A few months ago I was looking in the Schaumburg area for a nice apartment to live in when I stumbled upon Treehouse of Schaumburg. What I thought was a cute little area with nice people turned out to be lies and scams that would cost me $600 without even signing a lease.
A quaint little area tucked conveniently down the street from the bar I worked at, I thought, perfect. Asked some friends for feedback on the place and got mixed reviews. Some said it was great, others said not to go near it due to the section 8 housing, gangs, drug dealers and more. Regardless, I thought I'd give it a go. After all, they were really nice, and I like to look for the better in people.
Nice Apartments in Schaumburg
As any apartment hunting goes, you don't just settle on one place, you look at multiple. The girl who was helping us at the property was extremely nice. Open to hear about the things I did and didn't want in a unit, finally showing me one that was perfect. Even she seemed surprised by the unit we found tucked away when she commented, "I haven't even seen this unit." I really liked it, but was I sure?! Gah! Moving is a really big deal, was I POSITIVE?!
She had mentioned something before about a security deposit initially, but, I wasn't ready to go that far yet. Didn't want that kind of commitment until I was sure this was the place. Now that I was sure that was the place, I was ready to head back and sign the lease. A few days later I head back, ecstatic to start this next phase of my life, only to find out someone else had already snagged it.
Where The Lies Begin
I am crushed at this point! Was already planning layout, paint colors, etc. I had looked at it on a Monday, it was now Thursday. Who apartment hunts during the week that would have snagged this up? Damn them!
So now, this lovely girl, and a couple gentlemen in the office who had been helping us start telling my girlfriend and I, "you should have had a security deposit down".
I am then told, specifically, multiple times, by their staff, that I can just give them a check to hold onto and reserve any unit I like. I am extremely hesitant about this (should have known right there) but they insist it will not be cashed. I ask them again, "It won't be cashed?" They reply, "No, it won't be cashed. When you come to sign the lease, you can then choose how you'd like to pay."
Great! Sounds awesome to me. "Hey, all I have on me is my company checkbook, is that cool?" They assure me "it's fine, you can switch payment when you sign the lease". This way, when I find a unit I like, I won't have to worry about someone else snatching it up from under me while I take a day to think about it.
Found a nice 2 bedroom I liked, and made my check out for $600. I might be switching back to a 1 bedroom, my little sister was unsure if she was moving in with me or not while fighting with her boyfriend at the time. But, whatever, I'll put down $600 because it doesn't matter; it's not going to be cashed anyway.
Where They Cover Their Ass
I am told I need to go online to fill out the application and we'll be set. I do this, then head back there again and decide on a nice 1 bedroom w/ den. My little sister has bailed on the idea of living with me at this point. Since I was SPECIFICALLY TOLD, I would only be expected to pay at the time of signing the lease, I didn't have any concerns about the check being processed.
Life Changes Course
The renters of a condo unit my sister owns in Elk Grove have 6 months left on their lease when they break it. She is now stuck with a condo that needs immediate occupancy. A unit I had lived in previously and had all the perks I wanted. Central air, in unit laundry, trash chute, indoor parking included, secure entry and a beautiful 10' x 30' outdoor terrace.
Now granted, at this point, I should have called Tree House of Schaumburg and informed them I was not taking the unit (which, as you'll find out later would not have made a difference anyway). Instead, since I also hadn't heard any follow up from them in days, I moved into my sister's condo and went on my way.
Screwed in the Fine Print
A couple weeks go by when I'm approached by the accounting department at my company asking what this check is for $600. Oh, this is wonderful, as I go on to explain that check was never supposed to be cashed. But it had.
I contact the leasing specialist I had been dealing with and she sends me a back a copy of the online application. So now, even though I was explicitly told by her, and others, that the check would never be cashed, the leasing specialist is FULLY aware of the fine print in the contract which states they have the right to keep my deposit upon approval.
Side story: At this same time, some friends were also looking at Tree House of Schaumburg Apartments. The leasing office would not even let them apply without putting down a full deposit on a unit. The couple even offered to pay for the application processing charge, but weren't comfortable putting down a full deposit on the place yet. Obviously, a little smarter than I, but the leasing office refused to even let them apply without having the full amount in their hands.
Well this is absolutely ridiculous and I am floored at the idea that I was just lied to and scammed. When I email my leasing specialist asking her what happened to the "it will not be cashed" statement she made, she replies back to tell me "Every promise that was made was put in writing." You... you... you bitch. Are you serious?!
And now, as you're reading this, there's gotta be a little discrediting going on in your head. You might not even know me, so maybe I misheard and am blowing this out of proportion. My only backup, even though you don't know them, is that on the occasions I was told the check would not be cashed my girlfriend AND little sister (22) also happened to be present. So it's not like it's something I misheard, or misinterpreted. I was flat out lied to by their leasing specialists.
Now, the only problem is that one of the units I was looking at required a $600 deposit, and the other only a $550 deposit. IN WRITING, it says $550, yet they have insisted on keeping all $600. If anything, at the very least, I'd say I'm entitled to my $50 back, which they have additionally refused to return. They claim that because I switched, they are entitled to the full $600. Even though, the contract, in writing, says $550.
That of which, I consider bullshit and theft.
What I've Learned
#1) People lie. Straight up. Just, lie.
#2) Do your research. Check Yelp, Google Reviews and even search for articles about a place you're considering moving into. Trust the bad, not the good. One Yelp review states: "The management offered my girlfriend and I $100 off of a month's rent to write something nice on http://Apartmentratings.…. I'm sure we were not the only ones offered this. Be careful of the bait and switch management."
#3) It may be 2013, but companies are still out there to rob you and take your money.
#4) YES it takes forever and it's time you don't have, but at read the contract. Even if it is 20 pages long. That's $30/page it cost me.
#5) If the check isn't going to be cashed, write it from a bank account that doesn't have enough money in it to withdraw from.
What To Do
The fees I'd pay a lawyer to take care of this for me would probably total what I lost. And though I'd love to simply get that money away from them, I thought I'd turn to social media instead. I had heard some bad things about the place, and still went against my better judgement. I trusted the overly friendly leasing office staff at Treehouse of Schaumburg Apartments only to get lied to and tricked out of my money.
If you've got somewhere to share this article, or know someone looking the area, please forward this over to them. There was a time when businesses could get away with scamming people because others had no way of knowing the shady tactics being practiced by an organization. Well now you do. If you could please take a moment to share this article on your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, personal blog, whatever you've got. Even just clicking the "Like" or Tweet buttons at the top will help. This way, at least maybe someone will see it and remember next time they're looking. I'd appreciate it. Thank you!
Filed under: Tips for Life