Seven Aspects of the Landlord page 2

Are you ready for Super Bonus Behind-The-Scenes Notes?

General context: When I moved in, I was told that the landlord was crazy but basically hands-off, showing up every 8 months or so to blow off steam. Shortly after I moved in, his insurance company refused to renew until he made a number of repairs to the house. As a result of this, he started visiting much more frequently, causing stress for the household.

Drunk: Landlord has visited here visibly inebriated more than once. This panel, though compressed, is unfortunately pretty true to life. On the day the chimney repairs (which he never warned us about, so workers just showed up early in the morning) ended, he hung out drinking on the property with the workers, and eventually decided to give them a tour of the house. He pounded on the doors and didn’t wait before trying to open them (some of the doors don’t have doorknobs and so thankfully are kept locked from the inside), and periodically lost his balance while standing still. Afterward the workers came back in and apologized profusely, saying, “Your landlord is crazy!” While working they also disparaged his maintenance of the house, describing it as typical of a slumlord. The only reason he ordered repairs was because his insurance company refused to renew his policy until he made them.

Oblivious: By Landlord’s request, all communication to him goes through one designated tenant. Despite that, he will talk to whoever he runs into at the house, and seems not to have a clear sense of who actually lives here. The action in this panel is compressed and partially fictional; while he hasn’t accosted anyone’s sister-in-law (that I know of), the first person he spoke to about the compost pile was the boyfriend of a tenant who was still moving in, and it’s not the only time he’s had such confusion. His dialogue is taken from the first time I met him (when, of course, he dropped by unannounced). I would certainly not describe the house as a “shithole”, and as I understand it we’ve kept the house neater than any prior tenants. If one were to use such a term, I’d assume one were referring to the obvious lack of maintenance on the landlord’s part. Luckily for me I didn’t have the presence of mind to say, “Great, I’m renting a shithole from an asshole!”

Outlaw: As mentioned already, Landlord failed to give us proper notice before visits, as he is required by law to do. We sent him a stern letter after the drunken tour, and he did better, but I had to point out to him that he has to do that even if he’s not entering the house, since we rent the house and land. This panel is of course compressed; no one talked to him while he tractored. Later a housemate discovered he’d illegally dumped our compost in the neighboring forest. He followed up with a letter forbidding all composting (and always putting “compost” in quotes) and threatening to sic the Dept. of Health on us if we did. Interestingly, while that Dept. has nothing to say about compost, they are one of the agencies to which one reports landlords who fail to provide safe & habitable housing – which, as defined by law, includes Dr. Cranky. Somewhat later, when our long-suffering house liaison was trying to negotiate some of his unreasonable “requests”, compost came up again, and when he started gibbering, she mentioned the illegality of his dumping. He shouted, “That’s it – pack your bags!” (which was funny since she’d already announced she was moving out for grad school) and hung up, then sent a letter terminating our month-to-month lease.  This was all especially absurd in light of how patient and responsible our liaison was, and how much she cared about the house.

Tenant-less: Fort Awesome (the house’s long-standing name) has essentially had 20 years of word-of-mouth tenants. Good luck with that now! I’m sure he’ll be able to get at least some tenants if he advertises and keeps the rent cheap; I have no idea what he actually plans to do. As for the repairs, I don’t think he plans to deviate at all from the insurance company’s list. He fixed a single step that they mentioned, but not the entire sagging rotting landing that they somehow failed to report (and which he’s walked on numerous times, so must have noticed).

Having to leave is inconvenient, but the big silver lining is not having to deal with this nut anymore. I’d already decided to look for a new place so as to not have to deal with him anymore, even by proxy. Which is ridiculous, because everything else about the place – housemates, yard, location – was pretty great. I don’t know what makes him so unhappy, but I hope he finds a way to cope with it better, for his sake and that of anyone who ever has to interact with him. He is quite an example of wealth not guaranteeing happiness.

- Seven Aspects of the Landlord p.2 -

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