Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Complaining Post

This is going to be a whine, so feel free to skip it.

We rent, because my cancer some years back destroyed me financially in a way we are only just beginning to recover from. I don't think we'll ever own a house, at this point.

Luckily, we live in an area where rent is cheap. And we've had more or less decent luck with landlords.

I mean, this landlord I am about to whine about is far from the worst landlord ever. (I had a terrible landlord three houses ago, a micromanaging divorced old troll who would come around and inspect my house and give me little lessons on how I should be cleaning the bathroom and lecture me about the correct way to water the lawn -- but that's a different story.)

This house we rent is decent. It's a three bedroom in a lower middle-class area. We have a fenced yard, and the lease allows pets. There's a library, as well as a grocery, within walking distance. And the landlord has not raised our relatively reasonable (reasonable for the area) rent in the 12 years we've been renting from him.

On the other hand -- getting him to fix things, anything, holy hell, it's like a war, each time.

Our fence is falling to pieces. He won't fix it. (I've fixed it as well as I can, but I am an English professor, not a carpenter.)

Our carpet is literally worn to bare threads in many places. He won't replace it.

When the lights fail (not the light bulbs, the wiring) he hires the cheapest labor he can to do the repairs, which means they fail again in about two weeks. Then he acts like *we're* at fault, that we're causing the constant need for repair.

The plumbing and the washer/dryer outlet are just the most ineptly installed -- our dryer vent goes through two walls and then underground before venting, so that it is constantly getting clogged with lint which requires (you guessed it) a plumber to be called, constantly. This is our fault, again.

And the air conditioner (source of today's whine) is from the early 1980s. So it is constantly breaking down. Rather than replace it, he just keeps sending the same inept repairmen to repair it.

Today it's busted, again. In Arkansas. In the summer.

I called him, and got the usual attempt to blame us for the problem -- had I been keeping the filters clean? Had I been running it too cold? Blah, blah, blah -- before he consented to send someone to look at it.

I really want to move. Reasonable rent and a fenced yard is hardly worth this bullshit.


nicoleandmaggie said...

In our renting experience, we either get someone who makes repairs in a timely fashion or we get a place where the rent doesn't go up every year. We've only rented apartments so far, but we can't seem to have both a conscientious landlord and flat costs. (Though one time when the rental market dropped we were able to argue against a raise in rent.)

Back when I was little and my parents were living in a rent-controlled place, they paid for or did repairs themselves. Because there was no incentive for the landlord to do them and no incentive for us to move since rents would be higher any other place.

delagar said...

Yeah, the rent not going up every year is the good part. That said, it's not excessively great rent for the area. It's standard rent for the area -- I could move tomorrow into a better place for less/the same rent.

The only reason I haven't (so far) is that the kid has another year of high school, and we've been planning to move once she finishes. I don't really want to move twice in two years.

Well, *really* I don't want to move at all. I hate moving with a passion. But this place has steadily been deteriorating into an absolute slum.

Contingent Cassandra said...

Sounds like you'll be in a good bargaining position in a year, which probably means it makes sense to tough it out for another year. On the other hand (perhaps depending on when the lease actually renews), it wouldn't hurt to start complaining a bit more, to set up that bargaining position. Are there any rules about providing a/c in your jurisdiction? We have heat rules (mid-Atlantic), but I'm not sure about a/c ones, but Arkansas might be different (in ways both favorable to tenants and not, I realize).

Another thought: *if* you want to own, and the house would be satisfactory with some fixing up, maybe you do some math, and see if there's a win/win scenario under which you could propose buying the place as-is from the landlord, perhaps with him holding the mortgage? You'd need to get a good inspection, of course, and be as sure as possible of what your own costs would be. But it sounds like he's not really into landlording (and like some tax incentives, such as the depreciation deduction, may be running out, or close to it). A steady stream of guaranteed income at rates several times higher than what he can get from a bank, with no responsibilities, might be attractive to him.

But of course you have to actually want that house, or at least be confident you can sell it for what you put into it when you no longer want it.

delagar said...

Arkansas has zero tenant laws. I'm not even sure he has to provide running water.

(He has fixed the AC, though -- yay!)

We're really in no (financial) shape to own a house at this point, and probably never will be. Though my credit score has (finally) recovered from the bankruptcy, and though now that I've made full professor we have enough money, most months, to make to through the month, that's about it.

We're hoping to move into a smaller house for less rent once the kid's in college, and maybe in a better neighborhood. (Better situated, I mean -- no neighborhood in this town is all that bad. But this house is ten miles from the university, so that I have to drive every day. It would be nice to be within walking distance.)

And he's really not a terrible landlord -- I just hate fighting with people.