When Mick Jagger sang “Gimme Shelter” back in 1969, I strongly doubt it was about finding a decent apartment in Birmingham. But, if you are searching for rental properties in our fair city, it wouldn’t hurt to have it playing in the background. It’s a catchy-ass tune. First, a disclaimer: I don’t want to completely generalize the behavior of the kind of people this article is about. I’m speaking of landlords. Some landlords are professional, conscientious, competent and attentive people. They are fair-minded individuals who take their responsibility seriously and want their tenants to be happy, comfortable and satisfied.
That being said, I hate landlords. I hate all of you. No, not the good ones. I like them, but it takes too much time and effort to distinguish between the two, so I’m just gonna say I hate them all. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t wake up this morning, roll my 16-sided hate dice to determine what I would hate today. It’s not random at all, and this isn’t some weekend fling with hate. This is some good, down-home, grain-fed, farm-fresh hate. I come by my hate honestly. I know I’m using that word a lot here. It’s one of my favorite words. Just rolls off the tongue and make me tingly inside. I said, “I hate landlords!” to someone recently. They admonished me and said “Hate is a strong word, Chris.” I simply replied “Yes. Yes it is.” Now I hate you, too! Are you happy?
Around 2006, Alabama’s Landlord Tenant Act went into effect. Sadly, many landlords must have thought this new law would allow them to hunt and eat renters, feasting on their flesh to stay young forever, like a property-owning Nosferatu. If Nosferatu is too old for you to remember or grasp, then how about a property-owning Dracula? If even that escapes you, then I guess a property-owning Team Edward from Twilight. That reminds me. I also hate Twilight, but that’s a hate for a different day, my children.
I rent now and have always rented.
Someday I hope to purchase a house. Until then, I’m left to contend with landlords. But when that faithful day happens, I will not leave the world of renting without some choice tales and yarns to spin. Like these following gems:
I’ve been asking my landlord to clean up the piles of dirty, slimy autumn leaves on the side and back of my building. When it rains, they get slippery and pose a hazard, they smell and mice treat it like spring break at Daytona. After repeated asking for cleanup, and them repeatedly saying they’ll get to it, the leaves are still lying there. As the saying goes, “Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.” Well, at the risk of sounding sacrilegious, with all the foliage I have here, I could give God a good run for his money. If you’re wondering how long I’ve been complaining to my landlord about these leaves, I’m writing this in August and the reason they call them fall leaves, is because they FELL in the DAMN FALL!
Who doesn’t love brown water? I know I do! It’s like having Nestle Quick or Yoohoo on tap right in my kitchen. Wheeeee! Interestingly, when I told my landlord of my colorful water, it soon went from, “We’ll look into it,” to “That’s the water works problem.” Hello, buck? You’ve just been passed.
Then there’s the time when he raised the rent $100 dollars and said it was because property values were going up. When there is a beautiful new community of homes being built to the left of me going for over 500 thousand dollars and a swanky new condo with units going for over 400 thousand dollars to the right of me, and you not only stop the monthly exterminator and monthly cleaning crew for the halls, you also let loose bricks fall out of the foundation, leave moon crater-sized potholes in the parking lot and turn off the faucet in the courtyard, guess what? You’re property values don’t go up! In fact you’re bringing them down, genius. Oh, by the way, they not only turned the faucet off, they physically removed it, so that no one could water the dying grass or wilting plants in the courtyard. Classy.
It’s not just me. There are many other people with their own adventures in renting out there. Like my friend who was being shown an apartment by a landlord, but the landlord had to dash off early because, and I quote, “Yeah, I gotta go. A wall fell on a tenant’s car.” Or the landlord who refused to fix leaky pipes, and the water damage severely warped my neighbors floor and then blamed it on the tenant’s piano. Lay off that poor defenseless baby grand! Besides, I don’t think the heaviest piano could make hardwood floors look like a scale model of the Scream Machine at Six Flags. And of course the landlord who was so fed up with taking care of a particularly derelict building that he was heard to say that he wished it would just slide off the side of the mountain. OK, I confess. All of those were from landlords I rented from, too. Maybe it’s me.
Two things: One, the views and opinions expressed by me are not necessarily those of this fine paper. And two, I’d like to point out that none of what I’ve said, typed, relayed or revealed is libel, slanderous or false. It’s all true, can all be proven, has all been witnessed and is quite real. Yes, I said all that to cover my ass, but really, I’m just telling the truth. Who could get mad at little old me for that? I’m really writing this in the interest of opening a civil, rational and mature dialogue between renters and tenants. That said, I don’t have any fear that my landlord will read this and get angry at me.
Because everyone knows landlords aren’t smart enough to read anything beyond a child’s place mat at CiCi’s pizza. Plus they’re just a bunch of big ol’ stinky butts. So there! Na-na-na-boo-boo!
“Here’s the thing…” is a weekly column featuring humor and commentary by Christopher Davis, comedian and host of Fresh Ground Comics and View of the City. Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.