Staying Here Is Fines

, , , , , | Working | July 25, 2019

(My husband, two daughters, and I decide to spend a week in one of our favourite cities for a vacation. Rather than book a hotel, we go through a popular house-rental site, instead. We find what sounds like a really nice place. Things… do not work out as planned.)

Owner: “Oh. You’re early. You were supposed to arrive at 4:00; it’s only 3:30.”

Me: “Is that a problem?”

Owner: “Yes. I’m still cleaning. I need you to come back later.”

Husband: “Couldn’t we just bring in our stuff and stay out of your way? We’re a bit tired.”

Owner: “No, that won’t work.”

Me: “Okay. We can go buy some groceries.”


Owner: “I’ll show you around. This is the kitchen.”

Me: “Wow. Those statues are really… something.”

Owner: *proudly* “Aren’t they? They’re life-size fertility statues.”

(They sure are. Anatomically correct, too. Exactly what you want to look at while eating breakfast.)

Owner: “See that kitchen counter? It’s brand-new. Don’t scratch it! Otherwise, I’ll charge you to fix it.”

Me: “Okay.”

Owner: “Make sure you take the garbage out before you leave; otherwise, I’ll charge you a $50 fine.”

Me: “Sure.”

Owner: “I’m very particular about my things staying nice. If I find that you’ve damaged anything, you’ll be paying for it.”

Me: *thinks, “Why on earth do you rent out your house if you’re that worried about damage?”* “We’ll be careful.”

Owner: “I hope so. Oh, and don’t make noise after 10:00 pm.”

Me: “Why not?”

Owner: “Because you’ll disturb the people renting the downstairs level.”

Husband: “What? I thought we were renting the entire house. You never said anything about sharing it.”

Owner: “Well, you are. And if I hear that you made noise after 10:00 pm, I’ll charge you a $100 fine.”

Me: *sighs* “Your ad said that there’s a pool?”

Owner: “Yes, there it is.”

Me: *cheers up at the sight of the pool* “Wow, that’s lovely. Um, what’s that noise?”

Owner: “Oh, next door is doing some construction.”

Husband: “It’s really loud. Are they going to be doing that for long?”

Owner: “Probably. They’ve been at it for several months, and they don’t seem to be close to being done.”

Me: *heart sinks* “It’ll be kind of difficult to enjoy the pool with all that racket.”

Owner: *shrugs*  

(She leaves shortly after that, and we get settled in.)

Older Daughter: “Mom, do you mind if I switch bedrooms with you and Dad?”

Me: “I don’t mind, but why?”

Older Daughter: “I’m pretty sure some of the ‘decorations’ in my room are urns containing ashes of dead pets, and they’re kind of creeping me out.”

Me: “What?!” *checks* “You’re right. Okay, sure, we can switch.”

Younger Daughter: “I’m going to go and use the pool. I don’t mind if it’s noisy.” *comes back a few minutes later* “Never mind.”

Me: “What’s wrong?”

Younger Daughter: “[Owner] is doing some work in the garden shed, and she keeps glaring at me.”

Me: “She’s still here? I thought she left.”

Younger Daughter: “I’ll wait until later.”

(An hour later, my daughter goes to use the pool again, only to return a few minutes later.)

Younger Daughter: “Forget it. Now she’s mowing the lawn, and she’s glaring at me again.”

(The following day:)

Husband: “How’d everyone sleep?”

Me: “Well, apart from the fact that I kept thinking there were ghosts of dead pets in our room, not bad.”

Older Daughter: “Not great.”

Husband: “How come?”

Older Daughter: “Well, remember those downstairs renters that we were warned not to disturb? They had a screaming fight at midnight and woke me up.”

Younger Daughter: *looks out the window* “[Owner]’s back, and she looks pissed. It’s going to be hard to relax when she’s always around and looking like she hates us being here.”

(That was a lousy vacation. In case you’re wondering, none of that “don’t do [thing] or else I’ll fine you” was in the fine print of our agreement; I checked. And she definitely didn’t mention that we’d be sharing the house. In hindsight, we should have packed up and left, but we were in a popular city and didn’t know if we’d be able to find anywhere else to stay at short notice. We were able to laugh about it later, anyway, and the next time I rented a house from someone, I asked, “Do you have giant fertility statues and/or urns full of dead pets’ ashes? I have a reason for asking!”)

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Entitlement: Why The World Can’t Have Nice Things

, , , , , , , | Friendly | July 5, 2019

I retired at age sixty, not rich, but comfortable. I lived alone in my house, as my wife had passed and my kids moved out long before. But instead of downsizing, as everyone tried to convince me to do, I decided to take a different path. I converted my basement into a small bachelor-style apartment. Very small. It had just a kitchenette, bathroom with shower, laundry room, and one living space. I got the basics that someone would need: microwave, towels, plates and bowls, and a few food items.

I then started visiting some local charities, a soup kitchen, and a homeless shelter. I volunteered a few times, but spent time getting to know a few people that were in need. After talking to one particular man, I decided to put my retirement scheme into action, and offer for him to stay in my basement apartment to get him back on his feet. He was obviously thrilled and grateful, and we wrote up a rental agreement: three months for free followed by three months at a very small price — about the cost of a single night in a decent hotel — if he hadn’t found something better by then. The only real limits I put in were that he was to be the only tenant, and I would enter to use the laundry once a week at an agreed time.

It started fantastically. My new tenant and I were becoming friends, and he was getting his life sorted out. He got a job within walking distance. He began to look healthier and happier. After three months, he said he would rather stay, which was fine by me, and he paid the agreed rent for month number four. Then, it started to fall apart.

He stopped talking to me when we crossed paths. He began to complain when I used the laundry, even though I never did it unannounced. When rent for month five came around, he complained that it should still be free and paid only part of the agreed price. As month six arrived, I found out he had no intention of leaving or paying. I’m not sure what changed, or why. I’m convinced there was no alcohol or drug use. But he became angry with me, saying that I should have done more if I really wanted to help him.

After seven months, and being paid rent for only one and a half of them, I had to evict him. It required the presence of police and the changing of locks, and afterward, he came by the house at random times for weeks. It was an indescribable nightmare.

I had originally intended to do the same thing for a different needy person every year, having the tenant during the cold Canadian months. But this was four years ago, and I haven’t had a tenant since.

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An Incredible Story About Stories

, , , , , | Legal | May 11, 2019

A few years ago, I came home from a New Year’s party, walked past my car and suddenly stopped. I did not have a convertible, but the roof looked quite, well, missing. It turns out that a huge slab of ice detached from the roof of the house I was parked under and hit my car squarely on the roof so it was lying basically flush on the back seats, essentially totaling it since it was about 20 years old and barely able to pass inspection anymore. The total worth of the car was, maybe, if I was lucky, 100 bucks. More likely, the worth was negative because it costs to take it to the dump.

I took pictures, got the police to record everything, and handed my claim for the replacement of the car to the owner of the apartment building. To my surprise, he refused to pay. I handed the whole mess to my lawyer, he said we’d win this, and off he went.

Come September, my lawyer called. We’d won, and got me 800 bucks for my car — worth, again, maybe 10). But, in his words, “those insane idiots” could not have done it worse. In the lawsuit, of course, the question arose about how could that ice slab even happen? After all, if there had a person in my car, an ice slab caving in a car roof could easily have killed them.

Turns out, the apartment building didn’t have certain gadgets on the roof that are mandatory for buildings taller than four stories to prevent such things from happening. Why didn’t it have those gadgets?

Because, according to what the town — and hence building inspectors — knew, the apartment was only two stories tall.

So, not only was the company owning it in violation of the building code — by itself something that is very expensive if you get found out — our tax guys were very interested in them suddenly having way more apartments to let than he “officially” had.

In the words of my lawyer, “Seriously, if I pulled that stunt, I’d hand you ten grand for your 20-year-old wreck of a car and tell you to shut the eff up about it.”

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Landlords Sadly Focus On The Lord And Not The Land

, , , | Working | May 5, 2019

(My husband and I are looking for a new place to rent. Now that the kids are running a lot we want a place with a backyard. We go to this house that is just a few blocks from where we live, which is a big plus because we love the neighborhood. My first impression is, “Wow!” This place is enormous, it has a family room and a backyard, and it’s only for just a little more than we are paying now. But after that, I watch more carefully and realize that the place is very dirty, the walls still have the holes from where there used to be frames, and there are black stains all over. There are three windows that don’t close properly. The plugs in the wall are burnt and the yard is a mess.)

Me: “When are you going to paint the house?”

Landlord: *looking at me like I asked for the moon* “Why would I paint it?”

Me: *showing the big stain in the living room wall and some holes* “Because of this.”

Landlord: “You can clean that with a magic eraser!”

Me: “And what about the backyard; do you have a gardener?”

Landlord: “No.”

Me: “Okay, and it has sprinklers?”

Landlord: “I don’t know.”

(I am feeling that this landlord is not someone I want to deal with every month. Then, my husband arrives from checking the windows.)

Husband: “I just realized that there are three windows that don’t close. See?”

Landlord: *looking like he didn’t see it when he bought the house* “And…?”

Husband: “Are you going to fix them? It’s going to be impossible to heat this house with that.”

Landlord: “No! I’m not going to fix that.”

Husband: “And if we go half-and-half on the price?”

Landlord: “I already told you: I’m not going to fix them. If you want to do it, it’s your problem.”

Husband: “And what about the plugs?”

Landlord: “What about them?”

(My husband shows a burnt plug in the family room.)

Landlord: “You can cover that with something and use another.”

Me: “Let’s go, then. I don’t want to deal with him every time something breaks in this place.”

(With that attitude, I’m surprised that someone rented the house.)

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This Landlady Is Shockingly Cold

, , , , , | Working | March 6, 2019

(It is a particularly cold Canadian winter, on a Saturday night at around nine pm, and I am taking a shower. The water is not very hot, and within a few minutes, it goes completely cold, even when using only the hot water tap. I still have shampoo in my hair and a bit of soap all over but the water is way too cold for me to handle. I am used to rinsing my hair with cold water because it’s good for the hair, but with the water barely above freezing, I cannot do it! I wrap myself in a towel and call my landlady to inform her of the problem. She tells me to wait until Monday morning because her maintenance man does not work on the weekends. I tell her the water is too cold to rinse off the shampoo and soap without risking hypothermia and it can’t wait until Monday.)

Landlady: “What do you want me to do?”

Me: “I will call a plumber and a locksmith to access the water heater and deduct the bills from my rent.”

(She tells me she is coming with her husband to have a look at the problem. While waiting for her to come, I rinse my hair with a bottle of water from the fridge that is less cold than water from the tap, and water from the kettle that is room temperature. Shortly after that, I hear a knock on the door and it is my landlady. My lips are bluish and I am still shivering a lot.)

Landlady: *seeing that I had rinsed my hair* “It was not urgent; you were able to finish your shower. I came here for nothing!”

(The door to the maintenance room where the water heater is for the whole building is right next to my apartment door and I see water beginning to leak from under it. I point to it and my landlady looks at it and goes pale. She unlocks the door and hurries to shut down the water valve.)

Landlady: “I don’t know what to do with all this water all over! Give me some towels to absorb it.”

Me: “I only have a few, and I need to keep the clean one for after I am able to rinse myself off.”

(I close the door, leaving her to deal with her problem since I already have my own. Less than an hour later, after I wash most of the soap away with a washcloth and warm water from my kettle, there is another knock on the door. This time, it’s my landlady’s husband.)

Landlady’s Husband: “We fixed my problem and the water is probably already hot. It’s a good thing my wife insisted on having a look at the problem instead of waiting until Monday; otherwise, the water could have risen to reach the electrical outlets and it could have caused a much worse problem!”

Me: “You mean it’s a good thing I insisted and threatened to call a locksmith and a plumber?”

Landlady’s Husband: “…”

(I slammed the door and went to take a much-needed, long, hot shower!)

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