Imagine an 80 year old with a long history of heart problems and strokes, living in an apartment with no air conditioning in 80+ degree weather.
Then, imagine this 80 year old having been promised for 7 months that the air conditioning unit would be installed, as he paid full (over-the market value) rent, and still the apartment management has failed to deliver on their promises.
This is what my father is going through now at Northwoods Apartments in Worthington, about 10 miles north of Columbus, Ohio. And, after repeated attempts to get answers, the only answer given at the time of this blog post is that they say they have not been able to install air conditioning over the past 7 months due to weather. Here is their exact response, grammatical errors included:
The Response from Northwoods Apartments
“DUE TO weather conditions maintenance could not due the acs last month we will be out when we get to the order your furnace was putt in”
“Putt in,” the person that replied must be a golfer.
Upon receiving this, they marked the ticket number for this concern as complete, without a resolution. The only email address that we have ever been able to get a reply from (and its been a while since they replied to an email, the above was a reply to a maintenance request on their website, is the email firstname.lastname@example.org and that response was from “Kelsie.”
As you can see from the nonsensical reply, we have no idea what the issue really is, or when the air conditioning will be installed. If due to weather, why has it taken 7 months? There have been plenty nice days. And, why have there been no replies to our emails, in which we stressed the seriousness of leaving an elderly man without air conditioning? It appears there is no way to get honest answers.
Gas Leak and No Heat in the Winter
First, we were tremendously grateful to this complex for moving my father in so quickly after my mother passed away and his condo of 17 years was sold. There were issues from the get-go. Their marketing very much over-sells the property. It is a very low budget apartment with some lipstick thrown on it and a $1,400 a month charge (around $300 more per month than the going rate for similar, nicer apartments). But again, they got him in quick, so, we over-looked those issues.
Then, we discovered he had no heat, and it was in the dead of winter in the frozen, snowy Mid-West. It turns out, they knew the furnace did not work, but moved him in anyway. This was discovered by us when there was a gas leak.
We called the gas company, and they sent an emergency truck out. He pinpointed two leaks. When maintenance arrived, the guy told my father that gas leaks are nothing to worry about and that Columbia Gas workers lie about gas leaks.
The weather was cold that week, but with electric heaters, and family near by to stay with, he dad made it through the week it took to get a new furnace. At that point, the maintenance guy told me directly that it would be another week or two before the air conditioning would be connected. Hey, no problem then, while it should have been installed prior to moving in, mistakes happen, and he would not be using AC in December anyway.
Broken Promises by Northwood Apartments in Columbus, OH
Fast forward to the end of March. The temperatures were rising. My dad had already struggled through several days where the temperate inside the apartment got into the upper 70’s. The head of maintenance told my father that the air conditioning would be installed April 4th.
The maintenance worker lied.
It is now May 10th, with a high today of 83 degrees, and highs in the mid 80’s all week, and there is still no air conditioning, no honest answers as to why, no replies to all of our inquires but for the reply above, and no answers on when he will have air conditioning.
The Importance of Air Conditioning for Elderly Seniors
First, don’t worry, we will not let Northwoods Apartments neglect of their elderly residents harm my father. He almost always has family with him or family nearby that he can stay with to be in a safe, cool environment. Unlike the management team at Northwoods in Columbus (Northwoods is owned by Carlton Equities), we’ll make sure our father is safe.
Senior Health 365 said that they consider maintaining body temperature by having a good air conditioning in a home in the hot weather and heat during the cold weather to be crucial for the health of senior citizens. This is a fact that Northwoods likely knows, but neglects.
Family Danz Heating and Cooling, a highly reputable HVAC company out of Albany, NY, expanded more on this saying:
“As people age, the body’s ability to regulate temperature often becomes impaired due to the natural aging process, as well as disease or medication use. Unfortunately, this change in body function makes seniors a large portion of the annual deaths attributed to heat waves worldwide.”
Mary Demakes RN shares why not having air conditioning is of particular danger and potentially deadly for seniors:
“Simply put, seniors cannot tolerate the heat as well as younger individuals. As people age, the body’s ability to regulate temperature often becomes impaired due to the natural aging process. This stems from several factors including: sweat glands tending to disappear as we age, a natural decrease in circulation of seniors, chronic disease or taking certain medications. Some elders may also find it challenging to determine when they are thirsty since their taste buds diminish with age.”
For the elderly that own their home and don’t have air conditioning, Law Guideline offers great information here: https://lawguideline.org/free-air-conditioners-for-seniors/
The bottom line is, the elderly need air conditioning for their health. This is especially true of senior citizens with pre-existing conditions, such as a history of heart attacks and strokes.
Northwood Apartments in Columbus Review
With the management at Northwood Apartments refusing to reply, we are at a stalemate. And, many other residence are in the same situation in the Northwoods complex, including a few that are elderly (though, thankfully, most residents at Northwoods are younger).
When you check Northwoods reviews online, you’ll notice a lot of 5 Star reviews. Being in the PR game myself, I can tell that most, in fact almost all, are fake. However, the fake reviews do all appear to be from before new management took over last month.
You will notice, if you go to Google reviews (google “North Wood Apartments Columbus, OH), that when a negative review is posted, the management goes out of their way to blame the resident and explain why the resident is wrong. Now, obviously this is a common sense public relations 101 blunder. You have to take full responsibility in reviews, even if the review seems unfair because potential residents, or customers or clients of any business don’t want to see a defensive and aggressively accusatory customer service approach.
Potential Residents at Northwoods Apartments
For potential residents that have stumbled upon this blog post while researching this apartment complex, please take this seriously if you are elderly. If so, their lack of care for the elderly as demonstrated in their refusal to address the air conditioning issue for my father, should keep you away.
If you are a younger potential resident, despite all of the issues, I would still recommend to cautiously give it a look. It is in a good and convenient location. It is safe. Though half the units are outdated and the renovated ones are cheerlessly and carelessly renovated, they are large units, with large walk in closets. The complex does also have a very nice pool, and a very large dog park. If you can afford paying a bit more than the value of the apartment, and you’re okay with having mostly absent management and maintenance, the complex could still be the place for you.
I do advise that you make sure to preview your unity prior to signing anything, and preview it when it is complete (they may try to not let you see it until you move-in). Check everything, make sure it has heat and air conditioning. Press down on the sinks and make sure they don’t chip apart (happens easily with the bathroom vanities). Make sure the doors have locks (his sliding glass door still doesn’t have a lock). Check every included appliance. If it all looks good to you, consider renting. If it was not for the ineptitude of the maintenance and management in their dealings with the issues with my fathers apartment, I would actually recommend the complex to someone look to live somewhere for 1-2 years.
Stay cool everyone!
5/11/22: The maintenance guy, Jared (I am not using last names), emailed an email address of another family member (not the email addresses we have emailed from nor one on file) in which he said its not false advertising because “we never said the units were knew.” He did not address that they did say the units have HVAC/Air Conditioning, when in fact they did not. He then said that they have a lot of HVAC units to install at other apartments and that they’ve been working 10 hours per day (why not 12, or 14, or 16?). He did not address why these were not installed prior to move-in or why they were not installed at any time in the last 7 months. His email came from an email address that is “no reply.” Cowardly? Or do they not have direct personal emails? Who knows.
Then, my father received a phone call. Again, no call to me or my sister, though we left our numbers to call us in our emails to them. He was told, my we presume the same maintenance worker, that the HVAC unit would be installed Thursday and fully connected on Friday. So, they won’t install until after the 80+ degree heat wave. But, keep in mind, this is the same person, we presume, that did lie twice (whether intentionally or unintentionally) about install dates.
There was no mention of compensation for having gone 7 months without HVAC and the lies (or let’s be generous and call them evasions of truth). We did ask for one month of rent, and we gracisioually said that can be either a refund, a waiver of the next months rent, or a free month added to the end of the lease. That seems more than fair, especially considering elderly neglect.
The maintenance worker promised “Jaime from the office” would call when she gets in at 9am. It is 1pm, still waiting for that call…
Update 2: Google Review Reply
They replied to our google review with this:
Response from the owner 13 minutes ago
“Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback. While we appreciate the feedback, we are disappointed that you feel this way. Our team has done our due diligence to start the process of repairing the A/C in your father’s home, which should be resolved by Friday or Monday at the latest. According to our policy, A/C repairs are not considered an emergency unless otherwise stated via documentation. If you have any additional concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know. -The Team at Northwoods Apartments”
You can see the obvious lies in this reply. They knew that there was not working HVAC prior to move-in. They’ve known for over 7 months. Yet, they are calling it a repair. Also note, they said they are doing their due diligence, but have yet to reply to our emails, have not called as they promised, and the only replies have been from the maintenance guy (and it obviously should not be his job to field such concerns).
Also note, they now say by Friday or Monday at the latest, whereas the maintenance guy said Thursday or Friday at the latest.
Also note, an 80 year old with heart conditions and no A/C for a week of 80+ degree temperate is not an emergency to them.
Last, note, no accountability. No apology. Absolutely pathetic customer service.
Update 3: More Issues
After over 6 months, they finally installed the air conditioner. Enter fully into the saga, “Kelsey Judge.” From the best of our ability to figure all of this out, she seems to be the person behind most of the lies and false promises. Once the AC was installed, we received an email in which she indicated they had repaired the AC as soon as they found out about it, though, we in fact had talked directly to her about it.
Then, came time for lease renewal. My dad HATES change. He does not want to move. He knows the apartment complex is under incredibly shady and unethical management, but he hates change.
In the process of trying to renew and negotiating the price, we’ve caught Kelsey in several lies. Is she an unethical rogue employee, or just someone who is overwhelmed with a tendency to lie when overwhelmed? I still give the benefit of the doubt that it is the latter.
They wanted to charge $1,599, up from the current $1,305. They then offered it for $1,499. We noticed on the website that they are renting our exact unit for $1,379. Kelsey said that does not include cable, internet, trash or pest control (*Note: They don’t actually do any pest control). On the website, it indicates it does include all of that. We called, twice, pretending to be potential new renters, and we were quoted the $1,379 including cable/internet/trash/pest control. The person that quotes us, you guessed it, Kelsey.
Worth noting, in our initial inquiry to renew, Kelsey took 3 weeks to respond. She indicated she was new to the job, though, she was one of the people who had replied to our original rent inquiries prior to moving in back in 2021. We replied, and nearly a month went by without a reply. Multiple follow-up emails and calls, and still no reply. So, we went into the office.
Kelsey was there, in her office, 5 feet from us, a glass office, yet would not come out. The receptionist talked to us, Kelsey listened through the glass, and instructed the receptionist what to say. She said she’d been sick for a week (though, it has been over 3 weeks without hearing from her). She said she was on a call and would call us once she was off (odd with us being right there, but okay). The day went by, and no phone call. Another lie.
Then, we got an email.
Kelsey said that we had agreed to the price of $1,499. We had actually agreed to the current listed price at that time, which was $1,379 (and still is at the time of this update). Kelsey again stated that it is because of the trash/internet etc included, which, she herself had quoted us (when we reached out as would-be renters) the $1,379 with all of that included.
Carlton Equities Columbus, Ohio
Carlton Equities is the management company. They appear to have no website. There is not a way to contact anyone other than your individual property manager, and we have one is is all but unreachable, and is, at best, incompetent of fulfilling the duties of her job to any reasonable degree.
For us, for my dad, we may end up just having to pay the higher amount for a while, and perhaps pursue legal options as we’ve documented all of the false promises and lies, but certainly we will get our senior father in a place that is better managed when we can long-term.
In the meantime, if you’ve stumbled upon this blog, your takeaway should be obvious: avoid any Carlton Equities managed properties in Columbus, Ohio.