By Rebecca Dow
Growing up, my mother always taught me to have respect for others, and to demand respect in return. Disrespect, unfortunately, can present itself in a variety of subtle and frustrating ways; one such manner in which a person can be disrespected is by unfair treatment when renting a home. On the third of August, I decided to scour the interwebs for a room to rent. After a bit of searching, I found a room that was nestled quite close to the college. At this time I was attending summer classes – preparing for the fall, and subsequent winter ahead of me; I needed a stable place to reside.
The room I decided upon seemed like a good fit: I had use of the washer and dryer in-unit, use of the kitchen area including a refrigerator and gas lit stove, use of the bathroom/shower, limited use of the living room and dining room and friends were permitted to visit until 9:30pm or 10pm, depending on when my landlord went to bed (he lived in the room next to mine). He had a small dog, which was no problem (aside from the numerous gifts I found at my door). My landlord?
Well, he seemed like a reasonable person…
For a while.
As the days drug on, I began to learn more about my landlord. The expectations I was given at the start of my stay were beginning to shift. As rules became tighter and personalities began to clash, I was soon asked not to use the living room – it was his “space”, and he really didn’t feel comfortable “hanging out” with me. I understood to a degree that if I am renting a room, I am not guaranteed certain privileges. So, I obliged.
Next came the restrictions on guests. He had told me that friends could be over until a certain time. The first hint of discomfort I received came as a friend and I were leaving to get some Thai food at 9pm. My neighbor had seen us leaving and told my landlord, who then messaged me a blunt text telling me that my friend had to be home by 9:30pm. Mind you that my landlord was in a different city that night.
With my freedoms slowly being molded to his preference, I began feeling suffocated, disrespected and a bit lied to as, moving in I was told one thing only to later find that, living in his home offered a very different dynamic than what I was led to believe. To put things simply, we were incompatible, and I should have done more research into suitable places before settling. We had no receipts for rent (save for the first month). I paid $675 in cash every month, which can be a budget-stretcher for a college student and understood by the end of my stay, that my fifty-something year old landlord was not prepared for the busier lifestyle of a youth navigating a social life, full time job, club activity on campus, and college classes.
Currently I am moved out with my partner into a two-bedroom which cost less than my prior place for my portion of the rent, and offers a sense of freedom that living under a stranger’s rule just could never allow. My advice for anyone attempting to get out on their own for the first time: Shop around! Explore your options and keep looking even though a place may seem perfect. When you view the place, ask every question you can about rules, payment, what you can and cannot use, and guests. Of course there may be more to consider. As for your own records, legal and otherwise, it would be wise to have some sort of written document detailing all of these things. Be sure to have it signed by you and your landlord. When your living situation becomes incompatible with you and your lifestyle, the best thing to do would be to search for a place you can see yourself living for a while if that is your choice. My best wishes go out to all of those making their first steps towards adulthood!