- Last year, my girlfriend and I were looking at buying our first home in Las Vegas.
- Instead, we got stuck in a rat-infested apartment — and our complex did little to make it better.
- We quickly learned that not only is the housing market difficult, but the rental one is too.
At the beginning of 2021, my girlfriend and I were thinking about buying our first home. We soon realized how out-of-control the Las Vegas housing market has become.
But if there was anything our rat-infested apartment taught us, it was that the renter's market in Las Vegas is just as bad.
Many looked at our situation and told us: "Just move." It made me realize that people really don't understand what's currently happening in America. In September, I was laid off from my job of two years, and since then, I've been struggling to provide for my son. Money is tight, and the end of last year was particularly stressful with Christmas and my son's birthday on New Year's Eve.
We would have loved nothing more than to "just move," but unfortunately, that wasn't an option for us at the time. Since the beginning of the pandemic, The Matthew Effect has kicked into overdrive as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Based on the responses from our apartment complex, they knew they had all the power in this situation.
We'd lived in our apartment since 2018, and we paid our rent on the first of every month without fail. We kept to ourselves and did our best to not be tenants from hell. We tried to never bug the front office, and we only called for maintenance if it was absolutely necessary. But the fact that we were the best renters possible meant nothing to a multi-million dollar company that owns apartment complexes around the country.
We first reported a rat in our apartment on November 9, and we were hoping it was just a one-off, random event. I've lived in Las Vegas for most of my life, and I've never even seen a rat in this city.
Unfortunately, this problem was far worse than we realized — the rats were breeding like crazy. Maintenance had to come over on an almost daily basis to remove rats that were stuck to glue traps.
It's bad enough that my girlfriend and I are vegetarians and animal lovers, but the rat issue added additional stress to our financial situation. After not seeing my mom for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she was finally coming to visit us and my son for Thanksgiving. At that time, we thought the rat issue was under control. It wasn't.
On the day before Thanksgiving, we had to get my mom a last-minute hotel room here in Las Vegas that cost us $450, and we had to cancel Thanksgiving dinner as well. Since my girlfriend is in grad school getting her master's degree in social work, we were able to donate the $200 worth of groceries we had for Thanksgiving dinner to a family in need.
I wish I could tell you that the extent of the money we lost from this rat issue was $650, but it's far worse than that. Since getting laid off, I work from home doing freelance work while also running my podcast and YouTube channel. I lost countless freelance jobs because maintenance people were coming in throughout the day to remove rats, and I couldn't concentrate on work because I was always paranoid that a rat is going to sneak up on me.
Throughout the entire ordeal, I saw how the company that owned our complex didn't care, and how those running it were completely disconnected from the reality of the financial situation so many Americans are dealing with. Rather than fixing the problem with any sense of urgency, they also told us to "just move." They made no effort to keep us as tenants, because even though we had a flawless track record of payment, we were losing them money.
Like every other apartment complex in Las Vegas, they'd jacked up their prices, but we still paid far less due to our longevity in the unit. Their thought process was simple: If we got fed up and left, they could just move someone in who would pay $400 more per month than us.
Thankfully, we did move. At the very end of 2021, after weeks with no luck, we were fortunate enough to find a private renter who approved us to rent his condo. It's an upgrade with an additional room in a nicer area, and we're only paying $200 more per month. I'd never want to relive this experience, but the optimist in me is trying to see this as a blessing in disguise.
I did everything you can imagine to try and get this situation resolved, and I finally reached out to the regional manager of our complex. She's located in Arizona, where the company has another apartment complex, and she said they'd let us move into another two-bedroom apartment at no additional charge. All that showed was how much they didn't know or care about our finances. Moving within the complex required more time — and more money — due to renting a moving truck and losing more hours that could have been spent working.
As I wrote part of this story, there was a rat somewhere on top of my refrigerator. I kept turning around every other minute to see if it was about to run toward my desk.
At the time, the complex wanted to come in and tear down the walls to find the source of the rats. They suggested we move or get a hotel room, and didn't compensate us for any of our expenses, lost wages, or offer to take care of our potential $500 to $700 hotel stay.
Of course, none of that matters to them now. The apartment complex won, because ultimately, they knew they had our backs against the wall.
They held all of the power in this terrible Las Vegas housing market, and they still do.