I am now officially free of the whole rental experience from the last 5 months. I couldn’t totally relax or delete it from my memory until I got the rental deposit check to put into my bank account. The landlord deducted a little for some ‘dog poop’ I must have missed, but most of the outrageously high deposit of $2600 was returned. The experience has reminded me why I own instead of rent despite the hassles that home ownership can bring. You need just one bad landlord to put you off renting forever. Not that this landlord was particularly bad. We got along quite well until the last month when he tried to finagle an extra month’s rent from the insurance people. If not, he was going to put a lock box on the house and let potential buyers start seeing it. Actually, he expected me to take time off from my job to show his house. Hah! He wasn’t joking, though. He claimed it was in our lease agreement. Luckily, my insurance people set him straight about that whole issue very quickly, but none of us trusted him anymore.
I have rented most of my adult life. I’ve had good landlords and terrible ones. I know some tenants can be terrible, too, but I’ve always been a very good one. There seems to be no correlation between the two. I’ve had to call offices for tenants’ rights, even report a crazy landlady to the police. One couple tried to sell the condo out from under us when we had been there only two months. It wasn’t personal, they were doing the same thing with our neighbor, whose condo they also owned. A different neighbor told us the landlady showed up one day at noon, knocking and banging on our doors, yelling at us. None of us were at home since we all have day jobs. She even called the school where I worked and wanted to come on campus. Luckily, I had already informed the office about said crazy landlady and they told her it was not allowed. I wasn’t too worried, though, my students were pretty tough, some even scary-looking, and the landlady would surely have backed down once she saw them. I was certainly glad to get away from her. I think the husband knew his wife was off her rocker, though. He sent the full deposit back quickly once I moved.
Probably the worst time I’ve had with a landlord was renting a house when my two kids were in grade school. The house wasn’t great, but it was roomy and the yard had many fruit trees, as California yards tend to have. My then partner and I planted a garden and picked lemons, tangerines, plums, and figs ripe just off the tree. There were four large fig trees in front, producing many more figs than we could ever eat and townspeople from the Middle East would stop by and ask if they could pick some. Sure, I said, better than scraping the sticky fallen fruits off the ground. The house had originally been bought by the wife’s family for her mother to stay when visiting long-term from Taiwan, and when the mother decided to return home for good, the landlady and her realtor husband wanted to sell it. They pressured us to buy, but we had no money at that time. We wouldn’t have wanted the house anyways. Then they got nasty. They looked for every way they could to whittle away our $800 deposit. The landlady wrote a vindictive letter, insulting me and my family in any way she could. I had to threaten to sue through small claims court before she backed down. But what goes around, comes around, a realtor once told me, especially in real estate. When it came time for me to sell my California house in 2004, I had my pick of offers, two had even overbid. I noticed one realtor’s name on a bid – the landlady’s husband. I filled in my realtor about my experience with him and his wife and told her I wouldn’t be selling to any of that realtor’s clients, no matter how much they overbid (they had already overbid $5000 – it was that kind of market then). She smiled knowingly; she had dealt with that realtor in the past. He’ll see your name on the rejection, so he’ll figure it out. She left to fax it to him and I felt almost giddy with delight. Yes, indeed, karma is a bitch.