Tag Archives: house mate

Moving Hassle II – Move-Out Day

18 Dec The new living room of Cavan's house.

As described in the last blog post, I once rented a house on 24th Street in Calgary NW. For five years I laboured to keep that house clean and comfortable. At the end of August 2016 I returned it to the hands of the landlady Cavan and her property manager Jim. I did not expect any thanks from them regarding the time and money that I spent on the house, but I was not prepared for the harassment that came with move-out day.

 

The new living room of Cavan's house.

This is the living room I left behind. It came a long way from that shabby house I took over.

As mentioned, Cavan was not quite happy with my proposal to use the damage deposit in lieu of rental payment for August. The way she communicated that with me was by sending Jim around, ten days before September. Jim stood at the doorstep, together with his brother, and handed me a move-out notice, signed by himself and witnessed by his brother. At the same time he told me that I could not use the deposit as rental payment. Upon me telling him that I already had done so, and he was free to argue his case with me, Jim just said: “I don’t discuss with you. I am just messenger.”

He spun around three times in his black leather shoe, and vanished in a puff of smoke.

 

Law and Disorder

Call me naïve, if you must, but until that day I believed that a land lady needs to provide thirty days worth of notice to usher a tenant out of the property. I told my house mates as much, and they agreed. Thus, we all just continued living in the house. Let Jim come around, and stalk around the house, he didn’t have any legal right to touch us! Or did he?

Well, at the very least Jim reserved the right to be obnoxious. One week before move-out he came around again, telling me that I had to leave, and I should call the legal service. He actually gave me a phone number, scribbled into the corner of a sheet of paper that already contained a hand-written move-out notice, two addresses, and multiple signatures. I posted a picture of said paper, so you can try for yourself to decipher any of the symbols imprinted on it.

The phone number did not actually lead anywhere, and when I pointed that out in an e-mail later that day, Jim sent me another number. That the second number did not work either should not come as a surprise.

Thus I went back to my travel preparations. Afterall, my plane was to leave Calgary on the 2nd of September, so there was little time to waste on pointless arguments with the “messenger”.

 

Jim's move-out notice

Two of the notes that my landlady’s agent Jim taped to my front door. In his best hand writing as well!

All the young boys

Meanwhile, all but one of my house mates confirmed moving plans of their own. The only one who didn’t was our resident hospital doctor. Believe it or not, he was the only one who could not afford to pay the deposit on a new room. Yes, the payment for new doctors at the Foothills Hospital is THAT shitty. Not to mention the student loan agencies that subtract their monthly contributions from his pay cheque, the very second that he deposits it. But on to other problems.

At that time I had four house mates. The doctor, unable to relocate. One who moved out that weekend, because he did not want to deal with Jim any more. One made arrangements to move across the street into his old home. And one confirmed a new place, but only could move two days after move-out day. Yes, week days are genuinely bad for hauling stuff around.

On top of that I had two AirBnB guests scheduled. One was in town for a conference, and was scheduled to leave on the 30th of August. The other was a visitor from France, scheduled to move in on the 30th. And stay until the 1st of September. Considering that I was supposed to hand over the house on the 31st, one might expect trouble from that time table.

 

Goemon5's moving boxes

Until two weeks before I left Calgary I was still packing. So, no, I did not pay too much attention to my landlady’s squabbles.

Return of the Jim

Sure enough, on the 31st Jim knocked violently at the door, no later than when he was summoned. He really wanted to visit at noon, but I told him 4 p.m. was a more suitable time. My five years of training him paid off, and he arrived as told. That visit consisted mostly of myself and one house mate sitting on the sofa, asking him to settle down, and discuss matters with us. Meanwhile Jim was hectically flailing his little arms about, telling us “You have to move out. You cannot stay here.”

He even managed to call the tenancy hot line of the City of Calgary, and demanded that the man on the phone explain to me that I could not stay. Which he did. Apparently once a lease agreement runs out, the landlord can set you on the street overnight. So, yeah. Be aware, Calgary tenants!

How we were to leave the house in the blink of an eye, considering that we did not have the ability to move our possessions before the weekend, might have been an interesting question to answer. As was the matter of cleaning and packing while Jim was doing his best to stand in our way. But never try to use logic on a Chinese demon; you might as well try to argue with a Trump. It only pains your brain.

At that point we had quite enough of Jim shouting at us, so I made one last attempt to fill in the move-out report, and other paperwork that he wanted. I even picked up the keys for front door and tenant rooms, dangled them in his face, and asked him to take the house.

As loud and insolently as he demanded everyone out before that, when I showed him the keys he just as quickly turned on his heels and swirled out of the house. Leaving the keys in my hands and yelling the magic formula “You have to move out; You cannot stay here,” he evaporated before us, leaving behind another assemblage of Chinese runes on paper, and the faint smell of burned sulphur.

 

Cavan Yee and friends

One of the few surviving visual documents of landaly Cavan Yu (left), seen here conspiring to move some yet uninvolved people.

Enough already!

Jim returned twice more that evening, shouting and harassing as before. I was tempted to shout back, just to get the attention of neighbours and coppers, but unfortunately I had better things to do. Departure from Canada was two days away, and I still had to finish some business, and pack some stuff.

I decided that it would be best if I moved out on the spot. Fortunately, I have friends in Calgary, and Jon and Donna were both happy about me staying as a guest in their homes for one night each. With myself gone I hoped that everyone else in the house would be able to sleep quietly. As the only tenant on the lease I was the only one who could be made accountable for poking imaginative holes into cardboard walls. So, with me gone there really was no point in harassing anyone else.

I packed all of my belongings into an armful of bags, and hauled it off to Jon’s place, where I spent the next few hours I) packing my luggage for the flight, and II) playing some games with Jon and Dave, in a farewell to seven years Calgary experience. It wasn’t what I thought my move-out day would look like, but it certainly beat harassment from Jim.

 

Moving out apparently had some positive effect on the situation. Everyone was motivated to leave the house quickly after me, and Jim only shouted at the neighbourhood once more that night. Even though I returned to the house multiple times over the next two days, I never saw him again. That would be the end of it, but we still need to resolve the matter of keys, furniture, and my AirBnB guest from France. I shall do so in the next blog.

Female house mates – worth the trouble?

28 Oct

Dear Vallery,

 

for four months I had the pleasure of being your acting landlord. For one week I had the discomfort of frequent argumentation with you, and since you recently decided that you don’t want to live in my house evermore, I would like to write a few words of praise. I know that you are a frequent reddit user, so you will find this post eventually.

Since I never had a girl friend, I appreciated the opportunity to share my house with a lady, and get to know the female thoughts after dark (sounds like a dirty phrase, but the twilight changes moods not only in vampires). It was fun as long as it lasted, and you made some indisputable positive contributions to this community. You are a great cook and we all thank you for sharing your well prepared art deco meals with us. To me it remains questionable why small meals cannot be prepared in a countertop stove, but maybe chefs don’t believe in those devices. That decision runs a bit counterintuitive to your pretending of being environmentally conscious, though. Maybe the degree of deliciousness of a meal is directly dependant on the amount of energy that was used to prepare it, who knows?! At least you discovered the joy of slow cookers; I very much respect that.

Living with five house mates under one roof is a tricky social challenge, especially in a mixed gender situation, and I tried to give every member of this household as much freedom as possible. This may not have been the best idea, and I am thankful that you asked me to be stricter about the house rules. As a direct result I reminded you to wear your head phones when watching videos and making Skype calls, which you answered with your bitchy “No” that I am so tired of. I’m afraid living in this house is associated with compromises, and an emotional “No” may not be an acceptable response to a rule reminder that you spawned yourself. Sure, I am just as guilty for playing my guitar every morning and acting as your acoustic wake-up call, so that you get to work in time. Since everybody else in the house is fine with that practice, I don’t see it as problematic, but that’s just my opinion.

 

I apologize for not providing the support that your project of room swapping deserved. I admit my excitement about your idea to rotate three of us around, as it might have improved the living situation of all of us. However, experience taught me not to stack the expectations too high about your ambitious projects. It took two months for you to take care of the unstable kitchen shelves that you put up. And we are still waiting for that kitchen to paint itself. Nevermind, I am fine with the current color scheme, and I never really thought you would do that anyway.

I thank you for taking care of the kitchen shelves, and replacing the unstable shelving unit with something robust. As a sustainability nerd I have two objections against the way that you did it: I don’t like acquiring new stuff, and I especially hate plastic. I believe that a used metal shelf would have done the trick. Still, thank you for your efforts. I am now much less worried about getting slaughtered by tumbling pots and pans.

 

That you called me a liar did not come as a shock. It is disrespectful, but not unexpected. We survived a Chinese demon, a Peruvian psychopath and a Canadian schizophrenic, so I am aware that there are many stories about this community and this house that you find hard to believe. I am sorry that we could not let you dog-sit that little friend of yours, but I find it too risky to have a dog in a house that has a no-pet policy. Our landlady vibes with the idea of getting rid of me and renting the house to someone else, and charging 25% more money for it; and I really don’t want to give her any legal reason to go forth with that plan. When I claim that some of the neighbours are watching us and report irregularities to her, I have good reasons to do so.

 

Finally, let me say a few words about social justice. You seem to be quite aggravated about Nicolas, who I allegedly picked as a favourite tenant, and accordingly has privileges beyond compare. You are right, I do not rotate him around in the cycle of chores. Just like I don’t rotate you around, because you made a case for yourself to take over his chores. Wait, does that make you my new favourite? Of course not, because I currently do the bathroom cleaning for Nicolas. Just like I often do the chores for Manuel, when he is overly busy or forgets or only does a half-asked job. Now you may argue that the downstairs bathroom is a much easier task, and Nicolas therefore has a much simpler life. Well, you have seen him getting up from the sofa. He has serious physical issues bending his knees, so I cannot give him floor cleaning duties. He is mostly up before 5 A.M., so I cannot give him the snow shoveling, if you don’t want to wake up at 4:30 to the sound of a snow shovel in front of your window. Since you so much desired to get the upstairs bathroom as your one and only duty, we are not left with many options.

That I do the weekly cleaning for him is a personal arrangement between me and Nicolas. It saves me from arguing with him about the noisiness of the main floor of the house, which prevents him from sleeping, which nullifies the time that would be necessary for the cleaning. I know that you don’t cling the dishes, rumble the cupboards or converse loudly on purpose, but you still bloody do it. And it does not go well with people who go to bed early.

Aristotéles wrote: “At his best, man is the noblest of animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.” Am I unjust? I don’t know. How to you weight a healthy sleep against cleaning tasks? Compromises are never perceived as equally fair by everyone. And living together is all about compromises. Am I too lax or too strict about our house-internal laws? No idea; no one but you ever complains. The eye of the beholder may judge this situation; I dare not give answer.

 

I still don’t know where and when I went wrong with you; how I managed to destroy the good relationship that we started with. After all, our first two months were really joyful, and I miss the engaged discussions about life, history and politics that we shared over a slice of bread and a cup of tea. It grieves me that we are parting in such a way. But I certainly hope that you made the right decision, and that your new living arrangement correlates better with your life style. I apologize for the mental prison that I appear to have kept you in.

Not sure if I am ready for another female housemate. But I certainly got away from that whole girlfriend idea. Discussions appear to work out rather badly when one side is emotional and the other one rational. Men and women don’t fit together. What is a heterosexual man to do?

 

Remaining your friend in need,

Goemon.