Once upon a time, when Peon was a little younger, she wrote a long blog for tenants in foreclosed properties. She would occasionally receive emails and comments that were abusive and unpleasant from landlords and realtors. She deleted them, believing that someone who called her a "communist bitch" did not deserve a reasoned response. The Emails From The Stupid trickled off after awhile, but Peon must admit that a little corner of her life had been enriched by having people who couldn't construct simple English sentences denounce her.
But this morning she discovered that these people have just gone elsewhere. They've moved to a place where they will find more congenial co-dependents. After all, would you really want to commune with those who suggest that your behavior is reprehensible, that your sense of entitlement makes a mockery of the "personal responsibility" you expect of others and that, in a rationally ordered world, you would be sued for a large sum of money to make whole the people you have harmed? Of course not. You would want to hang with those who feel your pain, and understand that you, as the landlord, should make all the money you can until the day the bank takes YOUR property. And if you stomp some of the ant-people in the process, well, that's why we have ant-people.
Now wrecking up tenants' lives is not new. Our local newspaper, The Sacramento Bee, once suggested that homeowners in trouble rent the place out prior to the foreclosure to eke out every penny they could from their property before the bank took it. That they'd be making a hash of the lives of people who just needed a place to live didn't enter into their deliberations.
But I did find one good idea in the Place of Congenial Co-Dependents. Tenants should consider writing into their leases a provision that the landlord states that he is not in default on any mortgage taken on the property or using the property as collateral, and that if this turns out not to be true, the tenant may sue for twice the move-in costs, including first month's rent, the amount of all deposits, reasonable moving costs, and so on. When a landlord realizes that sum often exceeds $5K, he may think twice about renting his soon-to-be-foreclosed property.