I can’t believe it’s already Friday!  I guess starting the week with a holiday makes it fly by. 

Bad news though:  I don’t get a weekend—I am attending a workshop for teachers for the Mark O’Connor series all weekend long.  Naturally I am hoping to learn a lot, get inspired, and meet new people.

How many of you are renters?  I live in a duplex, and the upstairs neighbors have been troublesome this past year.  Nothing HUGE, but little things like not shutting doors…repeatedly, or using the wrong washer/dryer, or having a dog that barks for hours on end.  All these things add up.  And yet, because a few years ago I had the world’s worst landlord, I am always quite hesitant to complain about seemingly mundane things.  Luckily my landlord is actually really great and understanding, and a music-lover on top of that, so it’s fine. 

What makes somebody the world’s worst landlord?  I’ll just list a few things that happened in the past situation.  It was in Cleveland and I was living with my sister Leslie.

  • Somebody broke into the tenant’s storage units and stole some things and we were not told.
  • Repaired both front and back door problems on the same day so we were practically unable to get in or out of the apartment.
  • Closed down the mailboxes for a week without notice (we get PAID through the mail).
  • Paved the parking lot and failed to inform us in advance or make other arrangements for parking.

But the worst and biggest offense:

  • The furnace for the building broke, she took three days to repair it (in Cleveland, Ohio, in the winter) and then turned the thermostat down so that from that point on, for three months, our apartment was literally unlivable, never got above 62 degrees and was usually colder, lied to us repeatedly, lied to the city when we complained, lied to the court system, tried to intimidate us, and ultimately lied to our lawyer as well.  After months of this intimidation (and we moved out in the meantime, breaking the lease due to the place being virtually uninhabitable) we FINALLY got a settlement of our deposit back and some rent we had paid during the time the heat was not on to speak of. 

It was a very difficult situation.  We were incredibly stressed out, Leslie was in school at the time, we didn’t have a ton of money, and we didn’t really know what to do.  Luckily we met a lawyer who was willing to take our case for a percentage of the settlement (I don’t know if that is normal or not) and told us what to do.  I remember the day we met with him and he told us what we needed to do was move, right away.  We were so…relieved!  To think, we could (according to our lawyer who did turn out to be correct) legally break the lease and move somewhere else, and leave that place behind.  I’ve never packed and moved so quickly (three days from that meeting to living in a new apartment), and hope I never have to again. 

Ever since then, however, I feel LUCKY to have decent landlords, but don’t want to make a fuss or assume anything.  We were treated so poorly, called names on the phone, and basically told we didn’t have any legal or moral argument to wanted a heated apartment, much less anything more than that.  It was really a form of abuse for three months, and I realized today that I have never truly recovered from it.  Maybe that’s good in a way, because I will also be wary and careful of people in the future.  But it also makes me feel that as a renter I don’t necessarily deserve to have a place that is the way I really want it—and that’s not fair either, is it?  Many people have to rent for various reasons, and they deserve to have nice things also.  I hope to be a homeowner one day, but my life just hasn’t worked that way yet (and I am cautious financially so luckily I didn’t fall for the housing bubble hoopla). 

Have any of you had horrific landlords in the past?  Has that affected other aspects of your life in a negative way?