We are among a long line of former and current renters to become ensnared in the web of bad faith, negligence, harassment, and retaliation perpetrated by richard and gabriella toth, owners/managers of an apartment building called haverford castle in lower merion township, pa. We no longer live in the building and are thankful every day our nightmare is over. But for new renters it’s only just begun and there’s really no formal way to warn them. The stone 1920s building comprises a number of spacious, bi-level 3 and 4 bedroom apartments that are unlike anything else available in the area. Hardwood floors, crown moulding, fireplace, 3 bathrooms, tile balcony, huge walk-in closets, butler’s pantry, lots of original detail. The units are highly desirable, and therein lies the trap. The rents are $1900 – $2,200/month Utilities not included). You can’t be poor to live there, and yet the toths behave like slumlords and treat their tenants like squatters. They are deliberate in their willful ignorance of landlord/tenant laws and their responsibilities as landlords. It is a pattern. The toths repeatedly fail to deliver a completed apartment on the lease start date, and when tenants get angry and demand redress, they get an eviction letter followed by a summons to appear in court for a recovery of real property hearing. The constable for district court finds herself in the building at least once a month serving a summons for an eviction hearing to a tenant who is withholding rent because repairs have not been addressed and/or has tried to hold the toths accountable for persistent unacceptable conditions. Life becomes a living hell pretty quickly for new tenants who discover that mr. And mrs. Toth have misrepresented their property and themselves. The toths had our $4,000 security deposit for three months before we moved in and the unit was empty because they had evicted the previous tenant, yet they still delivered a dirty, woefully incomplete and unsafe unit with unattached kitchen cupboards and crookedly cut countertops; an improperly secured vinyl kitchen floor that was ripped in numerous places and fell short of the wall and the appliances; holes in drywall that were not patched and painted; holes in every interior door from a previous doorknob; unpainted closets; filthy oven and bathtubs, and more. Over a period of three months when we checked in with the toths about their progress in rehabbing the apartment for us We had already signed the lease), we were repeatedly assured by mrs. Toth that the unit would be “beautiful” by our move-in date and that if they could not finish the work themselves by then, they would hire professionals to complete it. I have several text messages from mrs. Toth to this effect. We were livid that they had lied to us so blatantly and shamelessly. We had nowhere else to go — we’d vacated our old place and it had already been rented. We had executed careful planning around this move so that it would go as smoothly as possible, arranging our lives and individual personal and work schedules to align with the move-in date we’d agreed on with the toths. Outside of unpacking, we’d expected to resume normal daily life the next day. When we demanded that mr. Toth complete the work immediately, mrs. Toth assured us they’d have it all done in five days, three of which mr. Toth didn’t show up to work and ignored our phone messages asking where he was. We couldn’t unpack, couldn’t use the kitchen, had to get take-out food or eat out night after night. The washer and dryer hadn’t been delivered either, so we couldn’t do wash for almost two weeks. We were stressed to the max living under these conditions expecting day after day that mr. Toth would make good, only to find him intruding on our privacy on an open-ended basis on his own “schedule” and making no discernible progress on any task. His “work” was actually making matters worse and he left his tools scattered all over our living space where we’d trip over them. It was maddening. We just wanted a complete apartment as promised, our life back, and mr. Toth out of our space. After more than 10 days of this At least five of those days having to take off work to deal with this), we told him to take his tools and get out and we would finish the work ourselves. We did what we could and paid professionals to install a kitchen floor Which mr. Toth had tried and failed miserably to do twice). As that was happening, the toths delivered an eviction letter to us stating we were in violation of the lease because we didn’t get their permission to alter their property! we were forced to engage an attorney and tie up weeks and months And money, of course) responding to the eviction hearing notices and preparing a legal defense against their insanity. At the same time, we were also on the receiving end of their verbal abuse as we came in and out of the building and harassment by text message and email. In one text from mrs. Toth, we were accused of putting deer urine in the hallway. I am not kidding. We went to court with pictures of the dreadful kitchen floor and the other conditions and won. The judge ruled that the toths had failed to deliver the apartment on the lease start date, which was in violation of their lease — duh. Mr. Toth’s reason, he told the judge, was that he was too busy clearing snow from the parking lot from all the snowstorms to have our apartment ready on the lease start date. He also claimed that we had agreed in advance to let him finish the work after we moved in! the judge told mr. Toth’s lawyer to please advise mr. Toth not to attempt to install vinyl flooring ever again. We were not held liable for the rent we withheld because we paid for all the work to make the place habitable. Mr. Toth agreed in writing to return our security deposit within 60 days in accordance with the state landlord-tenant law. We found another place and moved, leaving the unit in far better condition than we found it. No surprise, mr. Toth ignored the agreement to return our security deposit, so again we had to get the lawyer involved and he paid up — but not before having the nerve to ask us if we would be willing to take less than what we were entitled to! We sought out former tenants of haverford castle and they’ve all corroborated our experiences. One tenant that i know has been harassed and physically menaced by mr. Toth and has had to involve the police. It’s all on record. Some tenants have been awarded monetary judgments against the toths and the toths’ response is simply to ignore the order, leaving those tenants to decide whether they want to initiate the lengthy legal process for a sheriff sale to get their money from the toths or just cut their losses. Many previous tenants who were victimized by the toths did not have the wherewithal to seek legal redress, opting instead not to fight eviction because it would legally free them from the toxic landlords. The bottom line is that these people are predatory, dishonest, and scary and they keep getting away with it. Local township officials have been made aware of the toths’ practices by us and a current tenant who is in the process of filing suit against them. But the township can’t go out and warn every potential tenant who sees the “for rent” sign outside or makes an inquiry after seeing a criagslist post for 3-4 bedroom apartments. They can’t post a sign on the lawn that says “don’t rent here.” that the toths have no business being landlords is the understatement of the century. If this report helps at least one person, it’s worth it.
This complaint and/or review was posted on HolySmoke.org on 08:56 am, July 29, 2017 (CST) and is a permanent record located at: https://www.holysmoke.org/scam/haverfordwest-castle-review/.
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