Friday, July 03, 2009

yet another reason it sucks to be a renter

While the contractors are done by several days reconstructing my house, the house next door (run by the same landlord) required more significant work...namely, all the brick and block work on the front was demolished and is being rebuild. I hesitate to imagine the cost, but luckily, I don't really have to concern myself with this of the few joys of having to pay to live in someone else's house.

However, the day before yesterday, I was vividly reminded that the workers were in fact still actively working. It was the sound of jackhammers that reminded me. I also noticed that the workers were using a few minor power tools...tied into a long extension cord that was plugged into an outlet outside of my house. The last few days, they have been taking water out of our outside tap to mix the mortar. Of course, we were never asked nor did we grant permission for either act.

Technically, I believe this is illegal. It is my name, after all, registered with the utilities company. When the bill comes, it is us who have to pay for the contractor's unrequested use of our power and water. And we are not experiencing any practical benefit from my neighbor's house's front being I'm at a loss as to why I should help pay for it.

I also realize that the contractors aren't actually using very much of either the power or water, so practically, there won't be much difference in the bill. However, I can't help but feel a little used. I also can't help but wonder how these guys would feel if I parked in front of their house, plugged in a vacuum cleaner, and started cleaning out my White Castle-littered front seats. Contemplating all this, I have been filled with a raging desire to scream at my landlords for the egregious offense.

Only one problem, though. We live in a town with a whole lot of renters. The landlords here have some serious power and might...more so, I imagine, than National Guard officers. They have the ability to hold serious grudges, any of which might effect how quick maintenance answers work requests...or how much of my deposit I will eventually get back. And if they were seriously tee'd off, I wouldn't entirely put the burning bag o' dog poo past them.

Moreover, I am not exactly coming into a potential conflict from a position of power. People who are lucky enough to own their houses tend to look down upon renters as being less than adequate human beings; during my Florida trip, I even heard apartments as a general concept compared to Sodom and Gomorrah--responsible for crime, drugs, teenage pregnancy, and the swine flu. And what can I do if my comments to my landlord, no matter how legitimate they might be, lead to a battle of wills? I am not a lawyer--nor do I have access to one--so a lawsuit against a vindictive landlord is not really an option.

It's not a great feeling to know that you are right, that you have a legitimate complaint, that you are in fact being taken advantage of, yet that you can do absolutely nothing about it.

It's another example of the strange and terrible plight of the renter.

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