Saturday, August 20, 2016

In which my mom knows that Primo is the one who took the booze back downstairs after we excavated

"That's my son in law," she said. "The bottles are lined up neatly with the clear liquids on the left and the opaque liquids on the right."

The three bottles bunched up at the far end were placed there my mom, not Primo. Just in case it's not obvious.

In which Primo thought that just because there was no chocolate in my mom's kitchen, there was no chocolate in her house

He didn't know that you just have to go into the basement and into the closet containing the Christmas wreaths, the candles, and the canned goods, and look in every single Tupperware container - beans, flour, sugar, crackers, marshmallows, grains - until you find the one on the very bottom shelf that has chocolate chips.

My mother never has been able to hide chocolate for me. I know how to do a Proper Search.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

In which Keith's former tenant leaves the keys in the mailbox but it's too late - the lease said she was to turn them in by midnight April 30, which is not the same as midnight May 2

Keith's former tenant refused to leave the keys with him when she moved out on Saturday night April 30. She left them with a note saying she would return them once she got her deposit back, which is not how the lease worked. You don't return the keys when you move out? That's $35 from your deposit.

Because the new tenants were moving in the next day, Keith re-keyed the locks first thing Sunday morning.

On Monday night, the former tenant dropped two of the three keys off in Keith's mailbox, along with a note that she would return the last one when she got the deposit back.

This woman clearly does not understand the concepts of

1. New tenants and
2. A contract.

Monday, August 15, 2016

In which Primo and I go to my (second? third? once removed?) cousin's wedding and the leftovers are fabulous

The cousin I met at my great-uncle's funeral - Amber - got married and she invited Primo and me.

It was fun and fabulous and my great-aunt, who is 94 years old, looked elegant and lovely and she was as sharp as a tack.

We got to meet other cousins. We had a ton of fun.

As we were leaving, I noticed there were untouched pieces of wedding cake on our table. I joked with my dad's cousin Jim (who is Amber's uncle) that I should wrap the cake and take it home - that that is The Way of Our People.

He rushed to get me some paper napkins.

I had been joking, but after he went through all that effort, I had to take the cake.

I did!

I wrapped it and brought it home and put something on facebook about how My People Do Not Waste.

To which my cousin, Amber, replied, "Hey! WE HAD TO-GO CONTAINERS FOR THE CAKE!"

I. Love. My. People.

In which Keith and I clean his duplex and discover that even though a place might look clean on the surface at 9:30 p.m., in the light of day and with a bottle of 409 in my hand for a Seek and Destroy mission, a place is actually filthy

On Sunday, I spent a few hours helping Keith, who had been cleaning since 3 a.m., clean. The place had looked OK the night before, but in the light of day, it was clear that it needed work. The stove was nasty; the spills in the cupboard had not been wiped out; the windows were smeary; there was hair - waist-long hair in the drain in the kitchen sink; the walls near the switchplates were filthy; there was sticky stuff on the wood floor; etc, etc.

If you rent, please follow this advice:

1. If you do not own the window, do not put stickers on it
2. Just because you don't own the stove is not a reason to leave a thick layer of dirty grease on it
3. It doesn't count as vacuuming the carpet if you leave corn kernels under the radiator in the living room, bedroom, and kitchen
4. If you do not own the property, do not let your toddler eat in the living room or the bedroom or have crayons without supervision.

Honestly. Tacky.

Things my friends have added to the list:

  • My mom could add, do not paint the bedroom black and keep fighting chickens in it.
  • Do not ignore the leaking roof until the floor delaminates.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

In which Betsy moves out without leaving the keys and so what? Keith and I say - it just gets charged against her deposit

I just talked to Keith. Betsy left last night in a rage. She did not leave the keys, as required by the lease. Instead, she left a note saying, "I return the keys when I get the deposit."

The lease clearly states that the keys must be returned upon moveout or there is a $35 charge against the deposit.

"I couldn't sleep," Keith said. "So at 3 a.m., I rekeyed the lock. She won't be able to get back in."

"So it doesn't matter if she returns the key. And you can charge her for it."

"Yep. And I've been cleaning since then."

"There's not seven hours worth of cleaning!" I said.

He groaned. "I was cleaning the sinks and the tub and the drains are all backed up with their hair."

"Oh gross," I said.

Oh - and she did not leave a new mailing address. Just a phone number.

In which my friend's tenant screams and calls 911 because my friend and I are documenting the state of the duplex that she is moving out of and I understand why my landlords never raised my rent

You guys, I am wiped out. I got to bed late last night and then I couldn't sleep because I was full of eels.

Of adrenaline.

I was helping our neighbor manage the moveout of his upstairs tenant (it was April 30 yesterday) and she - we will call her Betsy - was so, so ugly.

Background: Our neighbor is in his 50s. He has no education beyond high school and has not worked much since high school because he was diagnosed with MS back then. He lives on disability and on the income he gets from renting the upper unit of the house he inherited when his parents died. He is not financially or legally sophisticated and doesn't really have anyone in his life to help him with that sort of thing, so Primo and I do what we can. He is our friend.

This tenant moved in two years ago. Keith rented to her against my advice - she had been evicted from her previous apartment and had filed for bankruptcy, but he was desperate: the tenant before this Betsy, moved out with only one month's notice instead of the two required by the lease.

Keith did not have as much time to find a replacement, so he panicked. He also refunded the tenant's full deposit, which, by law, he had no need to do, as she had broken the terms of the lease. But the tenant and her mother screamed at Keith and he got stressed and gave it back to them on the spot as she was moving out of the place that she had left dirty.

I found out about it and told Keith that if he wanted, I would stand next to him when he had to deal with his tenant and be the bad guy.

Now we are here, with Betsy. She gave notice two months ago. I helped Keith show the duplex to the couple who will be renting it starting today. When we looked at it six weeks ago, it was filthy. Betsy has three children, including a toddler whom the teenage daughter is apparently in charge of caring for. I understand that Betsy must be exhausted from going to work and taking care of three kids with no help, but the place was a pigsty: mildew in the bathtub, dirty sink, filthy walls, stained, ripped carpet (that Keith had installed just four years ago), filthy windows, dirty stovetop.


A dirty, dirty house.

It would take hours to clean and it would be gross and what to do about the carpet?

I told Keith I would help him. I also said, "Let's do a walkthrough with Betsy when she moves out so she understands what you will be fixing and charging against her deposit."

Yesterday during the day, he tried to talk to her to set a time for a walkthrough. She refused to talk to him.

He and I agreed that fine, we would do one without her at 11:00 today, Sunday.

He called me at 9:000 last night.

"Can you come over?" he asked. "She is screaming at me, asking why the f* you have to be involved in the walkthrough."

I put on my shoes and my coat and walked over. I introduced myself to Betsy, who was fuming as she stood next to the wall.

"The purpose of this walkthrough," I explained, "is to document the condition of the duplex. It is not to make a decision about the deposit."

"Yeah well he never did a walkthrough when I moved in!" she said.

"I know," I said. "That's why we're doing one now. He is improving how he does things."

"The place was a mess when I moved in," she said.

"Did you document that?" I asked.

I had tried that argument with my landlady years ago when she told me, during our walkthrough, that I needed to clean the windows.

"They were dirty when I moved in," I replied.

She shrugged and said, "They need to be clean when you move out."

I started making notes on the moveout form Keith had found online while he took photos.

Betsy was yelling. "It was a mess when I moved in!"

I shrugged. First, I didn't believe her, because I have the photos Keith took of the duplex two years ago when the former renter was still in the property. I had posted an ad for him on craigslist and had used those photos. The place was fine. It was clean.

Keith and I looked at the bedroom. "It's a lot cleaner than it was six weeks ago," I said, "but these walls still need to be cleaned and the windows are still dirty."

"IT WAS LIKE THAT WHEN I MOVED IN!" she yelled. "I'm going to call the police!"

I shrugged. "Go ahead."

Honestly. THE POLICE?

I should have asked her, "Have you ever considered using the strategy of being nice to people to get what you want instead of being hostile? You might get better results."

I heard her talking: "My landlord is trying to screw me out of my deposit!"

I rolled my eyes and kept making notes. It was like Betsy had gone to the Ted Drunk School of Negotiation.

The good news was that the place really was a lot better. She had even cleaned the carpet, which is not something she had to do and is something that a landlord in this state cannot charge against a deposit.

She waited about ten minutes, grudgingly agreeing with me when I asked, "Would you agree that this switchplate is dirty? But that the toilet and the sink are clean?"

"I forgot to clean that," she said.

"This oven hood is dirty," I said, "and so are the drip pans."

"Yeah well you should have seen them when I moved in," she snapped.

I shrugged. "We are documenting the current state."

When the police didn't show up - I KNOW I AM SHOCKED, she stomped out.

Keith and I finished in peace. We completed the form. He signed and made copies. I thought I was going to get out of seeing Betsy again, but she returned, her truck empty.

I handed her the forms and explained the major findings.

"I'm not signing this!" she said. "I don't agree with it! You have to show me the photos!"

I shrugged again. Seriously. I am used to dealing with Ted. Even one degree removed, dealing with Ted inoculates you against idiocy.

"Suit yourself," I said. "And you of course are welcome to take your own photos. May I suggest when you move into your new place that you document the move-in state."

She threw the papers to the floor in disgust. Keith shrugged. I shrugged.

What. Ever.

I came home and did more research on tenant law in the state.

She doesn't have a leg to stand on. The burden of proof is on her.

I just read this for the first time since writing it on May 1 and realized I sure shrug a lot.