We all like to belong — and when we are told we are no longer part of the core, there is concern that something grander has been lost in the translation between being being and living.

Our building Super recently told me that he’s surprised we’ve lived here so long — rented so long — because we “don’t fit” in the building or in our neighborhood.

I told him I found that an odd statement to make because we have never been late on the rent, we have lived here for over 12 years, and we have never made a single complaint about anyone or requested any sort of maintenance from the landlord.

“Exactly,” the Super said, “You don’t fit.”

When I looked at him, still confused and puzzled, he continued.

“You don’t fit.  You don’t complain.  You don’t have lots of visitors.  You keep to yourself.  You don’t make noise.  You’re a quiet couple.  You don’t have loud music.  You pay on time.  You don’t cook smelly food.  YOU DON’T FIT!  Get it?”

I suppose I was starting to get it. I guess he was telling me that, because of our background and behavior and upbringing, we didn’t really belong in our current neighborhood because we’re not slovenly and obnoxious?

I’m not sure if he was making a veiled Racist threat or just a Bigoted generality about the other tenants in the building, or if he was indirectly insulting me — I don’t take hints well, and he usually find a way to insult me in every conversation — but I wasn’t really certain, but I had no particular gumption, or interest, to ask for clarification and continue the conversation.

I found “not fitting” an odd thing to suggest since we’ve been “fitting in” just fine for over 144 months, but I wonder if his greater point was that all good things must come to an end, and that, perhaps, the building might be changing in a bad way with new tenants that might fit the new whole better than we do right now.

Our building complex has always had split personalities. Our building has been quiet and clean and filled with professional workers. The second building next door — both buildings are owned by the same landlord — has been the louder of the two, the messier of the two, and the building with lots of children running all around every day.

It has been a delight and a pleasure living in the quiet building, but if we’re now being told we “don’t fit” — perhaps we should take the warning in his word, and start to find other pathways outward, and away, from the home in which we have always felt was a perfect fit.

21 Comments

  1. Gee, I get why you might feel confused. maybe he could have said “You two are my best tenants.” Or maybe he was suggesting you are uptight (which I highly doubt). I don’t care for mixed messages either. The most important thing is if you feel it is a perfect fit, then it must be the perfect home for you.

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    1. Yes, it’s definitely a mixed message. I think we’re the only original tenants left from when the building re-opened 12 years ago — and yes, we are stellar renters, a dream, if you will, because we cause no problems and we make no trouble — but I know it bothers him that we rent and don’t own a home. Every six months or so he gives me a rant about low mortgage rates and “time to buy” and that we need to “get out.”

      It’s all sort of friendly, but still threatening, too. I guess he thinks he’s helping us with tough love or something, but we’re certainly fine where we are for right now and we’ll move when the time and tide are right. SMILE!

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  2. It sounds a bit like when the boss says, “Are you sure you’re happy working here?” The kind of message that sounds one way but means an entirely different thing.

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    1. He’s usually bad-mouthing the other tenants to me about how they don’t clean and make noise and are late on the rent — so I think he appreciates us that we’re reliable in a good way — but I guess he’s confused as to why we stay… since we don’t fit…

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  3. Is saying you don’t fit his way of saying you are different from all the rest without having to vocalize any racist comments ? Or maybe he just cannot comprehend why you stay. I guess he has not read about the pain of trying to find a house and a huge deposit and that renting for the moment suits you fine.

    Another thought would he get more rent from new tenants – I am not sure how renting is structured there .

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    1. Ah! Excellent insight and connections!

      The Super before him also wondered why we didn’t buy instead of rent — but that guy’s sister was a real estate agent, so we always figured he had a vested interest in moving us out. SMILE!

      This Super owns three houses in Pennsylvania that he bought off an old guy for around $17k each and part of the deal is the old guy gets to live in one of the houses until he dies. That’s a steal of a deal even though they’re all dilapidated. There are many tax advantages to owning instead of renting, and I’m sure he can’t understand why we stay and pay and not write off our mortgage every month.

      We’re probably paying around $200 more than others in a similar apartment in these buildings. We moved in when the building was new and pristine and now it is not. After the 2008 housing crash, everyone became conservative and lots of people moved out and new sorts moved in — at a reduced rent. Our rent hasn’t been raised since we’ve lived here, and that’s part of why we stay — if they raised the rent, we’d leave in an instant — and while we could likely ask for a matching rent reduction, we haven’t, and won’t, just because we think it will all even out in the near end.

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  4. As someone who has up until now had a mortgage around my neck – or lived in a house where I have made substantial contribution to the running costs – I am finding I like the freedoms of renting. This is partly due to our new landlord who is very open minded about us making the most use we can of the property and the area around it. Our old landlord coughed and spluttered about putting in some vegetables and in the end we planted nothing because of his negative attitude.

    Interesting tax angle – I can claim my rent as it is a farm we are renting – technically – a mortgage on a house I could not.

    What a great deal he got on the three houses !

    I bet your flat is in the best condition out of all the apartments too !

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    1. I agree that renting gives tremendous freedom, but take a look at what it now takes to APPLY to rent a NYC apartment:

      Letter from employer stating position, salary and length of employment (or start date if you have not yet started), and any information regarding bonus, guaranteed or otherwise.

      Last two pay stubs

      Last two years’ tax returns

      Last two months’ bank statements

      Name, addresses, and phone numbers of previous landlords

      Two personal reference letters

      Two business reference letters

      Verification of other assets such as real estate, securities, etc.

      Photo identification (driver’s license, passport, etc.)

      http://www.citi-habitats.com/rent-nyc-guide/

      Can you believe that list? It’s worse than getting an FHA Loan!

      I think you can only deduct the interest paid on a mortgage during the year. There are ways to take a home office deduction on your taxes if you rent and have one room dedicated to your home business. Some accountants say never take that deduction because it will red flag you for an IRS audit, while others claim the deduction is there to be used, so use it! We’ve never used it.

      We keep our place clean. We’re entitled to a new paint job every five years — we’ve yet to ask for one. The only mechanical defect has been the water heater that had to be replaced a couple of years ago… but they’re only rated for a decade of service anyway…

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  5. Goodness – I had to give a photocopy of my fiscal number which tells them name, address and my Portuguese fiscal/VAT number. That was it . However I had gone through a lot of hoops to get those .

    that list is a nightmare …………..!

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    1. The list is just silly. I do not think I would participate — but if you want a higher end apartment in NYC, that’s the game you play. Letters of reference? Seriously?!! SMILE!

      A simple credit check should be enough — all of the reasonable stuff is already in there anyway… pretty much!

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  6. Yes that one made me chuckle as I was imagining what a Portuguese letter of reference would look like ! Along the lines of – you mean Rabiet’s mad English woman with all the cats , who drives a land rover. Shes not much cop in the garden but can bake a great cake – she has one of those pools in her front garden you know !

    Agree credit check should be all that is needed

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    1. Yes, the whole thing reeks of “good people-ism.”

      “Your money isn’t enough! We need to know your morality, too! Papers, please!”

      I also think it’s a Racial dodge — a way to prevent the “doing okays” from interfering with the established power: “Sorry, you don’t know the right people.” I’m just not sure how a letter of reference fits into the Fair Housing Act.

      http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/FHLaws

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      1. Do your referees have to give references before they can be accepted as a referee ?

        I think its a means of stamping control even if it is only psychologically – there is this underlying message of we know who you know ……… we are watching you ………… before you even move in.

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        1. Ha! That’s an excellent question! If the agent insisted on a recommendation, I’d have the agent write one. SMILE!

          Yes. They are always watching and looking for all opportunities to cleave.

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          1. the other thing it could be is a means to measure your personal power ………. it is often who you know not what you know that counts . I am funny like that I like to keep the big guns up my sleeve so to speak – I never reveal my biggest weapons until I have to.

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          2. Yes, that makes sense as a test of power — but I’d never pull anything out of my sleeve like that for a simple rental… maybe I would to buy the unique home of my dreams… but just to rent?

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  7. I would not to rent – unless of course it was the home of my dreams and the only way I could sample it was renting.

    One of the joys of being known here – I am known for paying cash in advance to get what I want. In these times of recession I am like gold dust !

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    1. Yes, you’re playing to the power of cash. Incredibly smart.

      I underestimated the cash-to-power ratio when it came to trying to make a downpayment on a condo. I won’t make that mistake again if we decide to take a second bite at the apple.

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