Tenants From Hell

In Canada, July 1 is moving day for huge numbers of people.  It also is our national day.  The reason it is both our national day, and our moving day, is probably obvious: it is far easier to move on a holiday than to have to get time off from your boss.  Because of this, July 1 can be a living hell, anticipation-wise.

Why do I say such a thing?  Simple; you never know who will be moving into your building.  Or, if you’re the one moving, you don’t know who your new neighbors will be.  As a tenant, I’ve gone through both scenarios, and nine times out of ten, it has been bad.  Very bad.  I’ve been a bit more fortunate in the building I now live in, thank God for that, however my neighbors still fall short of considerate at times.  When the last lot moved in this past fall, well, they didn’t make a very good impression.  Fortunately, they did not turn out to be as bad as they first appeared to be, and I can pretty much live with them next door without too many issues cropping up.

I can only imagine how much worse it probably is for the owner of a building!  A tenant might look good on paper, might even have great references, but once they move in… .  Well, you never really know who they really are until it’s too late.  The person themselves might not be the problem; it could be their friends, their family, or even their dog which is causing an uproar and/or doing damage.

I found myself pondering this as I was going about my business today, mainly because something has been bothering me about the Old Testament.  Having stepped back from theology and scripture for several years, when I finally did get back to it, I found that I viewed the whole thing from an entirely new perspective.  The great and mysterious ‘covenant’ that God made with Abraham no longer looked like a divine selection of a chosen people, but a standard rental agreement.  No matter how I now looked at it, it always came back to a series of terms and conditions under which Abraham was given permission to live in the land of Canaan.   There were also plenty of clauses that allowed for eviction should he fail to respect the terms he’d agreed to.

As a tenant, Abraham turned out to be not half-bad.  He respected his neighbors, caused minimal problems, and generally honored the terms of the rental agreement.  It was as his family grew that the problems began.  Like so many renters, his sons stopped seeing the abode as someone else’s property, and started treating it as if it was their own personal possession.  They started fights with the neighbors, did what they pleased, and generally ignored the terms of their lease.  The neighbors complained, and God finally had to throw them out.

There was plenty of back-and-forthing going on throughout all of this, with God telling Abraham’s family that if they would just adhere to the terms of the lease, he’d let them back in, followed by their making endless promises to do so, only to renege again and again, over and over, again and again.  Finally, as all good landlords do, God gave them the boot, once and for all, and rented out their apartment to someone else.

And that is where it was supposed to end.  Unfortunately, they appealed to the rental board, and the rental board allowed them to force their way back in.  The peace of the neighborhood was once more destroyed.  In fact, it became an area and a building that no one in their right mind – except those who are truly desperate – want to live in.

That is the sad story of how all neighbors from hell cause property values to go down, and end up attracting other bad tenants to the building.  On this moving day, let us all remember how one bad tenant can wreck an entire neighborhood.

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