Having read chapters one , two and three of this “Goodbye To Roommates” story and blog, you will be well on your way to appreciating why I eventually chose to swear off all roommates. In the first year of owning my home, I was: evicted by my own tenants, had a kleptomaniac slob tenant, and one who fell into psychosis and threw dishes in the trash, broke a window, and whose craziness sent her kitty cat into sequentially damaging my floors. I then had a bully tenant masquerading as a Green, peaceful, community-loving, nature-loving blithe spirit. I thought to myself, surely, things will get better now — what else could happen?
But unfortunately for me, I had not completed running the gauntlet, and I was to have another 7 years of further struggles and true tenant horror stories, still to come!
After experiencing these roommate problems in the first year, I worked harder to improve my screening process, my interview techniques, my rental agreement and house rules. I did the best I could, but I was at a disadvantage in this process, in that it was difficult for me to imagine how people could look me right in the eye, and lie to me. I had a weakness: I was predisposed to take people at their word. If someone promised me something, I tended to believe them. Much later, I would finally come to realize that I could not take what prospective renters said at face value. I had to pay much more attention to factors other than the actual words spoken and promises made, in order to avoid seriously problematic renters. Eventually, I would identify certain “types” of renters that were likely to be problematic, and other types which were likely to be excellent and lovely to have around. The identification of these types involved what I learned through difficult experience, as well as the use of intuition and paying attention to my “gut sense”. Later on, I will summarize some of what I learned through these many years of hard experience.
In the next few years after Steve, the Bully Tenant, I had some more minor misadventures with a few other renters. There was Mariana, from Brazil, who asked permission to paint her room, and ended up painting some of my furniture as well. There was Greg, who liked essential oil, and spilled enough of it on my carpet that the room was redolent of this scent for 4 months after he departed. There was Brian, who had lived in his car during a summer in Alaska, an adventure that hadn’t prepared him well to live indoors. He put a plant in his room , but no basin underneath, so for the several months he watered his plant, he watered and damaged my hardwood floor. There was Cathy, who must have had more belongings than anyone I ever rented to — she moved them in over many days. It was only a few weeks later when the circuit breaker for her bedroom kept tripping, that I realized she had put a refrigerator and microwave oven in her bedroom.
Strange Boyfriend, Strange Religion
Then there was Hannah, who began having her boyfriend over, and something was wrong with him.
He had large red blotches on his face and behaved strangely. He seemed to always avoid looking at me, and scuttled about, as if he were up to something. I also began to find, that just around the same times as his visits, the latch on my back gate kept turning up unscrewed and removed from the gate, and deposited on the ground next to the gate. Someone was removing the latch so that the gate would stay open, and this seemed to happen just around the days he came over. I issued notes to all housemates insisting that whoever was doing this, please stop, but nothing doing. The only way I was able to finally solve the problem was to use bolts rather than screws for the latch, which required more tools to remove than Hannah must have had in her secret arsenal.
There was something secretive and about both Hannah and her blotchy boyfriend — an artificially polite air, how he always looked away when he passed by me. I began to suspect that he was actually staying overnight more than the 2 nights a week I permitted. I asked her about this and she denied it. Halloween came, and I put halloween candy out for each roommate by their bedroom doors. An hour later, at a time when I knew that no one but Hannah was home, I saw that all the candy had vanished. Not too long after this, Hannah moved out.
When Hannah departed, I saw that she had taken one of my bowls from the kitchen, and placed it on the floor in her vacated room. She had placed a flower beside it, and filled the bowl with packages of condoms, like an offering at an altar. I hurriedly threw out the remnants of her strange religion, and wiped my hands of her.
Enter the Demented Duo: DooDoo for short
Around the 3rd year of my adventure in home ownership, I ended up with 3 female renters. Sandra had come first — a short-statured, easy-going, pleasant woman who radiated confidence and natural poise. Then a few months later came Marge, a heavy-bodied and somehat dowdy woman with what I appraised as a wry and affable look on her face, who had worked as a paramedic in her native state of Pennsylvania, and sought the same type of work here in the Bay Area. She didn’t have work yet, but had insisted she had plenty of savings and could pay the rent easily. I thought I had seen something earnest in her eyes when I interviewed her, and l liked her down-to-earth quality and the fact that she’d been involved in such essential and practical work. I thought that anyone doing such very practical work, just had to be a responsible and honest person. I was wrong! The other area where I was wrong with Marge, was in ignoring the discomfort I felt when, during my interview of her, she asked me too many questions about myself. That discomfort was a sign, and I ignored it and suffered the consequences. Marge was the first of the pair who I would eventually term the “Demented Duo“, or “DooDoo” for short.
Shortly after Marge, came Elizabeth, the second half of the Demented Duo. (These two could also be termed the “Loathsome Couple” — and in time to come would prove truly a despicable, distorted pair, in a real Edward Gorey kind of way) She was starting a graduate psychology program at a local university. She seemed to be very passionate about her subject, which to me was a great sign, as I’d had good luck with grad students. She wrote to me that she was a studious, quiet person who’d be spending hours at her studies, and mostly would be out of the house, only home to sleep and study. Again, great, just what I was seeking. She agreed with all my house rules and said “you’ll have no trouble with me at all.” (I would later find that those who said this about themselves were generally the ones I had trouble with).
Elizabeth came to her interview with me, with a big blaring warning sign and red flag, which I completely ignored — her boyfriend. In retrospect I dont’ know why I so readily dismissed the implications of this. I had already had enough experience of getting annoyed when I would set up a “room showing” for a prospective renter (and from the start I had only ever permitted ONE renter per room) and find that person showing up at my door with a friend, or a lover, or a partner, or a father or mother or child, as if my home were open house for the whole world to just come on in and traipse through! So I had begun to very much not appreciate surprise extra people expecting to come into my house. But for some reason, maybe because Elizabeth seemed to be exuding 110% manners and politeness, or maybe because I had a master’s degree in psychology myself, I dismissed this big red flag, that she brought her boyfriend to her interview with her, which so very well revealed her dependency … as well as first intimate her tendency to form alliances to bully and ride roughshod over others.
Toxic Sludge Takes over the Kitchen
Within mere days after her arrival, I began to sense I had made a mistake with Elizabeth. This awareness deepened each time I visited my kitchen.
At this point, I was not using the kitchen in the house very much, having found that I thoroughly enjoyed the privacy of my own room upstairs, where in my charming private “suite” setting, I had a small second room with a refrigerator, microwave, toaster oven and hot plate to use — which was pretty much all I needed for 90% of my cooking. I was never much of a cook, as I had too many other interests to want to spend much time with preparing food. So I had most of my meals upstairs, but I still needed to use the kitchen downstairs to use the oven, and to store some bulk items. As well, I would pass through the kitchen many times a day when I went out to the backyard, or garage.
What I discovered within days of Elizabeth’s arrival, was that I increasingly felt like an embarrassed intruder in my own house — in my kitchen. It seemed that it had only taken a few hours inside my house, for her to create a die-hard “clique” with Sandra and Marge — particularly Marge — and sometimes an additional friend of one of theirs, as well. Prior to the arrival of Elizabeth and Marge, my kitchen had been a relatively quiet and peaceful place. Sandra or one of my other two roomies at the time (two men who were out most of the time and cooked lightly) would use it, but they would be there briefly, rarely all three at once (in fact mostly only one at a time) and the three of them all went their own way. They would chat with each other, and there was a friendly and light atmosphere — which felt fine to me.
But now, with the coming of the DooDoo Duo, Elizabeth and Marge, all of a sudden the entire atmosphere of my kitchen and thus my house had changed. In spite of my having heavily emphasized in my house blurb, my house rules, and my interviews with tenants, that I intended to create a quiet and tranquil environment in my home, without heavy socializing, and in spite of the fact that Elizabeth had assured me that she would be out studying all the time , and rarely home, (and that she was quite studious and scholarly as well), I found that my kitchen had become a loud and boisterous, very busy place, where I was continually hearing much more than I wanted to know anything about, even just in a few seconds of passing through.
My kitchen was now “socialization central”, a “happenin'” place where not only at mealtimes but for several hours during each day, I would notice that at least two of these three were sitting and talking — and the conversations never seemed light and easy. The drama was thick and heavy in my kitchen — I could cut it with a knife, I could section it into slabs, and set them out in a pan to fry.
The body language and the facial expressions, the knowing nods and whispers, the gestures, the shrieks, screams and demented outbursts, everything, reminded me of girlish cliques in high school. Within only the first two weeks of Elizabeths’ arrival, the heart of my home had been transformed into a tawdry sorority den, where I heard references to sex and booze, drugs, divorce and infidelity in boyfriends. There were loud shrieks, which tore through the house and disturbed me in my meditations in my second floor study, and there were giggles and piques of cackling. Often this went on late into the night. Though I had stipulated quiet hours after 10pm, more than once I had found Marge and Elizabeth deeply engrossed in gossip at my kitchen table around midnight. Once I woke at 3am, and thought I heard mumbling noises. I went downstairs and found the Demented Duo, Marge and Elizabeth, going heavily at the drama in my kitchen at this wee hour.
In one particularly bad case of TMI, I was in the kitchen watering plants, and overheard Elizabeth fretting with Marge that ever since she had gone to that photographer Sandra recommended, and had him take nude photos of her, she worried that these might show up online. Later I heard Sandra getting into this conversation, and deduced from what was said, that Sandra made her living as a nude model, and was trying to coax Elizabeth into making side income doing the same. Meanwhile, I observed Marge with a wine glass at every dinner, and would later realize she was an alcoholic.
I could not go into my kitchen any more without hearing much more than I wanted to hear about intimate details of these women’s emotional and sexual lives. Such an environment, which involved the violation of standard polite decorum, as well as revealing the extremely poor (nonexistent, really) boundries in these two women, both repulsed and sickened me. I felt violated just after a minute of listening to their disturbing drama — It felt like, “gross! I got their yuck on me.” This feeling of getting their yuck on me, intensified when Elizabeth had her boyfriend come to visit — a rare occurrence since he lived in another state. Then I heard the screeches and shrieks, and the sounds of alien life forms having strange sex, ripping through into my quiet artist’s atelier, while listening to Baroque Music and doing abstract watercolor paintings. Yuck, yuck, yuck.
I was very uncomfortable, and wasn’t sure what to do. What I should have done was evict all three nitwits, telling them to get out and take their sleazy garbage and their drama along them. But I was afraid of having serious problems with all three of my roommates at once. I was afraid of having a mutiny on my hands. So I tried, in a variety of kind and polite, and therefore apparently ineffectual and useless ways, to ask them to “tone it down” and take their socializing elsewhere. Once when I called up Elizabeth to speak more directly to her about this issue, her response was so irrational, reactive and defensive, so hysterical, that I was flabbergasted that this was a woman who actually intended to become a psychologist.
Elizabeth had no capacity to rein herself in — she was a seeping morass of neurosis, uncontrolled and toxic emotions, leaking out everywhere, all over my house — a toxic sludge polluting my premises. She had no capacity whatsoever to reflect on her own behavior. She had no capacity whatsoever to tolerate criticism. In her mind, my politely asking Elizabeth to respect the rules of my house, which she had agreed to in advance, and to be quiet in my home which I had intended as a quiet tranquil place, was akin to me ganging up on her with 3 or 4 meanies and engaging in vile and obscenity-laden cyberbullying. Elizabeth’s mind, her mental and emotional state, was a filthy rat’s nest. Her psyche was full of horrors and distortion such as I had never seen before in my life so close up. I had seen mental illness in the pathetic sidewalk-dwellers in my city, I had seen hysteria in films and horror stories, but until the coming of the Demented Duo to my home, I had not seen this type of delusion in person. Even Loco Linda, the bipolar woman who’d tossed my dishes in the trash and sat mumbling and rocking on the sidewalk, was preferable to Elizabeth — because at least Linda knew she had a condition. Elizabeth had no idea what toxicity emanated from her sick mind, and so garbage flowed from her wherever she went.
I felt quite anxious after this disturbing insight into her character. I felt increasingly afraid and helpless in my house — I felt like the presence of Elizabeth in my house was getting grime all over me– and felt like I needed a hazmat suit to protect me from all the grossness invading my home.
Yet as time went on, things got worse instead of better. Starting with her second month at my house, Marge began paying her rent late every month, and I found her inebriated in my house on a few occasions. When I would walk by her in the house or yard, she would always avoid looking me in the eye or saying hello — I continually felt dissed and marginalized in my home, by both Marge and Elizabeth, as if I were just so peripheral and really irrelevant to the “happenin’ scene” that was going on here, the scene that ate my house.
When I attempted to talk to Marge about her continual late rent payments, she would wave me off, frowning and saying that she didn’t have time for this now. With both Elizabeth and Marge, there were so many ways that they continued to blow me off or dismiss me. It was clear that they expected that they and their loud, drama-heavy “scene” could just eat up my house , and I should run off and hide in a corner.
Only 3 months into grad school, Elizabeth was already having serious problems there. Around this point, there were many more instances of kitchen occupation at late hours of the night, and more shrieks, cries and wails. I finally found out that Elizabeth had gotten suspended from graduate school, for speaking inappropriately with her advisor — threatening her, apparently! Elizabeth was a piece of work, and Marge was her enabler and caretaker, the good alcoholic paramedic, who felt happy disrespecting me and the rules of my house, but always wanted to make sure Elizabeth, the neurotic princess, was okay. The drama and its grotesque sludgy toxicity kept spreading.
The Kingdom of one’s Home
There were two factors contributing to this increasingly serious problem, factors which I would not fully under stand until a couple years later. These had to do with the control of the kitchen, the heart of the home, and with the building of alliances in my house. Essentially, I discovered, being a homeowner-landlord with roommates, is unfortunately more similar than I would have liked, to being a king or ruler of a city, state or nation. I did not fully understand it, but this is vital for a homeowner who has renters to understand: the kitchen is the heart of the home, and whoever controls the kitchen, controls the home. (In some cases, the living room may be the heart of the home) This was why the most serious problems I had in my house with roommates, all ended up being centered on the kitchen. It was there that Steve had his “duel” with me, first marking territory by leaving his things out, then telling me to get out of my kitchen, and then finally sabotaging my kitchen and trying to prevent anyone from using it, by refusing to wash any dishes whatsoever and piling the sink high and higher with his refuse. This was why the toxic sludge of polluting emotions, neurosis, alcoholism, lack of boundaries, and other tawdry sorority trash, was now spreading out over my home, emanating from the kitchen and Elizabeth. And this would be why, in two years to come, in the last ugly tenant battle I had in my home (coming soon in chapter 6 of this story!) , the fight also was centered on the kitchen.
In fact, when years later I did research and contacted a woman named Sue who’d owned my house years before (two owners prior to my friend Rachel who’d sold me the house) I discovered that Sue had actually sold her house (my house), primarily because she kept having this same issue I was having and would continue to have for a while. Her tenants would continually gang up on her. She actually often had more tenants than I did, as she would have two to a room — but apparently she found herself similarly marginalized, bullied and besieged in her own home. So my house actually had a history of homeowner bashing by tenants. It was only my deep love for my house and my patience with immensely trying circumstances that would finally bring this sordid history to an end!
Sue had had the same problem I did, in her attempt at rulership. By creating a private refuge in my upstairs suite, where I could stay alone and did not have to emerge too often because I had a “kitchette” of my own there, I had unwittingly created a power vacuum, namely, I had apparently abandoned rulership of the heart of my kingdom — the kitchen. Hence, the foreign powers kept trying to invade this area, and steal this land away from me. The dilemma I faced was that I was an introvert and needed a lot of time alone, and did not want to “hang out” and spend time in my kitchen just to maintain rulership of that space. I ultimately realized that in order to resolve this problem, I would have to dramatically change how I ran my house. (More on that later).
The second problem that faces both kings of nations, and landlords with roommates, is that of alliances. Specifically, alliances of enemies or foreign powers. The building of alliances among roommates is a threat to the homeowner-landlord, which can be understood by simple mathematics, as in: three against one. Hence the landlord, just like the king of a nation, needs to work against the building up of alliances in his/her own home, in the same fashion: divide and conquer. What this means, is that if you have more than one roommate, it is often in your best interest as a landlord to make sure that the roommates you bring in, are not people who are likely to become good friends. So if you have two vacant rooms, and Mary responds to your ad and says that she and her friend Barbara would like your two rooms, you do not want this arrangment. You will do much better if you rent to someone who Mary is not likely to become friends with. Someone who has few or none of her interests, and who has different hours. This can prevent the kind of alliance building that can result in you discovering one day that your home has been usurped by a foreign nation, and invading army, an alien tribe, and that instead of being a king ruling a nation or a home, you are stuck in your little bedroom, scared to come out.
Enter Jonathan, and the Occupy Movement
But let’s get back to the story with Elizabeth, Marge and Sandra. By this point, after I had made it clear enough that I was very unhappy with the goings-on in my home, Sandra, bless her heart, was honest and respectful enough to move out. She did this quickly and painlessly. Realizing that above all I needed to NOT bring in another chatty Cathy into this difficult situation, I opted for a new roommate who I thought would be the perfect antidote to the sorority scene: enter Jonathan, a tall, thin, silent, bespectacled man who in appearance and by his own self-description, seemed to be quite solitary and unemotional. He was in fact rather flat and leaden. I thought this dull, heavy lead applied to the hysteria would accomplish the needed alchemy to tone things down. Unfortunately for me, the (serious!) mistake I made was in not taking into account that he was a political activist as well. One of the more intellectual of such, but an activist nonetheless. The other mistake I made, was in failing to recognize the level of arrogance in Jonathan. I would come to pay dearly for these mistakes later on.
Soon after he moved in, I noticed to my dismay that Jonathan was quite enjoying sitting in the kitchen, having conversations with the Demented Duo. It was true that his heavy leaden nature did take the hysterical edge and giddy sorority shrillness off the scene, but it did not remove the scene — it just changed the personality of the scene that was still eating my house. Now instead of a sorority hangout site, my kitchen was the crucible for fomenting political activist conversations and general revolt and subversion of authority (for instance: my authority). The noise level diminished, thanks to Jonathan (and he actually did cooperate with me and helped convince the DooDoo to tone it down, something I’d been unable to achieve), but it was still very apparent that a revolution was being organized at my kitchen table, and I was not happy with this. I would still find myself walking through my kitchen, fetching foodstuffs or there to use the oven, and getting the message loud and clear that I was peripheral to this important political organizing being done in my home. For one thing, I was being totally ignored when I entered my kitchen. No one said hello, no one even bothered to look up. There were intense looks, gestures, laughs, sometimes steely stares in my direction, as if to say to me, “what are you doing in our kitchen!!”
In fact, much later, in legal documents during a litigation proceeding, Jonathan actually came out directly and said that when I had come and sat down with him and Elizabeth and Marge, eating with them during a holiday dinner (when I first naively thought that if I just tried harder to befriend my tenants they would surely respect me more), they had all felt awkward about my presence in my kitchen. Jonathan’s attitude (which I am sure was also representative of team DooDoo) was thus very clear: since my presence there made my tenants uncomfortable, their view was: I did not belong in my own kitchen.
I think it would be difficult to find any of my tenants’ viewpoints that shows more clearly than this, just what was going wrong in my house.
This was about the same time that the Occupy Wall Street movement was starting up, and there was a local Occupy movement in my area. Jonathan talked to me about his involvement in this, and I was empathetic, because I was opposed to the abusive behavior of the Big Banks and Wall Street as well. So although my politics were most definitely not in keeping with the liberal progressive majority in my city (I had always been pretty much centrist) I supported the Occupy movement. Therefore when one day I came home from work, and saw that the front window of my house, the window of the room Jonathan rented, now was covered with a big 3 foot by 2 foot “Occupy” poster, depicting a raised fist, I was a little taken aback, but not smart or strong enough to say what I should have said to Jonathan, “ get your fucking crap down off my front window.”
It would later come to be quite a piece of irony, that I was evicting from my home a tenant who was at the same time loudly declaring “occupy” on my own window of my own house.
Another tragicomic irony about my problems with my tenants, was that they would constantly complain about how “mean” I was and what a “dictator” or “Nazi” I was. In fact, as you my gentle reader have by now well understood, one of the biggest reasons that I continued to have serious problems with my tenants was that I was far, far too nice and polite!!. I was too much of a doormat. I was weak, I was fearful, I lacked strength, and to tell the truth, I kept hiding away from my bully tenants in a corner of my house. I continued to allow myself to be disrespected, ignored, and my house rules violated and blown off, for much, much longer than was reasonable. I applaud all of you who will not have endured what I did because you took the stick to the baddies early on. As for me, I had to learn everything the hard, hard way.
I was by now feeling so uncomfortable in my house, (indeed, I felt more and more afraid to leave my own room) that I realized I was experiencing another kind of bullying, different than the direct in your face defiance of Steve, but bullying nonetheless. For the last 4 months Marge (who had not yet succeeded in finding gainful employment, and who apparently had fallen into depression) had failed to pay her rent on time. Seeking to solve her problems with booze, she wandered shitfaced around the house on a few occasions.
Elizabeth continued with her hysterics, and spent most of the day in my kitchen “hanging out” in long drama sessions with Marge, and now with Jonathan often there as well, though as someone with actual employment, he was not home during the day and could only hang out with them in the evenings. A couple times, Elizabeth had had friends over for dinner, and the noise level of these gatherings was disturbing. Once I went downstairs to tell Elizabeth and her two friends to tone it down, and two of them rolled their eyes at me, as if to say, nodding to each other in a condescending and sarcastic tone, “This woman, the one who owns this house, isnt’ she a kick? Don’t you find her just a hoot? I mean, who does she think she is? The owner of the house or something? !!”
In short, I had had quite enough, and my anger started to move me out of the inertia caused by my fear. I sat down and typed up a letter in which I articulated new rules for use of the kitchen. There would be no “heavy” conversations here — private matters should be discussed in private, not in common areas. It was henceforth not allowed to use the kitchen to “hang out”, but the kitchen was ONLY to be used for meal preparation and dining. No one was permitted to use or be in the kitchen after 10pm. Renters could not invite more than one guest over at a time, and no more than twice a week.
Jonathan almost immediately approached me expressing his displeasure about the new rules, stating that he did not believe I was ” allowed” to have such rules. I would continue to have problems with Jonathan for the next two years, and you will read more about that in Chapter 6 of this story.
Really, the change in rules was the wrong direction to go in that it was too patient. I should have just given a big black boot in the behind to Elizabeth and Marge (and really Jonathan too!) and kicked them right out of my house with a round of triple eviction notices. The truth was, that I had read enough about tenants and evictions at this point, that I was afraid to evict a tenant. I had heard it was much better to just wait for a tenant to give notice and leave, rather than for the landlord to terminate their tenancy. However, that really wasn’t true, all things considered. What I eventually learned, is that the most important thing, is that you as the homeowner are not forced to suffer in your own home, that you don’t allow your renters to cause you to suffer any longer than absolutely necessary. Anyone who causes you any problem, you get them out right quick. The quicker the separation the less pain all around. Delaying in this only causes the situation to escalate and exacerbate. But I would not really learn this for another 2 or 3 years.
So in the meantime, I talked to tenants — in person, on the phone, by letter. I changed house rules, I changed visitors policies. Instead of bringing about better behavior, this brought about resentment and some blatant defiance and tit for tat behavior. If I was going to enforce rules on Elizabeth, Elizabeth wanted to enforce tenants’rights rules on me, and complained that she had a problem with the window in her room that she had mentioned to me about before, and that I’d never fixed it. So I told her I would do that the next day.
So the next day at mid-day, I knocked on her door, prepared to fix the window. Hearing no response, I went into the room, and saw she was in there, lying naked on her bed. She yelled at me to get out, and I said as I turned to go that I had come as promised to fix the window, and she yelled that I had not said I was coming today. I went out and fumed. I worried that she would try to use this against me, that I had entered her room when I thought she was gone, and she’d been in there, in bed and unclothed at full noon.
Enter: the Legal System, perfect tool of Demented Bullies
I was so upset by now that I knew this all had to end. I phoned up Elizabeth and told her that it was not working out, having her living at my house, and that she needed to find another place to live. The next evening, I heard a loud shrieking laughter from the kitchen, and went down and found all three roommates there. I demanded to know what was going on, and Elizabeth, with a victorious grin on her wicked face, looked up at the ceiling, where there was a vent cover, and toweling behind it. She pointed up and said there was light coming through the vent, which she said showed that one could see down through the vent from the room above — my room. Elizabeth had now pulled out her cellphone camera and was clicking away, taking photos of my heat vent cover, as if she had found evidence of a crime. She was convinced there was something not quite right, something suspicious, about this particular heater vent. I was angry , but I was also fearful and worried. Because by this point in my landlord apprenticeship, (and I had also assisted a couple other apartment owners with property management functions) I had heard stories of tenant scammers, and I had realized that anything, and I mean absolutely any trivial innocent thing, can be twisted and distorted by those with motivation to do so. So I felt sick as I observed Elizabeth gleefully and wickedly laughing, photographing my heat vent cover overhead. I felt dread and bewilderment, worried what type of unimaginable scam this might lead to.
Marge was sitting at the table drinking wine and shaking her head “no” as if to say, “I can’t believe it.” I gradually realized that these women, this Demented Duo, thought I had been spying down on them in the kitchen, through the vent hole in the ceiling! Of all the idiotic delusions, that took the cake. I had spoken to them countless times about how little I wanted to hear any of their drama, how embarrassed I was to overhear them, how I wanted them to take their private conversations elsewhere, — and in spite of all that, this Demented Duo thinks I would want to spy on them? And listen in to their appalling, twisted sorority gossip and toxic tawdry drama????!
Surprisingly, Jonathan, in spite of touting himself as an intellectual, just cold hard dry facts, Ma’am, stood there and seemed drawn into this hysteria, as though the fact that Demented Elizabeth really believed something, made it so. He stood around stiffly, but looked at me with a puzzled expression that suggested that he, too, was quite prepared to fantasize that the local authority figure he and the DooDoo had dismissed and contemptuously ignored, the ruler they were trying to subvert and overthrow, might have retaliated by drilling peepholes in the ceiling or peering down through heater vents to spy on them. Why it didn’t occur to these nitwits that if I wanted to overhear their garbage, all I had to do was just walk down into my own kitchen and sit down and there and listen to them, I could not fathom.
I sat down next to Marge and started to explain to her the innocent and quite benign purpose of the heating vent duct, but she would have none of it, and just sat there sadly shaking her head, as if she had just been appraised of a massive betrayal of confidence.
It was hard to know how to respond to the demented distortions and delusions these women were capable of. I just knew I wanted them out of my house as fast as possible.
The following day, I got a letter in my mailbox from an attorney, stating that I was to put a copy of my house rules in Elizabeth’s mailbox (each tenant had their own mail box slot in the hallway) by the end of the day. Frightened, I wondered what in the world was going on now. I debated, and inquired of friends: should I do as requested, and hope that this would appease the vampire girls, or should I (figuratively) scream fuuuuuuck yoooou!!
I ended up cooperating with the request. After the appearance of the legal system into this matter, I was intimidated into retreating, and tried to avoid Elizabeth and Marge as much as possible. Elizabeth escalated the legal bullying by depositing a note in my mailbox advising me that from this point onward, all communications between us were to be in writing only.
The DooDoo is flushed — but it comes back up the toilet
The week thereafter, come a Saturday, I observed a large pickup truck pulling up in front of my home. I peered out the window and observed Marge and Elizabeth commence to carry out their mutual belongings, and I rejoiced inside, realizing they were moving out. The truck came and went all day, and I saw them carrying things out all day. I mostly tried to avoid them, but at one point when I thought they were gone, I went outside to water the plants, leaving the door open behind me,and then I heard them laugh and giggle and close the door, and I realized they had locked me out of my house.
Four days later, I had not seen the Demented Duo ( DooDoo) at all in my house, and had not heard anything from them. They had not turned in their keys and so I did not know whether they had completed moving out or not. It would seem reasonable to think that they had completed moving, so I went and looked in their rooms, and noticed that each of them had left about 3 small items in their rooms — a scarf, a bag of trash, a pair of shoes. I assumed these items were abandoned, but did not want to risk throwing them out.
So I emailed Marge and asked her if she had finished moving, saying that I had noticed some things still in her room. She emailed me back, saying that it was now clear to her that I had trespassed into her room, but that “given everything else that is under consideration in this matter” this was of less consequence. A deep black dread built up in the pit of my stomach, as I realized I had been set up. The DooDoo had set a trap and I had walked right into it. No doubt the Demented Deluded Duo, this pile of stinking toxic DooDoo, had been coached by some sleazebag attorney to intentionally leave a few things in their room, thus to trick me into going into the room, so they could try to sue me for trespassing.
A day later, the DooDoo Duo emailed me, saying that they demanded that their rental agreement be terminated immediately, and that they wanted to come over and collect their security deposit and hand me the keys. I was conflicted: I didnt’ want to be give their security deposit back right away, but if I said no, they might continue playing this game with me, saying that they hadn’t moved out yet, and in fact, refusing to complete their move and retaining possession of their rooms, playing this demented game for who knows how long. So I caved in, and made an appointment with them to come get their security deposits back. When they arrived, they had three police officers with them!!! I was flabbergasted — I have no idea what fiction they told the police, that the police would come and accompany them just to collect their security deposit and retrieve the last trash they had left in their rooms. I felt quite bullied, to have the police come into my home and stand over and watch me as I made out the checks. In fact, security deposits do not need to returned until 21 days after move out, and failure to do so is not a criminal but a civil matter.
After the DooDoo left with their bizarre police entourage, I breathed a sigh of relief, hoping that was the last I would see of them.
A couple months later, 30 pages worth of lawsuit arrived in my mailbox. Every fiction and delusion that one might imagine, was therein contained in this most abusive of documents. The term “despicable” was cast at me at least two dozen times within this perverse prose. Reading over this web of lies, and researching online to see what scams various malicious tenants had perpetrated through the legal system that so readily invites scammers and fraudsters to abuse it, I found that it was not unusual to cast at people lawsuits alleging half a million dollars in damages, for injuries which were entirely fictional, for things that never happened, for phantasies dreamt up by vindictive vampire tenants in their hysterical huddles and twisted minds.
I read of two cases where women lost their house in foreclosure, both times because the legal system prevented them from evicting, in a timely manner, those tenants who were not paying rent. I myself knew personally a woman whose tenant commenced to rip apart her apartment, tearing sheetrock from the walls, toilet from the floor, light fixtures from the ceiling, and who turned a hose on and flooded the entire premises. The tenant got “free legal aid” and the incredibly unethical attorneys at the “Eviction Defense Center” fought for this malicious cretin’s right to stay in this woman’s apartment , while continuing to destroy it. How such hoodlums can sleep at night is beyond me. It took her over 6 months to get him out, and he was ripping her place apart the entire time. She was left with little more than a heap of rubble. And stinky rubble at that, because he’d had two dogs in there that were not housebroken and peed on everything.
I read of another case where a woman had been sued by former tenants, with false allegations, and she was unable to pay the $15,000 in judgment that the court case had levied against her, so the tenants’ attorney forced the sale of her home to pay the judgement, and she lost her home to the lies of her former tenants. In short, it is an understatement to say that the US civil legal system is sick ,it is twisted, it is demented, and it destroys lives.
The perversity of the US legal system is that there are absolutely no fines, penalties or consequences whatsoever, for hurling at innocent people, any manner of baldfaced lies and false allegations. At the same time, for the poor homeowner who is sued, there is no way to extract oneself from this virulent and toxic scam, without spending either many thousands of dollars of your own money or that of your home insurer. In short, if you are sued, you have two choices: (1) either you pay, or (2) you pay. Courts do not throw out frivolous or totally fictitious lawsuits, because the place where whether or not it is true or false is determined, is yet $50,000 away. Simply put, you cannot afford what it costs to get to the point where you get to try to prove that the shit that’s been cast at you is all lies. So you have to pay a settlement. It’s pure extortion, bald and blatant, and the legal system rolls out the red carpet to malicious tenant scammers and says, “come and extort someone — it’s easy if you just plop down a filing fee!!.” It takes a willing sleazy attorney, of course, to make this work, but there seem to be no shortage of those.
I finally escaped from the vampirism and claws of the toxic, poisonous slime of the lies of the lawsuit, many months later, worn and torn , tired and traumatized, but thankfully with my house still underfoot, something which I had not been certain would be there below me when I went in. Many have lost much to the jaws of this horrific monster, the law, and so if I say at this point that I have enormous contempt for the law and the legal system, I hope you, gentle reader, will take into account my intimate experience. And sadly to say, this would not be the first time that I was to encounter this despicable monster that we call the US justice system. Read more about that in Chapter 6 of this blog!