Friends don’t let friends rent from Paramount Properties, part 1: The Rent Kerfuffle.

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.

27 comments
  1. I have no idea how I stumbled across this but if I understand correctly, you’re mad at your landlord for giving you extra time on your rent, and letting you wait til your tuition $ came in before you had to pay your rent? You should consider changing the title of this article to “Friends should let friends know about this company – it’s great”

    1. Yes, our former landlords gave us extra time to pay our rent. *After* we twisted their arms and threatened to get lawyers involved, and *After* previously insisting we didn’t have to pay it manually and that their automatic debit system would collect it, then promptly flip-flopping and deciding 1: we’re late with the rent and 2: we’d be paying it right the hell now and thank you kindly. Which… I thought… was rather explained in the entry. But, there you go.

      1. So… let me get this straight… you (or paramount) had issues with the money going from your bank to theirs. So you tried to pay them manually. When they told you to wait. You went and spent the money on other things and then get pissed and say you’re “not made of money” when they come ask for it?

        Seems like you kinda made your own bed here and didn’t like that they told you to sleep in it after.

        1. The issues with the money going from our bank to theirs was they didn’t bloody well take it. Like I said in the entry, even a failed attempt to take it shows up if you call your bank. They didn’t touch. Not only did they not take it, but they weren’t interested in letting us make alternate arangements to pay the thing. Then they turned around and said we should have made alternate arangements to pay the thing. *That’s* the issue, but thanks for trying.
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  2. How did you find the chain of command through Paramount? I need to find it.

    1. I didn’t find it. They kind of found me. You sent me an email a bit ago with more info. See my answer to that for what, I think, is your best result–unfortunately, Paramount doesn’t exactly fix their issues.
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      1. Thank You James. I didn’t get that email. Must have been filtered.

  3. paramount lousy landlords once u move in they forget about u and seem to take care of new tenants needs only beware there very cheap landlords some of the cheapest I have encountered in the city btw mgt sucks too

  4. paramounts lousy staff on elgin st check everything in unit prior to renting on elgin nice building well maintained not the apts as per say. once u rent unit u are on youre own, windows rattle with wind loudly noisy area police station across street. very draftee unitsimmmature property manager no experience

    1. people dont rent rooms from danielle @ 147 deschamp vanier the whole building apps are ran like a puppy mill rooming house each apt rooms are converted awfull place to live u have been warned lots of undesirables live there

  5. time to install a tenants associations in every building, paramount owns. to curb there outragest fees they charge tenants $$50 they charge for a mail boxe key replacement. $20 locked out of unit. $100.00 for late rent there all about money no tenant services that’s why they own 7000 units all off the backs of the average man avoid at all cost

  6. with over one year living here ive come to realize why is it most month y is it there lots of apt turnover this place is junk to be avoided at all costs nothing ever gets fixed right , always the cheap way of fixing things. more pets living here then at the human shelters , very gross when doing laundry tons of pet hair in laundry dryers,, my heat turned on all the way up , struggles to reach 68 degrees , hard to adjusts shower taps temperature fluctuates all the time,time to hire new management with experience, very cold workout room , temperature barely hits 68 , pool can use a good paint job , hallways and elevators extremely cold. very little guest parking,

    1. a compatible building to elgin sq is the bromley apts on carling ave better building much better management homestead land holdings, Bronson place on Bronson,

    2. avoid the rooms for rent at 2708 dupond st ottawa, u have been warned , he lies about most things

      1. avoid room @ 147 deschamp ave vanier that daniell runs a puppy mill with all apts transformed into a rooming house lots of undesirable tennants, thieves drug users avoid at all costs

  7. worst property manager tracy-lynne very I nsecure has no idea of whats going on shes must be a blonde under her gray hair sorry blondes

  8. Lived in the Prince of Wales Complex for 3 years. No issues what so ever. Perhaps you ought to have just taken the responsibility of taking the elevator down to the ground floor and paid the rent in person at the first of every month like a socially sound human being.

  9. phoke u i have no idea what youre mouthing about read before yapping youre mouth like n educated human

  10. I’ve lived at centre town place Apartments for 11 years with paramount. I love the building and the staff. Every repair when requested is down within 48 hours. .. can’t say enough good things about this place. It’s clean. . The cleaner is so friendly and always hard at work. I recommend this building to anyone who is apartment hunting! And the situation described in the past is absurd. Unhappy because they spent their rent and paramount called them out on it.

    1. And which reputation management company is it you work for, madam? Do better.

      1. Actually i work in a call centre for td. I lived at 400 slater from 2006 to 2009 in one of their larger bachelor apartments on 1804 (they have two sizes small and smaller) and dec 1 2009 moved in to a corner two bedroom apartment. On the few occassiona when my toilet got clogged they were typically here within 30 minutes. One time pipe burst while taking a bath. Water everywhere very late at night. Guy there in 10 minutes after i called with a huge shop vac got most of water out i was amazed when 2 days later the carpet cleaner came at their cost and cleaned the area so there would be no mold. Since writing that post i do remember a repair that took longer than it should. tile came loose probably because of the leak a year ago i had to ask twice for it to get done they had forgot it. My ac broke down they took one from empty apartment until the new unit arrived and i got a new stove when my original broke for the second time. Maybe the manage team at centre town is may more competent at my building then the ones in building you were in. Oh another point i have once been late on my rent 5 days and once 10 ish days never once have i been charged a lawyer fee. Pat the current property manager is amazing and she had worked here For many years.

        1. Oh and this building had under gone a lot of upgrades and repairs. Since i moved in they have installed all new elevators repaved the concret on the balconies renovated the laundry room installed these crazy toilets that cut down on clogs dramatically. .. they installed security cameras. . Re did the tiles in the pool and spa. All new ac/heat units brand new landscaping after the under ground parking got all new concret and they just installed a brand new dehumidifier at the pool.. the up keep on this building had been great. . Noisy at times when they did the concret work which was annoying.

          1. That puts you rather firmly in the minority. I’m happy for you you seem to have had a grand total of 0 issues. However: Read both posts I put up on this topic. read the comments to those posts. Do a Google search for “Paramount Properties” (when I did it this morning, the first page was largely problems with the company in general). Then, read this. This is not a good company. The folks who run your building just haven’t gotten the memo yet. Hope they never do. In the meantime, there are better.

  11. I live on Rideau terrace and have been living here for years the last three have been a nightmare since they bought the building ..the manager here is like an enforcer they wouldn’t fix a thing and wrote all kinds of threating letters, mock and say the most degrading things. they asked me to sign direct deposit. I noticed that it says they can withdraw money when ever they see fit, bad idea . I called the city inspector 311, they came and made a list of things to be repaired, otherwise the city would do it and charge paramount for it ,some of the work was sloppy. if and when I decide to call the city back to inspect the work, it will cost them dearly. ace in pocket. get it.. ?stay tuned

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  14. Keeping this thing going in 2019; I lived at 180 Lees. Love the maintenance staff and cleaners, just going to say that first because they’ll really go above and beyond for you.

    1) I have rented from Paramount, Minto and Accora, noticed a huge difference in customer service. Minto and Accora hold an apartment for you after you view it and give you a few days to decide on signing for the place; Paramount tells you that multiple people are looking at your place and it’s first come, first served, no negotiations. When you want to move out, Minto and Accora give you plenty of advanced notice and specific times when people will be coming to visit your place; Paramount gives you a letter with a blanket warning for a week at a time and instructs you to have your pets crated during business hours. It’s a nightmare, especially because we do shift work.

    2) Minto and Accora allow e-transfers for paying rent, which is significantly easier than Paramount. They only offer automatic deposit withdrawal or payment in person with debit or checque, which screwed over my roommate when she had auto-withdrawal and they took a week to take our her rent. She got dinged when it bounced (yes, she should have been tracking what was in her account, but she didn’t know they would take so long to withdraw). They also sent us a letter that month indicating that since this was the second time we had defaulted on the rent (we hadn’t) and we were at risk of eviction if we didn’t sort it out.
    2a) We all pay manually now, but it’s always the same issue; they write down who has paid for what on a piece of paper, and on more than one occasion have accused us of not paying because they put down someone else’s apartment as paid. KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS, be prepared to receive multiple threatening letters and hope you’re available during business hours to argue with them about it.

    3) Their buzzer system is linked to your phone, but it only works with 613 and 819 area codes; many people in Ottawa come from other cities, as is the case for me and my roommate. We have not been able to use our buzzer, and they would not compromise on allowing a partner to register their phone number, even with ID. Not the end of the world, but definitely frustrating.

    4) The apartments are dingy, the appliances are old and the water pressure is sad. The water pressure did not used to be sad, a few years back I enjoyed many a shower with pressure so intense I felt like I was cleaning my soul. Now it trickles out and never remains a consistent temperature. The water coming out of the tub faucet and the water coming out of the shower head are two different temperatures somehow, and it fluctuates from scaling hot to freezing cold. Every morning is an adventure, I had to stop dying my hair because the surprise boiling water kept stripping it. The tub also fills faster than it drains, so you’re always standing in ankle-deep soup, I have been told there is nothing they can about it because it’s an old building.

    5) My roommate’s heater has been broken all winter and her room has been an ice box. We have asked them to look at it several times, and have told nothing is wrong. Despite us spending the winter with the thermostats everywhere else set to 15, and hers not working, we still pay about $150/month for hydro in the winter months. I spent all winter in sweaters and thick socks, she barely slept, and somehow we still racked up costs similar to the last time I lived there and turned the apartment into an oven because I didn’t know how expensive hydro can be in this province.

    6) The building gets *hot* in the summer. But the screens are old and thin, meaning multiple pets have died falling through them when we’re trying to beat heat waves. We got a notice about this it was so bad, where the only proposed solution was to open our windows no more than an inch. We had multiple heat waves, this was not an option. I lost a cat this way, at which point I was informed 5 other people had lost cats in the past month, and one person lost their dog. I have never heard of this phenomenon in other buildings, but perhaps this is not unique to us. The hallways and elevators don’t get any cool air circulated through them, and were often even hotter than the apartments.

    7) They now enforce 24/7 paid parking (it used to be only overnight), and you can only pay via an app you have to download on your phone. There is limited street parking and guests have often had to park 10 mins away on side streets as a result.

    Overall, you get what you pay for. It’s cheap considering how close it is to downtown, but still rather pricey for a 1970’s-looking shoe-box in a building that always smells a little off (garbage room is inside the building, summer is not pleasant in the lobby). It’s also not very accessible, considering since they shut down the transit way almost no buses are available. This is not their fault, however it used to be one of the reasons we stuck with them.

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