Since moving out of my family home in August of 2004 I have lived in 2 dorms, 4 houses, and 5 apartments. I hate the process of moving: packing everything into manageable loads, deep cleaning, schlepping heavy stuff, waiting a month for a security deposit that may or may not ever come and then having a new place to deep clean, set up, find all the “quirks”, and switch over utilities. I hate all of it–and yet I’ve done it, nearly every year, for the past decade.
Why? Because landlords–who rule over the space you are supposed to call “Home Sweet Home” with moneybags clouding their vision–are literally the worst. They do the bare minimum required by law (if that) and don’t care a wit if you want to break your lease, move out after a year, trash the place, live in squalor; because you are just a means to an end. You are just money. And young adults typically get the worst of it. With not a lot of available capital, young people have to settle for less-than-ideal residences with less-than-ideal property companies, landlords or supers. We get taken advantage of by professional slumlords who know every trick in the book.
Renters have to start standing up for themselves so that slumlords start shaping up. I don’t think it is a coincidence that I’ve found myself in so many shitty living conditions or that I have uncharacteristically bad luck (I’ve heard too many concurrent stories from fellow 20-somethings). So, definitely take the time to know your rights.
I was able to get out of my most recent shitty living condition (repeatedly having to ask to get locks/door fixed, mice, THEFT OF MY WORLDLY POSSESSIONS) after I was like, “Yo girl, you can talk to my lawyer…BAI!” But even then I was still out a lot of money simply because a landlord didn’t take the idea that I had a right to a habitable and safe dwelling in a very serious manner. I’ve been illegally evicted by a racist, withheld deposits for reasons not contractually outlined, charged for the most ridiculous of things. Rent is typically a person’s biggest expense, right?–so why do these people insist on making us so miserable when they are already getting such a big slice of our monthly pie?
Rant being ranted, my current rental situation is awesome. My landlord is super nice, I love my neighborhood and nothing catastrophic has happened. I do not take this blessing lightly or for granted. Yet, I still get a little outraged thinking about this rental property predicament. What can we do to change things? I would love to brainstorm!
Also, care to share your rental horror story? Getting robbed was probably my worst, although having the locks changed on the short-lived 11th St. house in BG, KY without a 30-day eviction notice is a close second. We re-visited our former abode in a veil of darkness to check the mailbox, wherein I found an envelope that held the money from my cell-phone rebate–a sum of money that, while now inconsequential, all but saved my life that summer….but that’s a story for another time.
(Painting by Matte Stephens. The print is available on Etsy and is super cute.)