1. In grad school, I shared half of a two-family house with three other students. At some point, our landlord (who lived in the other half of the house) decided he wanted to sell the place, so he had a real estate agent coming by occasionally to show the house to people. She was just a flat-out liar (which I guess fits my impression based on screenings of Glengarry Glen Ross). I could never decide, when I was around and she was lying to a prospective buyer, whether to call her on it. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t.
2. A year after I graduated, the landlord actually did sell the place but then, when my friends moved out, he refused to pay back their security deposit. There was some debate about getting the place repainted, I don’t remember the details. So they sued the landlord in Mass. housing court and won triple damages. The funny thing was, the landlord was the editor of the Harvard Law Review. (But, no, he was not Barack Obama.) At the time, I told my former roommates that they should write up the story and send it to the local newspapers: President of Harvard Law Review Loses Lawsuit, etc etc.
3. During my first year in Berkeley, California, I lived in what I think was an illegal dwelling–a little one-bedroom house in somebody’s backyard. It was fully functional with gas, plumbing, and electricity, but it didn’t have its own house number–my mail came in the same mailbox that was used for the main house (where the landlord lived).
I also had some sort of illegally-spliced cable TV that worked most of the time. A few days after moving in to the place, I’d had a busy Monday at my very first real job. I got home, cleaned up a bit, then at 9pm I sat down on the couch to relax and watch some Monday night football. I turned on the TV, and . . . the game was ending! I’d forgotten that things start earlier in California.
Anyway, I was happy in that house but eventually had to leave when I got a cat. Actually, the landlord told me I could keep the cat for an extra $50/month in rent, but I did some searching and found a larger place in a more convenient neighborhood for about $75/month less so I left. There was a bit of a disagreement about the security deposit–par for the course, I guess. My landlord was a real clown, but the funny thing is that she and I got along fine until that little dispute.
4. Getting back to Massachusetts . . . several years later I knew somebody who owned a house that she rented out. At some point she had a difficult tenant who sued my friend for triple damages. I knew enough about the case to be pretty sure that my friend was in the right here, and it was pretty clear that the housing court was seriously biased in favor of the tenant. The flip side of case #2 above, I guess.