped as well.
I cannot move to another place with a neighbor above me after what happened here. I told them that these kids were moving more people in and they did not care enough to investigate even though they were breaking the lease terms. There were so many living there that there was constant noise 24 hours a day. These kids constantly smoked and threw their trash down on us, they even vomited on our step! We were afraid to even walk the dog because someone was always outside their front door yelling and
making lewd comments to anyone that walked by and this was at the entrance of the complex so the office was in hearing distance! Management told the judge that the sidewalk was public area and
anyone could have done these things to us, completing discounting what we were putting up with. Anyone that lives under an apartment that sounds like animal house will have problems with that noise,
unless they are deaf! Of course now that I am moving, there is a normal tenant upstairs who is occasionally loud. Living that way for months makes person anxious and depressed wondering why this is allowed in this day and age. The answer is money, always about money.
Recently, HH has had fund raising dinners. But it appears that everyone is donating except them. Per their own fliers, Costco donated the food and the residents pay for the meal. Where is their charitable donation? If they have donated then great! But I would love to see them provide some sort of proof that Sequoia donated funds on top of what they took in from residents or that any of that money went to the charity at all. I find it incredibly ironic that they profess to help charities fund their research to cure, such as the American Cancer Society, but they will bully you right out of here if you happen to suffer from these illnesses! This is not paranoia, this is really happening to me at this moment! They will indeed kick you when you down. The only people who will treat you with kindness is the maintenance staff. They are not treated well by Sequoia as you can see from an employees remarks on this website.
After searching the county records I found there are 17 small claims cases in Orange County since 2007 for which tenants have had to sue them for various reasons. If you look up any county that they have apartments in, there are many more cases there. And these are just the cases that tenants took the time and energy to take them to court, so I am sure that there are dozens more that were owed money from Sequoia Equities. There are also 205 Civil Cases in Orange County alone involving Sequoia Equities since 2006.
I am being bullied by Hidden Hills/Sequoia Equities. They have torn my family apart and have done
just as much damage as the kids who made our life hell every day for months because they allowed it to happen, and then denied that it did. Moving is hard under normal circumstances, but when you are doing it alone with severe physical limitations and little or no money to hire a mover, it is next to impossible.
I have taken hours to write and edit this down to about half the details. I really needed the time I used on this to find another place to live but this needed to be done right now since all I have left is my right to free speech against a big company that is lacking in compassion and operates without a conscience.