Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Bag Lady and the tenant

We have a Siberian Forest cat named Larisa. We bought her two years ago from a cattery in Oregon; she was being retired as a breeding queen after having produced 26 hypoallergenic kittens in five years. A sensitive princess, Larisa didn't let us touch her for 62 days after her arrival. She is very much at home now, a typical cat. But when we leave her to travel, she freaks out. So for the last couple of years we've had a person stay at our house while we're gone, to keep Larisa company in the evenings.

Recently, one of the catsitters asked if she could rent our basement bedroom for three months. We agreed, since we'll be gone for about seven weeks during that time. We decided that she would pay a small amount of rent for each day we're home, and nothing for each day we're gone.

I can tell you after only two weeks that I am not a good landlord. I didn't set up house rules because I didn't realize what they ought to be. As little things came up, I didn't say anything. But I did start to get resentful, and testy, with the tenant. I don't like confrontation. I got a stomach ache whenever I thought about the situation. Then I talked to a good friend and she told me the only way I'm ever going to get over my issues around confrontation is if I practice being direct when issues come up, rather than dancing around them. She suggested I create some house rules. So yesterday, I did.

1. The kitchen is available from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. This one came up after two nights in a row of cooking projects that began at 11 p.m.

2. When the tenant is leaving the house she will turn off her lights, her computer and her portable heater, to preserve electrical use and internet bandwidth.

3. The tenant will pay her rent on time (every four days or so) regardless of circumstances.

I'd like to impose some other rules, but they sound unreasonable. Like:

4. Don't chat with me when you come upstairs in the morning.

5. Don't tell me about your life, past and present.

6. Don't suggest that I buy silver and gold to protect against a falling dollar.

I'm having to look at myself during this time of having a tenant. It will actually only be three weeks or so when we're all in residence. We have the space, and we're glad we'll have her here when we're gone to watch out for Larisa. She is a nice woman, and I have nothing against her personally.

But I am not a good landlord. I'm glad I realized this before I signed a yearlong contract with anyone!





21 comments:

Judy and Emma said...

Hmm, sounds like you're not a morning person. :) I can certainly agree with the first three rules.

Muffy's Marks said...

Being a landlord is a tough job, especially if the tenant is living under your roof. If she were you kid, you'd just say what's on your mind. Your rules are reasonable. Stay tough, and good luck

DJan said...

Starting cooking projects at 11:00pm? This is weird behavior, I think. Does she have a drinking problem? To be honest, I think your rules would be simple courtesy of living together...

Midlife Jobhunter said...

You might be surprised. Perhaps a hardening to what your rules are for the next time this situation comes up. Now you know.

Perpetua said...

I would find it very hard to have someone else living with us after all these years without the kids. Stick to your guns about your very reasonable house rules and be grateful it's only for 3 weeks.

Arkansas Patti said...

Does she read your blog? Some how I get the impression this situation will not occur again in the future.
Your rules seem common sense to me. Good luck.

MAFW said...

You never know how you'll react until you get put into a specific situation.

Olga said...

Sharing space is a hard thing, especially after being comfortable in your own ways for a time. The cat took time to adjust and get you trained to her demands. Cut yourself some slack for the three weeks and take a good lesson into the future.

#1Nana said...

They sound like reasonable rules to me. I would have a hard time having a tenant...it's hard enough having a spouse!

I am not an early riser and I've been known to whip up a snack in the middle of the night. I should probably live by myself.

I used to avoid confrontation, but then I became a high school administrator and learned to enjoy the experience of managing conflict. Good luck!

Out on the prairie said...

I enjoy company, but prefer living alone.They say you can be good friends but not always roomates.

Barb said...

I see absolutely no problem with saying nicely "susie, I am simply not a morning person. While youre welcome to come upstairs in the morning, I would appreciate if you didnt talk to me or carry on a conversation-its noting person, I just need my morning time" House rules are always good.

Retired English Teacher said...

I would be a terrible landlord, and I would handle the situation exactly like you are. I would be generous and nebulous about the arrangement until something came up. Then, I too would be resentful and not want to confront.

Bottom line: I like my space. I would not do well with sharing my kitchen or even my basement. I admire you for even attempting this arrangement.

Sandi said...

Oh, I chuckled on rule #4. "Don't chat with me . . . in the morning". I'm a morning person, in the sense that I love to be up early in the morning, but not to talk to people! I don't want to chat with anyone, not my husband, or my girls (when they're home) or the dog! Just let me be!

I was a landlord for about three months once, same sort of situation, and the woman was renting my basement. Oh my gosh, it drove me crazy! And, I liked her!

I hope you are able to get through the next few weeks with some semblance of peace! I'll be thinking of you!

1NurseRatched said...

I would have a fit if someone renting from me wanted to chat in the morning. Right now I spend half the week in a B&B and share a full kitchen with a young male tenant. He leaves dishes in the sink and hasn't replaced the dishwashing soap, but I can live with that. I'd have a hard time, though, if he asked me to stay out of the kitchen after 9pm because I'm a night owl. We've all got our trigger points, and I applaud you for identifying yours and dealing with them in an appropriate way.

Bob Lowry said...

I have owned 4 rental homes and even that drove me batty. They always needed or wanted something out of the ordinary. I couldn't stand having having someone actually in my space.

Suggestion: don't open a B & B. It never ends 7 days a week.

Ms Sparrow said...

The night cooking is a little scary. My mom let a grandson live in her basement. One night he'd been out drinking and came home and put a pizza in the oven and forgot about it. Mom woke up with the smoke alarms going off and the house full of smoke.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Being an actual landlord is a far cry from letting someone live right inside your own home. Its difficult to mix the way 2 people live, let alone 2 people who barely know each other! I think your house rules are fair & just for sure. Everyone does things differently but those who pay the mortgage get the final say :-)

Demandra said...

One of the ways in which my mother got me to shut up in the a.m. was to tell me that my dreams would come true if I told them before breakfast. Perhaps you could tell her that all of her nightmares, past and present will come true if she speaks to you in the a.m.? Or maybe if she speaks to you at all? ahahahahah

You would probably make a stellar landlord for a person who didn't actually live in your house!

rosaria said...

Well, even if she had been your mother, these inconveniences would creep up and bother you.
It's hard to live with people, even for a week, without realizing that boundaries need to be set down so both sides feel better.
On the other side, she is a great sitter, yes?

MyMaracas said...

Boundaries are essential for sanity, even among family members. It sounds like a very convenient arrangement for you both, livable if you can agree to ground rules.

I have toyed with the idea of renting a room/rooms someday as a way to make ends meet after retiring. But the fact is, I'm a solitary soul. I love having family here, but I would hate every minute of living with a stranger in the house.

Murr Brewster said...

I usually have to be prevented from murdering someone in my living space after a certain amount of time. And you're right--being upfront, not my finest trait, is the key to working through it.