I wrote this back in 2003. I found it at the bottom of a box in my storage unit. It first appeared in the local newspaper where I was living. I had gotten into an argument with my landlord and decided the town should know how I feel. Enjoy.
It is the year 2003 and greed lives strong. It always fascinates me how people can be considered virtuous under the guise of having good business sense. Millions of Ontario Citizens are tenants, either by choice or because of a force of circumstance. It has been a source of frustration for tenants to have to deal with their landlords since the beginning of time. Now that I have stated the obvious let me get to some things that some of you may not be aware of.
I can’t speak for other provinces, although I assume it is not much different living in Ontario, whereby, if you are a renter, you are treated like a sub citizen. Landlords exploit you simply because they can. They rarely, if ever, are concerned about a tenants safety or livelihood. Why should they? As long as you pay your rent they are content. Ask any tenant and they will say, they live with, if not close to, third world standards. I will state the obvious. We live in a first world country. And yet, we have people who are trying and succeeding in making money off the backs of the less fortunate. I realize that this is the objective of a free enterprise society. Meanwhile those who are caught in the cracks feel as if they are being robbed, cheated and taken advantage of, simply because of their often times imposed circumstances.
Let’s look at what paying rent means shall we? You can rent a space, (I use that word loosely), and many places don’t even have adequate space. You are paying someone to provide you living quarters. To provide you!! That indicates that they upon agreement to rent the space, the landlord in turn makes an agreement to repair and maintain the place, and ensure that it is well taken care of.
It is the landlord’s responsibility and duty to make sure that the tenant is of sound mind and body. You wouldn’t believe how many people actually think they are sane. I bring this up because Landlord’s will complain that after they have rented out the space to someone, they discover that the tenant abuses the space. I can only laugh at that statement. Many tenants are trying to swindle the landlord out of paying rent because they think that their landlord is also their counsellor.
“Listen I had a family thing this month and so I couldn’t work as much and I was wondering if maybe you could let me off a little.”
No please even.
They use a straight face, which I’m sure they have practiced since they were a kid. The landlord, in turn is running a business. They do not have an interest in knowing about your personal life, unless it can serve a purpose for them when they try to evict you.
I was raised with the concept of rewarding hard work and good deeds. Not that I expect the rewards. Our culture does it all the time. If a tenant pays his/her rent on time and does not cause a headache to other tenants, then his/her space should be, demanded to be well maintained. Thereby, both parties are fulfilling their rental agreement. The landlord is not concerned where the money came from; that’s why Tony Soprano can live beside you and Father O’Connor can also. Money is money. It has no morals or feelings. There is no argument in that.
What I abhor are landlords who whine and bitch about money and how repairs will take time to complete because of a lack of cash flow. If my family issue is of no concern, why should I care that you can’t manage your money? I paid you this month, so fix it. It’s nothing personal, it’s just business. Isn’t that the global problem, not enough money?
( little did I know 5 years later the world would collapse financially)
Isn’t that why we are killing women and children for oil? ( that’s a completely different article though). You can ask anyone, and they will tell you that they do not have enough money. Why do you think we have become a society of selfish idiots? Not enough money. We always want more.
Landlords charge an obscene rate for rent. The cost of living rises and paycheques decrease. Yes I am aware that it’s become a fact of life. If you are fortunate enough to get a raise at work, it becomes futile, because your rent goes up annually. Subsequently after two or three years you can’t afford rent any longer. You begin to jump from place to place and you are unable to convince anyone that you have stability in your life. If you have children, then you come across as even more of a risk.
“How can someone move their child/children around like that?” How many parents are forced to let their children live in that lifestyle?
Landlords expect you to have respect for them when they ask for rent. They will never say it but they do. I ask you, if you know you’re being robbed and cheated and eventually forced from your home, why would you have respect for the person that is supposed to provide you with a descent , and I use that term loosely, home. If you are accustomed to this way of living since childhood, you may not have any other expectations. However, that certainly doesn’t make it a standard that should be accepted. I’m reminded of a saying,
“Home is where the heart is.” Implying comfort, privacy and love. Let’s describe comfort. I suppose two layers of clothing gives some people comfort. However I thought being in light loose-fitting clothes was comfortable. I have heard landlords suggesting to their tenants, and I quote:
“Put a sweater on.”
Put a sweater on?
FIX THE HEAT!!
People pay rent to receive the service of a well maintained and functioning home, not a third world hut. I have heard landlords asking for rent early to be able to pay their bills simply because the 1st of the month lands on a weekend. How can this possibly be the problem of the tenant? Landlords conveniently forget that tenants also have other bills to pay. But this little fact is not in their scope of understanding, only paying the rent is.
Let’s ponder that for a bit shall we, by providing a scenario? If the first falls on the weekend then rent must be paid on the first business day after, which would be the Monday. Let’s say also that you don’t have light in a bedroom because the electrical socket has malfunctioned. I suppose we could say,
“I’ll pay you the rent once you fix the light issue in the bedroom.”
Nope. That’s against the Landlord Tenant Act. You will be in breach of your lease. Your landlord can begin an eviction order. With that reasoning, then why should they be able to collect if your rented space isn’t exactly the way it was when you began to live there?
I recommend people spend a day at the Rental Tribunal. You wouldn’t believe what landlords try to pull off. At least we, the little people, have a means of bringing to surface the abuse of a landlord. Landlords always have a well maintained and functioning home of their own, but they decide to let other people live in sub standard conditions. Why don’t they care? People always need a place to live, so if you don’t live there, someone else will.
How can we rectify this dilemma? Allow me to share my antidote. One suggestion is that we , the people, make a blacklist of all the abusive landlords and post it up on a website, something like,
www.getabrain.com. I also think that all landlords should be referred as Forrest Gump. However that maybe somewhat of a departure of the true nature of landlords considering Forrest Gump possessed common sense and compassion.
It takes to long for landlords to listen to tenants concerns and subsequently rectify the situation. Only when they are faced with retribution do they start to react. Unfortunately it is rarely out of guilt. There are many tenants that have no other choice but to live month to month. In this country you should not have to feel as if you must live as a peasant. However I know what most commonly their argument will be:
“We have lost all compassion for our tenants because we have been ill-treated in the past by other tenants.”
With that mindset, perhaps most parents should be in jail for deeds that children have committed. When do we become accountable for our own and only our own actions? When do we start treating people and situation individually? When will we stop having to pay the price for other people’s mistakes and crimes?
Another typical landlord/tenant scenario:
“Oh sorry I can’t repair your bathroom leak because so-and-so didn’t pay their rent this month and I’m short on cash, I’ll get right on it though.” Again, it’s not my concern that another tenant hasn’t paid their rent. I believe I can speak for all parents when I say,
“Please allow me to provide my child/children a proper home.”
I recall a question from Maude Flanders:
“Won’t anyone think of the children?”