The Ballad of the Landlord

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
An open letter to a landlord in the wake of eviction.

Submitted: September 06, 2015

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Submitted: September 06, 2015

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Dear Landlord,

It’s strange to see my home so unceremoniously gutted. What was once a place so full of memories has become distinctly transitory and barren. Boxes piled high to the side of the living room, waiting to be brought to temporary dwellings, not out of any necessity or desire of my own, but simply because those are your wishes. It’s almost impossible to find another home in this chaotic city in only thirty days you know, but I doubt that has crossed your mind.

It was two years ago when I moved into this building, do you remember? I really liked the area. It was sun-drenched and full of leafy trees despite its closeness to the city. There were quaint bookshops with cafes, restaurants that I knew I’d never visit and processions of expensive cars with suit jackets hanging in the back windows. Inconsequential and superficial things really, yet they made me feel safe. I was a sheltered boy at heart but something about this place stirred me and I discerned instantly that I could create a home here.

It was a letting agent who showed me the apartment because you were away. It was small. So diminutive in fact, that even the bathroom door couldn’t fully open without crashing into the bedframe. But this was irrelevant; I had already fallen in love. I immediately signed the lease and moved in, excited and nervous. We met a couple of days later. You didn’t say much and I think we were both happy with that. It was a dispassionate encounter like all those which succeeded it. This was my home now anyway.

Your presence was always felt though, inescapable and pervasive. Your car was a permanent fixture of the property. I caught glimpses of you pottering around, showing a devotion to the building that was nothing short of sacrosanct and, I’ll admit, the results were welcome to begin with. But as time passed, it seemed like it was really more of an obsession. I saw you trimming hedges that were already manicured and painting doors that had not yet lost their lustre. Perhaps it was just to give yourself an excuse to be there, surrounded by the building that seemed to consume you. Its grand façade a godly apparition in your eyes, signalling livelihood and a purpose for being that seemed to cloud all else. This is my home, I would muse, but I don’t think you would ever have agreed.

Maybe you didn’t realise how much I loved that apartment. I loved its high ceilings, the way I had to prop the window open to entice a cool breeze, I loved how light would stream through the untethered curtains in the morning and how the smoke alarm would go off within seconds of toast burning. Its quirks and idiosyncrasies, I loved them all. It was my home, that is, until you took it away.

Did you feel any regret or remorse sending those e-mails that caused my world to splinter? How did you calculate that rent increase actually? You must have known there was no-way I could afford it. Maybe you wanted me out of that place altogether? Could you not see how callous it was asking if I could move out earlier so you could redecorate? Or what little regard you showed when I asked for a reference and you told me to write one up myself. These were low blows, sir.

It’s a landlord’s market, my friends said, trying to rationalise and vindicate the great injustice of losing my home. And you and I both know it is. You padded your communications with facts and figures, as if this would somehow act as a balm or convince me that such an increase was okay. You were backing up your work like a college student writing an essay, citing “evidence” as if to defend yourself or assuage guilt somehow. I wonder how many other tenants got this same treatment…

I thought I could plead with you, remind you of how good a tenant I was. How I paid rent on time every single month, how I never asked you to fix things unless I couldn’t do it myself, how I respected your wishes in regards to noise and pets and parties. Surely I was a perfect tenant? I didn’t cause you grief and kept to myself. Perhaps I was naïve thinking that any of this would sway you; these were never really separate homes to you anyway were they? They were simply money spinners, disguised as homes. I know this now.

It was a business, a fine-tuned machine and you wanted every drop of profit you could get. To hell with those who resided in these rooms, we were only an inconvenient necessity. We had no rights, no protection or safety; this physical building was your magnum opus and it gripped you. I played by your rules and you tolerated my presence until I could no longer oblige. And now, I’m to be jettisoned back out into obscurity as the stability of home is ruptured. I will be another wanderer in a city of nomads again, yearning for a place to call my own but with the harsh knowledge that this may never actually happen.

Looking back it seems odd that you were comfortable enough to lease the apartment to me without meeting initially. I could have been anyone, but I guess that didn’t matter; I had a secure job and good references. You didn’t need someone to care for the building; after all, the building had you. Tenants would come and go and your only focus would be the money, numb to the whole process and superfluous emotions. Perhaps, in the end, I wasn’t a model prospect for you. Not wealthy enough to sustain a flurry of rent increases and pay far above what that small apartment was worth. So I pack away my things. I say goodbye to my home and move on, leaving you with your treasured building and a search for another undesirable tenant. I can only hope they never call that place home… 


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