Christina Kotlar

Year of Rabbit 2023

Christina Kotlar

Christina's World

The Lake Effect– The Landlord’s Game

Winter Scene

One real estate agent we know commented that one of the things on everyone’s list of home buying is a water feature. The lake. A rental lakefront. Who wouldn’t love it? We survived the first winter. Barely. A transformer blew out on an incredibly cold and snowy day, leaving us freezing our tails off. No one from the management organization checked in. We were on our own. That’s when we opted for a battery-powered lithium generator, the Yeti. A great investment. Portable and quiet, it saved us many times.

The recently renovated kitchen did not include insulation; it got as cold as a meat locker in winter. We are advised to keep open the cabinet doors so the kitchen sink pipes don’t burst. It doesn’t matter; the doors don’t close anyway, courtesy of incompetent maintenance. The pipes freeze, then back up because the other two units drain into the one pipe in our sink. We still have to wash dishes in the bathroom sink. The landlord refuses to update the building’s substandard plumbing. Instead, the tenants are blamed for the inconvenience.

After the pandemic lock-down, rents increased. The units vaguely resemble the ads online. Potential victims get tangled into a web of deceit, outright lies, and over-the-top fee payments. It got easier to get rid of tenants so new ones could move in and be hooked like the bass that lives here. The eagles swoop across the smooth surface, diving at the slight ripple and picking up one of the wriggling fish. Great Blue Herons glide past and into their rookeries, overlooking the golfing greens. White egrets wade in and out of cattails waiting for their supper to show up. In early spring, Eastern Painted turtles show up sunning on the fallen log, teaching their young where to find the best spots to absorb the heat. Mallard ducks and Canadian geese armada drift by, a rest stop between their destinations.

The Lake is so serene. Never mind, you can’t swim in it. If you fish– it’s catch and release. You must repatriate the large bass into a water body poisoned by golf course pesticides and fertilizer to keep the greens unnaturally green for all seasons. The public utilities are no longer public. Privately owned and controlled, the electricity now comes from Ohio, and although the name is Montague Water Company, it’s also a privately-owned and controlled. They can’t always find the water main break but they can increase the water fees, and they can shut off your water. We never had an issue with public utilities before. Welcome to the world of privatization. It reminds me of the Monopoly board, be careful where you land. And be wary of what you wish for.

One of the best ways to not look at people as humans are to see them as the enemy in some way. Those experienced and prolific litigants use the court to seek illegal evictions on tenants “they have a personality conflict with.” Attempts to force people to move out of their home are called a “civil issue,” and passed from one department to another, saying it’s not their jurisdiction and they can do nothing about it. However, blatant cases of reprisals should not be allowed to upend people’s lives deliberately. There should be consequences for such abuse, and those responsible must be held accountable.

Places like these are a cabin-in-the-woods fantasy. Scattered throughout this gated community, unscrupulous absentee landlords and property management companies prey upon the human condition of wanting a little slice of heaven. Life is difficult enough. The reality is that they make it physically impossible to live in a place with inadequate heating, substandard plumbing, and improper wiring, suggested by seasoned electricians, contractors, and state inspectors as potential fire hazards. Any complaints become reasons for retaliation by illegal harassment, divisiveness, and, ultimately, eviction. It’s called the Landlord’s Game.

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