*This is a post I wrote while in NOLA. Better (posted) late than never. 😉
We have stayed in many Airbnb/VRBOs over the years and by and large they have all been great. We may have had a small hiccup here or there, but nothing that I can even remember. (Not that I can remember much these days.)
Renting in NOLA proved to be a bit tricky. When I started looking, there really wasn’t much available. Glen did “what Glen does” and looked for other ways to solve the problem. He found a few furnished places on Zillow that rented by the month without a long lease. I took it from there. (Turns out that you’re not supposed to be able to rent units in the Quarter for less than a month unless the owner is part of a non-profit? (That could just be bad information I’m passing along…so take it with a couple grains of salt. People get around it somehow, but it does make it challenging for a renter to figure out the system.)
The unit I liked best was in the building that we are in, but it was a different apartment. The unit I liked was “available” online, but when I spoke with the representative it suddenly was not available, but…he had another unit that was “even better”! Yah. Red flag #1.
The unit that was “better” was not online yet, but it would be ready by our arrival. It was smaller, but less expensive. We couldn’t see it because…they never answered that question, but I’d guess because it was rented and the tenant hadn’t moved out yet. And I could rent it by giving him my credit card number over the phone. Red flag #2.
So I started doing my internet sleuthing to see if I could verify this rental, the company behind it, or some information that would give me confidence that it was real. I finally spoke with someone who seemed official and gave me some additional information. We agreed that I would sign the lease, but would not pay the deposit until a month later when they would take me on a “video” tour. All of this with only a few reviews for their other rentals though they’d been in the business for “15 years”. Red flag #3.
When the video tour date came and I didn’t hear from them, I was surprised. I thought that they would be hungry to get our money. Since I needed to know that we had secured an apartment, I reached out and we arranged the tour. Everything seemed fine so I paid the deposit with a promise that when it was furnished, they would send me photos and we would pay the rest upon arrival. We were told that the two bedrooms had queen beds so we went ahead and invited people to stay with us. A couple weeks before arrival, we received photos and I felt pretty good about things. Photoshop is a thing. Red Flag #4.
Fast forward to our arrival. We know what a good photographer can do with photos, right? When someone says that they are “waiting for the arrival of the furniture”, I assume that it’s been purchased and they are waiting on delivery. While there is nothing wrong with the furnishings, it’s not quite as they led me to believe. All the furniture is used, not quite fresh and clean, dinged up and the accessories are definitely from Ross because the price tags are still on them. (I’m a certified discount shopper so I have no problem with the purchase location, but please…remove the price tags!) Also, the bedrooms are small and I swear those beds are NOT queens. In the “main” bedroom, you can’t close the door because the room is so small that the door hits the bed. So we can’t ask our guests to stay in that room. But the back bedroom is on the parking lot with a staircase right outside the windows. When those big pickup trucks come in at night their headlights aim straight in the room and light up like a searchlight! We asked for blackout curtains (the windows are frosted) for the three windows, but received plain curtains for two of the windows. Fair warning for any of our readers still considering visiting us.
I’ve done some more sleuthing on the rental company and in talking with neighbors I’ve learned that they own quite a few rentals in and around the French Quarter. This information led me to believe that they would have the rental process down pat. Not so much. Since we are the first renters in this apartment, I wasn’t surprised that there were a few missing things such as hangars and when I asked for the items, some of them arrived. A few things though promised, were never supplied with no explanation. Not such a big deal. We either got what we needed from Amazon or figured out a work around. Princess problem.
But then things got a little weird. Something about this company is just off. Glen says they are part of the “Costa Nostra” which is probably not okay to say…??? There’s something weird about the circumstances of the people who live in the units in the back of the building. I’m not exactly sure who lives there, it seems to be a rotation for some. The ones I’ve met all work for the company and they are all from Honduras. Keep that in mind for the next paragraph. I’m just gonna leave it at that.
The other tenants since we’ve been here…There was supposedly a “traveling nurse” next door though we NEVER saw or heard her. Some other renters said that they had a “bait and switch” situation where they paid for a two bedroom/four bed unit and were given a studio. There were four of them. They complained and ended up having it resolved, but it eerily reminded me of our beginning situation. A young man (a chef) moved in next door and was obviously expecting to stay for the long haul (based on the amount of stuff his mom bought for him at Costco) and he disappeared in a matter of a two days. No trace of him.
The other day the workers were scurrying around painting and cleaning two of the units, including the one that the young man had suddenly vacated. It was definitely an “all hands on deck” situation. One of the workers told me (in Spanish) that some “VIPs” were coming so they were getting the units prepared.
The “VIPs” arrived the evening of the eclipse. There were a bunch of them dragging suitcases into the units. By a bunch, I think maybe seven or eight? All men and one woman. They had a truck with Texas plates that had a roofing company logo all over it. Dug and I were out watching the eclipse that evening and when one of the men came out, we introduced selves. He told me he was here on business and was from…Honduras so I thought that maybe he was connected to the company and I said, “Oh, do you know the people living in the back? They are from Honduras”. He paused and sputtered and said no. It was just awkward. And weird. It felt like I had asked something I shouldn’t have…Costa Nostra?
This evening as in after 6:00 pm, the workers are power washing and blowing the brick in front of the building and our doors. And they are washing the table that has been outside the whole time. I tried to clean it once, but I only had so many paper towels. Interesting that nobody thought to clean it for our arrival. And for the last few days…we can’t seem to keep our wi-fi working. We’ve been promised they are working on it, but no improvement. I think they are bandaging it and not fixing the root problem which is that they have a full building without enough capacity for the number of devices.
So apparently, my VIP status is not enough for the special treatment. And that, my friends, is my princess problem.
*And now in Europe…we’ll see how our VRBO/Airbnb rentals work out!