Real Music & Real Estate . . .

Yiddishe Cup’s bandleader, Bert Stratton, is Klezmer Guy.
 

He knows about the band biz and – check this out – the real estate biz, too.
 

You may not care about the real estate biz. Hey, you may not care about the band biz. (See you.)
 

This is a blog with a gamy twist. It features tenants with snakes and skunks, and musicians with smoked fish in their pockets.
 

Stratton has written op-eds for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.


 
 

DIVING FOR DOLLARS

When Alice Gibson, a tenant, skipped out, I phoned her because she left her apartment purple, black and yellow.

She didn’t want to talk about that.  She wanted to talk about why I hadn’t changed the toilet seat when she moved in, and why I hadn’t fixed the ceiling in her hallway, and why had my building manager told her she could paint the walls purple, black and yellow if she couldn’t.

color-devo

Ms. Gibson had never been late on her rent. She was there two years.  She was a good tenant.

But she skipped and used weird paint colors.

“Didn’t you get my final month’s rent?” she said. “I sent it with a note saying I was moving.”

I didn’t receive the check. It was the twentieth day of the month. I went dumpster-diving in my wastebasket for the check.

diving-bert5bmp

"I see a Johnnie Walker but no Gibson."

I had a 30-gallon wastebasket.  I wondered how many more times I would go dumpster-diving for liars.

Ms. Gibson had seven months left on her lease. I called her back and threatened to take her to court.

She said, “Go ahead, I’m broke.”

“It’ll be on your public record,” I said. “If you try to buy a car or a house, the ‘public record’ will be on your credit report. At least pay this month’s rent.  You said you mailed it.  I didn’t get it.  So mail it again. Do the right thing.”

She said she would send one-half month’s rent.

I started talking Spanish with her — for bonding’s sake.   A half month’s rent! Better than nothing.   I knew she was going to Argentina.  I ended in English: “Make sure you send it. You know, you painted the kitchen cabinets black.”

“And those cabinets look a lot better than when I moved in!” she said.

I didn’t get the half month’s rent.

I left Ms. Gibson a voice mail: “Pay the half month’s rent. Give it to the Pony Express, or the mailman, or hand-
deliver it to me.  If you don’t, I’m going to sue you.  I don’t care if you are broke.  It’s not right what you’re doing.”

My new tenant — post-Gibson — liked the black cabinets. He also liked Ms. Gibson’s yellow paint job in the kitchen.

Alice Gibson saved me some money on re-painting.  She knew her colors.

She had some pluses.

shareEmail this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

5 comments

1 Bill Jones { 05.18.11 at 10:09 am }

Mazel tov! on adding the NY Times to your writing precis in the headline. May you go from strength to strength.

2 Mark Schilling { 05.18.11 at 10:15 am }

Why didn’t you fix her toilet seat? Sounds like a legit complaint to me.

And it’s a great story.

3 Bert { 05.18.11 at 10:38 am }

To Mark Schilling:

I’m always changing toilet seats. $15. No big deal.

But sometimes a tenant who owes back rent will ramble on about how horrible everything is at the building — to justify not paying.

Human nature, I think.

4 MARC { 05.18.11 at 3:25 pm }

We sell white toilet seats for $10.99. Next time you’re in Providence stock up.

5 Irwin { 05.18.11 at 4:06 pm }

I really liked this story, Bert. Brings up some interesting views on human nature. Interesting that what you saw as being a disaster, another person viewed as beauty.

Leave a Comment