Landlords - Neither Land Nor Lords, Discuss
I’ve been working on and off for a couple days on what I thought was going to be my next blog post. It’s about underwear. I was thinking of titling it “To Panty or Not To Panty” or “Rock n' Roll All Night and Panty Every Day” (not sure that second one really makes sense in context . . .). While writing though, I kept getting caught up on the word “panty” because it’s so gross, so I switched to using the word underwear. My pun options decreased substantially.
But this morning I spent more time than I planned on moving-related stuff: waiting for a phone appointment with a landlord, having the late phone appointment, then looking at craigslist for another hour trying to find other options that won’t require us to pay for more than the time that we’ll physically be in the house. Landlords suck. Even the good ones*. At best the landlord fixes things and doesn’t try to screw you out of money until the end when you move, when of course, they try to screw you out of the deposit no matter how well you took care of the dwelling.
Worse are those that try to blame you for shit you didn’t do, pretend there wasn’t a crack in that window the day you moved in, blame you for breaking the furnace by playing with the temperature gauge when you call because air no longer blows from the vents. That one really happened with a landlord in Lincoln, NE. Seriously, this guy is the worst, literally the worst landlord ever in large part because of his hyper-patriarchal desire to mansplain even the simplest of things, such as cleaning a window or calling to get cable set up. When the furnace fix-it dude was there, the landlord kept trying to get him to say that the problem was caused by someone switching the air on and off multiple times from the thermostat like a pestilent child. The guy kept saying, “Nope. Not what caused it. Not even possible. The belt snapped in the outside unit and you need to replace it. Just normal maintenance.” When the fix-it dude was leaving (after an hour of having to listen to the landlord tell him how to do his job), he looked at us with what can only be described as the utmost pity. Had living under this specific landlord's rein not made life relatively awful for just over a year and a half, I’d feel sorry for someone whose outlook was so parochial and confidence level so low that he was compelled to alienate not only his tenants, but perfect strangers who were unlucky enough to wander briefly into his vocal range.
I’m thinking of this not only because of my talk with the landlord from this morning (which for the most part went fine – which means she only wants to screw us out of a little bit of money, only about 15 days’ worth), but because of the conversations I’ve had with multiple landlords over the past four days.
Here are some highlights:
I only ever had a problem with this one gentleman who was, well, you know, gosh I’ll just come out and say it . . . gay (hear the last word as a stage whisper)
You know this man, he paid on time every month with real cash money, but then cops raided his house and found $75,000 dollars in the basement. I guess you just never know . . .
They said they didn’t have a job. Well, I don’t rent to drug dealers
Landlord: You’re going to work for the college? You don’t want to live in this neighborhood. It’s not a good one
Me: Oh, what’s wrong with it? Crime? A lot of undergrads?
Landlord: Let’s just say, it’s not the right kind of neighborhood
Don’t worry about this neighborhood, I only rent to good clean people, not those people with all the piercings and tattoos. I mean, this is just my opinion, but they’re straight dirty. You know someone who does that to the body God gave them doesn’t expect much out of life.
Rest assured I am not embellishing. These are direct quotations. I took extensive notes while talking to people. Also hear all the above with a Mayberry-like southern accent, which oddly, was almost charming enough to mask the crazy. It certainly sugar-coated it.
So, trying to find a home we’ll be comfortable in for the next few years is really all I can think about at the moment, despite how compelling my underwear rant seemed to be when I started it. Obviously it wasn’t compelling enough for me to think logically through the first draft. Not that thoughts about underwear (or what is in them) tends always to be logical or rational. Renting sight unseen is not ideal, but you do what you gotta do. It’s certainly worth it in the long run (and even the short long run) and in amongst all the crazy, bigotry, and flakiness, I’ve discovered that people in West Virginia must be some of the nicest (or at least most talkative) of any state we’ve ever lived in. I think I know more about a half dozen WV property owners than I do of people I’ve lived across the street from for three years. Truly this will be an adventure.
* For future reference, there have been two landlords that I really liked. In Fresno, CA, Debbie Bagdasarian was hands down A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Super compassionate, friendly, but no nonsense. A good combo. The second was Gayle Carper in Lincoln, NE. She got things done as soon as she was able, rent prices were fair, and she worked with us when we had a weird inbetween lease time when we were job hunting. Very nice. She also always had good gossip about the goings-on around her properties - loved it!