Sunday, December 1, 1996

Letter to a bad tenant

Justine Onta, for you,
I cleaned my house,
and put new sheets on the bed,
I took care of all the details
to ensure your pleasant stay.
In return, you were to complete small tasks,
pick up the mail, post the bills, water the plants.
I even sent you a reminder cards,
and called you long distance.
I let you stay into August
through Labor Day, for nominal rent.

I arrived home to a dirty house and shower, 
filthy sheets—stained with candle wax, 
oil slicks and random bleach stains. 
All my plants, dead, my neighbors
tried to keep them alive when they realized 
my plants were dying.
If only you had told them,
they would’ve gladly done it for you.
For this favor, to you and your aunt Mimi
who assured me of your trustworthiness,
and responsibility, you ruined my credit rating,
penalties and late charges, more than the bill.

To add insult to injury, 
your one rent check bounced, with more penalties
you never paid the second month's rent check. 
The cable was cut off, the phone bill in arrears.
Contrary to your claims, I know you stayed 
at my house the entire time because you made 
many long-distance phone calls 
for which you never paid.
I would've gladly given you 
the last three weeks rent free
because you are a student.
Instead, your stay cost me money,
and my friendship with your aunt.
You left me bereft, out-of-pocket.
I accepted you in good faith 
and was treated with disrespect.
You also left your blue scarf and shampoo.
I will hold them hostage until you settle up.

No answer was the loud reply.

Dec. 1, 1996


This is one letter I regret writing, but we’ve several things to clear up before year’s end: you haven’t contacted me, so I’m sending this via your aunt, Mimi Albert, in the hopes that it will find you—since she assured me against my better judgment that you were “a most reliable and capable young woman.” You’d “leave my place cleaner than I left it.” Sadly, you didn’t come through on either account. I’d like to offer you a chance to clear up the matter so we’ll both feel better.

Justine, for you I cleaned my house, put on fresh sheets, took care of all details to ensure a smooth and pleasant stay—though I didn’t have much time to prepare for your unexpected stay. In return, you were to complete some small tasks which I documented for you: when the MBNA Visa bill arrived mid-June, you were to enclose my check for $165.47 and mail the bill (I even left stamps). You also were to pick up the mail and to water the plants. You did none of the tasks I asked you to do.

I even sent you a reminder card about the Visa bill in June. When I called you in July, you still hadn’t mailed my Visa bill. I asked you to do it ASAP. Then you asked me if you could stay at my cabin through August. I agreed, and said you were welcome to stay on through Labor Day weekend provided you pay me an additional $200 for rent. You assured me you’d do so. I even gave you an option to pay my bills which were Viacom—$25, the now outstanding Visa bill, and your phone bill ($7.75). And I said you could pay me the balance due in Sept. A pretty generous deal.

I arrived home on Sept. 13 to a dirty house and shower, filthy (new) sheets—stained with candle wax, oil and random bleach stains. (The sheets were new, used only a few times.) And you never watered my plants—at least $100 worth of plants that I bought in May, died. Both my next door neighbors Steve, and George, tried to keep my plants alive when they realized they were dying.

The thing is, most of this mishap might have been avoided if you’d only talked to them—as I was writing to them too about the plants & Visa bill. I gave you a very simple responsibility that George, Steve, Laurie (the landlady) would’ve gladly done for me. And through your negligence, you very nearly ruined my credit rating, and it cost me some begging & apologies to MBNA + $41.09 in late charges alone.

To add insult to injury, your one rent check for $200 bounced when I tried to cash it on Sept. 23rd, and you also neglected to leave me a second rent check for $200. I know that you were at my house until at least Aug. 17, because between Aug. 13 thorugh 17 you made 6 long-distance calls on MY phone. I was willing to throw in the last three weeks rent (Aug. 13 Sept 5) free. Instead, you cost me money and effort I would’ve preferred to invest elsewhere.


RENT: June 13 to July 13 $200

RENT: July 13 to Aug 17 $200

*Bounced check fee $3.

*Long distance phone bill $7.75

*Late fees on MBNA Visa $41.09

TOTAL: $451.84

I would like immediate reimbursement for last three items ($51.84) as they were unexpected out-of-pocket fees. Though I would prefer the $400 at the same time, I realize it might create a hardship for you as you’re going to school. Understand, I’m earning very little money at present, so this represents a large chunk of income denied to me, but I’m willing to work out a payment schedule on the $400 in rent you owe me: say, $100 a month beginning Jan. 1, 1997, ending April 1, 1997. I hope we can resolve this matter in a satisfactory manner as I accepted you in good faith and expect to be treated with equal respect.

P.S. You also left a blue scarf and shampoo items in the shower. Please pick them up or leave instructions before Jan. 1, as I’ll toss them out after that date.

No answer was the loud reply.

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