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One Bedroom Apartment is "One Event Away From a Major Fire"

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Curbed Horror Stories are firsthand reader reports about terrible San Francisco apartment experiences past and present. This week, in honor of Renters Week, we're having a rental horror story showdown. We'll post a horror story each day with a vote for the best on Thursday. The winner will advance to the national round of our network-wide contest (and the nationwide winner gets a free month's rent!). Horror stories to, if you please.

I've been living in the same 1-BR apartment for the past eight years. My landlord is an older gentleman who like to save moolah. If there's an issue with the building like a leak or pests or a broken window, he wants to make it a hands-on, dirty-as-can-be personal project. And if he fails after several attempts, then he hires whoever will do the work the cheapest.

Last year, just a month before my seven-year anniversary with said abode, I got married. Family flew in from all over the country and even internationally. Two weeks before the wedding, my fiance and I got locked out of our apartment, yet we had our keys! Our old-as-sh!t door had split from the bottom up, and with the heat, it had expanded. Five days before the wedding, we're stuck again. Our landlord's solution: nail the two halves of the door together and call it fixed. That worked for two days until it got stuck again. Solution number two: buy an old french door from some resale/junkyard, put a piece of wood over the glass, and ta-da! As of today, it has yet to be painted.

But wait, there's more! Two days before the wedding, with my grandparents' flight due to land at SFO in an hour, we lose power and begin to smell smoke. I try to replace the fuse, but it blows. I go through three more fuses and they all blow, too. A call to everyone's favorite landlord, and he's there in a few hours with his handyman #1. HM #1 looks at our old knob-and-tube wiring and says that the whole place needs to be re-wired. It's one event away from a major fire. He says we'll need to move out for about two weeks while he drills in through the ceiling and installs all new wiring. Our landlord insists we can live through it. "Just move all of your stuff away from the ceiling," he says. My FMIL (future mother-in-law) gives him a piece of her mind, and he says he'll be back later.

Five hours later, our landlord comes back with handyman #2. This guy walks around, pokes, unscrews things, and says the same thing. Then he and our landlord go outside and have a secret discussion. Our landlord returns, telling us that we'll be fine. We just shouldn't use the TV in the living room and any appliance or item, like a hairdryer or radio (yes, I have a radio--remember those?), in the bedroom at the same time, as these two rooms are on the same circuit. We should also get rid of all of our extension cords and limit our electronics to minimal use. He replaced the fuse and left.

Today, the building still stands. It leaks. And smells funny. But everything's still intact. And I now have renter's insurance.