Friday, May 18, 2007

the dreaded lease renewal form...

We got our lease renewal form in the mail yesterday, and found a most unpleasant surprise. Our rent will increase by $175 per month starting in October.

A little back story... My last apartment (a studio) rented for $1100/month. The next year, my landlord raised it to 1144. Then I think it went to 1166, and then I never heard from him again. That was a good five years. DW and I moved into our current diggs in October 2005.

Last year our rent went up $75 a month. It wasn't too big a hit, so we bucked up and paid it. This year, it comes to us with a $175 increase. That's steep. I called and asked why, and the landlord said "that's the price the owners have determined, based on the market rate." I hung up, put my head in my hands and just stared at the paper for about 10 minutes. I called them back.

"I don't really know how to ask this, since I've always been in a rent stabilized apartment, but is there anything that can be done to lower the increase? Can we request or petition the owners?" At this point I began babbling incoherently.
She replied, "Put it in writing, and send it to me, and I'll see what I can do."
So I did. I wrote about how we pay our rent early each month and planted flowers outside and floss twice daily and that we were good decent people and please can they help us out. I mailed it this morning. When I hear back, I'll let you know.

It really made me appreciate the landlord/owner situation I came from. I knew the man, he knew me, we waved hello on the street and it was a very normal (if nostalgic) relationship. With rent-stabilization, I was protected against unfair rent-increases. I miss that safety.

A few months ago I found a site that said a Japanese corporation had purchased our building. Here I am thinking two public school teachers stand a chance against capitalism. It really is disheartening. In those 10 minutes of stressing out, my mind flooded with images of being priced out, moving to Queens and having a yard and a beat up station wagon and a wife in the garden and having a workroom with shop tools and an easel. It was horrible.

If you've ever written to your landlord and have advice (or a good story), let me know in the comments. Meanwhile I'll keep my eyes out for empty boxes.

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