I’ve a deep drive to attempt simplification of the thoughts in my head regarding experiences I’ve endured and the jumbled, shocking feelings associated. So far I’ve assigned two phrases that encompass my life experience. I wrote of them in A Single Sentence and in Damned if I do; Damned if I don’t .
Today, I’m adding a 3rd motto:
This has become so abundantly true for me that it’s altered my soul and jumbled my heart.
Someone could write a Netflix series based on how my life has defined this as a cautionary tale of factual and outrageous truth. However, I’ll just address my latest go around with it here and spare you the redundancy of different characters and different scenarios all leading directly back to this.
I purchased my dad’s house after he died. It’s a massive historical home built in 1896 and the upstairs has been renovated into two studio apartments. The previous owners renovated the upstairs like this in order to assist with the huge cost of maintaining a house of this age and size.
Owning rentals and being a landlord is not something I would have intentionally sought out. I’m aware of my weakness for sob stories and excuses and I’ve always been driven by a fervent unmitigated desire to help others, and often to my own demise.
However, my daddy’s house is particularly meaningful and sentimental to me. For years, this has been my safe haven from storms, homelessness, and just a point of safety I don’t have anywhere else. So, here I am playing landlady in an attempt to keep a house I can’t actually afford.
Last fall, I had a vacancy and began accepting applications for new tenants. These are simple, small, inexpensive studio efficiency, all-utilities-included apartments, so they rent quickly. I already had 22 applicants when a very young couple contacted me claiming they were both working, but were homeless and living out of their car for months.
Oh Lord, here’s my Achilles heel… A downtrodden couple just fighting to get a leg up in this impossible world. I met with them, showed them the apartment, and really liked their seemingly sweet and quiet natures. I had far more promising applicants, but I wanted to help these people! After all, they were both working and so young, I thought this would be the perfect place for them to live while perhaps saving money to buy a house someday in the future.
The trouble began about 3 1/2 weeks after they moved in. The screaming, fighting, and physical violence tore throughout the halls of this entire old house. It sounded like someone would not get out of this argument alive. They pushed each other up and down the stairs for an hour or so then eventually carried this fight out onto the porch, then to the sidewalk, then right out into the street!
My PTSD from domestic violence and abuse was racing through every nook and cranny of my mind and body, but I tried to calm them. I tried to help. I tried to separate them so they might calm down. Eventually, I had no choice but to call the police for help when it continued to escalate and I was shaking so badly and so confused from PTSD, I no longer could get my vocal chords to work or my brain to process my words intelligibly. The police came and it calmed down.
Unfortunately, this became a chronic bi-weekly nightmare going at all hours of the day and night. My other tenants moved out after begging me to make the unbearable noise and fear levels cease in any way. I understood completely why they left. This was taking a huge toll on my nerves and emotions and sleep as well.
The same time the other tenants moved out, the fighting tenants started making excuses for not paying rent. Suffice to say, they didn’t pay their rent in full ever again. The first month was they were just a “bit short”. Okay, I let that slide. They didn’t have food or rent, so I gave them food. They were out of cigarettes, so I gave them cigarettes. With every sob story they gave me, I just tried to help as best I could although I was struggling myself. Then they were late and short and “short” turned into no rent at all, etc., etc., etc…
In February, they brought a “friend’s” pit bull (pets are not allowed) into the hallway and left it there for 12 hours screaming/whining for attention and shredding the hallway carpet. And I’d had it. I’d tolerated this as long as I financially (and emotionally) could. After three straight months of no rent, the utility bills and property taxes were falling seriously behind. I could literally could not afford to keep them here, paying for them plus tolerating the chronic fights. I finally served them with an eviction notice.
The notice was reacted to by the tenants bellowing in the hallway things like “YOU FUCKING GREEDY BITCH!” and text messages about how my karma was going to be awful for doing this to them (“LEAVING THEM HOMELESS”) for “NO REASON”.
The 7 day notice was served…
The 30 day notice was served..
Court judgment to evict was granted for 30 (more) final days…
Forced removal notice was posted
They refused to leave.
By Monday May 1st, court officers arrived to “forcibly remove them”. At this point, these two fully capable people, both under the ages of 25, had lived rent and utility free in my home (while terrorizing me) for six full months.
This removal was a nightmare of all the nightmares. They were forced to put their things in the hallway to prepare for removing it from the home altogether. As this was happening, I suddenly smelled a strong odor of gas. I followed the smell upstairs to their apartment and went inside to discover they had turned every gas stove burner on high and shut all the doors behind them. This easily could have blown up the entire house.
I turned off all the burners and opened all the doors and windows to the bellowing of “ARE YOU HAPPY NOW, BITCH?” outside in the hall.
After a few hours, they were gone. I was still shaking from the ruckus when a loud and fierce BANG BANG BANG came upon my window. I looked out the window and saw a middle aged woman, looking furiously angry and demanding she be given access to her son’s apartment to “GET HIS MOTHERFUCKIN GROCERIES FROM THE REFRIGERATOR”.
Food is expensive and I had no desire to keep any of their things or make their lives any harder than necessary, so I opened the door for her to get the fridge contents although by law, I had no legal obligation to allow this additional access.
Upon which this woman, screaming vile obscenities and distorted accusations at the top of her lungs, then attempted to physically assault me and was prevented by a male co-worker of mine who had come to help me through this horrific process and had stayed behind to help calm me down when it was over. He politely escorted her out the door with her screaming threats and childish taunts at him.
After she was gone, my phone rang from a blocked ID and she left a message threatening that if she “SEES MY GREEDY BITCH ASS ANYWHERE SHE WILL SNAP MY SCRAWNY NECK” among a plethora of other lovely insults and threats. It seems six months free rent and utilities wasn’t “ANYWHERE NEAR ALL I COULD AFFORD” according to this lady.
I wanted to help.
Famous last words… I can only hope I’ll still be able to somehow squeak out when my scrawny little neck is snapped for trying to help.
NO good deed goes unpunished, indeed.