Moving Right Along
Monday, May 07, 2007
Aaargghh. We have to move. Again.

We moved in in August of last year, so we are 9 months into our home. We paid our rent this month, and our landlord informed us that they've sold the house and we need to move. Our lease stipulates 30 days, but they *might* be able to stretch it until July 1. (Our lease does stipulate 30 days, we are on a month to month, but it is 30 days written notice, which we have not received yet but our landlord claims will be in the mail soon.)

We had no idea they were even thinking about selling the place and getting out of the landlord business; the house was never actually placed up for sale, and it has never been shown. When we moved in, we were planning on staying for 18 months- 2 years, and the landlords were quite happy with that - they wanted a long term renter. Husband dear and I suspect they sold it to one of their adult children - the other houses in the neighborhood languish on the market for 6 months to a year, and suddenly our landlords have a buyer, without a showing or inspection? Sounds like family to me!

So we are now forced to look for a house, hopefully with a month-to-month lease as husband dear's job could end anywhere from 4-18 months from now. I hate looking for a new house. It is all but impossible to find a rental when you have 7 small children, even though technically it is illegal to discriminate. I find myself doing semi-unethical things, like taking two children far apart in age with me to see the houses... and letting the Realtor assume those are my only two. (I'd tell them we had 7 if they asked though). I might say things like "My son attends XXX elementary", and leave out that two more children attend XYZ Elementary while I have 4 more at home. It all comes out when we sign the lease, as you always have to list the names of all residents, but at least I can get people to show the houses to us.

Otherwise, it's like the scene in Cheaper by the Dozen, when Steve Martin is calling up nanny services. "Yes, I have 12 children... hello? Hello?"

We did get a killer deal on this place. The owners were friends of my husband's father; they were also Catholic and willing to rent to a family that is, shall we say, open to life. They rented to us for a very, very affordable price. It looks like our rent is going to increase by about $500 if we try to rent a smaller house in the market right now.

I'm not picky, actually. These are my minimum requirements for a home:
Yard with fence
Washing machine hookup (I don't even need a dryer. Give me a rope and I'll be all good)
Fridge and stove (we don't own one, and we can't buy one right now, especially if our rent doubles!)
3 bedrooms - okay, worst case scenario, two bedrooms. We lived in a 750 sq. ft apartment with 2 bedrooms, and 5 children before.

Although, truthfully, those aren't even minimum standards, as we have lived in motels with no kitchens and no English speaking neighbors (we got the migrant workers special), and two beds instead of bedrooms. Yes folks, you can feed a family of 6 (at the time) with nothing more than a crockpot and a bathtub to wash dishes in!

We have lived in some doozies of rentals. So, as I embark on my search for a new home, here's some advice to landlords:

Please do not paint the kitchen and bathroom with white, matte finish paint and then complain about grease spots behind the stove. Additionally, if you did not use any sort of primer underneath the paint, don't be surprised when the paint falls off the walls. It's not our fault. (You really think we climbed up to peel paint off the ceiling for kicks?)

If you tell us you will finish fixing up the house after we move in, and then neglect to put in baseboards, door jambs, or door stops, the walls will not be perfect when we move out.

If the only bathroom in the house is carpeted, and the toilet seal leaks causing a squishy, stinky floor, putting a clear plastic office chair mat over it is not a permanent fix.

If you decide to finally finish work around the house, showing up unannounced during cold and flu season on a weekend with the intention of turning off the water for minor repair work is not a good idea.

If you have a bug problem, and they are actually falling out of the ceiling into the kitchen, hire an exterminator. Your tenants don't care if they are just ladybugs and won't hurt anything, and the fact that "at least it's not roaches" doesn't matter.

Renters do get tired of white walls. However, painting the small, windowless bathroom black is not a helpful color change. Adding a sponged faux finish in dark gray actually makes it look worse and more depressing. Don't be offended when the tenants call it the Darth Vader room.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 5/07/2007 09:36:00 AM | Permalink | |