Wait Until She Hears Cardi B’s Newest Little Ditty

, , , , , , | Friendly | September 23, 2020

I’m a singer, “pro” by formation but it’s not my career, nor how I win my life. I’m also the owner of a duplex, occupying the first apartment and renting the second. Insonorization is pretty good, but it is a nice warm day and everyone has opened the windows. Also, because of the recent health crisis, my tenant lost her job, and school was canceled for her eight-year-old son, which causes them to be home when I don’t expect them to be.

As I often do, I start a playlist to sing for an hour or two for practice and fun. About thirty minutes in, there’s a knock on my door. It’s my tenant, looking rather angry.

She explains to me that her son heard me sing, and now he’s “asking questions.”

She states that and crosses her arms, looking at me with bulging eyes.

I don’t understand and ask what’s the problem, thinking that maybe I was too loud or that she had some hate against singing in general.

Tenant: “I don’t care if you sing, but what you sing! How dare you be howling obscenities like that in front of children?!”

Now it clicks: while I do opera and classical, I also do popular music. Some songs are in the “sexy” range, but it’s all stuff you could hear from any radio station without censorship.

Me: “Well, there are no children here in my apartment. So much for ‘in front of children.’ Second, it’s the first time I was made aware I was heard from your apartment and I have been renting for fifteen years at this point. Also, I sing what I want; I could drop F-bombs and you would still get no say with that choice. I guess you’re lucky that I elected not to. Otherwise, the lyrics are rather clean in themselves, and out of context it doesn’t mean much.”

Tenant: “But now my son is asking questions! What are you going to do about it?”

Me: “Me? Nothing, he’s all yours to educate.”

Tenant: “It’s all your fault! You deal with it!”

I think it’s pretty funny and I can’t help but smirk.

Me: “So, you want me, the landlady who’s ‘howling obscenities’ to teach your son about the birds and the bees, then answer and explain, in detail, all about what he just heard in the songs? Really?”

I think she changed her mind because she turned around and left without a word.

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The Enduring Durian

, , , , , | Working | September 14, 2020

My father owns several shophouses which he rents out to businesses. With the global health crisis, many of these businesses are struggling. One of them, a hotel, was unable to pay their rent for the month. The owner was getting pretty desperate, as he was nearly bankrupt, even with my father only charging him 30% rent for the past three months.

As things happened, that month was the start of durian season, so the owner offered to pay his rent in durians, freshly harvested from his uncle’s plantation, for that month. Seeing no other choice, and also being a big durian lover, my father accepted.

Two days later, a truck pulled into our driveway to unload over one hundred durians — not just regular durians, but all high quality and expensive durians. It was enough to cover the month’s rent and then some. We ate like kings for the next few months.

Unfortunately, the hotel owner managed to scrape together enough money to pay the rent for the next few months, so we never got rent in delicious delicacies ever again.

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Death And Taxes, Part 2

, , , , , | Right | July 21, 2020

I work for a local council. We have a regular landlord who comes in to complain about his tenants’ Council Tax. We have seen the tenancy agreements he writes up and some of them have ridiculous conditions for the tenants to sign.

Landlord: “I have been sent the Council Tax bill for [address] in my name, but I am not liable. The tenancy for [Tenant] hasn’t ended yet; therefore, he is liable.”

After checking notes on the system:

Me: “Sir, sadly, this customer has passed away. He does not have any living relatives or executors. As this property belongs to you, you are liable for the Council Tax.”

Landlord: “Well, his tenancy agreement is on your system, so you will be able to see that he signed it for until [date], making him liable.”

He made a ninety-six-year-old man sign a four-year tenancy.

Me: “Sir, he didn’t know he was going to die, did he?”

Landlord: *Arrogant* “No.”

Me: “Sir, do you know when you are going to die?”

Landlord: *Scoffs* “No, of course not.”

Me: “So, how do you expect him to pay if he is dead? How would you like it if I made you pay the Council Tax after you died?”

Landlord: *Again all arrogant* “You can’t because I’d be dead!”

Me: “Exactly.”

He walked away mumbling, “But he signed a four-year tenancy!”

Death And Taxes

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A Cardboard Box In An Alley Is Starting To Sound Nice

, , , , , , | Legal | July 1, 2020

My fiance and I are forced to rent a home in a sketchy neighborhood after our home burns down because the man is the only landlord we can find who accepts “violent” dogs; we own a very sweet pit bull.

The first few months start out great, but when my job also closes down, we are in dire straits. Our landlord becomes completely irrational, texting at crazy hours, night or day. We are told that legally he can’t kick us out during the health crisis.

Landlord: “Are you able to make any payments towards rent?”

Me: “Not at the moment; we are working on getting our unemployment accepted.”

A day goes by, and he messages me again.

Landlord: “I am coming by to pick up the rent.”

He is already outside. My fiance and I work night jobs so we are sleeping. I haven’t read the message yet. He knocks on the door. We don’t answer because we are in bed. He starts to slam his fists on the door and then moves on to slam on the outside walls. Then, as our dogs are going absolutely insane, we hear him slamming on the sides of the house while his friend slams on the front and side doors. He finally goes away. 

A few hours later, he sends me more messages.

Landlord: “I am sorry but I have to start the eviction process. You can use your paperwork to go to a state agency and get me my rent money.”

Me: “I have an agency affiliated with my work helping me with the rent; you will be getting the email today.”

He didn’t answer. That evening, we were at our new neighbor’s house and we saw him pull up. Instead of knocking or calling, he went to the fence to the backyard and tried to open the gate. It was locked, so then, he proceeded to try every door and window. 

Our dogs stopped that quickly. 

We contacted a lawyer and are in the process of finding a new place. He continues to barrage us both with threatening emails, texts, and drive-bys, even after a no-contact order. I hope that his other renters have better luck!

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Home Is Where The Landlord Is A Pain In Your Butt

, , , , | Legal | June 25, 2020

I get a new job in a city away from home where living is expensive and hard to get. I go home on the weekends, so I rent a furnished room, lucky to have found something in time. 

The landlady wants the rent in cash — a red flag for me — but I figure if she wants to evade taxes, it’s her problem, not mine.

She also says she does not need a written rental agreement but understands that I insist on one. To cancel a rental agreement for a furnished room in Germany, you need to give fourteen days of notice; this goes both for the tenant and the landlord. She insists on two whole months for both sides. Needing this room and knowing that writing this into the contract is actually void because the law says otherwise, I agree to that, as well.

When I finally want to register this room as my second address — as you are required to do in Germany — after putting it off for far too long, this goes down.

I have shortened the conversation a lot.

Me: “I need to register now!”

Landlady: “Oh… We haven’t discussed that, you know?”

I think, “We shouldn’t have to; it’s the legal thing to do!”

Me: “Is that a problem for you?”

Landlady: “Yes, I would have to make a different statement for my taxes.” (Meaning: “I would actually have to pay taxes!”) “Is it a no-go for you to just do it this way?”

I think, “Yes, absolutely; it’s illegal!”

Me: “Well, I need to register in order to be able to get money for commuting.”

Landlady: “I’ve been renting out that room since my kids were small.” (This means at least ten years.) “No one ever registered here before! Because then I can’t just throw them out when there’s trouble.”

I wonder how she can argue this way and still want an illegally long cancellation period. Then, she drops this:

Landlady: “Can’t we just pretend you live here free of charge?”

Me: “Well… I don’t know how to do that. I also have to pay extra taxes that depend on the rent in order to have a second address, so I don’t know how they would do the maths, then.”

Landlady: “But there must be a way to do it when people live with family.”

Me: “I guess… I can look into it.”

Landlady: “Then we do that. And I need you to give me back the rental agreement and I would trust you not to take a picture of it.”

I immediately think, “I am SO going to take a picture of that agreement!”

I am absolutely not happy about this idea but I am scared both of conflicts and of losing my place to stay. I also tend to be easily persuaded as long as the person is still in front of me, so for a split-second, I actually consider this. Begrudgingly, I agree to look into it. 

Following this conversation, we make some small-talk and I mention how officials make me nervous, especially because when I applied for job seekers’ allowance, they told me I had to tell them about every last cent or I would face serious consequences, blah blah.

She answers with this gem:

Landlady: “But I think it’s very good they scare you in that way! Way too many people take advantage of the system!”

Lady… you just told me you’ve been evading taxes for over ten years!

I started looking for a new flat, especially after one other incident where — after telling me I wouldn’t need to tell her when I was there and when not — she told me how annoying it was that I was home during her holiday.

I found a shared flat that I moved into yesterday! And thanks to home office times during the health crisis, I never had to go back to that room in the meantime except for picking up my stuff. And, of course, I kept the rental agreement safe and sound. I was so glad to get out of there.

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