Sunday, June 28, 2009

Of camels, backs and the real cost of $20

My apartment life has been interesting. It was the bed on which I rested in emotional convalescence; it has been my base for travel; it has been the first place that felt really like my own. It always had another side to it though: the landlord.

When I first met her, I remember she just kept on talking; she seemed fine and that was a factor in my immediate choice in living here. But things panned out differently: from acceptable to bad and from bad to worse. It has all seemed so needless. She is very houseproud and seems to have found it hard to leave this place in the hands of lesser creatures. I'd say that she is naturally that way and feels an obligation to her parents to keep the flat in mint condition, and this obligation means using any means at all to achieve it. She is duplicitous; she lies: both black and white. Without going into the details, we confronted her about her excessive interference with the flat; she relented. For about six months there has only been a few moments of irritation. She still hasn't fitted a blind for one of my windows (I've been using cardboard to block out a street-light for almost a year!). She said she would but it never happened. Apparently she is planning a wedding, which makes it perhaps understandable, even if she has long been putting expectations of us without fulfilling her own responsibilities.

Thus we come to yesterday afternoon: I was informed that my rent would increase by $20 from August 10 due to "an increase in the market rent" (I was sceptical but, yes, apparently rents have increased, year-on-year, by between 5-10% on average apparently). I knew then that my time here was up. My falling income was already making the existing rent excessively taxing. Upon informing my flatmate of the rise, astonishingly I discovered that the market rise seems to have only applied to the street-facing room: mine. More astonishing was my flatmate's response: she gave her two-week notice to the landlord today. She had had an offer of a room at a friend's place and the certainty of my departure (we are good flatmate buddies) and the landlord's general conduct meant that she shouldn't turn down that offer. It is rather depressing that my landlord stooped to this weird tactic. I have spoken rather abruptly to her in the past (in immense frustration) and it has probably led to this, I'm thinking. Strangely ironic, though, was that it led to the good flatmate to give notice (The landlord doesn't have much of a problem with her). And I am a good tenant, and in terms of the common area, I'm a clean-freak (most of the time): If she wanted to keep the place tidy, she is shooting herself in the foot. It most of all is annoying.

Over the New Year I had thought through three likely paths for the year: (1) My business prospers in the face of adversity; (2) My business is somewhat affected, so I put effort into finding new clients, develop my writing skills and travel; (3) My business is heavily affected and I go on an ambitious trip to the United Kingdom and Europe, head back through Asia to work for between six months and two years before returning home. I've had my head on the second route without any ardent desire to cross the threshold into the third. My heart was not moved by the prospect of travel. When I received that e-mail though, I was moved: I could picture myself off. I'm not sure yet, but this weekend has been a great push. It can be a launch pad for a brand new course. All for the want of $20 a week.

1 comment:

Crypticity said...

I might have done the landlord a slight disservice. Apparently my flatmate and I have slightly different tenancy agreements despite moving in a short time apart, and the difference means that she can't raise the other flatmate's rent. But the point remains that she is raising the rent despite not doing her responsibility and seems to be raising it for the sake of increasing it. Of course, regardless of cause, my situation means that moving out is really the only option.

Moments like this causes one to examine each part of the Residential Tenancies Act provisions. As it turns out the rent rise is short of the required 60 days written notice.