This is the first in a series of posts on why Paramount Properties in general, and Greenbank towers in particular, is bad for you. If you’re contemplating a move to Ottawa, or moving from somewhere within Ottawa, this company should be avoided at all costs. For more information, beyond what will be in these entries, just ask.
I’ve been around the block a time or three when it comes to apartment shopping in Ottawa. Almost always, the top 5 includes at least one building from Paramount Properties. Everything about them from the outside looking in sets off at least a dozen awesome alarms. The places are usually fairly decent, the staff will usually let you play 20 questions, it’s kind of like you’re dropping in to say hello to a friend. Then you go and move in.
Due to situations with the former roommate, I had to go on a hunt for an apartment in July of last year. Due to some very interesting cock-ups by that self-same former roommate after becoming my former roommate, there suddenly became an opening. It was sharing an apartment in Greenbank towers, a property owned and maintained by Paramount. I moved over there, with May, at the end of August. We’d already made arangements to move at the end of September into a larger apartment (she had a one-bedroom at the time), and the folks over there seemed perfectly fine to go about the idea. About a week after I moved in, things got nifty.
Paramount Properties allows you, like most places do, to set up preauthorised debit for your rent–the better not to have to chase down your landlord with your hand out and beg them to find 2 minutes to take your money, my dear. For 3 months, that system worked as designed. From June, right through August (remember, May had this place before I moved over), there be no problem. Come time for September, there be problems. Rent is due on the first, and usually comes out by then. It being we were dealing with a weekend and labour day and the like, we expected to maybe see it come out a little later. So by about September 6, it still hadn’t come out. We go tap on the property manager–the second one in a year, but I’ll get to that in another entry. “Hey, manager lady? Take your rent, please.” “We’ll take it,” she tells us. “Holiday and whatnot. It’ll come out, promise.”
We give it until around the 10th or 11th. Tap tap tap. “Hey, manager lady? You still haven’t taken our rent.” “It’ll come out. Give it a bit.” “Look. We have it. It’s like right here. Paying you will take 45 seconds. Then it’s done.” “We’ll take it out. Just what with the holiday and all. Give it a bit longer.”
It’s the 15th of September, by this point. Legally, we’re now officially late with the rent. Not a good place to be, if you’re us and in the middle of a lease and not planning on packing up and moving right the bloody hell now and three quarters. We’re getting a little bit twitchy. We go back to the rental office. “Okay. Look. It’s been two weeks. We’re staring at the prospect of being branded late. Take. Our. Goddamn. Rent.” “Yall have automatic debit. It’ll happen. Put your bank card away–we’ll take it. I’m on the phone with the guys what handle that today.”
By this time, we have school things starting up, so our time, energy and money is about to be diverted to much more fun and interesting prospects. Of course, by this time, tuition money hasn’t come in just yet, so part of that diverting is to invent varying degrees of financial creativity so as not to end up needing to slap a deferral on top of everything else education. We gave up trying to prod the landlord at this point. They’d either take it, or they wouldn’t. And if they didn’t, it would become part of the diversion–they’d just have to wait their bloody turn, now. We had things to do, and just ran out of time to sit on a property manager. So we up and went about our business for the rest of the month. No word from Paramount. We paid what needed paying at the beginning of October. We paid the rent on the new place in the beginning of October–I’ll get to the issues with the new place in yet another entry. We didn’t set the new place up for automatic debit, given the issues we ran into in September–which hadn’t yet been resolved by then, so to avoid a double payment coming back to bite us later, just no thank you please. That was done. No mention of the rent for September, which we still didn’t see come out. We weren’t bringing it up again, and neither did they. So the rent money went temporarily to tuition.
First two weeks of October, we didn’t hear a word. We were getting things sorted out for school, and getting ready to head out of town for the Thanksgiving weekend. Chasing a landlord who we’d previously offered to pay was not exactly up there on our priority list. So we did what we did and would circle around to that hot mess later. Except they circled around to us first. And, on the 15th of October, they started making noises about rent we hadn’t paid. Not rent we’d offered to pay and they’d asked us to wait on–but rent we hadn’t paid. The back and forth went on over the phone initially, with Paramount deciding on the 15th that yes, we owed rent, and yes, we’d pay at least half of it right then and there. Being not made of money, being that the month was half over, and being that we had school to pay for, oh–and being that we’d already made several attempts to pay them, we didn’t have that money handy right then and there (see: schooling, paying for). And this is around when we learned our property manager had amnesia.
The conversation started out innocent enough. Just calling to let you know we don’t have your rent for September, all that lovely stuff. We asked what happened to Paramount taking it out of the account. They tried and couldn’t, says manager lady. Maybe we should get hold of our bank, just in case something went sideways on their end. Hey–it’s happened before, so I was willing to give Paramount the benefit of doubt. That, was a mistake. In the span of about 10 minutes, we learned 3 things. Thing the first: your bank logs *everything* under the sun–whether it’s a successful something under the sun or not, so if John Q. cheapy says he up and tried charging your face off, and he did actually up and try charging your face off, the bank can usually tell you he tried–and why he didn’t succeed. Thing the second: The folks over at Paramount aren’t very good liars–they didn’t do a damn thing, and it showed after the afore mentioned 10 minutes (to cover our asses, we called a second time with pretty identical results). Thing the third: It’s been an aweful goddamn long time since I’ve had to, but I can still call someone out left and right if and when I need to–especially if you’re gonna decide today’s an awesome day to screw with me.
So it’s back to Paramount we went. Hey, lady? Yeah. About that problem at the bank. Feed me another one. Then, it got interesting. She still insisted there was a problem taking rent out in September. I should probably point out none of the info changed since August–when they were perfectly capable of making money disappear. She still insisted that we pay at least half of it right then and there (see also: money, not made of), and wasn’t entirely all too excited about the prospect of backing down from that–or being told that she’d get rent money whenever we get tuition, since the former had to go to cover the latter and, since they weren’t altogether too concerned with taking the former when it was due, they could damn well wait now. But the really fun part’s what happened next. Like it was a thing she practiced in the mirror that morning, and completely with a straight face, she said we should have made alternate arangements to have rent paid in September. Now, I’m gonna let you stop right here and go read a couple paragraphs up. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
May and I both thought she might have been smoking something. We both explained to her, more than once, that we tried paying the thing directly–in bloody september. And, taking care that our poor manager may be suffering the early onset of amnesia or something, we reminded her that we approached her in september on a few occasions to pay the thing manually. We reminded her that she up and said no. repeatedly. We reminded her we persisted. And, we reminded her she still said no. She was highly uninterested in hearing any of it–going so far as to say we knew this needed to be paid, and this was our responsibility. Uh. Yeah? Whatcha think we were trying to do, here, chicken little? We certainly tried not to keep our money.
It got to the point where property manager wanted a sitdown with myself, May, her, and her manager. Both she and her manager were still under the mistaken impression they’d be getting money from us. Since now we were over a month late, and we weren’t overly large fans of what we were apparently heading into, before we did anything else we decided to go legal. Not full on legal, per say. But lawyers were contacted, advice was saught, and decisions were made. We put everything in writing, in an email to the folks at Paramount–specificly, to the property manager with a copy sent to her manager. We explained this is what we were told, this is what we responded with. We were told to wait, we offered to pay it manually, and we were still told to wait. Repeatedly. And it was explained to them that, on the advice of a lawyer, we wouldn’t be attending that there sitdown meet and greet. Oh, and by the way, you’d still be getting your rent money as soon as tuition funds come in and not a minute sooner, but thanks for trying.
They backed down almost immediately after getting that email–only mentioning the outstanding rent once, at the beginning of November, and being pointed right back to the email we sent them (see also: amnesia, suspected). And, when tuition funds came in later on in November, we gladly went back down to the rental office, and this time, manually paid the damn rent. But by then, they’d cluster fucked the situation so badly that we weren’t entirely sure they wouldn’t pull something similar in 6 months. Any trust, any professional level of respect, that might have been there beforehand was shot. They got crooked, and when they were called on it, they got greedy. And when they were called on that, they doubled down–there was no room whatsoever for the possibility they screwed this one. They flopped, then tried pinning the blame for the flop on us.
That wasn’t all that lead to us deciding not only to never rent from this company again, but to make as many people aware of this company’s business practices as humanly possible. But, it was a mighty fine start. And by the time anything else happened, we’d already decided we weren’t sticking around there any longer than we had to. In the next, hopefully not quite as lengthy entry, another significant contributing factor. How to ruin a professional relationship in 30 days–by not actually dooing your job.