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Briarwood TerraceSquirrel in apartment unit

Sub : Squirrel harassment at rental apartment unit

We have been living at the rental apartment property at Briarwood Terrace apartment on S Wolf Rd, prospect heights address for the past 1 year. We have had very good friends and neighbours living here for years and been happy with the property.

Late last year (around October 2008), we have started hearing a scratching noise from the walls of bedroom and restrooms. Repeatedly we have complained to the apartment management, and sometimes we have reached the emergency hotline as the noise gets very scary and loud. It is very scary to imagine a rodent / squirrel sized animal running in the roof, as it could make a hole in the wall and enter the living property. It also makes scratching noises around the restroom (bathtub ) walls, that causes additional fear and anxiety to us. The noise happens at different times, mostly between 3am – 7am. This has caused many sleep-less nights to me, my wife and my 2 yr daughter. Our daughter often wakes up in middle of night due to the noise.

Everytime the maintenance folks arrived, the animal stops making the noise. The management felt we were imagining some noises or making a larger issue of nothing. After repeated mid-night calls, the management cut the roof and walls to investigate. However, the animal was never found as the maintenance used to visit only during office hours. The animal does not make noises during day time and we continued to hear night time noises. We were also told by apartment maintenance that we are probably hearing the thermostat or pipes heating / cooling noises due to winter.

The management hired an animal detection agency during late January. The maintenance team trapped one squirrel in the attic of the building. They also laid mouse traps in the ceiling to no avail. We have repeated complaints that an animal larger than mouse was making the noise. Additional health risk was caused by the cheese and meat that was put on the ceilings along with mouse traps. We have also complained to the city council of prospect heights, who did not enforce accountability on the apartment management.

This continued all through winter and we requested shift of apartment. The apartment management did not agree to pay for any moving charges, incase we shifted to a different unit. My wife was undergoing a surgery and needed peaceful time to rest in February. The management obviously ignored our personal situation and did not show much concern in resolving the issue. With my wife recovering through a surgery, and additional expenses involved for moving, we refused to move to a different unit. The management refused believe us and continued to ignore our plight. They assume that it was pipes or tree branches in the walls and were ridiculing our version that there was an animal in the walls.

As spring approached, the noise continued. Finally, last week of April, the maintenance folks spotted the animal and promised immediate action. This ordeal has been going on for past 8 months, and now when proof was found by the apartment maintenance team, no action has been taken so far (past 3 days). THey have promised that they are re-hiring the animal detective agency and eliminate the issue since 2 days. There has been no response yet.

With all the emotional and mental stress, sleepless nights for us and our 2 yr old baby, this has been a frustrating experience. Is it not a basic right to demand clean and peaceful environment while renting an apartment. Are there no laws that could help such hapless victims of rental management negligence. Do we have to wait for an accident to happen where the animal makes through to the apartment walls in to the unit and potentially causing health hazards ?

As much as the lease agreement holds the tenants accountable for maintenance of the apartment, isn’t there any agreement that can hold the apartment management accountable for better care of the tenants safety ? Can I withhold rent until the apartment is rid of the animal and the source for the animal eliminated ? Can the management clean up the hazardous traps and holes in the ceilings ? We are eager to live happily and peaceful at our apartment, that we pay full rent for. Are we not entitled for the basic amenities of safe and clean environment in an apartment unit ?

I request the apartment management to address the animal issue immediately and resolve with a permanent solution, within next 10 days.

Hoping for a speedy resolution.

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