|A few days before Christmas 2010, we had a business partner in town looking for an apartment to rent for this coming year. He is planning to relocate himself and his business here from Europe to Silicon Valley.|
We found the Balmoral Apartments on Craigslist and they were very near the location he wanted to be in, so we decided to have a look. When we arrived, a woman named Leanne (presumably the manager but we think she may be part owner as well) agreed to show us a unit that was available.
The unit seemed perfect, and there lengthy discussions with Leanne about some of the specifics that would be required, including the ability for our partner to have furniture and other belongings placed inside the unit up to perhaps a week before his actual occupancy date (which was to be January 11). This was said to be absolutely no problem and we were told that it's quite normal and "techie types" are being relocated this way all the time. Since the unit was already vacant and in fact was staged as an immaculate model home, we knew it would take them no more than a day to have it ready for his move in.
He sat down with Leanne and proceeded to sign the lease. Their office hours had just ended and he had to be on a plane back to Europe the following morning, so they discussed the fact that he wouldn't be able to really read the lease until he was on the plane. He was reassured that everything would be in order and there would be no problems, they would take care of him, etc.
After Christmas, he contacted Leanne by email to begin coordinating for his belongings to be delivered to the unit and some basic setup to be done. The response from Leanne was that this would not be possible at all, as they had to work on the unit "every day beginning Jan. 3" to prepare for his move-in, even though the unit was already perfect and needed nothing other than to have the staging furniture removed. Everything they had previously promised with regards to him arriving to an apartment ready to live in, was reversed and he was told that only he could do the walk through, and nobody would be given access at all until that happened.
At this time, we all agreed that something was wrong, and did a search for "Balmoral Apartments Santa Clara" in Google. We were HORRIFIED by what we found (see http://balmoralapartments.com for some examples). Bottom line - the place has tons of awful negative reviews, and some positive reviews that are clearly written by the management themselves.
Almost every review refers to the management saying anything to get you in, and then doing an abrupt change, as well as holding all your deposit and never giving a cent back. We then had the lease examined by a lawyer and a Certified Property Manager, and discovered that the lease itself is illegal! It contains numerous illegalities in the state of California, as well as all kinds of completely outrageous charges and costs for normal wear & tear.
Our partner then contacted Leanna and politely requested to cancel his occupancy and receive a refund of all the money put down. They refused, saying that because he entered into a 12 month lease, he was responsible for the entire amount of the lease. This, despite their own lease paperwork clearly stating that if you hold a unit and then don't take occupancy, you are liable ONLY for the days the unit was held, and nothing more!
So now they are refusing to give back any of the nearly $5,000 placed with them, and even refuse to speak to the property manager we asked to contact them on our behalf. They actually hang up on him. Now to make things even more interesting, Leanne has somehow managed to get a Santa Clara Police Officer contact our property manager and threaten to arrest him if he shows up at the Balmoral Apartments! Even though all he has asked is to be able to come pick up a check for the amount owed. We verified that the officer is real also, so my guess is she called in a favor from a friend.
So now the business (and our partner!) is left $5,000 short during a startup/relocation phase, which it can ill afford. The management of Balmoral Apartments are completely A-moral and are no better than if they had broken into our home and stolen the money from our wallets.