Friday, December 17, 2010

Landlords and high heels

Every morning this week, I’ve woken up and angrily flipped the bird at my ceiling with a tight-lipped frown on my face.

The “F you” is intended for the girl that lives above me, who wakes up at an infuriatingly early hour CLOMP CLOMP CLOMPing around the room above my head.

I have an extremely hard time getting up in the morning as it is, and thou hath no fury like getting woken up by CLOMPING 15 minutes before my alarm goes off.

She doesn’t just walk around the room. She messes with something in the corner, maybe a chest of drawers because it shakes and rattles, and holy shit I wish it was an anvil, and I wish it would fall on her head.

I haven’t met this girl yet, but I’m considering slipping her an Ambien, at least on the weekends, so I can sleep until noon the way I like it.
Perhaps I can put them in some neighborly brownies or something.

Aside from her PACING around the room every morning, I love my New Orleans apartment.
It’s in a safe neighborhood by the bayou, it has a dishwasher AND a clothes washer and dryer and the best part is the landlord isn’t bat shit crazy.

This is the fifth apartment I’ve lived in, and in my experience, bat shit crazy landlords are more common than not.

When my twin sister, Joy, moved to South Carolina after Hurricane Katrina, we rented an adorable apartment but the landlord was completely off her rocker.

She even admitted she was nuts, and blamed it on the medication she was taking for her arthritis.
We didn’t care; the apartment was in a perfect location, ridiculously cheap and it was only month-to-month. SCORE.

I remember sitting in the landlord’s front room at long table, before knowing she was crazy. She gave me and Joy the once-over and asked us a ton of questions that were supposed to prove we were responsible tenants. She had a big beehive and talked about Jesus a lot.

Even though the apartment was rented month-to-month, we were still given a lease agreement to sign with about 25 rules we were forbidden to break.
Rules? we wondered. Rules, like, no subleasing perhaps? No pets?

We scanned the sheet. There were no rules about pets.

Rule number 1, seriously, RULE NUMBER ONE WAS: don’t flush baby diapers down the toilet.

UM WHAT??

“Oh, Mrs. Thestakis,” I said. “Neither one of us has children.”

“Well I know THAT, dear,” she said, annoyed. “But when your friends with babies come over…you tell them they can NOT flush the diapers down the toilet.”

DO PEOPLE FLUSH BABY DIAPERS??

“Um, sure,” we said. “No problem.”

It became clear after reading the 25-point list that the list wasn’t general rules as much as a list of specific things that must have happened with tenants over the years that she wanted to make sure never happened again, even if they were a one-time thing and bizarre.

Rule 6: When you put potted plants on the floor, put a plate under it. (We didn’t have any plants).

Rule 11: When leaving a message with a question or concern about the apartment, you MUST leave your contact phone number. (We had to agree to this by initialing it at the top).

Rule 23: Do NOT use a Foreman Grill on the floor. (Haha)

Once we signed off on the list of “rules” with quizzical looks, Ms. Thestakis told us she was paying the water bill. Joy and I mentally high-fived, until we heard her reasoning.

“Because, I know just how much water two people use and if the meter is too high for your unit, I’ll know you have a third person living with you.”

“OK, great,” we said, realizing that responding to the accusation would be fruitless.

Ms. Thestakis would show up at the apartment about once a month, piddle around the four-unit building perimeter complaining to her hired “handyman” about all sorts of things, including the fact that her arthritis is bad and her medication is so strong and no one understands her.

My boyfriend at the time even got her wrath.

He had just walked out the front door going to his car when he said “some lady with a beehive” stopped him on the sidewalk and asked him who he was.

He told her he was my boyfriend, but that still didn’t stop Ms. Thestakis from embarrassing me.

“Are you using the shower young man?” she asked him. “Are you doing laundry? Because I pay the water bill you know.”

“No, ma’am, I think I just flushed the toilet once or twice,” he said, with his sweetest South Carolina accent, mocking her.

“Well, OK then,” she said. “You may go.”

Ms. Thestakis was quite frugal, and had a hard time agreeing to do anything that required money.
One night, someone knocked on our door and we weren’t expecting anyone. Joy and I nervously peered out of the front window but it was so dark and rainy, we couldn’t see anything.

We asked who it was, but got no answer, and then got scared and took our cat and hid in the back bedroom for the rest of the night.

“We really need a light for the front stoop,” I told Ms. Thestakis the next day. “It’s a safety thing.”

She loudly sighed into the phone.

“This is why I don’t like renting to girls,” she said.

We bothered both her and the handyman about putting in the light for a few weeks and one day it was finally installed.

“Don’t break it!” she told us. I could envision another rule being added to the list.

When Joy and I bought a house together a year later and moved out, we called Ms. Thestakis to say we’d be out by the end of the month (and we left our phone number).

She called back on the 5th, and we told her again, that we were moving out.

A friend of ours who was in medical school wanted to move in right after us, so we told Ms. Thestakis she didn’t have to worry about finding a new tenant. (We warned our friend about the rule sheet).

MAN WE ARE SO NICE, I thought.

…which is why I was especially furious when we only got half our deposit money back the next month.

“WHAT THE---!” I yelled when I looked at the check and called her immediately.

“Ms. Thestakis, this is only HALF of what we were supposed to get back from you,” I said.

“Oh, yes, well you didn’t tell me that you were moving out until the 5th of the month, and I require a full 30 day notice.”

“WE CALLED YOU ON THE FIRST!” I said sternly. “It took YOU five days to call back! And what does it matter anyway, we found you a person to move in the following month!”

She said she’d have to talk to her husband about this, and that she couldn’t deal with any “drama” right now because her arthritis was acting up.

I sent her a hand-written letter outlining all our points about why we absolutely deserve to get our deposit in full. (Also: we need closing cost money Ms. Thestakis!!!!!!)

A week later, we received a check for the difference, and she left me a long, sigh-heavy voicemail about how MR. Thestakis was the one who agreed to this.

She was the last landlord I’ve had, and this was in 2006. My current apartment, that I moved into in November, is the first time in four years I’ve had a landlord.

I was worried about dealing with a Ms. Thestakis lookalike. My concerns weren’t helped by the fact that my roommate and I were looking for places to live on Craig’s List.

Craig’s List? That fly by night website??? With its “BEWARE OF SCAMS” disclaimer???

But, the landlord was very nice and quickly responded over email and phone. She said she owns 17 properties in the neighborhood, and didn’t mention having arthritis.

We signed a year lease and even got to move in a week early.

And I love it, except for the CLOMP CLOMP CLOMPing before 8 a.m.

I am currently debating how to fix this.
So far, flipping the bird at the ceiling has done nothing to stop it.

I can’t very well tell her not to walk around her apartment, I can just see the conversation now: “Excuse me, can you please stay OUT of your front room until the sun is all the way up? Thanks.”

No, I have to do something more creative. Like break all her high heels. Or install wall-to-wall carpeting when she’s at work.

Maybe I can flush a diaper down her toilet and hope she gets evicted.

-Jenny

1 comment:

  1. Landlords are spawned from hell and feed off security deposits. I'm pretty sure they eat babies too...

    ReplyDelete

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