Posted by: Rob | April 7, 2008

Renters

When we bought this quaint old house back in 1996, our little hamlet had already undergone many changes over the years since it was passed over as the “centre” for this area in favour of Fort Saskatchewan. This house, like many of the others that line the four streets of the hamlet, had been moved here from somewhere else. In particular, this house has a little bit of history. It was once one of three identical staff houses from the old Fort Saskatchewan Gaol. Prison guards and their families used to live within these walls.

The house was built by the Alberta government back in the early to mid 1950’s. The houses were abandoned with the opening of the new Fort Saskatchewan minimum security provincial jail in the late 1980’s. The government later put them up for bid, but they had to be moved.

We bought the house from the couple who had successfully bid on one of the homes. They had purchased a lot in this hamlet where a curling rink once stood, brought in fill, had a new concrete basement poured and hired house movers to put the house on the new foundation. That was 1990. Fast forward to 1996 and our acquisition of the property. At that time we had neighbours on the lot to the south; they had built a brand new house in the late ’80’s; I think it’s the newest house in the entire hamlet. The two lots to the north of our house were still vacant. At that time, those lots could have been had for about $10,000 or $12,000 each. As hindsight is always 20/20 I clearly missed a significant opportunity in not adding on to our mortgage and picking up those two lots.

Over time, both lots to the north were sold and houses were moved onto new basements on both of them. The one immediately north of us was one of the last ones to come in on our street. It is a ’70’s vintage bungalow. The owner is a recently retired employee of the City of Fort Saskatchewan. But for he and his wife, it’s been a “revenue property” from the get go. They’ve been nice enough when we’ve seen them, although I’ve heard from others who worked with him at the City that he was not highly regarded there. Probably partly due to being an outsider, but probably partly something else.

I remember the weeks and months after the house was moved onto the foundation. There were a myriad of tasks to be done and he did the bulk of the work himself. He was working his day job and came out here every night after his day job and on weekends to work on that house, often ’til about midnight. Now, it’s not that I was snooping on him, so how did I know how late he was working? Well, there was no electricity to the house initially, and to power lights and power tools, he ran a generator. I probably could have been a little more gracious and offered the use of one my plug-ins, but I didn’t know him well enough to subsidize his activities at the time.  And, in retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t. That generator became one of those nerve-grating annoyances you generally only find in suburbia. Shelley nicknamed him “Generator Boy”. I don’t recall now how much sleep we lost as a result of those midnight-oil burning activities, but I imagine it was somewhat more than zero.

The first few renters were okay. Older people who generally kept to themselves, yet open to exchanging pleasantries whenever you saw them outside. None of them stayed more than a year. Then came the young couple with two small children, a boy and a girl. The guy seemed friendly at first, we talked a bit and exchanged some information. He wanted to know if we had children; we did, but they were adults.  The woman was very aloof and stand-offish. We learned early on that she tended to yell at their kids a lot. He, on the other hand, was pretty quiet despite being a pretty big guy.  Eventually, they pretty much acted like we didn’t exist.  Which was okay, except for when their kids’ stuff continually spilled over into our yard.

Their tenancy came to an end last fall when the landlord asked them to move out.  By that time, it was just her and the kids.  There had been some drama in August ’06, just after Shelley died.  There was another family of renters across the back alley from us.  Seems that the husband over there and the aloof next door neighbour woman got involved in some “extra-curricular” activity while significant others were away on holiday and at work, respectively.  Big guy next door went ballistic when he found out what was going on and even made firearms related threats.  This brought out the police that day and things were peaceably brought to a close.  There were some attempts at reconciliation, but they didn’t work out.  I recall being awakened by yelling and screaming in the middle of the night a few weeks later as she asked him to leave.  After that he moved out and was only back on occasion to pick up the kids.

The house sat vacant for a couple of months until the current renters moved in.  I know that the landlords are very particular about their tenants – no pets, no smoking – and yet I get the feeling they were getting a bit desperate, possibly lowering the rent or their standards or both.  I think the desperation bit comes from the fact that since they’re now both retired they had planned to head south or something for the winter and probably didn’t want to be footing the mortgage bill and leaving the place unattended while away.

All I know about the current renters is, well, nothing.  They’re young.  Can’t even be sure how many and what ages they are.  Ann has seen a young woman with a baby.  I’ve only seen a younger guy come and go.  The things I know for sure are those suburban irritants that a lot of us are subjected to:  they play their music loud and late at night.  Our bedroom window faces the north and, despite having replaced the old windows and completely re-insulating the exterior walls, the noise from their stereo carries loud and clear into our bedroom, intruding upon sleep.

The other irritant is a parking thing.  Our little hamlet has narrow streets, but wide road allowance.  The front of our house and the rental house next door have gravel shoulders for parking out front.  These gravel shoulders, while technically on county land, were installed by the owners (that’s me and the landlord/owner of the house next door).  This is a fairly common practice here.  So, while the “rules” for public on street parking could be assumed to apply, I feel some entitlement to the space in front of my house because I paid to make it parking friendly.  Now, both houses are equipped with rear driveways accessible from the alley way.  I don’t like to park in mine; one reason is I have an old truck back there as well as my oldest daughter’s first car.  It’s a bit crowded and there’s the whole “cat” issue too.  I hate it when cats get up on my vehicles; their gritty, muddy paws not only dirty up the paint job, but they also create micro-scratches.  (Yeah, I know – anal as all get out, but that’s the way it is.)

The tenants next door must have been poor negotiators.  The landlord has essentially commandeered all of the rear driveway parking to store his own vehicles.  I’m told that he used to use the City storage compound to park his vehicles, but upon retirement he was told in no uncertain terms to remove the vehicles or they would do it for him.  So now there’s a couple of pickup trucks and a land yacht (RV motorhome) sitting back there.  That leaves just the space out in front of the house for the renters to park their three – yes, three – cars.  In a space really large enough for two vehicles.  I don’t know if the renters are intentionally trying to provoke me – I think they are – but he uses the space right behind my truck as the “swing space” that he drives in and out of.  I’ve probably allowed him a little more space than what he is entitled to, but even then every arrival and departure is accompanied by a great deal of engine revving and little back and forth movements as shoehorns his car into the “third” spot left by having his other two vehicles wedged so tightly together you couldn’t get a piece of paper between the bumpers.

I’m not impressed by all this and I’m not sympathetic either.  And I’m a little sensitive too, as I just got my truck out of the body shop a week ago after having spent $1200 to repair some scratches on the passenger side.  I think if this clown keeps it up, I’ll have to just put in my 2″ trailer hitch ball platform – just to protect my rear bumper.

I’ve been a renter too.  In fact, this house is the first one where I could call myself owner.  And I’ll concede that there are some decent tenants out there.  But I can also conclude, from my own experiences and observations, that many tenants are inconsiderate, uncaring and deserving of any stereotype labels applied to them.

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Responses

  1. […] by anniegirl1138 on June 29, 2009 Since setting the Mounties upon Guitar Hero and his wife, the white trash renters to our north have not been an issue. For the most part we so seldom saw […]


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