Problem Solver: Mailbox key elusive for new renter

Condo owner's inaccessibility complicates resolution

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It was love at first sight for Emily Wysocki.

The apartment was bigger than her last one, with two full bathrooms, a nice kitchen and a den where her boyfriend could play the drums.

"We walked in and I was like, 'Yeah, we want it,'" Wysocki said. "Besides a balcony, it literally had everything we wanted."

The next morning, Feb. 9, she went back and paid the first month's rent and a $140 fee to Chicago Apartment Finders, which helped her find the apartment and served as its management company.

Wysocki was happy. The Near West Side apartment was seemingly perfect.

On March 15, she moved in.

"To our surprise ... the condo was filthy," she said. "Hair and dirt in showers, cigarette butts in the toilets, dust covering the ceiling and grimy floors."

The property manager with Chicago Apartment Finders apologized, agreed to send a crew out to reclean the apartment and promised to provide monthly cleanings for the first six months.

But the issues didn't end there. Wysocki realized she had not been given a key to the mailbox or her storage locker.

She said she called and emailed Chicago Apartment Finders repeatedly, asking for the keys, but was rebuffed.

After almost two weeks without access to her mail, she emailed What's Your Problem?

"I'm extremely frustrated," she said. "I don't understand why I keep getting passed around."

Wysocki said she hadn't been able to access her mail since she moved.

"It's mostly the lack of communication," she said. "They just won't respond."

The Problem Solver contacted Chicago Apartment Finders, which promised to look into the matter.

Last week, Kimberlee Carr, the company's director of property management, said in an email that Chicago Apartment Finders had responded to Wysocki several times.

She said some of the issues had to do with problems getting in touch with the unit's owner.

"Emily's unit was cleaned and the owner approved touch up painting before she moved into the unit. The touch-up job and cleaning was not completed to her satisfaction and re-done per the owner's approval before she moved into the unit," Carr said in the email. "The original cleaning was ruined when the painters went into the unit a second time. They left footprints on the floor, a cigarette butt in the toilet and the kitchen cabinets were missed in a few spots."

Carr said the property manager called and emailed the unit's owner to ask about the keys to the mailbox and storage locker.

"The owner travels out of the country quite frequently and does not always get right back to us," Carr said. "This was also explained to Emily and we asked for her patience."

After the Problem Solver contacted Chicago Apartment Finders, it reached the unit's owner, who gave the management company permission to change the locks on the mailbox.

"Hopefully this helps everyone understand the situation and why we needed to get the owner's permission to move forward on the tenant's requests and procedures when dealing with a condo," Carr wrote.

Wysocki said she was given a key to the mailbox a short time later, but still does not have the storage area key.

Manny Capozzi, director of operations at Chicago Apartment Finders, said the storage locker is controlled by the building's management company, which is separate from Chicago Apartment Finders. His company manages Wysocki's unit, not the entire building, he said.

"Unfortunately, we do not have control over that part of the process," Capozzi said.

Wysocki said Chicago Apartment Finders should have given her the key to the storage unit, but she will pay the building management company $25 to have a new key made.

"This could have been done 2 1/2 weeks ago," she said.

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