Thursday, June 27, 2019

Eight Months

This is a picture from my Germany trip -- a bus shelter near Waldbröl bearing smudged-out graffiti, which reads "Undank ist der welten lohn." Apparently that's a German expression translating roughly to "Ingratitude is the world's wage," or more commonly, "Nothing is so hard as man's ingratitude."

That expression fits my mood at the moment. We're trying to renegotiate the lease for our flat, and our landlord has agreed to a year-long extension. Which is a good thing. But she wants a new clause that will allow her to ask us to leave after eight months, with two months' notice. In other words, she could tell us in January, or any time after January, to vacate in two months.

Apparently it's not that unusual -- a lot of leases have these clauses, which are meant to give "flexibility" to both landlords and tenants. (We could also give her notice, under the same terms, that we want to leave.) But it still seems very squirrelly to me. What's the point of having a lease if it doesn't give both parties security?

I'm trying not to get too worked up about it. This is her place, after all. If she wants us out, we'd have to comply. But this change suggests she's at least thinking about taking repossession of the apartment.

And that sets off a whole cascade of anxiety for me. I'd hate to have to find another place in the middle of the school year, before the garden even comes into bloom next spring -- and around the time that Dave is wrestling with taking students on their annual Music Tour. That would be a drag. To put it mildly.

Still, I don't see that we have much of a choice. As I said, it's her place. We gotta roll with the punches. Maybe this is just a good reminder that even though we always pay rent reliably and on time, and we have improved this place tremendously with our repainting and gardening, we shouldn't get too comfortable here.

Ingratitude, indeed.

Then again, maybe she just wants flexibility in case Brexit causes huge fluctuations in the real estate market.

She's also increasing our rent by £10 per week, but I don't even care about that. She's never asked for an increase in the five years we've lived here, so I can choke that down without too much trouble.

In other news, yesterday Dave and I went to see "Rocketman," the Elton John biopic that came out recently. I didn't love it. It's a fanciful, glittery film, as one would expect, and very well-acted, but parts of it seem a little cringeworthy. (Singing children -- ugh.) I also didn't like the way it skewed the timeline of Elton's career -- introducing songs into the plot at times when, in actuality, they hadn't yet been written, for example. I would have preferred a more straightforward, accurate portrayal of Elton's career development. But it apparently got good reviews, so I may be the only one who feels this way.


  1. You are not the only one who feels this way. I really didn't like Rocketman at all. Perhaps I went in with too-high expectations, but while the acting was good, the music to me was nearly terrible. I dislike musicals, anyway -- ugh on the singing children. It just didn't work. I never once felt that surge of excitement that a good music biopic brings --

  2. I am going to save that quote Steve, it just about sums up the world, or rather the people in it.
    I am angry for you here especially coming after you have been trying to find a calm space with your retreat.
    We are lucky, we have rented our Maisonette since 1965 and are now controlled tenants and cannot be removed but it must be a nightmare having to keep renewing leases.
    My Grandson lives on the Roman Road in London and so I know from his experiences how difficult it is to find reasonable accommodation.

    Rocketman doesn't appeal to me at all in the same way that the Queen movie didn't. I loved Queen and saw them live so the film just wouldn't have done it for me.

  3. I am sorry to hear about the tenancy uncertainty. As you suggest, she may just be hedging her bets. I wonder when she bought your flat and how much she paid for it. No doubt its value has increased tremendously and for her it would be a huge windfall if she sold it.

  4. I'm sorry for your anxiety. Perhaps you should keep on the lookout for a new place, sign the lease and be prepared if you have to go sooner. Does your school keep a list of available housing?

  5. I would be anxious about the lease too. You're right- what good does a lease like that do? I'm sure that all will be well but yeah- what kind of security is that?
    I am not even tempted to go see Rocketman. I never was over-the-top in love with Elton. I respect him and his music a great deal and even saw him back in the era of the dinosaurs but I suppose I just never felt the chemistry with him. You're right though- a lot of people sure do like that movie.

  6. That rental scenario would rob my sleep. I hope it will just be a precautionary clause.

  7. I like how you worked the quote into your post.

  8. Uncertainty about housing is such a bummer. Maybe the landlady is just be cautious. I like the idea of a low-level looking around for a place just in case. About Rocketman, not planning on seeing it.

  9. I can understand your feeling of anxiety. The house I lived in on the other side of town was a rental and I moved because the owners decided to sell it. I'm in an apartment complex now which I feel is a bit more secure. They did just (two days ago) send a letter explaining a rent increase and like you, I didn't mind too much. It's the first time it has increased since I've been here. I do have to agree that I don't see the benefit of having a lease with a clause like that in place. I'm sure there must be benefits, I just can't think of any.

  10. I feel your concern very stressful and a loss of security it can't be easy finding accommodation in London especially with a garden. Like Sharon said an apartment complex feels more secure but many don't allow dogs. Perhaps your circle of friends can keep an ear out if they hear of a new rental becoming available. Meanwhile enjoy your time of Steve I hear it's a heat wave over there.

  11. I haven't had the anxiety of a rental but our son has, and there are a lot of issues even with a yearly lease. I can imagine how an eight month clause would increase those worries. Hopefully your landlord is just doing this to give herself maximum flexibility and not because she's actually anticipating using it. After all, as you said, you have the same flexibility now, and I suppose that might be worrisome to a landlord as well. You have such a lovely place there, and have put so much work into it; I hope all goes well and you don't have to move.

  12. We have been renters for our entire life together. Some situations are good, others are nightmares. Good luck with yours.

  13. Steve, can you not write to the landlord and ask why she has decided to do this, explain your feelings and see how she responds?

  14. Yo Brother Man,
    Very Frustrating News On The Flat Front. Its a true bummer when you look after a place, responsible tenant, and pay on time and this is the thanx you receive. This can only mean that good things next year are in the mix already.

    Stay Strong,

  15. Elizabeth: Well I'm glad someone else felt similarly! I kept thinking, "Am I just way too cynical?!"

    Briony: You ARE fortunate, having your rental regulated. Do you have a private landlord or do you rent from the council?

    YP: Yeah, I wonder if she's just worried she may need capital if Brexit tanks the business market -- if she runs a small or medium-sized business, for example. She may want to have the option to sell this place if necessary.

    E: That's basically what we're doing -- signing but being prepared for any eventuality. We can't write the landlord directly because we work through a management company. We're not in direct contact with her.

    Ms Moon: It's ridiculous, isn't it? It basically protects HER more than it protects us. Which is standard for landlords, I suppose.

    Sabine: I hope so too! Frankly they could have stuck it in there and not said anything and I don't think I'd have even noticed. I kind of wish they had!

    Red: It struck us all, after our retreat, as a rather profound expression!

    Robin: Yeah, I think that's the way to go -- just keeping our eyes open for other opportunities.

    Sharon: Well, the management company acted like it would be beneficial to us, too, giving us more flexibility. But I don't want flexibility. I want security!

    Comox: We don't have the heat wave here, fortunately, but I hear continental Europe has been really hot.

    Jenny-O: I don't think the 8-month clause is at all worrisome to the landlord. Otherwise she wouldn't be putting it in the lease. All this language clearly benefits the landlord to the detriment of tenants. SOP for rentals.

    Catalyst: Thanks. Renting is nice for the flexibility, but this is the downside!

    Padre: Thanks! I hope this is indeed a harbinger of good things to come! And who knows -- she may never use this clause. It may just be a precaution on her part.

  16. I totally understand the anxiety the new clause brings, but perhaps she's just using a new lease template. I agree it would be a bummer to have to move. On the other hand, the last time you had to move you lucked into that beautiful garden! You never know what new joys await, and hopefully you wont have to find out!