If you’re doling out any sympathy this week, please spare some for landlords everywhere.
Hey, hey, HEY — I know this is a humour column, but that line wasn’t meant to be funny.
Okay, look, I know there are plenty of landlords out there who are bad. Okay, awful. Alright, fine, there are some landlords out there that are evil, mean-spirited and nasty. And yes, I know you still haven’t gotten over being evicted on that Christmas Eve during the blizzard of ’78.
But consider for the moment that they didn’t start out that way. That maybe, just maybe, they started landlording with the best of intentions — you know, as nice, compassionate humans who wanted to invest in something solid, to provide decent accommodations at reasonable prices and who hoped for a modest return.
Now cut that out. That part wasn’t meant to be funny either.
Yes, in case you hadn’t guessed it by now, I have been a landlord. My spouse and I didn’t set out to become landlords; we had to a few years ago and it’s a “life experience” from which we may never recover.
Let’s start with finding tenants. Simple, right? Place ad in paper, take phone calls, screen potential candidates, fill vacancy.
Except that city newspaper ads are *expensive* and renters hardly ever read the paper. As the weeks dragged on, I found myself feeling a surge of hope every time the phone rang. It’s like waiting by the phone for a date, only worse, because the bills are piling up.
Eventually we clued in and plonked a $10 “FOR RENT” sign out front. Within a few hours, we had five calls. Hooray! One early mistake, but the rest would be smooth sailing. Except…
APPLICANT 1: So like, I don’t have a job yet, but, like, I could just move in right? And like, pay you when I get work?
ME: Like, no.
APPLICANT 2: Hi. [puff]. So umm, [puff] yeah, I’m employed. [puff] I can get you pay stubs [puff] and stuff.
ME: Are you aware you just set fire to your trousers?
APPLICANT 2: [Extinguish] Bummer, man. [Puff] Heh-heh. That happens a lot.
ME: That’s not tobacco you’re smoking, is it son?
APPLICANT 3: [ROWRF! ROWRF!] And here’s my driver’s-[ROWRF! GRRRRR!] BANDIT! For @#$%^!’s sake, shutup! [ROWRF!] Bandit! What the @#$%!^! did I just say to you? @#$%ing dog!
ME: Hey, ah, isn’t that one of the dogs they just banned?
APPLICANT 3: [GRRRRR!] SHUT UP BANDIT! @#$%! No, she’s only a half-breed. I got three more that are purebreds though. Hey [ROWRF!] BANDIT! You’re not going to avoid renting to me because of my dogs, are you? That’s discrimination! My brother just happens to be a lawyer, and I’ll sue!
Eventually we found a few tenants that seemed like reasonable, normal people. Except…
TENANT1: Yes, hello, the tenant upstairs is playing music.
ME: It’s 2 a.m. Why are you calling me? Go ask him to turn it down.
TENANT1: I can’t.
ME: Why not?! It’s that loud?!
TEANANT1: Oh, no, it’s not very loud. But it’s the Backstreet Boys, and I really don’t like that band. You’d better fix this. I’ve got this cousin who’s a lawyer, and-
NEIGHBOUR: I’ve got a bone to pick with you!
ME: It’s 3 a.m. This had better not be about the Backstreet Boys. Who is this?
NEIGHBOUR: I live next door to your rental property. Your tenant is a real problem.
NEIGHBOUR: He *stepped* on my *lawn* two days ago.
ME: You don’t say! This is much too big for me. I’d say the police should hear about this.
NEIGHBOUR: Fine! Be smart. But guess what? My uncle’s cousin’s daughter is a lawyer, and-
At least I can take comfort in the fact that everything else works well. Tenants always pay their rent on time, and never do anything like flood the entire upstairs unit, or abandon their apartments and leave strange things like a box of skunk pelts (I don’t know), or a leather bullwhip (I really don’t *want* to know) behind. Yes, the rest of it works just fine…
Photo Credit: Open-Clipart Vectors / Pixabay