Like many people, Phillip and I were unable to pay our rent in April. Now, I notified the apartment complex the moment Disney and Universal were shut down on March 16th. I was adamant that the complex know that were willing to up with a plan and do whatever we can to honor our obligation for whatever we owe on our apartment. I didn’t hear anything back. Finally, I saw people leaving in droves at the beginning of April and I finally heard back. “Don’t worry about the rent right now, we’ll take care of things as they happen….by the way, if you could sign this piece of paper, we’ll defer April’s rent over the next 4 months.”
Ok. Sounds fair. Sort of. Well, what happens on the first on May? “Don’t worry, we’ll worry about May when May gets here. By the way, could you sign this piece of paper? We’ll defer May’s rent over the next 4 months.” Now, I signed the first contract, left the second one to sit on my desk for a minute….something felt odd.
I may be instinctive, but I don’t tend to think that I’m naive. However, I guess in hindsight, I am.
On the 5th of May I got a phone call from the leasing company asking if were able to pay rent. I explained that I had made the payment already under the paper I signed, the “National Emergency Payment Agreement.” (Sounds official, doesn’t it? The title, and what I read, gave me the impression that I was asked to pay at least one fourth of my rent over the next four months, while they would be getting the remainder from whatever legislative program they were getting help from. WRONG!)
“Oh, no. You’re mistaken….that is in addition to the rent that is due for the month.”
“Wait, you mean to tell me that you want me to pay my rent plus an additional amount on top of that for back rent? RIGHT NOW? Phillip has just gone back to work, thank God. The April agreement, plus the May agreement, plus the upcoming June agreement would have me paying almost $3000 a month in rent! Are you insane? I’m not signing anything.”
I suggested we start fresh on June 1st. We pay June’s rent. Our new lease with the complex starts then. Why don’t we deduct what I have already paid up to date and divide the balance over the next 12 months, over the extent of our lease for what we owe for the remainder of April and May. Roughly $150 extra a month.
“No, we can’t do that.”
“Unfortunately, I won’t be signing anything else. If you wish to reconsidering negotiating, let me know. Otherwise, thank you for your time.”
Now, I’m not sure what kind of situation my refusal to sign has put me in, but at this point, Phillip is livid. A server that Phillip works with lives in this complex refused to sign and has left on his own. I’ve peeked around on craigslist and our complex has about 80 units available for lease right now….they usually have about 10. And they’re offering one month free rent for new tenants! But, won’t extend that courtesy to current tenants. WHAT????
But, while I was peeking around craigslist, I saw a little blip on the map in my old neighborhood. I clicked, just to see, and lo’ did my nostalgic heart skip a beat. My first little apartment after being homeless was a renovated carport apartment, this tiny little 200 square foot thing that I simply loved, adored. (See that little door to the far left? That was my first apartment coming out of homelessness. So many wonderful moments happened there). The studio was attached to a simple little two bedroom house with the biggest back yard you ever did see. The house is for rent….for a few hundred dollars than what we pay now.
I quickly text the number asking if the landlord remembered me. After all, that was seven years ago. She promptly responded. “Of course I remember you! The knitting guy! Yes, the house is for rent, have had multiple showings, but I would love to rent to you again. You were an excellent tenant.”
You have to close your eyes and smile and praise God that a former landlord thinks highly enough of you to not only remember you, but would love to rent to you again.
Phillip tends to think that our new lease is probably going to be considered null and void by the end of the month, since I refused to sign the papers. The government is allowing evictions to proceed on the 2nd of June, which is only 14 days away.
So, whether we like it or not, it seems that the complex will go ahead and start having us evicted in the courts in 2 weeks. Takes a while to evict, but do your damndest to find a new place while you have an eviction in process.
I’m not sure what to do. The best answer is obvious, rent the little house. Find a way. Make it happen, and do it before anyone else with cash, ready to spend, is able to take it from me. I want to be able to call her tomorrow and say, “It sure is going to be nice seeing a friendly face again.”
I need to make this happen.
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