Friday, March 30, 2007

Refuse to Grab My Ankles

What kind of apartment complex would suddenly raise your rent by $200 (!gasp!)at renewal after only raising it a total of $55 over the past few years, especially when nothing else but the swanky places are able to get that much?

My place. That's who.

The shame is that we had this conversation just days ago that renewal was coming around and rent might go up $25 or maybe even a scary $50, and we thought we'd just swallow it and stay because we do absolutely *love* the place (well, aside from no more little resident perks from days of old and the fact that our neighbor has crossed the line - another story for another day). The hassle of moving and having to change addresses and pack and figure out exactly where to live and so on and blah, blah had us convinced we'd just stay. Before they warned us of the raping ahead.

Here's what gets me. Really gets me. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not about handouts for those who can do for themselves and all that (I get irate - yet another topic for another day). But sincerely now, even for people who are doing their thing - going to work (likely at some asshole place where there is a perpetual "wage freeze" while the price of gas has doubled since they started), paying their bills, minding their own business, getting by and kind of hanging in there and sort of making it (barely) - what do those poor suckers do when this happens? I mean suddenly there is the realization that they have exactly one month to figure something out, pack it up, get it moved out, pay some huge ass deposit (God forbid they have a pet - I've seen plenty of $300-$600 deposits just for the meow-faces) and then still likely pay higher rent than what they were paying on top of that. Suddenly, the extra $25 or $50 or so expected at renewal has changed and blasted their ass to the tune of about double the amount they had heretofore been paying in rent (packing materials, moving, application fees, deposits, before they even write the first rent check at the new place). Sure, if the first place ever does refund the deposit, they might see it - someday. That doesn't really help right at the moment between bending over and grabbing the ankles.

Now, my Japanese students used to call me a "safety girl" (not exactly sure why, but stick with me), and I've kind of adopted it as my motto because I do try to be safe/prepared (though scared it's never enough). So, this will not kill me. It will piss me off (I think that phase has begun), and it will detour my plans a bit, but I'll get back on track before too long, and I'm already looking to the positive side of starting fresh with less clutter and having a shorter commute and all that happy horseshit I'm kind of known for ("safe" and "happy" = me), but I really can't help but think of just how goddamn lucky I am that I have just enough ducks in a row.

There oughta be a law.

Oh wait, there are rent control laws in some states. It's controversial, but after today, I understand that it makes sense because some people are assholes (I'm slow - too busy seeing the good sometimes). Here's one little snippet I enjoyed from LSNJLAW (a New Jersey law website - this link part of the tenant rights, though I have no clue where they stand on actual rent control):

"For example, an increase of over 20 percent, if made by the landlord without a very good reason, could be unconscionable."

I got a chuckle out of that. My increase was substantially more than a 20% increase, and if anything, the place I used to love so much has gotten worse in so many ways, not better in any way.


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