The Joys Of Renting

, , , , , | Working | December 28, 2020

I moved out on my own when I was twenty-one, scoring a fantastic little new build flat in the city centre. In nine years, I only moved to a different block so I could have a bigger place. Eventually, though, the area got worse: there was vandalism, my car was broken into twice — in the underground “secure” car park that had easily broken gates — a pub on my road was closed after a guy was killed there, drugs, gangs, you name it.

I decided enough was enough; I wanted out of the city and to somewhere quieter. I was delighted to find a ground floor flat that looked great on the visit, close to my parents. The rent was the same as I was currently paying and the lease was for twelve months. Perfect.

Yeah. You know where this is going.

When I move in I actually have to wonder if it is the same place I saw three weeks ago. With the previous tenants’ stuff gone, it is easy to see the chronic damp. Oh, and the kitchen window has dropped so there is a wide, open gap to the outside — not great in the winter… or for security. I have problems with the en suite toilet and shower, as well, during which time the landlord and I have a chat when he is fixing the issues.

Me: “I’m really looking forward to living here. In a year or two, I think I’ll have it redecorated.”

Imagine my surprise when, barely four months later, he tells me I have to leave!

Landlord: “You’ll have to find somewhere else. I can’t afford the flat—”

This is despite me paying rent on it.

Landlord: “—and if you don’t leave, I’ll have to go bankrupt and the bank will take the flat and evict you.”

I should mention here two things. First, in the UK, you cannot breach a rental agreement for that reason. In fact, it is notoriously difficult to evict a renter from a property. Point two, I know this because I work in the real estate industry. I know how this stuff works, I know my rights, and I know I can make his life h***.

But still, it was stressful to have this man message me at least twice a week demanding I find another place, telling me I didn’t need to find somewhere perfect, just to leave his place, that he’d pay me to leave, that he wouldn’t give me a good reference if I was not gone by a certain date, etc.

But I ignored him. I consulted with colleagues who agreed that he had no legal standing, and I talked with the estate agents who had some very choice names for him, but I didn’t stop looking for the perfect place. Moving is expensive and stressful and I hate doing it, so if I was moving now it was to a place to stay a long time… like this was supposed to be.

In the end he came clean. Kind of. He hadn’t realised it was a twelve-month lease, despite the conversations we’d had. He did try and blame the estate agents — they are liars, they tricked him, blah. I figured he screwed the pooch and had someone else lined up to move in.

Thankfully, this has a good ending. I found a house, rather than a flat, still in my ideal area and price, with everything I could want: a garden, a driveway, three bedrooms, and an amazing landlord that I can laugh and joke with.

I don’t hate my ex-landlord any more, and I write this now from my garden, sipping a coffee and reflecting on how lucky I was that my ex-landlord broke the law and kicked me out, how I dodged a bullet, and how fun it was to see him a little while ago when I was visiting the friends I had made at that building… watching him bring his groceries into his — my — flat.

Yeah, he kicked me out so he and his girlfriend could move in. He saw me, I saw him, and I just grinned, with the other residents smiling with me.

I think I won.

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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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