Moving on … (Dick Move, Landlord)

Posted on
Mar 25, 2011

Okay, so clearly I'm not ready to move on.

When we got back from Europe this past weekend, I had hoped to spend this week blogging. It’s been ages since I’ve really been able to sit down and write, so I was looking forward to recounting all my tales of adventure (and a few of woe, because, hey, you know me) to you guys. Unfortunately, it looks like all of that is going to have to wait, because right now I have the unexpected task of finding a new place to live and moving out.

Rand and I have lived in a condo (one we rent from a private owner) for the last two years. Though “live” isn’t really the right word, since we’re hardly ever here. Rand and I joke that it’s more “the place where we keep all our stuff.” Our landlord seems a bit AWOL, too. In two years, I’ve met him once (Rand has never met him). He wasn’t even the person to show us our place. Instead, it was a lovely real estate agent whom he described as “a good friend”; the agent later told me she barely knew the guy. He never replied to my emails when anything broke (we had to fix a lot of things ourselves, because after  weeks of emailing him, calling the phone numbers I had for him, and receiving no reply, I got fed up.)

We heard from our landlord once – when it was time to renew our lease last year. I politely told him that, as we had discussed when we moved in, we’d like to move to a month-to-month lease. When we first moved in, he had promised me it would be totally fine with him. Of course, it wasn’t in writing, and a man’s word isn’t worth more than he is. So when he resolutely refused to keep his promise, I was upset, but I realized I had no legal recourse. He explained that he wanted long-term renters, and that we needed to sign up for another year, or move out immediately.

We signed up for another year. We had to – we had no time to move (with all our scheduled travel) and besides, I hate moving. I realize most people do, but I loathe it so acutely, so painfully and intensely, that I have lived in absolute crap shacks (a friend of mine once described an old apartment of mine as being down “rape alley”) for years simply to avoid moving.

Of course, our place was pretty nice, so it wasn’t a huge concern staying here a while longer. I liked having a home base, and even though it wasn’t perfect, I could see us living here for a while. Again, when we moved in, I double-checked with our landlord that he wouldn’t want to move back in soon, effectively booting us out in the process. His reply (in an email to the real estate agent) was this:

Assure them that indeed I do love Seattle and intend to return but have no intention of occupying that condo again in the near future. My space requirements have changed since I acquired that unit and a long term renter that enjoys the space is EXACTLY what I have been hoping for. I am very flexible and want them to feel at home and am even amenable to things like painting (with-in reason) or other minor customizations that suit their requirements for the long term.

And stupid us, we believed him. As cynical and jaded as I am, I tend to believe what people tell me. It never occurred to me that he simply told us this because no renter would take a condo for only two years … I’m sure you see where this is going, right?

This month, our lease was up. After not hearing from our landlord for nearly a year, he sent us a letter, wondering why we had yet to vacate our home.

Rand and I were dumbfounded. We explained that we hadn’t heard from him in ages, and that, as per Washington state law, our lease automatically became a month-to-month after a year had elapsed. We figured that, since he hadn’t contacted us in over a year, he was okay with this. Instead, he told us we needed to leave immediately (as much as it baffles the mind, he wanted us gone that day so he could move back in).

Dick Move, Landlord.

Obviously, he’s entirely within his rights to move back in, but it still stinks. Plus, the way he handled it was downright surreal (had he really expected us to move out without giving notice? Without turning in our keys? Without talking to him once about it? It made no sense). We told him we couldn’t leave immediately, and asked to renew our lease. He refused. Per Washington state law, he has to give us until April 30th to move out, which he begrudgingly has. I’ve sent him a few emails, which he has refused to answer.

So now? We need to find a new home. I’m not taking it well at all. I hate moving. I’m upset about the situation, but completely powerless to do anything about it (anyone who tells you that tenants have all the rights are full of it). Worse still, Rand and I had a lot of travel planned this month. We actually said to ourselves, a few months back, “Well, we certainly can’t move this year, because we won’t be around for March or April.”

But right now, that’s exactly what we have to do. I’m going to be canceling a few trips, and trying to find us a new home in the Seattle area (I’ve checked out more than 10 places in 2 days. Things are not looking promising). And I’m off to see another half dozen or so today. I can’t even keep the places straight anymore. They’ve merged into a single apartment in my brain: one with over-priced parking and too-small bedrooms.

Sigh.

So forgive me if the blog is a little thin these next couple of weeks. I’ll be taking a break from travel, and looking for a new home. Wish me luck.

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