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They’ve Been Rent From Reality

, , , | Right | June 17, 2022

We rent out houses.

Me: “This is [My Name]; how can I help you?”

Caller: “I have a complaint — a very serious one!”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear that. What can I do for you?”

Caller: “I have a complaint about our mayor.”

Me: “Eh, the mayor?”

Caller: “Yes!”

She starts explaining what the mayor all did wrong the past year.

Me: “I understand you are upset, miss, but I’m afraid I can’t help you. This is something for City Hall.”

Caller: “What?! No! You must fix this!”

Me: “Miss, if you have a problem with the mayor, you can file a complaint with City Hall.”

Caller: “No! I rent my house from you guys, so you guys must fix this!”

I politely declined again and gave her the number of City Hall. If you have an issue with your home, we can help you. If you have an issue because the baker isn’t open when you are there… sorry. And yes, that complaint was received by a coworker.

A Window Into Home Ownership

, , , | Right | May 27, 2022

I sell my flat to a first-generation immigrant. After the sale, the buyer contacts me a few times to ask for help in dealing with the legal duties, as he’s always been a tenant. I’m glad to oblige, but everything has a limit. One evening, when I’ve just come home from work, the phone rings.

Me: “Hello?”

Tenant: “[My Name]! The windows! They is broken!”

There is a pause in which I wait for more information, and he waits for some input. I realize I need to say something to break the stalemate.

Me: “And why are you calling me about it?”

Tenant: “Because the landlord, he must fix the windows.”

Me: “Buddy, you’re not paying rent; you’re paying a mortgage. You are your own d*** landlord now.”

There were no more calls from him.

It Pays To Know The Law

, , , , , , , | Legal | May 27, 2022

We recently bought our first house and moved there from an apartment in a large complex in a neighboring city. Before moving out, we cleaned and scrubbed the apartment, but as we hadn’t had time to shampoo the carpets like the complex wanted everyone to do on moving out, we figured we wouldn’t get the full damage deposit back. Oh, well; we got all of our things out and left no trash or messes. Plus, we were happy to be done with the nickel-and-diming the apartment complex did at the slightest opportunity.

Two and a half weeks passed with no word about the deposit. In my state, the law says that a landlord must give former tenants an itemized receipt and any remaining damage deposit no later than three weeks after the tenant moves out. After three weeks, the landlord forfeits any right to the deposit; it all goes to the former tenant, regardless of what state the rental was left in. Furthermore, if the landlord attempts to recover a damage deposit at this point, the courts will award up to twice the damage deposit to the former tenant (except in extraordinary cases, of course).

Knowing this, I called the apartment office and confirmed that they had our new address. I didn’t tell them why I curious. They did. A month after we moved out (that is, one week late), we got an envelope from the apartment complex with no itemized receipt, just a check for a third of our damage deposit. The postmark was after the three-week mark, as well.

Next, I called my dad, an attorney who handles non-criminal law and has experience with property law. I told him what was going on. His advice?

Dad: “Don’t cash the check, at least not yet. Write a letter citing the law and the apartment complex’s violation of it — and go ahead and include that you’ve talked to your lawyer about it.”

That’s not a lie; in the instances when I’ve needed a lawyer, like writing up my will, Dad’s the one I go to.

I happily typed up a short letter along the lines of:

Me: “We received your check on [date] after moving out on [date four weeks prior]. According to [state code] — which you have violated — and on the advice of my lawyer, I must insist that we are refunded the full deposit in accordance with state law.”

A day or two later, I got a phone call from the apartment complex. A very tense-sounding person on the other end told me in very stiff, formal terms that they’d received my note and a check for the remaining balance was on its way. Once I got that, I took both to the bank and deposited them.

The moral of the story: know your rights and follow the rules. We would have been fine with the smaller amount had they just followed state law, but once they tried to pull a fast one on us, probably assuming that we didn’t know what they were doing? Pay up!

Mental Rental

, , , , , , | Right | May 19, 2022

I make the decision to move across the country temporarily to look after a very ill family member. It’s likely to be for at least six months, probably longer.

Rather than sell my flat, I put it up for rent and let an agency manage the day-to-day. Luckily, it gets let very quickly, the monthly rent is secure, and I don’t have to worry about it. The tenants are made aware that it’s a six-month deal with a slim chance of extension. They are given six months’ notice as they sign up.

It’s not long before I get requests from the tenants through the agency about the flat. Can they hang up pictures, can they paint this wall, can they put the tumble dryer somewhere else?

I flat-out say no. It’s a short-term let. I’m not having someone redecorate my flat.

Nearly six months pass. Things aren’t going well with the family member, yet I have to make the trip back to my home city for an inspection of the flat before signing the existing tenants for another six months.

When I get inside, it’s clear that they have ignored every declination. Everything I said no to has been done, and more: rooms are painted, appliances and furniture are missing, and there’s damage in the strangest places.

I’m horrified. I’ve been through a lot this year; I don’t need this, as well.

Me: “What the h*** happened here?”

Tenant: “What do you mean?”

Me: “My flat — why have you decorated it?!”

Tenant: “It’s only paint. I think it looks better.”

Me: “Where the h*** is my furniture? Where is the tumble dryer?”

Tenant: “Chill out, it’s safe. It’s in storage.”

Me: “What storage?!”

Tenant: “The basement storage.”

Me: “I don’t own any storage! It’s probably been thrown out by now.”

Tenant: “Just chill out. I’ll get another one.”

Me: “Yeah, you will, or I’m kicking you out.”

He goes on and on about his “rights”. It only takes a quick phone call to the agency for them to explain he is way out of order and detail just how many times and in how many ways they explicitly told him not to do this.

Tenant: “Well, what now, then?”

Me: “I don’t renew your term, I kick you out, and your deposit goes partway to fixing everything you ruined.”

Tenant: “What? But I don’t have anywhere to go!”

Me: “And?”

Tenant: “What if I fix it?”

Me: “Fix it? The whole flat. In two weeks? I don’t think so.”

Tenant: “Come on. My mate is a decorator. I’ll put it right.”

I should say no, but I am tired and emotional.

Me: “Just paint the walls magnolia. The damage gets repaired professionally by my guy. You replace my property.”

Tenant: “No worries. I’ll get it done.”

I shouldn’t have been surprised when I got a call from the tenant telling me he had decided not to seek an extra six months at the flat. When I got back the keys, I found that he had made a half-a**ed attempt at painting the walls and repairing some of the damage.

He left a broken tumble dryer and didn’t replace the furniture. He had the cheek to try to get back his deposit, which was unsuccessful.

The flat sat empty for another five months as I still couldn’t afford to get it back to a good standard.

Never again.

Welcome To The Neighborhood. NOW PAY UP!

, , , | Working | May 6, 2022

I am from an EU country and recently moved to the UK to work in a highly specialized job in the civil service. After living with a friend for a few months, I finally decide to get my own place and get in touch with a few local rental agencies. Some blow me off as soon as they realize I’m not British, but I manage to secure a cute terraced house just for myself.

The landlady is a woman who manages the house for her son who is living in Australia, and she informs me that she only uses the agency to find new tenants; all day-to-day stuff is handled by her. Shortly after I move in and pay the deposit and first month’s rent, I receive a call from a woman at the rental agency with a hostile attitude from the start.

Rental Agent: “It’s your first month and you’re already behind on your rent! If you don’t pay today, we will terminate your contract!”

Me: “Of course, I paid my rent, along with the deposit. Perhaps there is some confusion. I pay directly to the landlady, not to the agency.”

Rental Agent: “This is not true! By god, it’s always the same with you lot. You are just so stupid! You pay the rent to us!”

Me: “Can you please check what is written in my contract? Because you are definitely wrong.”

Rental Agent: “Okay, I will check it. But if you lied, you will be out on the street by the end of the week!”

Of course, I never heard back, because I did everything right. My landlady later came by with some flowers to welcome me to my new home. When I related the call to her, she got very angry and put in a call to the agency, saying that they were not allowed to treat her tenants like that.

I spent a lovely three years in that house until I decided to take a new position in a different European country after the Brexit referendum.