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The price of independence

At the beginning of last fall, I was ready to do this; to move into an off-campus (and non-university affiliated) apartment.

Now, I’m ready to be done.

It’s not the people I live with—my friends are just fine, other than the occasional spat over who should do chores when and other little nitpicky things. We’re all good, though, really.

The problem is the landlord.

Oh, he’s nice enough, or we would never have considered the apartment. He’s a great salesman, but a pretty terrible landlord. (We have friends at another one of his properties—he doesn’t do any better by them.) Of course, when you’re being taken through by a potential landlord for an open house, people are understandably reluctant to tell you what they really think if it’s not necessarily good.

First, it was the neighbors. I can’t really blame the landlord for leasing to them. Ostensibly, they were qualified. But after several noise complaints (One night, I spent five minutes banging on their door to the point where my knuckles were raw because their music was cranked up to eleven right above my room and they couldn’t hear me banging on the door as hard as I could.), he doesn’t seem too keen on reminding them that the lease does, in fact, list quiet hours, and playing a bass with an amp high enough that the boyfriend can hear them with his hearing aids out during said quiet hours does not lie within that realm.

Neighbors aside—I understand that my landlord can’t completely control my neighbors, and as much as I sometimes wish they’d be kicked out, that’d be a lot more trouble than it’s worth, they’d know who complained, and really, that just seems too harsh—there’s more.

It really started with a door.

The door to our apartment, to be precise.

The roommate and I had noticed that it was getting really, really cold in the dead of winter. I woke up one morning to my room sitting at 52 degrees. I took to sleeping in several layers under a mound of blankets. The roomie and I were hard-pressed to keep our heaters off for more than about an hour. (Though I did try to keep mine off at night.) Our electric bill skyrocketed.

It was also getting a little damp. Not damp enough to mold, but damp enough that it was clear how cold it was. And we were worried that if mold did happen, we could be blamed for it. We figured that the cold air and damp were getting in through the gaps between our door and its frame. When it’s bright enough, you can see sunlight hit the wall through them. When there’s a breeze, you can feel it. Water leaked in when our walk was being pressure-washed. When presented with all of this, the landlord said… that there’s nothing he can do about it.

Recently, with the warmer weather, we’ve started getting more and more bugs in and around the apartment. Last week, the roommate found a lone carpenter ant. We were concerned that where there was one, there could be more, and given that things as big as the common ground black beetle were getting in, and most of them seemed to be found near our door, it didn’t take much to put two and two together. So, we told our landlord, saying that they were getting in through the very visible gap between the door and the frame. He didn’t take the hint, and called an exterminator instead.

The exterminator came by, and didn’t find any nests inside, or any really good ways that bugs seemed to be getting in. Other than the very visible gap between the door and the frame. He’d dealt with our landlord before, and didn’t really seem to respect him any more than I do. He did give us some great tips on keeping bugs away, and offered himself as on-call if we were to ever need emergency extermination service, though he said that this was quite unlikely, given what he’d seen.

So, now we’re back to square one.

Buying a new door is expensive—I get it! But it seems like a better investment than spending exorbitant amounts of money on heat (though we pay for that separately, so that probably falls under “not my concern” as far as our landlord is concerned), or on mold (which doesn’t exist… yet…), or on extermination (which isn’t needed… yet). Given all of this, it should be no surprise that we didn’t renew our lease for the next year.

But when our landlord casually asked why not (implying that he’d gotten rid of the troublesome neighbors, who chose not to re-lease on their own), I couldn’t very well respond with what I wanted to say: “Because you’re a flake and you admit to spending six months out of the year over 500 miles away with no property manager to actually stay here and take care of things.” So, I said that it was about living closer to work (which I will be—hiking up the hill and across campus to get to the bus stop I’ll need takes about 15 minutes at best where we are now), and left it at that.

So, all told, it’s not that I’m done living off-campus, or done living away from home; I’m done with my landlord. I’ll still pay my rent and not let the place go to ruin, and I’ll do it gladly, because that’s all the sooner I’ll never have to deal with this place again.

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