Thursday, March 25, 2010

Montgomery Burns by any other name...

We just paid our old landlord several thousands of dollars to go back into whatever dark hole he crawled out of and leave us the hell alone. So it goes... This, the culmination of three plus years of absolutely the most ridiculous crap one could ever imagine from a landlord. Suffice it to say, he ain't from around here...

This is a huge hit to a micro business such as ours, but we'll survive. We survived being this jerks tenants for three years. We'll survive this.

We had a dispute over a two months difference in interpretation of our lease and went to small claims court trying to get back our $2400 security deposit. For all my efforts, I can't say I did a very good job at conveying my arguments. I was simply too emotionally invested, and I should have called witnesses. We lost.

While our landlord got to keep our deposit, he was not awarded any other monetary damages because he failed to file a counter claim. I thought this represented a fairly perfect symmetry of justice.

Of course, he would not stop there, and further threats of legal action ensued. To the end he was up to his old tricks, trying to get us to pay for things that were not ours to pay for, such as the replacement of a set of exterior double doors, which were upgraded for his new tenant.

That we put about ten grand into refurbishing his building, and left him an immaculate, beautiful space meant nothing to him.

Ultimately, it came down to paying more in attorneys fees to keep going and still have the hassle of this mess in our lives - and still possibly lose, or stop it all now and buy peace.

We chose the latter.
I would rather lose and have my integrity, than to win at any price.

Ironically, we missed out on a property across the street from where we wound up on South Lamar. The owner of that property is one of the sweetest old guys you could ever hope to meet. His name is Ben, and he is a real deal, old school South Austin landlord. It is heart warming that he became a friend and patient. He brought his wife who was undergoing treatment for cancer to us for acupuncture. 

The day I got word we lost in small claims court, I also got the sweetest note from Ben letting me know his wife had passed away and how much she enjoyed her time at the clinic. The duality was striking: The love and humanity of this sweet old guy who could have been our landlord contrasted against the unbridled greed and arrogance of the landlord we wound up with.