Rent strike…

I read an article this morning calling for a 90-day or longer “rent strike,” which seems to be a classed-up way of saying even if someone can afford to pay their rent, they’re not going to do it. The assumption of this movement is that property owners across the country should just absorb the cost of housing for people who can’t or won’t pay.

Until a few months ago I was the smallest of small time landlords – having one condo unit that I rented out. Over the years of owning the place I squirreled away enough operating funds that I was able to make repairs and hold two or three months cash reserve to tide over those months between the departure of one tenant and the arrival of the next. In my very best year, I cleared $1495. Most other years I was lucky to break even or be a few hundred dollars in the black when we did the final accounting. There were more than a few years when I had to augment the rental income with cash infusions from my “day job” to make sure all the bills got paid.

That’s all a long way of saying that expecting landlords across the country to carry the freight of a rent strike indefinitely is absurd. Even assuming the property owner has a “day job” what they’re suggesting would have driven me into the loving embrace of the bankruptcy court at about the ninety day mark. 

The big bad landlord these people want to screw over isn’t only the 10,000-unit holding company or Bank of America, it’s also the retiree who lives down the street or the working man across town who took a step on the property ladder by buying a trashed property and fixing it up. I’m well aware that blood from a stone isn’t a possibility, but the fact that social media is running amok with people who want to portray withholding all rent, especially by those who have the means to keep their obligations, as a heroic act of rebellion is just infuriating. 

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Surprise meetings. Some things happen without any warning – earthquakes, tornados, someone punching you in the throat for being stupid – all things that could theoretically happen out of nowhere. What shouldn’t happen out of nowhere is calling someone out of the blue after sitting on the material they gave you a month ago to tell them they have four hours to make a shit ton of changes and present that information to the Grand High Host of the Everlasting Knowitall. If you’ve had something for a month and just getting around to telling someone you’re going to need it completely changed later that day, it’s not a “no notice event,” you’re just a douchebag.

2. Fast food strikes. I flipped burgers for $4.15 an hour. When I see on the news that the “me” of today think they deserve $15 an hour for doing that job, I mostly just roll my eyes. When I hear they’re going to take the day to picket their employer demanding $15 and hour and a union, well, I nearly fall down laughing. In the 5 years I was associated with the burger flipping segment of the economy, I never once contemplated the value of my efforts being worth anything close to $15 an hour. The idea of signing up for Burger Flippers and Fry Cooks Local #209 never even crossed my mind. Unless you’re looking at a management track or life in corporate, I’d not recommend considering McDonald’s or its ilk as a long term career opportunity. We should be incentivizing people to move up and out of minimum wage jobs as quickly as possible, not raising the wage so it’s considered just another “lifestyle choice.”

3. Peanut Butter Jelly Time. I’m almost 36 years old and just had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a glass of sugar free kool-aid for dinner. There are rare occasions when I really think I suck at being an adult. This would be one of those occasions.