© 2011, Mirror Image Presentations
CAVEAT: This post has not been edited since 2011. The author holds no responsibility for grammatical errors, or any writing that may seem less than talented. Pieces of this were part of a standup routine I did for a brief period, before small groups. Anyone who would like to edit it for me, feel free. In any case, the CONTENT is still helpful to those searching for a new home.
Enjoy the path.
L.A. Housing Authority’s Househunt 101A – “Deciphering & Understanding Landlord Lingo.”
Ok, class, settle down. Please take your seats. Welcome to the Los Angeles Housing Authority’s House hunting 101 A – “Deciphering And Understanding Landlord Lingo.” My name is Alan and I am a Supervisor. Did everybody drink and drain? Okay. It’s my understanding that all of you have had your vouchers approved and are now on your way to finding your new home, filled with joy, prosperity and peace – Oh, wait a minute, this is Section 8. Just by a show of hands, let me see who’s not here. Okay, now that that is settled, let’s move on. Here we go.
In my long distinguished career as a Section 8 public servant, I turned my life long search for a place to call home into a career. I spent years on Craigslist wading through thousands of postings. These landlords and property managers are wonderful people, selflessly dedicated to – ripping you off. Some, just a few, are guilty of misleading advertising – false is the word I’m looking for. Most recently, in my own search paid off, after investing five days a week for three years in search for the “perfect” home, when I found it — under the posting, “Hideaway Desert Oasis.” Unfortunately, when I arrived in Lancaster, I was informed that it had just burned down. I was devastated!
All the deception made me think of how people online not only lie about their age, weight and size, but about square footage. I’ve come up with some translations —Maa’m pick the baby up off the floor — that will ease your search; free you so you can exercise your right hand while surfing Craigslist. $$$!!!$$$STUnnING!APT4RENT$$$!!!$$$ — Have I got your attention? Good, let’s proceed. First, why they are called apartments when they are all together, I don’t know. Since houses are apart, they should be called apartments and apartments (which are together) should be called togetherments, or as the British would call them: Togethers. On that note, let us advance.
I love New York. There are many beautiful apartments in N.Y. Of course, you’ll pay $1,600 a month for a room – closet – not much larger than my car but nonetheless, they can be charming togetherments. When you come to a heading that reads, “New York Style Apartment,” this translates to, small with no parking. If the words charming or quaint accompany the heading, there is no elevator. If you are like most of our clients, you are probably obese anyway so take the stairs; the exercise will do you good. If there is an elevator, it’s an antique. That’s where charming and quaint enter the picture. You’ll want to plan your day. Count on 5 minutes for the elevator to arrive, another 5 to get to the 6th floor, and another 5 minutes to get the trap door open; if it’s working and hasn’t locked you in. Enter prepared. Bring lunch and your cell phone.
“Step Back into 1920’s Charm” is another catchy heading that may require translation. Besides having a connection to the “New York Style Apartment,” here it also means NO parking, as during that last decade of the 19th Century, only 1 in every 25 persons boasted possession of a horseless carriage. The hitching posts were removed during 1960’s renovation and the owners are waiting for the next earthquake before they waste money bolting down the building. The Housing Authority’s recommendation: Skip 1920’s CHARM.
If you insist on looking for “New York Charm,” but can’t afford it, consider a “Single” or a “Bachelor.” Of course, as long as you live it you will always be single or a bachelor. Expect your new neighbors to use the hallway as their personal office and children’s soccer goal. If you are someone who’s happy with a microwave and a hotplate – double burner – deluxe – or you are a workaholic who eats at the office or you are an anorexic ballet dancer who doesn’t eat at all — what more could you want?
Any of you have children? I’m sorry. You’ll certainly want to move into a family friendly building. “GREAT FOR FAMILIES!” will get you into an edifice with built in babysitting service; older kids will supervise your children while they roll the bowling ball down the hallway for a strike! From 2:35 on, in the parking garage outside your bedroom window (if there is one) your child can play Hide & Seek until the little darlings are put to bed – screaming — at midnight.
Please raise your hand if you can’t hear me. Anyone here live by LAX? Brave! “Close to LAX” is perfect for Air Force families who are comfortable with planes overhead – flying and crashing. You’ll learn how to take a stance when the windows begin to rattle. Hold on tight, or watch the planes from the rooftop and begin a fund for future psychiatric treatment.
Anyone here use public transportation? I’m sorry. You may be interested in this: “Close To Bus And Metro Lines.” See: “NO PARKING.” If you do have a vehicle, “Street” and “Permit Parking” means exercise – more of it. Cancel your gym membership and save because you’ll be running all week long moving your vehicle up and down the block from one side of the street to the other to insure that you won’t get a ticket. More considerate landlords have arranged for “Permit Parking.” Just visit City Hall, anytime (at your inconvenience) as long as it’s Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 excluding holidays) to purchase your permit for only $35.00. You will get additional exercise every time you return to City Hall for guest permits should you expect any visitor who isn’t arriving on foot or who doesn’t have handicapped plates.
If you should opt out for permit parking, figure an additional $65.00 into your monthly budget for the ticket you are certain to receive for having overslept, forgotten, or simply stayed in bed because you just plain didn’t feel like getting dressed and running down the block in the fucking pouring rain at 2:00 in the morning to move your car to the other side of the street. Forgive me. Did I say $65.00? I’m sorry, my decimal point was off. I meant $650.00.
Anyone looking for a “Private Entrance With Yard”? This heading will lead you past the landlord’s observing eyes through their yard, past their kitchen window to your “private” rear entrance – in the back – (BEND DOWN) – just beyond the security cameras – installed for your protection. You will have the added pleasure of greeting your new landlord every time you enter or leave. Such a heading usually comes with a caveat: “No Drugs!” This translates to, “we’re persnickety, judgmental people and we will be spying on you regularly, so make sure that you haven’t lied or tried to deceive us because if you have our spies will find out soon enough and then you’re in trouble!”
Along with the privilege of living with a private (landlord’s) entrance and yard, you may come across a posting that reads, “GORGEOUS — MUST SEE TO BELIEVE” or “THIS ONE WON’T LAST!” Who’s paying for this “gorgeous” house, you may ask? Your $1,600 a month rent (with FREE utilities) helps keep up the gorgeous factor, all, of course, for your benefit.
These landlords (think) their home is the most beautiful on the block. The Housing Authority recommends that you avoid the ultimate homeowner’s nightmare as no sane person wants to live in the nicest house in a downtrodden, crime ridden neighborhood. You are better to shoot for Beverly, Holmby or Hollywood Hills and the most run down home on the block. Good luck!
Next posting: “PERFECT LOCATION”. “Of course, it’s perfect. The landlord bought the property, didn’t he?” “Strategically Placed Amid Transportation Hubs,” along with the noise, drugs, hookers and pimps who use the hubs. “This One Won’t Last” — because the last applicant reneged on the deal because we found out he smokes marijuana so we’re desperate now to take anyone – as long as they don’t lead to harder drugs. We don’t want no crazy people around here on crystal meth. Get here now and bring your welfare check!
Anybody here live in a “Secure Gated Community?” That of course means that everything around you is — not. If you can’t find the right apartment in Beverly, Holmby or Hollywood Hills, there are plenty of Section 8 apartments available in beautiful South Central L.A. or in The Valley — millions of lives, dozens of stories. Be prepared to pay for that pride of ownership. Remember, as far as the landlord is concerned, Section 8 is not an authority on the apartment’s value. Just get the unit to pass inspection, and they’ll present you with an addendum to make up the difference for the privilege of living in their gorgeous unit. Don’t fall for it! If they act unscrupulously with the Housing Authority, they’ll screw you too.
Who doesn’t appreciate spaciousness? – particularly if you have no furniture. It’s a considerate option offered to those who can’t afford to waste time, effort and money furnishing a home. “Furnished” is landlord code for “We’re not going to pay to have this trash hauled away besides, it’s still got life left in it. As long as you don’t remove the board from under the mattress, it’s as good as new — Posturpedic.”
If you can’t afford a brand new apartment, a close second is one that has been recently renovated – this century. “RECENTLY RENOVATED” often translates to, “we’ve slapped on a new coat of paint (#16 in the past 20 years) so doors and windows may be painted shut but at least you’re safe from intruders. The landlord also threw in new carpeting literally – to cover previous pet accidents. The remaining 24 units are scheduled for completion by 2014. Pardon the inconvenience while the construction crew betters your life — Monday through Friday 8 to 4 for the next two years while you go insane. Invest in earplugs; silicone and deduct the cost from your rent.
HERE ARE A FEW MORE TRANSLATIONS TO HELP U WADE THROUGH THE SLUDGE.
“Hardwood Floors” — that’s about all we can say about it that’s positive.
“FREE UTILITIES” — I never took Econ 101, so I don’t know that there really is no such thing as a free lunch. But money’s money and we’ll take it any way we can get it from you.
“MUST SEE!” — we’re too lazy to measure the unit. I don’t have a tape measure and my show it on so come measure it yourself. There is nothing to steal so the door is open.
“DOGS ARE WOOF!” — You’ll be moving into a kennel. See “Renovated.”
“CATS R PURRRFECT” — Your $1,500 deposit will cover new carpet that the previous tenant paid for. Pass it on.
“LIGHT CLEANUP NEEDED” — see “FURNISHED”, “Must See To Believe”, Cats R Purrrfect!” or “Dogs R Woof!” Order your own Dewey Dumpster.
“FREEWAY CLOSE” – it’s the view from your window.
“Secure Building” — your rear window overlooks the parking lot so you can keep an eye on your car – and your kids. See “PRIVATE GATED COMMUNITY.”
“CLOSE TO ALL AMENITIES,” “1920’s STYLE” and “NO PARKING.”
“RUSTIC” — the building needs renovation but the stairs haven’t fallen in yet, so we’re waiting for someone to get hurt before we re-post as, “Newly Renovated — Must See To Believe”.
“JUST FOR YOU!” – looking for a perfect credit score, (1,000+) and a boring person who will put up with their bullsh*t so you’d better not be lying because if you are, our spies will tell us.
“VINTAGE” — See “Rustic,” “Light Cleanup Needed,” “NO PARKING”.
And, finally the posting that will catch an untrained eye every time. It’s almost too good to be true; “!!!BEAUTIFUL APT — ONLY $300.00!!!” It was indeed quite reasonably priced at only $300.00 — a week — or day.
All of these togetherments are available for anyone who can navigate through the deceit of dozens upon thousands of unscrupulous managers and landlords, all who should be ashamed of themselves for wasting the time of hard working, honest citizens who only want to find a place to rest their head so they can get on with their lives. That’s not to say that there aren’t some very fine property managers – look in Oklahoma City, Topeka, Lincoln.
Section 8 suggests you not waste time responding to any postings without picture attachments. Certainly the landlords neglected to post pictures because they don’t have access to a camera – right. Ask lots of questions before committing your time, legs, gas money. If someone is not interested in answering, then fie on them! You don’t want them in your life. When you arrive, knock on the neighbors’ doors and ask questions. If they’re not home, there is probably a reason; maybe the hotplate burned out. If they don’t want to talk with you, the landlord may be monitoring their behavior. Thank them, dust off your sandals, and move on to the next village. If a unit does interest you, you may want to slip a brief questionnaire with a SASE under a few doors.
Lastly, prepare yourself before you leave home; pull up your knee high rubbers so you won’t get dirty while wading through the muck; deceit and lies. And for some good-natured harmless revenge: keep every one of those crooked bastards busy by flagging every one of them every time they re-post.
Good luck and good God!