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Those Worker’s Hands Worked Their Magic

, , , , | Right | September 15, 2021

My grandmother and mother have always rented out an apartment they own. One day, the old tenants move out, and my father decides to take an interest in the proceedings because the rent barely covers the property expenses. He personally vets the new tenant, a posted worker, and decides he must be all right because he has “rough workers’ hands”.

Everything goes well at first, but after a while, several flags come up. The tenant asks my father for the deposit to cover a family emergency, and when he returns the sum, it’s not in cash but as two IOUs for the same amount. The tenant’s wife moves back to her family and he’s the only one left in the flat.

Despite this, the neighbours occasionally complain about loud noises. When Italian currency is converted from lira to euro, the tenant decides to “round” the 516 euro of the monthly rent to 500 and cover the difference with… lemons.

The lease contract is made so that the landlord can only end it for very specific reasons, and I need the apartment to go and live on my own. The tenant agrees, saying that he was looking for a different flat already as the rent is too high. But months go by and he stays on, giving excuse after excuse for being unable to move out, and saying that I always have my parents’ house — it’s not like I am sleeping under a bridge, am I?

To cut a long story short, when he finally moved out — half a year after the agreed date — he had two months of rent unpaid, not to mention several instances of “lemons”; he owed over 2,000 euros in maintenance fees which my parents had to fork over in his stead; the power was soon cut, meaning that the bills had gone unpaid, as well; and there were five or six rusty bedsprings (including one in a room with no windows), a sign that the tenant was subletting to immigrant workers. Even if they were paying him 100€ each, they would cover the rent, but I’m told the going prices are about three times that.

As a cherry on top, we were left with “smoked” walls, grease stains around the light switches, and someone’s name carved on a door.

It was a while before my boyfriend and I could make the flat fit for living, and a while longer before the other people in the building stopped giving us the stink-eye in the elevator.