From bad to not quite as bad but not exactly good

Let's face it: Not much is going to happen with the condo upstairs from mine that's going to top what happened during the reign of terror that was the former owner, aka the crazy upstairs neighbor. She's dead now, and the bank that held the mortgage bought the unit from itself at a secret auction. I won't say which bank it was, except to say that it is based in Somerville. And that it offers savings accounts. And that it has the word "bank" in its name. Anyway, having a bank as an upstairs neighbor is not nearly as bad as having a crazy alcoholic up there.

But there are a couple of things.

For starters, the bank bought the place back in early November and the bank president said he planned to have it all fixed up and on the market by Christmas. As of this morning (and it must be January in New England, because it's f-f-f-f-f-freezing) they were still at it. (Now, what does that remind me of? Oh, yeah, this.) It seems like they're mostly doing the work on the weekends. And mostly starting at ungodly hours (which, on the weekends, to my mind, means before 8 a.m.).

Among the other couple of things is the fact that they haven't turned on the heat in the unit all winter. When I ask the bank guy or his contractor about it, they say they have it set at 55, but I suspect that's not true, because the pipes of the upstairs unit run right through my walls and, in fact, one of them is exposed in my front hall, and they have been cold to the touch for months. Also, I used the spare key to let myself in one night and I found the heat was turned OFF and the needle on the register was below the lowest number on the dial.


The bank guy calls me all the time now. Honestly, I talk to him more than I talk to my mother. And every time he gets me on the line, it seems there's another check to write or form to fill out.

First, it was the master insurance. The crazy upstairs neighbor let our insurance lapse. So the bank guy goes ahead and buys a policy that costs nearly $5,000 to insure the two units. This seems like a lot to me. Like a really f-ing lot. He says that because of Hurricane Katrina and because we let the insurance lapse we have to be assigned to a risk pool. When I suggest we shop around for a better rate, he says it's too late. He already bought the policy and could I write a check for my half? I ask my next door neighbor what she's paying for her two family and she tells me $750 a year for the whole house.

Next it was the condo fees. Truth be told one of the nice things about having a dysfunctional alcoholic for an upstairs neighbor was that she didn't really care whether or not I paid my monthly condo fee. She never did. We didn't pay the water bills, either. But the bank guy isn't cool with that. He paid three year's worth of water bills and sent me a note asking for my half. As for the condo fees, we're putting aside enough this year to pay the water bills, get screwed on next year's master insurance, and build up a contingency fund to boot. I gather that's in case we get screwed on something else. Maybe we could hire gypsies to pave the driveway for us.

The bank guy must be an optimist. I love that he thinks that I may have some money left over after the insurance and the water bill and the condo fees. He actually tried to talk to me about landscaping. (I put my foot down there, and told him that if he wanted to fix the yard up to help sell his unit, he was welcome to do so, but that my contribution would be limited to picking up the dog's poops from the yard.) And when he got a quote to add insulation to his unit, he very generously also got a quote for what it would cost to insulate the whole house (my half would have come to $1,700). You know why he did that? Because when they blow the insulation into the walls it's going to get blown down into my walls anyway--it's not like there's a dividing line in between the first and second floor that magically stops the material. So he figured he might as well see if I'd help him to pay for it.

Anyway, it's not all bad news. I have hope that someday soon jackhammers will stop shaking me awake at 7:30 a.m. and that whatever the hell they are doing under the front porch will be cleaned up and that they will sell the unit to a nice (fingers crossed) gay couple who will love to garden and will have a little dog that barks, too. And they will invite me upstairs for dinner and a glass of wine and give me advice about my clothes and my hair and introduce me to their single straight friends.

I can't wait to tell them all about the crazy upstairs neighbors in the dark days before they moved in.


1 comment:

MoneyGirl said...

Banks and property are not a good match. When we were renting our apartment and the bank foreclosed on the owner, the fun began. Plus they were trying to sell the place and so we had prospective buyers tromping through constantly. The cherry on the icing was when one day we awoke to discover that the property management company had barricaded our only door with 2 x 4s because they thought it was vacant (despite curtains, signs of life etc). So, yes banks are clueless when it comes to taking care of their supposed properties and impacting on the people who live in said properties ...