Saturday, March 12, 2016

the reluctant landord

Ed tells me this morning -- there is an article you might find interesting in the NYTimes today. An opinion piece called I'm Not Evil, I'm a Landlord.

I mention this because it is Saturday -- a very pretty Saturday, but one where after breakfast...

farmette life-1.jpg

... I do little else besides work (with Ed's help) to clear the yard of fallen winter branches and other debris. It is a huge chore, but it gives me time to think and my thoughts stray to this new identity that I currently have -- that of a landlord.

farmette life-2.jpg
(first flowering tree)

I did not want to be a landlord. Indeed, when I decided to purchase the apartment in Warsaw, it was understood that I would not rent it. The law requires that I put it to personal use for at least five years and though I intend to have the occasional person spend time in it, the purpose would be to apartment sit, in much the same way you would stay with a cat -- to make sure that no disaster would befall in my time away from it. But no rents will be collected and the apartment would be my home in Warsaw.

So how is it that I am a landlord?

farmette life-6.jpg
(the white lilac)

Well, when I made an offer on the pink horror -- let me just call it "the Apartment" for now -- I was told that I had to honor an existing rental obligation. Two music students are living there now.
How long?
Oh, a month. They must move out within a month of the final signing of the property transfer.

The final signing took place March 10. You'd think they'd be out by April 10th. You'd be wrong.

Soon came the gentle suggestions.
Maybe you could let them finish the semester... It's so hard to find a rental at this time of the year...
When is the end of the semester?
No one knew for sure. Something like the beginning of May.

I do want to begin construction work on the unit. And I want to be able to use it on my next trip to Poland in July.
There really are no other rentals they could move into?
Well, maybe there are, but these students have big instruments.

Ah yes. Big instruments. Of course they love the Apartment. It's a few houses away from the College of Music. Convenient. No lugging of big instruments across town.

farmette life-1-2.jpg
(the great willow)

I think about letting them stay an extra two or three weeks.
But under the law, I cannot be a landlord!
Well actually you can honor the completion of an existing obligation.
So I must throw them out by April 10, no?
No, because they have a lease until the end of June, but with the stipulation that they can be evicted earlier if the new owner so desires. So you'd still be honoring an existing obligation if you let them stay into June.

They're now thinking they may have some exams in June.

But I want to use the apartment in July! I have hired a renovation person. Construction work was to begin this spring. I've scheduled my summer around this!
They really are such good, serious students. Everyone wants them to stay...
I see. Good music students. What if they were awful students? Pursuing a degree in real estate perhaps?

farmette life-4-2.jpg
(in full bloom)

My images run to a room full of people staring me down: it's my legitimate use over the students' (if what I'm being told is true) legitimate need. 

As I pick up fallen twigs and larger limbs at the farmette, I think about how sometimes, it's tough to foist capitalism down Poland's throat. The maligned communist era did have a handful of perks that many would agree were fine perks indeed: far reaching educational outreach, free health care, full employment, social security. None were exactly up to western standards, so you could say that we all worked toward a low common denominator, but rip that denominator to shreds and you have a country with a widening gap between the affluent and the poor. In other words, capitalism. (At the same time that in the States, we are in the thick of an election year where many are turning their fist toward capitalism -- all that free market stuff that has chased jobs to distant lands, a wealthy class that grows wealthier by the hour while wages for most remain stagnant -- dreadful capitalism! Let's do something about it! -- So long as it doesn't raise our taxes, or move us to socialism. Funny how all this plays out.)

So now here I am, the reluctant capitalist landlord, trying to decide if I am to proceed by the rules as written (April 10th, boys, April 10th!), or by some higher rules where you tuck your interest aside because, well, there are these two students who, if you ask me, signed a really bad lease.  (The seller didn't want to lose a sale in the very tough right now real estate market, so the move out clause was slapped in.)
What were the students thinking?! 

Nobody thought the apartment would sell! It's so ugly!

Yes, but it did sell. Meet landlord Nina.

The branches are stacked, the spent stems raked away, the leaves, the pods -- mostly mulched. The work outside is off to a good start.


  1. I'm such a soft touch. I'd probably cave. But you come from hardier stock. Can some compromise date make it work for all?

    1. Nope: April 10 (or thereabouts) or end of June. And no, I can't change my travel tickets currently set for the end of June either. What I find interesting/amusing/unfortunate is that I did not want to be a landlord to anyone. It just sort of happened.

  2. I think if they're really the enterprising musicians they supposedly are, they are smart enough to realize April 10th is just weeks away and they should be looking for a place. Plus, you don't want to be a landlord anyway!
    If you look at the situation, it's not actually caused by you at all, but rather by the landlords who sold you the place, knowing full well you intended to renovate it and use it in July. Plus, I imagine if renovations aren't done in June, you'll be taking extra trips later this year to see the work through. Does their rent cover those trips? I'm coming off as a real capitalist jerk, probably, but I think I would tell them they need to expect to move in April.
    But onto better things-wasn't yesterday spectacular?

    1. All true. And this is the point: you're not a capitalist jerk at all, you just believe that there are reciprocal obligations that parties agree to that should be honored.
      And yes, it's been a glorious early spring (so far)!

  3. Could they put up with the renovations going on while they're there? Maybe they could spend daytime at the College and just come back in the evening?

    1. No, I'm told it would interfere with their exam preparation. I mean, I'm ripping the kitchen and bathroom out so I can see the difficulties.
      But, that's just as well. I've also been told that they're not exactly on the tidy end of the continuum and what I don't want in a freshly updated apartment is a couple of slobs.

    2. Oh dear.
      The students had my sympathy until "They're now thinking they MAY have some exams in June."
      This all sounds highly manipulative.
      Is this intermediary collecting the rent payments?

    3. I see your point! So maybe it's just as well if you see it before renovation plans are set up?

    4. JoyD-- I do collect rent, but it's a small sum because the apartment is so horrible right now. And offset somewhat by monthly fees. Never wanted to be a landlord...
      Charlotte-- I will be seeing the pink horror next week. That was the plan: inspect, launch renovation, finish renovation, enjoy. What I may be stuck with is: inspect, wait.

    5. Ah. I guess I was wondering if the intermediary, the excuses-making person, had a finger in the pie. I suppose that makes me a cynic.

      Well, good luck with it. I hope they won't have a blowout farewell party. Ach, there I am, cynical again. Well, I've heard so much in my life.

    6. Inspect, wait... and distract yourself by playing with Snowdrop in the meantime!

      And then by sharing it all (renovations and Snowdrop both) with us


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