Here it comes – winter break is wrapping up and the undergrads are trickling back to destroy my casual calm of this past month. I sent emails to next year’s tenants reminding them that I’ll need certain paperwork when they get back to campus only to hear, “I didn’t know we had to do that! I won’t be back until next week! You didn’t give me enough warning!” I’d laugh at how defensive they get over a courtesy reminder if it didn’t make me dread the new lease year.
I have two servings of my “special sauce” to serve up to you (shh… the secret ingredient is stupid), but because it’s just too much awf-some to share in one post, I’ll save the other for tomorrow. For today, here, in the present (and not so distant past), this happened:
I leased an apartment yesterday to a girl whose parents want her to live alone rather than with roommates, and are kicking in some serious cash to make sure she’s got whatever she wants wherever she lives. They settled on a cute little apartment with a bigger kitchen than mine (really, it doesn’t take much) with a dishwasher, hardwood floors, and paid utilities. She’s happy, her parents are happy, I’m happy. What a fairy tale ending!
I got a call from the current tenant of the apartment asking me if she could lease the parking space of someone moving out of the building in August.
“Sure! But just so you’re aware, all parking leases are for one year, so make sure it’ll be close enough to your new apartment.”
Flash back to October when I sent invitations to renew leases to all the tenants. I got hers back with a handwritten statement that simply said, “I refuse the terms of this renewal due to the unwarranted rent increase.” Okay… let’s ignore the fact that the rent increase was only $25 a month. We still pay your utilities, we gave you a freaking dishwasher for renewing last year, and your apartment was professionally painted. But no, that’s not worth an extra $25 compared to the other one bedroom apartments with the same amenities in the same area charging $900+ per month.
I emailed her, just so I had it in writing, to ask her if she understood that I would be actively showing her unit with the purpose of re-renting it at the new rent price. She told me to “do whatever I feel is necessary” because she could not justify an extra $25 per month as a grad student. And so I continued to show the apartment up through yesterday when it was rented.
Welcome back to the here and now where I had to explain to her that her apartment was already rented to a new party for next year and that she’d be expected to move out in August as specified by her lease.
“I said I didn’t accept that rate increase, not that I was going to move out!”
“Well, we weren’t going to let you continue living in the apartment only paying what you felt was right. That’s why you have to sign a lease extension agreeing to the new terms.”
“This is ridiculous! For as much as I pay to live alone, I shouldn’t have to deal with all the things I’ve had to endure this year! This has been a terrible year and the last thing I would expect is a rent increase for my trouble!* As a Harvard graduate, I never imagined that I’d have to deal with these kind of issues from my landlord!”
*The only “trouble” she’s endured was the moment of panic when she couldn’t figure out how to turn her bedroom radiator on, and she cursed a blue streak at me because I am *personally* completely irresponsible for not making sure that her heat is functioning properly. Because, you know, I totally walked into her bedroom and turned the knob counterclockwise. There’s a litany of dramatic complaints she has about the neighbors, our choice of white paint, the brand of dishwasher we installed (in her one bedroom apartment), etc. I’m over the teenage melodrama.
“For a Harvard grad, I thought you’d be smarter. Go read your lease. There’s nothing I can do for you at this point.”
There are some days where I’m as flabbergasted as you that I still have a job. Then I realize the tools I’ve been given to work with. And they’re useless. Useless, useless tools…