I am forced by high rents and low income to live in a sketchy neighborhood with a neglectful landlord.
Heat is not included, and so we foot the bill for that. There are walls that literally have no insulation. The windows do not close tightly, it is very drafty, and there are many other problems. WIthout making any improvements or addressing any of these problems, my landlord recently raised the rent by a significant amount. He recently made some racist comments about immigrants, and I told him I did not agree with him.
He evicted my family over it. Then said we could stay after I apologized to him.
So I had to suck it up and apologize to a racist because our lease ran out and he could kick us out at any moment.
Rents are so high I can’t find any alternative housing. What can I do about this? – Leftist Out In the Cold.
Dear Leftist Out In the Cold,
Should we really be surprised? Landlords are business owners whose primary objective is making money. He’d be a fool to not adjust rental prices to reflect the going market rate. And since he can’t be bothered to install proper insulation, forcing tenants to foot the exorbitant heating bill is good business sense, plain and simple! Your misery may maximize at the same rate as his profit, but remember, correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation!
His comfort with frigidity aside, I’d be willing to guess that you are renting a room from Satan himself. Not only that, evicting your family over your opposition to his xenophobic remarks makes it sound like he’s going for gold in the redlining Olympics. Why stop at just white tenants when you could have a whole building of white supremacist tenants?
You could seek another housing situation, but, as you already noted, rapidly rising rents is a widespread trend you’re unlikely to escape for long. As for keeping warm, working a low income job means you’re likely to be one of the 20% of Mainers struggling to afford heating no matter where you land this winter. Hanging thick blankets over your windows and on the walls that lack insulation could help, as could running a space heater in one of the smaller rooms. Finally, when climate change inevitably curses us with yet another brutally bone chilling polar vortex and the seasonal affective disorder you’ve developed from blocking all sunlight from entering your home fully takes hold, you can use the space heater to set your cozy new blankets ablaze and hope the flames spread to your landlord’s unit as you and your fellow tenants gather together outside and sing carols while you enjoy the holiday cheer of watching wingnuts roasting in an open fire.
As far as the legality of what he’s done, I’m not so sure if it’s explicitly illegal to be a racist fuckbag, so I’d check in with the lovely folks at Pine Tree Legal. They’ve got a whole section of their website dedicated to existing tenants rights. But taking the steps to make sure those rights are enforced can sometimes mean that you lose your home, so join the Portland Tenants Union and fight for the rights of all tenants so that nobody has to put up with shit like this ever again.
Got a complaint? Need some advice? I don’t know if I can help at all, but if you want to give it a shot (why not?) send me an email at wtfptld [at] gmail.com with “Dear Nebbie” in the subject line.