From Where I Sit – Not Funny

People are funny, and not always in a good way. Case in point: last night we used a gift certificate for Yuk Yuks that had been languishing in my wallet since last Christmas. Master of Ceremonies, David Dempsey, was funny. First act and obvious beginner, Ben Cannon, not so much. Headliner and Edmontonian Shawn Gramiak was hilarious. A night at a comedy club is great for what ails you. And that’s not just my opinion. Researchers and human guinea pig, Norman Cousins, discovered that patients could remain pain-free for hours following prolonged laughter.

Less funny is dealing with tenants of your rental property. We had a couple move out of our half-duplex about a week ago. It was not left in great condition despite them having hired a cleaning lady and a carpet cleaner. Particularly vexing was the damage to the carpeting. In a very conspicuous spot in the living room was what appeared to be ’drips’ that lifted the pigment. In one of the bedrooms were several green stains that covered a wide area. Throughout, there were mystery stains and stuff stuck to the rug.

The Landlord-Tenant Act obliges landlords to provide the tenant a statement about the damage deposit within ten days of getting the keys back. That notice then gives the landlord an extension (to thirty days) for returning all or part of the damage deposit. In addition, the most visible problems were laid out verbally when we did the move-out inspection with the husband. That extra twenty days gives the landlord time to gather quotes and/or get the remedial work done.

We need to protect our interests and our asset. During the course of their lease they paid the utility bills with partial payments, sporadically, or not at all. Of greatest concern to us was the one with our names on it because default would have meant the outstanding amount would be added to our taxes. Three or four times I had to call the wife and say they risked disconnection of service. Why anyone with a newborn and a pre-schooler would chance that is beyond me. We also know there will be a charge of $150 plus for re-energizing the electrical which they ’limited’ when they moved out, plus more cleaning fees.

When this family moved in about eighteen months ago, the unit was newly repainted top to bottom and the rugs and duplex were professionally cleaned. Within a month or so, we replaced the dishwasher, dryer, and washer. When the lease was renewed, we did a fifty-dollar per month rent reduction to reflect the local economic conditions. When they asked to break the lease because they wanted to buy a house, we agreed to release them of their obligations providing we were able to find a good tenant.

From the big things like ruining carpeting to the little things like eight missing or burnt light bulbs, this adds up: in dollars, time expended, and goodwill lost. None of that is funny, from where I sit.

Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.