Thursday, June 07, 2007

Landlords Suck Everywhere

I thought I'd had the worst of the landlords when I lived in California. There was the guy who left a leaky toilet and roof for a year, then evicted me when he sneakily discovered my now-esposo was staying with me (not living, just visiting for a while). And he did this by copying a generic eviction notice out of one of those do-it-yourself legal books; had I had more balls at the time, I'd have taken him to court (you go, L.!), or at the very least gone to the tenant's rights association while waiting for the six months it legally takes someone to evict you in California. Then there was the woman who said I could have cats, so I got two kittens (this was first moving to CA back in 1989, one of the boys is still kicking it here in Costa Rica!), then got mad when she left all of her doors and windows open and my cats came in her house and ate her bread. Then got mad when they peed on a disgusting carpet she bought at a yard sale and NEVER HAD CLEANED, because 1) it smelled, and 2) they were mad that they had to stay indoors all the time. The best landlord I had in California was in Santa Cruz, and that's mostly because he just left us all alone to do as we pleased (I heard the main house was a crack den before we moved in there).

No one I know has moved more frequently than I have. It's pretty much, on average, once a year. That's crazy, right? No one does that! Well, at the end of last year, after having a showdown with our landlords about the cats and the condition of a really horrible carpet (who in hell's bells has carpet in Costa Rica anyway?), which, I should add, we completely agreed to replace, we moved somewhat hastily into a great place that we could not really afford. When the landlord (Carlos) began coming in the yard without letting us know (the 24 hours' notice works here, too), I began thinking the situation was not good. When esposo complained, he said that since we were not (yet) renting the apartment, he had every right to come in and check on it and the dogs, even though part of our agreement was that we would take care of the dogs and rent the apartment after four months. Then he made a comment about how the dogs didn't look like they were being properly taken care of, and the shite hit the fan. Accusing us of not taking care of dogs is like accusing the Humane Society of hating animals. So, we moved.

This time, we took our time looking around, and found what, by all appearances, seemed to be a great little house in the center of town. Three bedrooms, plus an office space and a quilting space (a little on the small side, but that's just my opinion!), a backyard, an extra "apartment"/bodega downstairs, car port, two bathrooms, all for only $600 a month. Plus the landlord seemed fine with the dogs (seemed being the operative word here). He knew how many dogs we had when we moved in (there are a lot, granted, and that's why we take care finding a house where we can have them all, because we are all together a family). So this guy, Carlos 2, comes by the other day and sees that the yard needs cut (it's been raining a lot lately and the gardener hasn't come by in a couple of weeks -- it's not that bad). And he wants to put sealant on the driveway for the rainy season. So he gets his panties in a twist about the yard and ends up doing it himself. (I don't know why, we were and have been perfectly willing to do it ourselves.) Then the next day, as he's putting the sealant on the driveway, he lets the big dogs out of the apartment/bodega where we'd kept them so that they wouldn't get in the way. When I see this, I get upset, and tell him that they cannot be let out as if they get the damn sealant on their feet and then proceed to lick them, they'll end up really sick. He's sort of taken aback, but damnit, I care about my animals and that made me angry. THEN, after one of our son's playgroup mornings a couple of weeks ago, we came back to see esposo's favorite girl, Chloe aka Booty with a four-inch long slice on her right forepaw that looks as though someone has taken a knife to her. We rush her to our vet, who has to do emergency surgery on her (necessitating an overnight stay). The vet also lets us know that if the incision was just an inch more to the front, she'd have cut her vein and would probably have been dead by the time we got home. Oh, and by the way, what did we think she got cut on? I checked the yard, and the only thing I could see back there was some old barbed wire at the very back of the property, the same barbed wire Carlos2 said he would have removed and put a new fence in front of, so neither a dog or, god forbid, a child could cut themselves on it. If my son had managed to cut himself on the wire, he'd have a lifelong scar from it. Obviously, we are more than a little upset.

The next Monday, Carlos2 proceeds to send a letter about how the yard was too long and we needed to take better care of it, because he has St. Augustine grass (really? I don't believe that. I'll take a photo and you can be the judge.) and he doesn't want it to get ruined. Fair enough. Then he goes on to say that we have too many dogs and we have to get rid of some of them, because our $600 deposit isn't going to be enough to cover the damage they are going to create. What damage? My dogs barely do anything all day -- they only time they even use the yard is to poo and pee, otherwise they're sitting on the back or front porch. Give me a break.

Well anyway, I ain't getting rid of my dogs for nobody. Fuck him is what I say.

Esposo writes him a letter back, copying the laywer as well, stating what happened with the barbed wire, and how he knew how many dogs we had when we moved in, which is why we chose this place in the first place, and how, by the way, neither of the toilets work very well, and weren't you going to replace that fence in the back so my son doesn't cut himself on it? We have not heard a peep from him. Surprise, surprise! Argh. I hate landlords.

There is a saying about when a door closes, a window opens. We are looking at this as our window of opportunity to buy a house. We think we can do it, even though money is tight, and we'll probably have to look out in the boonies a little way, but that's okay, because we'll have plenty of space for ourselves, our son, and our dogs, and no one is going to tell me what I can and can't do there -- if we don't cut the grass or our dogs dig a hole, FUCK IT! It's our house and we'll do as we damn well please. So wish us luck, we're going house hunting tomorrow. From what the realtor says, we can get a pretty big lot with a house for around $50,000, or just a lot a whole lot cheaper. We may go with option #2, and put up a prefab house on it (which will become our guest house) while we have our dream home (ok, first real home!) designed and built. And we can have a swimming pool, and a playset... I'm getting ahead of myself, but even for a high interest rate mortgage down here (they are usually quite a bit higher than the U.S., be prepared for that if you're going to buy here), we'll still be paying less than we are in rent. So we're very, very excited. Oh, and those prefab houses? Are made of cement and up to earthquake standards like homes in Costa Rica need to be, and they're actually kind of cute, and cost less than $10,000 for a three-bedroom house with kitchen, bathroom, and patio. Can't complain, you know?

I know I haven't posted in a while, and now you see why. Life has been a little hectic.

1 comment:

  1. Landlords are the same no matter WHERE you go :) I remember each and every one of the Cali lot sweetie! Sounds like wonderful things are on the horizon for you and the Fam.

    Brap and I were talking last night about living accomodations and decided that we LIKE being renters, and that we would be prefectly happy being "perma-renters" for the rest of our lives :) (but then again we are strange, he and I *grin*)