Jul 032014

Last month I wrote about the trials and tribulations an acquaintance of mine was having regarding his living accommodations.  Well, there has been some new developments in that story.  Would you like to hear about it?  Sure you would.

Said acquaintance was given the heads up by his landlord that said rental property, where he has lived for the last 15 years was up for sale.  He asked the landlord that he would like to be given at least a 30 day notice, if not more when said sale was imminent.  That notice came on the first of July.  But with a little bit of a twist.

It seems the landlord actually got a valid offer on the property next door, where he resides with his lovely, conniving wife, rather than the rental property.  So, the landlord gave notice to both the tenants in the rental property that he and his wife were going to move into said rental property, and one of the tenants had to leave.  The other could stay and pay the rent at $1400 a month.  The rent was $1200 a month, split between the two tenants.  So whomever stays not only gets to pay the full rent, it more than doubles on them.   Said acquaintance did not wait to make a decision.  He told the other tenant he was leaving, and she could have the place.  So now, he must find a new place before the end of July, and as you might expect, there ain’t much out there that is available nor affordable.

He was been doing something smart since all this went down last month.  He has been selling off as much of his stuff as he possibly can.  Everything he can think of he has gotten rid of and to his credit, he has succeeded in selling quite a bit, and pocketing a lot of cash.

BTW, did I mention that in addition to all this mess with the home, he also lost a very good paying job too?  Yeah, 12 years at the same job, good money, benefits, gone.  Shit rolls down hill and he is on the flatlands.

Anyways, he is maintaining a good attitude about the whole thing and feels confident that all will work out in the end.  Still a shame though as he had a nice comfy place and all.  He just made the mistake of thinking it would last forever.  We all know better, don’t we.  He also thought that 15 years of loyal rent paying, keeping up the property, improvements on his own dime, and all would count for something.  You wanna know what that 15 years counted for?  The landlord had the eviction notice delivered by a Sheriff Deputy.

Now this landlord had no qualms about coming over to the property at any time and using the hot tub, the showers, eating free dinners, stealing booze, (he is an alcoholic), and more.  As long as the free stuff was coming, all was ok.  But the moment the big money came into the picture, it was all over.  However, karma can be a nasty, vindictive bitch, and said landlord may be in for some surprises.

I mentioned his lovely, conniving wife.  She is the driving force behind all of this.  Imported from a faraway asian land, this woman got her claws into the landlord early.  She manipulated him expertly, forcing him to stop drinking, and convincing him to sell the properties.  We are talking a substantial amount of money here.  Once said properties are sold, she will force him to move inland some place away from Key West, because the shopping is not to her liking here, and then let him drink again.  Once the drink kills him, and it won’t take long, she will have all the money to herself, and be living the high life.  Until she spends it all, which won’t take long.  You can see all this playing out like it has already happened.

And people wonder why I am single.

So, for now, said acquaintance is busy downsizing and getting ready for a major change in lifestyle.  But while he is having his little drama playing out, some other people I know are also dealing with living accommodation issues here.

Another couple I know have been trying to find a new, affordable place to live on the island for the past year.  The place they were renting out went into foreclosure.  They were unable to leave as there were no other alternatives.  The landlord started playing games like cutting off the cable and wifi.  Finally, a month ago, they were given the option.  Leave by the 1st of July and we will give you $3000 to go away, or face eviction and get nothing.  Said eviction would take 90 days.  So they started looking and looking, without much luck.  There was a bit of difference between the two as to where they should live.  One wanted to live in a genuine house/apartment.  The other would have been just as happy moving onto a boat.  The first would have none of that boat living nonsense, so to preserve the peace and sanctity of marriage, they went looking for a real home.  As things worked out, this story has a happy ending…so far, after all, they are still married.   They did come across a new place, for $400 less than what they were paying before, and in a very convenient location.  They downsized some, getting rid of extra furniture, and moved in this past weekend.

When they were downsizing I talked at length with them about getting rid of stuff.  They nodded their heads in agreement but when I suggested extreme downsizing, they shook their heads no.  Their stuff is too attached to them.  It took 5 days and some professional movers to get everything from the old place to the new.  But they are happy now.  Just still married.

And recently I heard of yet one more story from up the islands a few miles.  The Keys have been involved in a massive and expensive project to install a complete sewer system throughout the islands.  Before it was all septic tanks.  Now there will be a new sewer line connecting all the islands to the mainland, where our waste will be processed, or dumped out to sea.  Not sure which.  Anyways, said project has cost brazillions of dollars, is way behind schedule, way over budget, poorly planned, and one of the most corrupt schemes to cross these fair islands in years, which is saying a lot for down here.

For individual property owners it has been a nightmare.  Each property gets a nice fat bill for hooking up to said sewer system, and this is mandatory, no opting out.  Plus they have to pay for further connections to their property.  It can run from $2000 to several thousand more.  And it is taking forever to complete.

In the story I have heard recently, a couple who have been renting a property on one of the back islands for years just got a $450 increase in monthly rent from the landlord.  Reason?  To pay for the sewer hookup.  Now in a year, that increase will pay for said hookup.  Will the rent go back down?  No.  It won’t.  No landlord will ever decrease the rent.  Ever.

So, the couple now face a substantial rent increase, and they are finding out there are no affordable places anywhere from Marathon to Key West.  Plus, they have a 2 story house full of shit.  Furniture, fishing stuff, and all the usual trappings of a life filled with consumerism.  Life is about to get real for these folks too.

These tales of anguish and woe regarding the tough conditions in the Keys regarding affordable housing may well scare some of you from ever coming down here to live.  That’s ok.  It means you are listening to the realities of island life.  But keep this in mind.  All the shit that is happening to the people I wrote about above, can happen at anytime, and anywhere in the country.  As a renter, you may well have signed leases and all that bullshit.  But it don’t mean anything if the landlord smells profit.  A quick sale, a major project that gives them an excuse to raise the rent.  It can happen fast.  And no matter how friendly and kindly said landlord may be, when the fecal matter strikes the wind movement device, a policeman will be knocking on your door, and your ass will be on the street.

The solutions are simple, but for most people, unobtainable.  Downsize to a point where moving is not a major upheaval for one.  Don’t fall in love with a place, no matter how good or secure it may seem, because sooner or later, as a renter, your time there will end.  Don’t allow yourself to fall into a lifestyle, through your career, your needs, whatever, that will be a hindrance when the time comes to move.  Moving to a new place should be an adventure, not a disaster.  Stay a step ahead of those who would seek to ruin your life by kicking you out of your happy home.

What I do is very simple.  No matter how nice I have it where I am living, I am always looking around for something else, just in case.  Plus, I like to move around.  I must as I have moved dozens of times in my life.  The longest I ever lived in one place was 15 years when I owned a house, a mistake I will never make again.  I have lived in real shit hole places, (I’m looking at you, Ocala, Fl., asshole of the state), and I now live in someplace I have come to love very dearly.  But I ain’t blind.  I watch what others are going through to stay here, and what they are paying for their little slice of paradise.  I know at some point, I will have to move again.  And as much as I love the Keys, and Key West, if I have to leave, it won’t be the end of the world.  I’ll just go to the other end of the world.

Enjoy wherever you end up, for whatever time you end up there.  Just stay vigilant, and plan ahead for the next move.  Keep it as an adventure.  Don’t allow others to have the power to tell you where you can and cannot live.  Trust me, when it’s all over, you be spending plenty of time in one spot.  Might as well see the world while you can.

Capt. Fritter

Actually, people don’t wonder why I’m single.  After a few minutes, they can pretty much figure out why.


  2 Responses to “Living Accommodations Issues…Continued…”

  1. I heard recently on npr that the monthly ‘average’ for rent now across the nation is $1099.
    that is astounding to me as an average. and if it should come true for me here… i will have to find me a really neat cardboard box. and look for a bridge to put it under.
    as you say… once it goes up… it never will come back down.
    my rent was raised only $20 this year. next year?
    i live in an area of the country with still a pretty low cost of living. i pay $695 for 525 square feet.
    but… as you say so eloquently… for how much longer?