Another Greystar Victim

Although SeaSol’s fight with Greystar, over their attempt to rob some of our members, ended in victory in August 2015, Greystar continues to prey upon thousands of tenants throughout the U.S. This is the story of another Greystar tenant, in her own words:


I moved in to Oceano Warner Center after being lied to that this was a Non Smoking Property.  It appears from old Greystar notices they have been unable to keep this bldg a Non Smoking property going back to 2013. And if that is the case they need to tell tenants PRIOR to moving in. 
 
I found out during my move in that the couple underneath me smokes. While it was brought to management’s attention nothing was ever done and to this day they still smoke.
 
Since the first week living here neighbors would approach me with their stories of hating Greystar and the property manager.  Their calls to management were not answered, maintenance would quite often have to make 2 trips to your apartment to get things fixed and an overall incompetence was noticed by many.  At first I thought they were off but when you hear the same story over and over you start to pay attention. And when you start to experience the same incidents you realize it’s not the “nutty” tenants it’s GREYSTAR.
 
Going back to 2013 Greystar was deceiving tenants and prospects abut a broken Jacuzzi during tours and in CL ads.  A week wouldn’t go by when someone wasn’t complaining about the never ending broken Jacuzzi.  I decided to call Building and Safety and low and behold the permit to fix the jacuzzi (which was foolishly built on non-compact soil) was only pulled in Feb of 2015 (attached.)
 
So basically they deceived 100’s if not more knowing full well that in fact the Jacuzzi was not going to be complete “in two weeks” rather it was almost 2 years.  Why lie?  What is the point in manipulating someone into their home knowing full well the tenants will get angry and want to move?  I guess the answer is they do not care because they will then charge you thousands to move out.  And this brings me to my desire to implement…a Renters Lemon Law — if you are going to lie to a tenant you better pay for that tenant to move out. 
 
One weekend a faulty sprinkler went off destroying the property of 5 apartments.  Management claimed there was a fire but the Fire Department confirmed there was NO fire.  I then demanded inspections (turns out they had never been done before) and in November of 2015 they finally had their FIRST “Annual Inspection.” 
 
My story gets worse and worse as after I contacted the owners, TIAA, the harassment escalated.  One Saturday afternoon I was sitting in the pool and a maintenance guy walked up with a running hose and dropped it into the water – maybe a foot from my body.  It was clear that it was meant to get me to go away and so that’s what I did.
 
Up until recently the pool was filthy every weekend – when one complained about the filth their excuse was that the cleaning crew only comes 3 days a week.  But they have staff that walk by the pool every day – would it have killed them to use the pool fork? Even with the staff living on the property there was never any pride in ownership.  After months and months and months of complaints and photos being sent to TIAA they seem to be making an effort but I think it’s short lived – and when I leave it will go back to the way it was – because most here don’t even know who the owners are.  No point in cleaning if the owners can’t get weekly updates.  Ya know?
 
They have tried to pay me to leave but I love my home. Why don’t they leave?  I mean even the owners confirmed there is 65% turnover every year.  Why is that?  When they realized they couldn’t buy me off they served me with a Non Renewal. I will fight it on principle alone.  It’s odd how many women across the country receive Non Renewals from Greystar – one wonders if there is a pattern. I literally have never heard of one man receiving a Non Renewal.  Thankfully Fair Housing is looking into it. 
 
As though I had not been through enough…their tow company (they need one due to our parking spots being taken every week) gave my home number out to a male tenant and what did Greystar do?  ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.  
 
The scariest part of all of this is two weeks before they served me the Non Renewal a gal contacted two banks I bank at and pretended to be me on recorded calls. Both accounts accessed were only used for rent checks and the calls (5 in total) were made Nov 13th – Nov 20th.  The caller was dumb enough to ask if my rent check had cleared and knew the exact dollar amount of my rent only known to my landlord.  They then proceeded to ask about my opening and closing dates, my balances and where my money was coming from.  Scary does not even begin to describe what I was feeling when i found this all out.  I will let your readers (and a jury) connect the dots. My file is supposed to be protected by Greystar.  CA law states that you are not allowed to use a tenant’s information for nefarious reasons.  Doesn’t seem like Greystar (nor TIAA) care what the laws are. 
 
It’s so hard to grasp how TIAA, New York Life, Blackstone and TruAmerica are in bed with this company who charges monthly fees not in the lease, does not return security deposits and engages in false advertising – not to mention FRAUD by impersonating a tenant. On a human level I honestly don’t get it.  I am in for a long drawn out court case but I certainly can’t allow anyone to impersonate me and get away with it.  And when will it end?  They have my social security number, my drivers license and my date of birth so essentially they will be able to find me regardless of where I am living.  It’s a scary thought and somewhat stifling to be on the opposing side against companies like Greystar and TIAA.
And to realize all I did was demand that a so-called “luxury” building be kept up and that Greystar no longer engage in false advertising.
Well it could be worse…I could be one of the Berkeley victims

 

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VICTORY

While living in a Greystar apartment, Neftali and Yusdel suffered horrible conditions, especially with the building’s plumbing. For about two weeks they did not have a functioning bathroom. Greystar’s compensation offer? A pair of free movie tickets.

Meanwhile water rained down from ceilings and sewage bubbled up from drains, damaging rugs & paint before the leaks were finally fixed. Then when Neftali and Yusdel moved out, Greystar charged them for the damage.

After a little online research, we realized this was absolutely typical of the way Greystar – the largest apartment manager in the U.S. – preys on people.

A few highlights from other Greystar tenants’ online reviews:
– “A closet door broke right off of a rotting wall and collapsed on me!” (yelp)
– “I’d rather be shot in the face than to live in that apartment again!” (pissedconsumer.com)
– “All over the apartment is mold and my kids are so sick… The lady who was our neighbor died in her apartment and [Greystar] left her there for a month…” (ripoffreport.com)
– “We had asked that the second floor balcony be secured better because our toddler could slip through the railings.  Greystar’s eviction attorney came to our home and asked me to hold my toddler out through the railings to prove that he could fit” (yelp)

You get the idea. Greystar’s CEO, Bob Faith, explains his business model: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9H_ft36OsM
(“Many times we take over an asset that was managed by a smaller organization that hadn’t been focused on the bottom line, and we can drive dramatic savings out of the expense side of the equation”)

In other words, they boost profits by dramatically cutting back on maintenance and allowing thousands of people’s homes to decay and fall apart.

Usually they get away with it all, but when they ripped off Neftali, they messed with the wrong guy. After Greystar arrogantly rejected his initial demands, 24 of us marched with him into Greystar’s offices. Then, since Greystar is huge, we reached out to allies in dozens of cities in the U.S., U.K., and Mexico, asking them to post warnings around Greystar-run apartment buildings. In city after city, potential Greystar renters started seeing dire warnings about the company, including quotes from real tenant horror stories.

On Wednesday August 19th, Greystar caved. Regional manager Garett Randall met with Neftali and two other SeaSol’ers. He demanded that Neftali sign a confidentiality agreement before receiving his money, so that this story could not be told publicly. Neftali and friends stood up and started walking out. Randall then panicked, ran after Neftali, and handed him the check.

It’s only a tiny blow against the giant corporate scum that is Greystar, but it is something. Thanks again to all who helped win this fight! Let this serve as a reminder that direct action does in fact get the goods, and all tenants need to organize themselves in such a manner as to protect themselves from predatory operations like Greystar’s.

Resisting Greystar Worldwide

In recent weeks, SeaSol has been busy stepping up our campaign against Greystar with help from comrades across in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Mexico. This represents a proud moment for our organization as we have never before enacted such a widespread mobilization before and we are incredibly grateful for everybody who has and continues to contribute to the fight.

Wenatchee, WA

Members of SeaSol made their way to the other side of the Cascades to inform tenants at a Greystar property of their malfeasance. No town or property is too small to warrant being overlooked by our campaign.

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Boston, MA

SeaSol reached out to some contacts in the Boston region and luckily, they were happy to show solidarity with our campaign by postering locations in Boston and Quincy.

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Santa Rosa, CA

A member of a former solidarity network in Santa Rosa was happy to oblige our call for help. You can imagine how excited we were to hear that they may even be rebooting their SolNet!

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Oakland, CA

Oakland, home to some of the most resilient radicals in the United States, was also eager to help. They were able to poster 3 different Greystar properties in the East Bay area.

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Stay tuned for updates and pictures from all of the other locations we are hitting in our campaign. If we didn’t have Greystar’s attention before, we certainly do now! Solidarity to one and all as we continue to navigate the perilous landscape of capitalism. If this campaign has personally taught me anything, it is that in order to stand up and fight back you need to have some good folks in your corner.

Tenant Reviews of Greystar

One does not have to take too much time to discover a seemingly endless supply of negative reviews and condemnations of Greystar properties. Here are but a few samples that we have stumbled across.

  • Yelp reviews of a property purchased by Greystar: Pay close attention to the shift in reviews once Greystar bought out the previous owners.
  • Greystar’s response to a tenant who passed away in one of their properties: “If you die, Greystar will change the locks and keep your belongings”
  • Yelp reviews for another property purchased by Greystar: “When Greystar took over, we had to fight rent increases, inexplicable policy changes, and extremely rude managers when we moved out. The manager in the right office was consistently cruel to me and the people that worked for her. To be honest, I’d never encountered someone as willfully malicious as her”
  • More nasty surprises for tenants after Greystar takes over their building: “I’m curious about this new owner, Greystar. Is it really possible an office could be so hapless, or does this sound like something more sinister? Is this company familiar to anyone and if so, are they reputable?”
  • Review of one of their properties in Seattle…noticing a theme? “After moving out on 3/31, I returned to thoroughly clean my apt, cleaner than was when I received it. After 6 weeks of run-around and being lied to about accounting dept problems in issuing checks, they are now claiming I was charged $90.00 for cleaning. They never mailed me a statement of charges. It appears that their modus operandi is to prey upon their downtrodden low-income residents who lack the ability to fight back.”
  • Better Business Bureau complaints: Not to downplay the fact that the BBB is a fairly dubious organization focused only on accruing revenue at this point, but the complaints speak for themselves. “Since terminating my lease and moving out, I have been contacting the management company to discuss my security deposit. With each call, I have requested to speak to management regarding the timing and amount of the deposit to be returned. I specifically have requested documented proof of conditions in the apartment that merited a reduction in our deposit for cleaning purposes, as I paid for cleaning services prior to move out. I have an outstanding deposit of approximately $250, not including the disputed cleaning charges, and management has refused to respond or return my phone calls. No expected date of delivery has been provided for the return of my deposit.”
  • Tragedy at a Greystar property: “The fatal balcony collapse occurred when a group of young people, most of them from Ireland, celebrated a 21st birthday at Library Gardens, a 176-unit complex build eight years ago. Library Gardens is owned by BlackRock, a New York investment firm, and managed by Charleston, S.C.- based Greystar.Berkeley officials said Greystar was unable to provide proof that it had conducted city-required apartment inspections before the tragedy.”

The complaints against Greystar management go on and on. Clearly they have only one interest, and that is their bottom line. Do not allow yourself to be exploited by this company!

About Greystar

Over the years Greystar has become one of the largest property management companies in the United States by acquiring smaller companies and neglecting their properties in an attempt to maximize profits at the expense of their tenants. They over 1500 properties across the United States as well as properties in Mexico and the United Kingdom. In many cases, such as at the Corinthian Apartments in SeaTac at the center of SeaSol’s current campaign, they focus on marketing toward desperate immigrant families that lack the language capabilities to thoroughly review their leases and communicate with management in an attempt to advocate for themselves.

If you live in a building that is currently managed by Greystar Real Estate Management or your building is in the process of being acquired by them, we URGE you to take precautions to protect yourself, your family, and your fellow tenants against their exploitative practices. You can be certain that there will be hidden fees charged upon move out as well as a bevy of other issues!

Why We Fight

Seattle Solidarity Network is currently engaged in a campaign against Greystar Real Estate Management in which we are demanding that they repay a former tenant over $500 in charges for damages which resulted from a massive plumbing failure due to the poor state of one of their properties located in SeaTac, WA.

The family which lived in this apartment endured 20 days of having no functional restroom due to plumbing issues in both their unit and the unit above them. When approached, Greystar’s property manager responded by suggesting they use the bathroom in the leasing office (which closes at 6pm daily). The leak above their apartment resulted in extensive damages to the walls, paint, and carpets. To add insult to injury, when confronted once more about these serious issues, management gave the former tenants two movie tickets.

When the tenants were finally able to escape from their Greystar-induced nightmare, they were shocked to find that not only were Greystar withholding their security deposit but were also demanding that they pay nearly $600 in fines associated with the damage caused by Greystar’s own negligence. Under the threat of the fines immediately going to collections, the former tenants reluctantly paid up and got in touch with SeaSol to begin a campaign as soon as possible.

The aim of this campaign is twofold; we seek not only to compel Greystar to refund these ridiculous fees to their former tenants but to warn other potential renters as well. This is not an isolated incident, as you can tell by the sheer amount of awful reviews of their limitless supply of shoddy properties.