Sunday, October 23, 2016

Door Knobs that have no shame: Episode One in Apartment Repair Fails: or My Idiot Landlord Adventures in Slum Living

Apartment Repair Fails: or My Idiot Landlord
Adventures in Slum Living

Episode Number One: Interior Door Knobs 

The topic of the day:  Interior door knobs in Wayne Whitney’s 16 Benson Street apartment building. In my apartment there are five interior doors and each has a door knob. 

           You will notice a certain, standard level of care here.

            And, should you wish, it’s okay to laugh, because, you don’t live here or do business with the man.


Life has a strange way of taking you places, you never planned to go, then knocking you down and forcing you to pick yourself up and fight. And in my case, the latest example is finding myself living in a rundown apartment at 16 Benson Street, here in Albany, New York, owned by a man named Wayne Whitney.
According to  the definition of “slumlord” is as follows.

" noun
a landlord who owns slum buildings, especially one who fails to maintain or improve the buildings and charges tenants exorbitant rents."

Now Wayne Whitney "fails to maintain or improve the buildings" he owns. However, it is worth noting that Wayne Whitney becomes quite offended when one uses the term “slumlord” to refer to him. In fact, he actually expresses surprises. Oh well, Wayne Whitney is not exactly the sharpest tool in the tool shed. In fact, as this blog will show, Wayne Whitney and tools generally are not referred to together at all.


Interior Door knob #5 --exterior knob 

Again, this is why you don't generally slap paint all over door knobs. Not the chipping paint, a sign of poor or, probably in this case, non-existent prep work.

Door knob # 5 - door latch 

The Door latch. 

I think it speaks for itself. 

Door knob #5 --exterior knob 

Door knob #5 -receiving plate 

Poorly chosen, poorly fitted, poorly painted. 

Door latch 


So, why do I live here? In July I found myself recently returned from a trip to Asia involving my girflriend’s family, faced with a father who was dying of leukemia and required much help from me, had my teaching hours at work doubled and a new curriculum as well, and a girlfriend who was coming to Albany to live with me and we needed a place to stay. A relative informed me that she did business with a man named Wayne Whitney who rented apartments. Another friend also recommended Wayne. (He has since apologized for this offense, by the way.) I spoke with Wayne, he assured me they were good, safe apartments and said that he, himself, lived in the building. (He actually usually lives in Ohio, but that's a complex topic.) I set up an appointment to see the apartment, stopped apartment hunting, and focused my efforts on the care of my dying father and the new work loads. Problem solved, I thought.

          Alas! When I went to see the apartment, it was a shit-hole. To say it was in desperate need of maintenance is a bit like saying this current election’s presidential candidates are less impressive than some we’ve had in the past. Everywhere one looked, the place needed up-keep and repair, and a bit of intelligently performed TLC.   

          I asked him about the obviously needed repairs, he said, more or less, “what do you mean?” and became offended. As the pictures in the following series show, I was shocked that anyone, anywhere, could possibly see this apartment as not being in need of repair. Yet I had exactly two hours that evening to look for an apartment and many things to do involving work, incoming girlfriend, and the newly increased workload at my teaching job.

          I managed to get him to stop throwing a tantrum with a suggestion that if he paid for the supplies, I’d do the repairs. I’d get a nice place to live, he’d get a better apartment than he’d had before, win-win for everyone, and soon I moved in. 


Door knob #3 --exterior door knob

Notice the layered bad paint job. Also note the key hole. There are no keys. Those were lost long ago.

Door knob #3 -- exterior door knob painting detail

Notice again the way this could have been improved with a little knowledge, a little TLC, and a little masking tape.

Door knob #3 --door latch with poor paint job, missing latch, and missing top screw. 

Can this man not even afford a single screw? 

Door knob #3 -receiving plate 

Poorly chosen screws, paint, no use of wood putty, or any other signs of decent upkeep.



However, three days after moving in, he then came and asked, “Are you done with the repairs yet?” 

            As this blog will show there was no way anyone could do the repairs in three days. This was a stupid and childish thing to say that showed a complete ignorance of repairs and building maintenance. (When one deals with Wayne Whitney do not assume any knowledge whatsoever of repairs or building maintenance. Nor should one assume any common sense, whatsoever. If you make no assumptions as to any level of adult type awareness of what a good building should look like you will not be disappointed should you actually see what this building looks like.)
            I explained that there was no way anyone could do the repairs in three days, and he looked confused, took his tools, and supplies and left with them. And, actually, as the materials were not just poorly chosen for the jobs at hand, but also of poor quality, that made it impossible to do a good job anyway, the result was that I had to purchase my own materials or stop fixing up the apartment.
             As I wanted the apartment to look nice while my girlfriend and I lived there, I continued to do repairs at my own expense, putting about fifteen minutes a day into various projects. Sadly, about a month later the girlfriend decided to move out. There were several factors in this decision, but the apartment was a big one. She did not feel safe there, and was constantly distracted by the sounds of the odd neighbors. She was saddened by the horrible look of the place. When she called the landlord one day stating that she did not feel safe due to the activities of the neighbors, Wayne Whitney, landlord, ignored this except to send me an e-mail except to send me an e-mail saying that my girlfriend had called and he could not understand her due to her accent. Note there was no attempt to contact my immediately, no attempt to make her feel safe, no attempt to inform her of her options, no attempt to follow up and obtain facts; in fact, the only follow up on this from Wayne Whitney, the man who Is quite sensitive to being called a “slumlord” was to call my relative and complain about our behavior and to make childish threats to evict us (more on this later, but Wayne Whitney's usual response to request for repairs is to call my relative and threaten to evict me.) I found this particularly strange since it is my understanding that the Albany Police do make regular visits to Wayne Whitney to chat with him from time to time. (He was arrested some time ago for a sex offense. It is my understanding that they like to keep tabs on him.) So it’s not like he was exactly a stranger to the police.
            By the way, this is the same Wayne Whitney who told me that he took pride in “the diversity of my tenants.” (Responsible sensitivity to diversity, by the way, like landlording or performing home repairs, does require a certain set of skills –skills that Wayne Whitney has never demonstrated in my presence. And, by the way, should anyone question the level of my girlfriend’s English, she does have an accent but she also has a four year degree in English and has worked professionally in her country in some quite impressive jobs that directly involved using English and communicating with English speaking people. Therefore, should Wayne Whitney not be able to understand her, one must ask if it is necessarily she who has the skill deficit that hindered communication?)


Door Knob #2 

Part one

Part two interior

Part Three --the latch

Door Knob #2 -- Striking plate

OK, this is where things get truly ugly. There's no excuse for this. 


Alas, she left and although we are discussing living together elsewhere in the future, at the moment I live here alone. I have also opted not to repair my landlord’s apartment at my own expense unless compensated. When I offered to perform such repairs for him for a reasonable compensation that was open to discussion (the truth being that not only do I not like looking for apartments, and I do not like living in a place that looks like a shit-hole slum, but I actually do like performing and learning handyman skills, I was quite open to such an idea), Mr Wayne Whitney made his third childish threat to my relative to have me evicted.


Door knob #4 -bed room closet 

Notice the paint job. Amazing. He actually once told me he really likes the natural wood look of hte doors. Shame he defaced them this way.  

Latch assembly (non-existent) --bed room closet  

Interior bed room closet door knob 

--note the paint job. This could have been prevented with five minutes of work and some masking tape. 

Detail of paint job. 

Again, five minutes of TLC and a bit of masking tape, or, failing that, a little work afterwards to scrape this ugly paint off would make such a difference.

Door knob #4 -receiving plate. 

Or should I say "space for receiving plate."  


This, by the way, is after we complained of the behaviors of our lovely neighbors, people who shall hopefully be the topic of a future blog post, and were told that it was very difficult to  evict people, that his lawyer had told him he had no grounds for doing that, and he then encouraged me to call the Albany police on them every chance I got. In other words, not only is Wayne Whitney harassing me with his calls to my relatives making childish threats to evict me, but he is also encouraging me to harass other people he rents to. Hmmm, one must ask, why, exactly, is it that Wayne Whitney feels so sensitive to the label of “slumlord.” (One might also wish to compare these behaviors to the following: WIKIPEDIA: SLUMLORD HARASSMENT)


Doorknob #1 

This the bathroom outer door knob in one of Wayne Whitney's apartments, 
You will note a certain degree of general ugliness to it but nothing truly horrible. That comes later. (BTW, the blue thing hanging, a shower cap. Nothing more.) 

This is the interior bathroom door frame. It unlike many, has a latch. 

Interior bathroom door knob. If you've ever wondered, you can now see why people usually don't paint frequently used door knobs. 


Bathroom door strike plate. Same doorknob, now you get a good picture of the degree of care and painting skill that Wayne Whitney brings to his properties. This pattern will continue. 

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